German transport firms unveil national NFC ticketing system

Two German transport operators, Deutsche Bahn (DB) and Rhein-Main-Verkehrsverbund (RMV), have agreed to create a single ticketing system based upon their existing NFC projects following trials that first began in 2008.

The system, which is able to work with German subscribers to O2, Vodafone and T-Mobile equipped with NFC-enabled handsets, calculates the fare--once the handset is passed over a NFC reader at the start and end of the journey--and automatically charges the amount to the users' DB or RMV account.

The two firms will combine NFC systems so that passengers will be able to use NFC-enabled mobile phones to buy tickets for both local (Frankfurt-based with RMV) and long-distance (DB) train travel. Existing DB and RMV readers in the Frankfurt area will need to be replaced with new devices that enable tickets to be purchased for journeys involving both transport services. Once this is achieved, the aim is then to expand the service across the Hesse region over the next two years and, ultimately, to all of Germany.

"I have seen e-ticketing systems in operation in Venice and in several Chinese cities and I think that it is high time that we got such a solution in Frankfurt," Petra Roth, the mayor of Frankfurt, told NFC World. "For the first time, this system will be able to connect the whole Rhine-Main region."

DB's NFC system was first trialled with 200 users in 2008 on the Hannover to Berlin service, and was then extended in 2010 to cover train travel between the cities of Cologne, Frankfurt, Hannover and Berlin. RMV, the transport authority for the Frankfurt region's bus, train and underground services, has provided additional NFC-based functionality by working with VGF, the city of Frankfurt's transport operator, to place smart posters in the city's U-Bahn underground carriages. Subscribers with suitable NFC handsets can then scan these tags and 2D barcodes to obtain real-time travel updates.

For more:
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