Deutsche Bahn lauches Touch&Travel, a system that works with RFID Technology. Travelers throughout Germany may soon be able to use their cell phones to pay for train. And, the main operators of telecommunications and French public transport announce the publication of specifications in billettique transport on mobile phone “contactless”…

In Germany

At a press conference today, Deutsche Bahn (DB), Germany’s national rail company, and German-based cell phone service provider Vodafone announced the launch of Touch&Travel, a system that works with RFID-enabled signs and cell phones to eliminate paper tickets in the country’s extensive public transportation network. Over the next two years, the two firms will install Touchpoints terminals (signs containign passive 13.56 MHz RFID and complying with NFC standards) at public transportation stations.

How it works?

Travelers will hit a key on their Touch&Travel-enabled phone to activate the NFC chip inside, then wave the device over a Touchpoint terminal at their starting point—be it a bus, subway or railway station. A specially designed SIM card in the phone stores data from the Touchpoint’s embedded passive RFID tag, turning the handset into an electronic ticket that can then be read at any point along the journey. From there, a traveler will be able to use any combination of public transportation options to reach their destination. Conductors along the way will be equipped with handheld RFID interrogators to check the electronic ticket stored on that person’s cell phone. Upon arriving at their final destination, the individual will wave their phone across a Touchpoint terminal to finalize their ticket. The system will then transmit the data to a central computer, which will calculate the trip distance and determine how much time it took, then bill the customer automatically.

It will be a success?

“Today, the cell phone, next to keys and the wallet, is the most important thing people carry with them when they leave the house,” says Friedrich Joussen, head of Vodafone Germany. And, this system offers many advantages:

  • It’s a potentiel to tie together various transit networks: subway, bus…
  • Touch&Travel could encourage automibilistes to use public transport
  • It’s a simple and tranparent system

In spite of enthusiasm around this launch, today it’s essentially an experiment!
What are the details of this pilot project?

Two hundred people will take part in this project. They will use a part of the public transport network in Berlin, the entire public transport system of neighboring Potsdam, and trips between Berlin and the central German city of Hanover: 1,500 Touchpoint terminals. During the pilot’s initial phase, volunteers will still require standard tickets. The system is tested in the real conditions:  with bills sent to travelers at the end of each month in lieu of paper tickets.

The NFC-equipped phones used in the pilot are made by Motorola because of its renown. The terminals are built by Netherlands-based NXP Semiconductors. The system’s software is being handled by Atron Electronic, which specializes in electronic ticketing and customer tracking in transportation systems.

Touch&Travel wouldn’t be available Germany-wide until 2010 at the earliest !!!

In France

Bouygues Telecom, Orange, SFR, Keolis, RATP, SNFC, Transdev, et Veolia Transport finalized the first part of their project to define a common service, a billettique in mobile phones “contactless” for public transport. This group named Ulysse it has tow objectives: to specify a service of billettique of the public transport in mobile phones without contact and to offer to the urban passengers of simple, practical and reassured resolutions. This group use the international standards: SIM on Java Card, multiapplication Global Platform, ISO 14443 and Calypso application.

The Ulysse group publishes their specifications, freely avaible ( and useful in France and outward . The second phase  will finish in May, 2008.

Do you think that France will adopt a system similar to Touch&Travel?