Rail sector committed to improve multimodal ticketing

Photo: ÖBB / Eisenberger

The European rail sector is highlighting the importance of sector-based solutions for multimodal ticketing and the significance of the CER Ticketing Roadmap, which is a major step forward for the vast majority of European railways, an open letter by the Community of European Railway and Infrastructure Companies (CER) to Executive Vice-Presidents of the European Commission says.

The letter is addressed to European Commission Executive Vice-Presidents Frans Timmermans and Margrethe Vestager, to the Commissioner for Internal Market Thierry Breton and the Commissioner  for Transport Adina Vălean.

The organization invites other stakeholders to involve in the improvement of passenger rail sector.

The Commission’s Multimodal Digital Mobility Services (MDMS) initiative, which is expected in the second quarter of 2023, aims to address distribution issues and improve the passenger experience, but there are significant technical and commercial concerns that could make its implementation difficult for railways, CER says. These need to be addressed in the MDMS and Common European Mobility Dataspace proposals.

“The CER Ticketing Roadmap commits 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. In the upcoming MDMS proposal FRAND [fair, reasonable and non-discriminatory] principles should be based on existing best practices in the railway sector and strike a balance between the interests of both the distributors and the railway operators,” CER Executive Director Alberto Mazzola said.

The letter is mentioning major issues which are to be considered:

  • Sector solutions are the fastest – sector-based solutions should be supported and considered as the starting point, when improving multimodal ticketing. The Commission proposal must provide a legal framework where transport operators are not deterred from innovating – meaning they have ownership of proprietary solutions – commercially sensitive insights are protected, and incentives to invest in ways of generating value through the entire transport chain are preserved;
  • Passengers need low prices – the economics of transport operators and ticket vendors needs to be properly considered to avoid undermining transport economics or substantially increasing passenger ticket prices;
  • Avoid dominance of digital platforms – distribution commissions, unless capped at low level, increase the risk that well-funded tech giants (often non-European actors), with limited investments in the distributed services, would enjoy guaranteed profits at the expense of transport service providers, the public sector budget and ultimately consumers.

CER further emphasises the fundamental importance of necessity and proportionality of the legislation. Improving cross-border rail travel requires first and foremost a massive increase of investment in infrastructure and interoperability as well as investments in rolling stock – an overhaul of rail ticketing can only ever supplement these essentials. Duration, affordability and comfort of travel are key criteria in passenger choice.


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