The service allows travellers to check in and out of rail stations using NFC or by scanning 2D barcodes, then the fare due is calculated by Deutsche Bahn and a bill for all journeys made is sent at the end of each month.
German rail transport operator Deutsche Bahn is to roll out its Touch&Travel mobile ticketing service throughout Germany this November.
The company is set to equip its 320 long distance railway stations with ‘Touchpoints’ bearing NFC tags and 2D barcodes in two months time, with the aim of making travel ticketing more straightforward and efficient.
Deutsche Bahn has been testing Touch&Travel since February 2008 and the service has been gradually extended over the last three years. In February this year, Deutsche Bahn also began working with Rhein-Main-Verkehrsverbund (RMV), the transport authority for the Frankfurt region’s bus, train and underground services, to make Touch&Travel compatible with RMV’s own NFC-based HandyTicket service.
For widest compatibility Touch&Travel has also now been extended to cover travellers with iPhones and Android smartphones. In addition to using NFC or barcodes to provide location information, smartphone apps can use GPS or the user can type in a location ID number.
“We launched a Touch&Travel iPhone app in January and an Android app in July, to provide an additional way for customers to use the service,” a Deutsche Bahn spokesperson told NFC World. “Customers can use the apps to enable GPS to find them, take a photo on their phone of the 2D barcode at the station, or type in the identification number manually; the apps plus the NFC touchpoints simply mean our customers can check into their journey at one end and out at the other without the need to buy separate tickets.”
Rail passengers will be able to use the apps, or the NFC touchpoints — which do not require any complicated infrastructure changes such as cabling or electrical supplies — to log their journeys.
Touchpoint users ‘check in’ with their phones at the start of each journey by reading an NFC tag or 2D barcode to identify the trip’s origin. This data is transmitted over the mobile network to a central repository, and each journey is calculated once the user has ‘checked out’ at their destination. The cost is then billed to the consumer at the end of the month.
Deutsche Bahn is also continuing its work with RMV to create a Germany-wide interoperable network for rail and other public transportation services. Deutsche Bahn’s spokesperson says of the joint venture: “This service is already working and is in test mode at the moment, in a limited area [Berlin and Potsdam]. We want to change to fully operational mode in November, as soon as we have installed our Touch&Travel Touchpoints at our stations. This will mean passengers will not have to buy separate tickets for the train and bus legs of their journeys.”