News 18 Jan 2023

European rail sector committed to improving rail distribution & ticketing

In an open letter by the Community of European Railway and Infrastructure Companies (CER) to Executive Vice-Presidents of the European Commission, the European rail sector has stressed the importance of sector-based solutions for multimodal ticketing and underlined the significance of the CER Ticketing Roadmap, which is a major step forward for the vast majority of European railways and an invitation to other stakeholders to improve the passenger rail sector together.

The Commission’s Multimodal Digital Mobility Services (MDMS) initiative, which is expected in the coming months, 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. These need to be addressed in the MDMS and Common European Mobility Dataspace proposals. Issues include, amongst others:

  • 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.

CER Executive Director Alberto Mazzola said: “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 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 is committed to being a constructive partner on modal shift, of which ticketing is an important aspect, and we look forward to productive engagement with the Commission on this important topic.”

The open letter addressed to European Commission Executive Vice-Presidents Frans Timmermans and Margrethe Vestager and Commissioners Thierry Breton and Adina Vălean is available to read in full below.