At the request of UIC’s Passenger Forum, the Ticketing Action Group (TAG) and the Telematics Application for Passenger New Ticketing group (TAP NT) have started work on a Universal Rail Ticketing (URT). Representatives of different European railway companies, along with UIC representatives, are defining unique standards for mobile ticketing and the interoperability between multiple ticket technologies.
URT chairmen, David Sarfatti of the TAG group and Kurt De Vriendt of the TAP NT group, gathered representatives of French, German, Belgian, Dutch and Thalys rail companies on Thursday 14 November. This first meeting took place at UIC headquarters in Paris. The goal of the workshop was to start the development of European industry standards that provide customers with more control on the ticketing process and give them convenient ways to manage their tickets for international journeys using mobile technology.
Mobile ticketing is already widely used in railways. With this technology, passengers connected to a smartphone application can book and validate their ticket. Paper printing is not required anymore. Their data – name, form of payment, journey destination and schedule – are safely recorded in a two-dimension barcode on their phone.
The URT group wants to develop this ticketing system and unify the specifications of the different European railway companies. The discussion also focuses on the definition of a way to convert a paper ticket to a mobile ticket, the securing of the passenger information and how to avoid fraud.
The participants will harmonise the contents of several UIC leaflets; the 918-2 TAG paper ticket leaflet based on security in paper, the 918-3 TAP-NT self-print leaflet based on security in data and the 918-4 ticketless leaflet based on security in system. At the end of the project, the group should come up with a new leaflet containing all this information in one document.
The advantages of this URT for the railway companies consist in helping to reduce ticket printing/mailing costs, increasing revenue by enlarging accessibility of tickets and improving railway branding. For the clients, they will now be able to book an international ticket anywhere, any time.
One of the measures discussed during the first meeting was “e-activation.” The traveller will activate the ticket directly on the smartphone, marking the ticket as used. By doing so, the traveller sends the information directly to the Train Control Operator, confirming that the ticket has been used.
The workgroup invites representatives of other railway companies to attend their meeting which provides, according to Sarfatti, “a good sense of emulation and discussion” and “allows participants to better apprehend the different specifications. This will help additional cooperation in the future.” Indeed, companies will introduce during each meeting their own sets of specifications for mobile ticketing.
The URT group will meet every month until June 2014. The next meeting will take place in Brussels on 19 December. Deutsche Bahn will lead the presentations.