Today, planning, booking and executing multimodal journeys – especially long-distance, international ones – is risky, difficult and time-consuming. Therefore, EPF is a strong supporter of the European Commission’s MDMS – Multimodal Digital Mobility Services – initiative, which would tackle the issue of data sharing and also distribution agreements between transport operators and mobility service providers (MDMS) (see our position paper on MDMS here).

In the meantime, also EPF members have voiced their support and called for (EU and national) action, as can be seen from the brief overview below:

03/10/23. In the Netherlands, EPF member Rover, together with Consumentenbond (consumer organisation) and ANVR (representing Dutch travel agencies) addressed a joint letter to the transport committee of the Dutch parliament, asking that the cabinet should put pressure on Europe to make it easier for consumers to search for and book international train journeys. A plan for this is already before the European Commission. But this is in danger of being watered down and delayed by the departure of Frans Timmermans. The interest groups want the plan to be adopted quickly and unchanged. Still too often, travellers and intermediaries get stuck when trying to book the trip they want and/or pay too high a price and/or have fewer rights. The market is clearly failing here. Planning, booking and paying for an international trip should be easy. Even if it is multimodal (read more on ROVER’s website).

06/11/23. In Belgium, EPF members TreinTramBus &, together with testaankoop – testachats (consumer organisation), Bond Beter Leefmilieu and Canopea (environmental associations), wrote a joint letter to the Parliament, asking to support minister Gilkinet in making MDMS a priority, and encouraging EU action. The undersigning parties expressed their concern that the MDMS initiative risks to be ‘shelved’, and/or be limited to the compilation of timetables, while booking tickets would require to ‘click through’ to the website of the carriers. This would mean that there’s still no one-stop-shop and the current consumer-unfriendly system would continue to exist, depriving consumers / passengers of the ability to select and book travel options in an easy way. Thus, with Belgium having extensive experience in cross-border issues, it is key to keep up the pace in this dossier (read more on TreinTramBus’ website).

05/12/23. Likewise, in Germany, EPF member PRO BAHN criticised the lack of progress in the EU regulation on multimodal digital mobility services. It is often difficult for travellers to plan journeys where different means of transport, for example bus and train, or trains from two different providers, have to be combined. European passenger rights often no longer apply. The EU Commission’s work on a regulation to make this easier has come to a standstill. In an open letter to the Federal Minister of Transport, Mr Wissing, PRO BAHN pointed out this shortcoming and asked for support in calling for the EU regulation to finally be published. In addition, PRO BAHN suggested to initiate a national solution as a first step: Removing access barriers costs little, quickly generates new customers for rail transport, accelerates digitalisation and makes the market more attractive for competitors (read more on the PRO BAHN website).

05/12/23. In France, Michel Quidort participated on behalf of French EPF member FNAUT in a round table discussion organized by Trainline in Paris, dealing with the topic of regulation on train ticket distribution. Other participants included representatives of distribution platforms (Omio, Kombo, Fairtiq), operators (Transdev), the French Ministry of Transport (DGTIM) and the French Transport Regulation Authority (ART). The French Minister for Transport, Clément Beaune, opened the event. With MDMS currently on hold at EU level, the event focused on France, calling for national legislation that would enable independent platforms, such as Trainline, Kombo or Omio, to sell rail tickets – starting with those of major public companies like DB and SNCF – without obstacles or discrimination, which in turn could play a central role in the success of the opening up to competition of the railways, both long-distance and regional (read more on Le Monde or La vie du Rail).