Passenger Experts Subgroup

Passenger Experts Subgroup

The Passenger Expert Subgroup is the umbrella group for the Passenger Services Group’s commercial and technical activities. It facilitates cooperation on international distribution between UIC members and transforms their commercial and regulatory requirements into technical standards and interfaces for international sales and distribution systems. The group focusses on:

  • Ticket layout and security standardisation
  • Standardisation of reservation and distribution systems
  • Sales and tariff harmonisation for NRT (non-reservable tickets), IRT (integrated reservable tickets), -* NT (night trains) and EWT (east-west tariffs/traffic)
  • Recommendations and preparations for the Special Conditions of International Carriage (SCIC)
    Innovation and digitalisation

OSDM

OSDM (Open Sales and Distribution Model) is the new Europe-wide industry standard for ticket sales, reservations and price distribution, a project jointly managed by UIC, railway companies and ticket vendors represented by EU Travel Tech and the ECTAA (European Travel Agents’ and Tour Operators’ Association).

The standard comprises two parts: online distribution (transport and reservation) and offline distribution (transport only). Whereas previously the two distribution standards were separate, OSDM enables the sale of both online and offline tickets in a single interface.

For online distribution, the new OSDM standard uses an API (application programming interface) which enables distribution of international travel tariffs and prices and seat reservations among railway companies’ distribution systems in real time and makes train tickets available to third party vendors around the world.

The standard is defined in IRS 90918-10 and provides a new open sales and distribution interface for the passenger transport sector as follows:

  • Can be used for all fares, including domestic (offline and online)
  • Interface for multimodal trip search (online), including bus or local transport ticketing
  • Interface for booking/reservations (online)
  • Aftersales for booking/ticket reservations and ancillary services (offline and online)
  • Graphical seat reservation (online)

OSDM is also compatible with multimodality extensions (MaaS).

The technical OSDM JSON format used online is also used offline to exchange tariff data for NRT (non-reservation ticket) trains between railways twice per year. To enable widespread take-up by railways, UIC has decided to publish the OSDM specification (IRS 90918-10) in Apache 2.0 open licence. For further information on the OSDM specification, please visit the GitHub website: https://unioninternationalcheminsdefer.github.io/OSDM/

Publication:

Sales Progress Group (SPG)

The Sales Progress Group creates and maintains the framework of mutual trust for international tariff cooperation between railway undertakings. They aim to harmonise the conditions of carriage and sales and contribute to the draft of Special Conditions of International Carriage (SCIC). The group also collaborates with the UIC PSG technical groups on the development of specifications and IT solutions for each commercial unit.

There are three subgroups within the SPG, each focusing on specific topics: Non-Integrated Reservation Tickets (NRT), Integrated Reservation Tickets (IRT), and Night Train (NT).

Non-Integrated Reservation Tickets (NRT) group objectives:

  • Align the objectives of participants with the overall NRT philosophy,
  • Keep in close contact with and seek the advice of CIT and CER concerning decisions on NRT-related matters,
  • Gather information and ensure active member participation on technical and commercial topics (ticketing, layout, commercial measures, etc.),
  • Draft recommendations for the current SCIC-NRT and the final version for publication,
  • Publication and follow-up of decisions and action points decided upon during working group meetings.

Integrated Reservation Ticket (IRT) group objectives:

  • Gather feedback and best practices from participating IRT railways,
  • Keep in close contact with and seek the advice of CIT and CER concerning decisions on IRT-related matters,
  • Gather information and ensure active member participation in respect of technical and commercial topics (ticketing, layout, commercial measures, etc.),
  • Review of the current SCIC-IRT,
  • Revision of Hermes codes,
  • Publication and follow-up of decisions and action points decided upon during working group meetings.

Night Train (NT) group objectives:

  • Developing conversations between operators and distributors,
  • Conversations on international night train travel in the context of Covid-19,
  • Strengthening commercial cooperation among operators and distributors.

Publications:

East-West Tariff (EWT)

EWT Steering Committee objectives

  • Ensure passenger through ticketing between railway undertakings that apply the CIV Uniform Rules and those that apply the Agreement on the International Passenger Transport by Rail (SMPS),
  • Achieve substantial harmonisation of conditions of carriage and sale and thus secure an opportunity to better fulfil passengers’ needs,
  • Draft recommendations for the SCIC-EWT as well as provisions for the issuing of tickets and accounting. In doing so, updates made to the GCC-CIV/PRR and the SMPS are to be considered.

Passenger Services Solutions (PSS)

The Passenger Services Solutions group oversees the development and maintenance of specifications for data exchange for the distribution of international rail tickets. The specifications for data exchange cover timetable enquiries, reservation, ticket inspection, etc.

The group works closely with the Ticket Layout and Ticket Security groups and the different commercial units to translate their requirements into solutions specific to each unit (IRT, NRT, NT, EWT). The group also coordinates with the European Union Agency for Railways (ERA) on the development of the TAP TSI (Telematics Applications for Passengers – Technical Specifications for Interoperability).

Publications:

Ticket Security Group (TSG)

This group deals with the security features of international rail tickets. Rail tickets can be protected by Security in Paper (security background, defined by CIT), Security in Data (most often a 2D barcode), Security in System (reference to a contract on a server) or a combination of two or more of the above.

The public key management website is used to exchange public keys to ensure that barcodes are not counterfeited.

Publication:

Ticket Layout Group (TLG)

The TLG (Ticket Layout Group) has defined rail ticket layouts for CIT paper, blank paper (print-at-home tickets) and on-screen display formats.

Publication:

Integration of intermodal transport projects

Better integration for door-to-door journeys (UIC D2D)
Integration between rail and other surface transportation services, such as local public transport, buses, car and bike sharing, is beneficial to all the parties concerned. The main benefits for rail companies include improved customer service, greater passenger volumes, stimulation of modal shift, new ancillary revenue sources and the opportunity to evolve from traditional transport operator to mobility service provider.

The D2D project will allow railway companies to offer door-to-door journey packages through digitally-enabled ticketing, journey management and validation systems and will leverage the growing adoption of account-based ticketing by transport providers. In addition, the project will define guidelines and formats for the exchange of real-time data, including train tracking.

Better integration with air transportation (UIC AIR+RAIL)
Integration between rail and air transport offers numerous benefits to rail operators, including access to a global network of online and traditional travel agents, additional international sales opportunities and a gain in market share in ground mobility solutions connecting to airports. However, a number of challenges have slowed cooperation between the air and rail transport sectors, particularly a lack of common standards and of technology platforms enabling distribution systems for multimodal tickets, divergent business models and the lack of a business model for intermodal transport solutions.

This project will increase members’ awareness and knowledge of intermodal integration between air and rail with a view to removing or mitigating major technical barriers, and will provide technical guidance and standards in order to facilitate integration, as well as technical solutions to accelerate adoption. The project will facilitate the creation of multiple partnerships between airlines and rail companies, enabling airlines to offer Air+Rail journeys through any sales channel (website, mobile, GDS, OTA, etc.).

Three-year programme
Both projects will be conducted in four stages: strategy, design, implementation and exploitation.

Strategy: Develop a position paper providing a clear strategic vision, based on analysis of context, trends and scenarios.

Key activities:

  • Analyse relevant intermodal endeavours and identify key barriers
  • Review industry protocols and standards
  • Analyse technological trends and industry scenarios
  • Develop strategy and detailed roadmap

Design: Develop technical guidelines and standards for implementing air-rail and door-to-door intermodal solutions.

Key activities:

  • D2D
    • Define guidelines and formats for the exchange of real-time data
    • Define solutions and guidelines to facilitate development of token-based electronic ticketing
  • Air+Rail
    • Define solutions and describe impacts on processes and systems
    • Define technical interoperability mapping between TAP TSI and other relevant standards

Implementation: Transform the ecosystem through a centralised platform providing a dynamic mapping registry between key entities.

Key activities:

  • Design the requirements for the dynamic mapping registry enabling code-sharing
  • Issue the RFP for implementation and hosting of the platform
  • Manage platform development and go-live

Exploitation: Ensure adoption and exploitation by the ecosystem.

Key activities:

  • Review organisational and operational model to support the new services
  • Develop and execute the communications plan
  • Launch pilots
  • Organise events such as press conferences, conferences and hackathons

Innovation - Platform

At the November 2018 PSG meeting in Rome, the decision was made to begin 2019 with a focus on innovation, with the creation of a dedicated working group in which members are invited to contribute to specific topics in a series of workshops. The topics covered by the Innovation subgroup are as follows:

Passenger services digitalisation:

  • Transforming the passenger experience through digital technologies and omnichannel strategies
  • Technological developments in travel planning and shopping
  • Digital payments
  • Technological developments in the station and rail journey experience
  • Ongoing UIC initiatives

Blockchain:

  • Introduction to blockchain technology
  • Potential benefits and challenges of blockchain
  • Examples and use cases in transportation and other industries
  • Potential applications in passenger rail
  • Loyalty applications
  • Mobility-as-a-Service
  • Online travel agencies and distributor provisioning

Intermodality:

  • Integration of passenger rail and air transport: case studies
  • New distribution capabilities and transformation of airline distribution
  • Technological developments and new opportunities for air and rail integration
  • Integration of rail and other surface transport modes: case studies
  • Technological developments and new opportunities for integration with ground transportation
  • The Mobility-as-a-Service paradigm

Artificial Intelligence:

  • How artificial intelligence is transforming the travel industry
  • How big data analytics and data science help meet travellers’ needs
  • Virtual assistants and conversational interfaces: technological developments and applications
  • Examples and use cases in transportation and other industries
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