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European railways join forces to improve ticketing

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On 23 November, at the second CER Information Session on Ticketing in the European Parliament, the Community of European Railway and Infrastructure Companies (CER) presented the rail sector’s ticketing strategy.

With this approach, the European railways aim to define common conditions for making information on timetables and fares available to third parties, ahead of the implementation of the related European legislation.

By strengthening their collaboration in this field, CER members committed to accelerate the ‘distribution of rail services’, responding to increasing expectations not only from passengers but also politicians.

Last year, passengers travelling in Europe were affected by two major traffic disruptions.

While the European airspace was closed during the ‘volcanic ash cloud crisis’ in April 2010, heavy snow falls in December 2010 led to blocked roads and hundreds of flights being cancelled.

In both cases, railways had to cope with massive flows of stranded passengers from other modes.

These two crises revealed passengers’ and European politicians’ increasing expectations to be able to find ‘in one click’ information on all train journeys for a given origin-destination.

This was the starting point for the European rail sector to take the lead in defining a joint industry strategy, in addition to individual company initiatives.

As promised in November 2010, CER organised on 23 November in the European Parliament a second Information Session on Ticketing to evaluate the industry’s state of play one year later, kindly hosted by MEP Mathieu Grosch (EPP, BE).

At the event, CER members presented the rail sector’s ticketing strategy, which was approved by the CEOs of European rail passenger operators at their meeting on 9 November in Frankfurt.

The rail sector’s ticketing strategy is based on two main elements:

  • The use of a common European timetable database to offer complete European rail timetable information to third party ticket vendors on a commercial basis. By doing this, the European railways will anticipate the deadline set in the related European legislation (TAP TSI). They will also provide to third parties a comprehensive, unique and updated set of information for the whole European network.
  • The establishment of a technical interface for fare information exchange.

In addition, CER members presented the developments implemented in intra- and intermodal ticketing since last year’s CER ticketing event.

While Yves Tyrode, CEO of Voyages-sncf.com and Director of SNCF International Sales, informed the participants about SNCF’s work with modern communication technologies (smart phones, tablets, etc.), Karina Kaestner, Head of Marketing & Partnermanagement of Deutsche Bahn Sales explained DB’s partnership with third-party ticket vendors and information providers.

Michel Jadot, Director General of SNCB Europe, showed the complete online ticketing offer of the SNCB Europe website, which, amongst others, offers passengers the possibility to book any train service offer between London and Cologne.

Finally, Michael Stevns, responsible for passenger and technical issues at UIC, demonstrated the EcoPassenger environmental calculator which promotes eco-responsible travel behaviors.

Concluding the discussion, CER offered even stronger collaboration with European decision makers in different areas, notably in making sure that EU competition rules are adapted wherever politicians expect a stronger cooperation among railways, like in ticketing.

CER Executive Director Johannes Ludewig said:

“The rail sector has achieved an important milestone. By accelerating the development of the distribution of rail services, the European rail sector once again shows that the mobility of their passengers is at the heart of their priorities.”


  1. It’s fantastic to see the European rail network becoming more liberalised at long last. This represents a great opportunity for passengers and for innovation in the market. I anticipate that these changes will have a huge impact on prices and availability and will hopefully make getting to Europe by train easier. I hope it lives up to my expectations. 

    I’d love to know the author’s opinion about how long implementation will take? After all it’s taken many months to define the spec for TAP TSI, so how long might it take to implement the recommendations. Thank you for the article.  


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