Björn Bender, CEO of Rail Europe, a European ticketing vendor, spoke with Rail Technology to discuss the company’s hopes and expectations for a modal shift to rail, emphasising how passenger convenience is a major factor.
Bender explained how Rail Europe is utilizing advanced technology to satisfy consumer demands, expressing that its offerings led to a “60% increase in sales compared to last year”.
Bender said: “There is currently a growing industry and increasing demand across the European rail sector. This is seen not only in the younger generations but also in the shifting expectations of society. We anticipate substantially simpler access to train travel overall throughout Europe”.
But rail travel continues to be more expensive than flights across Europe.
A recent study by Greenpeace found that travellers across Europe are being strongly urged (by pricing) to fly rather than take the train.
As reported by Railway Technology, the Greenpeace report demonstrated on average railway travel in Europe is nearly twice as expensive as flying. Of the 112 routes analysed by Greenpeace, plane tickets were cheaper than train tickets by 71%.
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Bender emphasised the value of convenience for tomorrow’s mobility transition initiatives: “Convenience is a major factor. Because if we don’t reach the point where using the train seems as effortless as using a private car does now, then we won’t, I mean, as a society, achieve our mobility ambitions”.
Rail Europe recently attended the World Passenger Festival on 12 October in Vienna, where Bender discussed and offered insights on transitions across the railway sector.
With over 200 partnerships across the rail industry, Bender expressed how Rail Europe functions as a “broker” or an “aggregator” between the client and business parties.
Along with leading debates on the future of the industry, Bender and Rail Europe explained the success of its “state of the art” API [application programming interface], which Bender explained aggregates train suppliers’ offers giving customers the chance to get the “most affordable, shortest, and quickest option possible”.
Bender estimated that the company’s API accounts for two-thirds of corporate activities and provides about one-third of Rail Europe’s total revenue.
“We serve as the intermediary between b2b partners and clients. A customer must compare functionality across two different platforms, and the lowest pricing is sometimes already sold out, indicating that the back ends of the two carriers are not inter-connected. This problem is resolved by Rail Europe’s API, which compares both systems and offers the best solution” says Bender.
The Community of European Railway (CER), which launched its CER Ticketing Roadmap in 2021 and plans to accelerate its development by 2025, supports Rail Europe’s activities.
According to the CER, its 2025 railway undertakings commit to improving international ticketing, allowing for easy acceptance throughout Europe of tickets issued by different railways and ticket vendors.