A passenger buys a ticket for PKP Intercity train via the mobile application, source: PKP Intercity

First steps for seamless European train ticketing in place in 2025

International train tickets that can be booked further ahead through more different platforms and better support in case of delays. These are the first steps towards a seamless ticketing system to be realised by 2030. This is evident from a new vision document from the CER. According to NS chief executive Marjan Rintel “an enormous first step in the right direction”.

The roadmap of the European branch organisation for railway companies CER was presented on 8 October during a meeting in Paris. The vision document states, among other things, that by the year 2025 the CER members commit themselves to the first actions, such as extending the booking horizon and making tickets more widely available.

In addition, the members pledged to ensure that travellers on (international) multi-carrier journeys are better supported in the event of disruptions or delays. Five years later, a fully seamless system must be in place.

Integrated timetable

The meeting, which followed the arrival of the Connecting Europe Express in Paris, was attended by Kristian Schmidt of the European Commission and Christopher Irwin of the European Passenger Federation. They gave their views on the future of international train travel and ticketing in particular.

According to the CER, European railway companies have been working in recent years on the conditions to make this happen. Things like the specifications for selling train tickets via various digital channels, an integrated timetable for the whole of Europe and the basis for the fully harmonised digitisation of tickets.

Long-term vision 2030

The ultimate goal is to provide passengers with a seamless user experience when searching, choosing and booking their train services, including first- and last-mile travel. By 2030, passengers should have access to simple, reliable and comprehensive online information about timetables, fares, reliable real-time information and be able to buy tickets for (rail) transport services.

This applies to both domestic (urban, regional, long-distance) and international rail travel. Tickets issued by different carriers and ticket outlets should be easily accepted throughout Europe. In case of disruption or delay, passengers should be able to easily obtain information on the continuation of their journey and on their passenger rights.

Disadvantage

According to Marjan Rintel, CEO of Dutch railways NS, ticketing for international trains is at a huge disadvantage compared to aviation. That is why the sector has to work very hard to catch up, Rintel believes. “Travellers need a seamless user experience when searching, selecting and buying their train ticket. That means, for example, booking up to 12 months in advance and tickets from different suppliers that are easily accepted across Europe. This roadmap is therefore a huge first step”.

The CER is ready to deliver, says director Alberto Mazzola. “We have committed to a series of actions that will ensure a seamless ticketing experience by 2025, making rail even more attractive as a green and affordable transport solution. We invite all relevant stakeholders to support the Roadmap and help us to achieve the EU Green Deal target together.”

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Author: Paul van den Bogaard

Paul van den Bogaard is editor of SpoorPro, a sister title of RailTech

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