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Netherlands leads contactless ticket ?revolution?

<span class="" id="parent-fieldname-description"> The Netherlands is leading a world first in its current nationwide implementation of smartcard ticketing. </span> <p>The e-ticketing project is transforming the way people use public transport and means seamless journeys on bus, metro, tram and train anywhere in the country, with no need to carry cash and no need to queue up at ticket machines. Passengers can use the new contactless card, called the OV-chipkaart, to pay for travel on any mode of public transport throughout the Netherlands, including between cities, all on a single card.<br />Chief executive Tim Cavanagh said 2009 was a critical year for the project. Cavanagh heads up East West, the Thales-Vialis joint venture company that’s spearheading delivery of the new multi-modal system.<br />“Rotterdam, Amsterdam and Arnhem/Nijmegen are fully live and we’re going live in Utrecht and The Hague,” he said.<br /><strong><br />Unique governance model</strong><br />Thales believes that the key to creating a successful national ticketing system is a strong consensus-based governance model. In the Netherlands, this was provided by Trans Link Systems (TLS), which includes the country’s five biggest public transport operators: Connexxion, GVB, HTM, NS (Dutch Railways) and RET.<br />These companies are responsible for more than 80% of the country’s public transport services and together, provided the initial critical mass needed to guarantee that the vision of a nationwide single payment system would become a reality.<br /><br /><strong>Power to deliver</strong><br />The OV-chipkaart project was awarded to East West, a consortium led by Thales. Thales designed and is supplying a complete turnkey fare management solution, including the central clearing house system.<br />The solution is based on service-proven open architecture which guarantees ticketing interoperability nationwide, reduces risk and means there’s no supplier lock in. Open architecture also provides flexibility and makes it easy for new operators to enter the national ticketing scheme. <br />With 50,000 individual items of equipment, including ticket vending machines, validators, gates, control systems and software, Thales said the scope of the scheme was “huge”.<br /><strong><br />Operator benefits</strong><br />Thales’ multi-modal e-ticketing solution delivers significant benefits for transport providers, including bus, metro, rail and tram operators. Reduced cost of ownership is one of them. <br />“The technology itself is cheaper, it’s more flexible and it’s easier to maintain” Cavanagh said.<br />“You’ve got all the benefits of moving from an old mechanical system to a solid-state electronic system.”<br />The shift from analogue to digital – from paper tickets to smartcards – is redefining the relationship between transport operators and passengers.<br />“It allows operators to be more flexible in terms of the products they offer,” Cavanagh said.<br />“It gives them far more information on passenger movements, so they can look at concessionary fares and loyalty schemes – products that can all be put on the card. Considerable savings are delivered as well for long term maintenance.” <br />The massive quantity of journey information generated by e-ticketing has other important benefits. It means that operators can be confident they’re receiving their fair share of passenger revenues – in the days of paper ticketing, revenue apportionment was often a matter of informed guesswork.<br />“Now you have real-time reporting for operators” Cavanagh said.<br />“It provides complete visibility of reconciliation and settlement. It’s faster and there’s far more traceability.”<br />E-ticketing also enables transport operators and infrastructure managers to make long-term plans based on accurate information: data is available down to the granularity of a single journey. That has important implications for the development of new services and infrastructure by allowing investment to be better targeted.<br /><strong><br />Fighting fraud</strong><br />Smartcard ticketing also provides enhanced operational assurance.<br />“Security and crisis management is an integral part of the operation,” Cavanagh said.<br />The new ticketing system cuts fraud at platform level. Passenger check-in and check-out is mandatory across all modes of transport. This, coupled with the provision of control gates installed at most stations, is already helping to cut fare evasion, boost revenue collection and improve passenger safety. Transport operations are already seeing these benefits. <br /><br /><strong>Nationwide roll out</strong><br />Implementation of the Dutch smartcard scheme is now well advanced. Major stations on the Dutch national railway network including NS joined the new system in October last year. Public transport in The Hague entered the scheme in November and the final stage of rollout will continue in 2010.<br /><br /><strong>For a customer perspective on the Netherland’s nationwide smartcard ticketing system, given by Trans Link Systems (TLS), which represents the four biggest public transport operators in the Netherlands, see next week’s Rail Express<br /></strong><br />This article is an&nbspextract from “On the Move”, Thales’ quarterly Ground Transportation newsletter.<br />To download visit: <a target="_blank" href=""></a></p>

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