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Cross-border bus and train travel made simple

Thanks to a digital initiative, seamless mobility using public transport across several neighbouring European countries will become a reality.

Transport and Mobility icon Transport and Mobility

Imagine crossing borders on a bus or train in Europe with journey information in the language of your choice and without having to shop for the best price or worrying about payment or inspection. Picture also being able to control your own data using chip cards, smartphones or printed paper tickets that involve different interconnected national systems. Travelling with such ease and trust simply on the basis of your account is now made possible by a technology developed under an EU-funded project. The ETC, an initiative that brings together several European e-ticketing schemes in public transport, various industry partners and the Account-Based Travelling for European Public Transport (ACCEPT) Institute, has tested a new technology to deliver a solution for interoperability in cross-border ticketing. The aim was to introduce and test the concept of account-based ticketing on the border-crossing bus lines connecting Aachen in Germany and the Dutch cities of Heerlen and Maastricht. As explained in an article on the ‘Intelligent Transport’ website, “participants received a chip card containing both the national standard electronic ticket as well as an interoperable ID that would be recognised and processed in the neighbouring country. With this set up, pilot participants were able to travel on buses in the city of Aachen as well as on Dutch bus lines using only one chip card.” Roll-out of ETC pilots The article notes that 500 participants subscribed to participate in the pilot that demonstrated the successful implementation of an account-based ticketing service across national borders using a secure ID as an identifier. “Having finished the pilot, the former ETC project partners and new partners are now working on a strategy for a follow-up project to further develop the system itself and to roll-out the approach geographically.” The further roll-out will see the implementation of the technology on the new direct train between Aachen and Maastricht. “This reflects the central objective to continue the work and further develop the system. In this context, the system will be extended to new modes, especially to cross-border train services. Furthermore, new functionalities will be implemented, such as the integration of the smartphone as a user medium and the ability to enable distance-based pricing for journeys.” The ETC (The European Travellers Club: Account-Based Travelling across the European Union) project ran between 2015 and 2018. Researchers developed a pilot in Germany using the account-based travelling concept for both regional and cross-border travellers with online planned and booked tickets. Another pilot was tested in the Netherlands based on pay-as-you-go, while in Luxembourg transport and non-transport services such as parking were integrated through account-based travelling. The systems developed by ETC partners were tested at the European Travel Lab in the Netherlands that was also used as a facility to inform the public, stakeholders and local authorities. For more information, please see: ETC project website



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