THE Community of European Railway and Infrastructure Companies (CER) has published a ticketing roadmap, which outlines further improvements to the customer experience when planning, booking, and travelling internationally by rail. The roadmap includes a set of “concrete actions” to be undertaken by 2025, along with a long-term plan to be completed by 2030.

CER says that while many online platforms already allow customers to purchase tickets for international journeys, this experience is not always frictionless and doesn’t meet customer expectations.

Operators at the CER general assembly in Gdansk on September 20 pledged to improve international ticketing for rail “in the broadest sense,” with CER members committing to actions aimed at providing a more seamless passenger experience by 2025. This includes extending the booking horizon and making tickets more available, as well as ensuring that passengers on international journeys with multiple carriers receive better support in case of disruptions or delays.

On October 8, the CEOs of European rail passenger operators met in Paris for an annual high-level meeting to discuss their long-term vision for customers and passengers. The meeting was attended by Mr Kristian Schmidt, director for Land Transport at the Directorate General for Transport at the European Commission (DG Move), and Mr Christopher Irwin, board member of the European Passenger Federation, to share their view on the future of international passenger services, especially ticketing.

CER says European railways have been working on enablers in recent years, including respective specifications for train ticket sales that harmonise the different ways of selling tickets through the Open Sales Distribution Model (OSDM), Europe wide integrated rail timetables through the Multiple East-West Railways Integrated Timetable Storage (MERITS), and the basis for full ticket digitalisation through the Electronic Ticket Control Database (ETCD).

Long term vision

The roadmap sets out a long-term vision to be achieved by 2030, to provide a seamless user experience for passengers when searching, selecting, and buying tickets, including first and last mile transport. CER says passengers shall have access to simple, reliable, and comprehensive online information regarding timetables, prices, dependable real-time information, and ticket purchasing for rail transport services, both domestic, such as urban, regional, long-distance services, and international services. Tickets issued by different railways and ticket vendors should be easily accepted throughout Europe, and in the event of travel disruption, passengers should be able to easily attain information on how to continue their journey as well as their passenger rights.

“Ticketing in international rail is at a huge disadvantage compared with aviation,” says Netherlands Railways (NS) CEO, Ms Marjan Rintel. “That is why we need to work hard to catch up. Passengers must have a seamless user experience when searching, selecting and buying their railway tickets. That means for instance booking up to 12 months in advance, and easily accepted tickets from different vendors throughout Europe. This roadmap is therefore a huge first step”.

“The European railway system is a fundamental pillar to achieve EU climate targets,” says CER executive director, Mr Alberto Mazzola. “One of the things we need to focus on is ticketing and the Community of European Railways is ready to deliver. We have committed to a set of actions that will ensure a seamless ticketing experience by 2025, thus 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 realise the EU’s Green Deal objective together.”