NMBS tests and innovates for its passengers. In order to simplify the ticket purchasing process, she is considering – in addition to her existing sales channels – a new system for purchasing train tickets, one that works with geolocation. It is one of the projects conceived and tested by the Innovation Lab, a team within NMBS that works on innovative ideas. To test this new system, NMBS is looking for 10.000 travelers: the test will start this month.

The 'FTQ-Lab' sales system is an innovative technology that makes traveling by train even easier: with a user-friendly application, after registering, the passenger can check in when approaching the station or platform, and checking out once he has reached his destination. Thanks to the GPS data, the route is detected from start to finish, and the traveler automatically receives a final bill after the trip, which is paid via the app.

This technology, developed by the company Fairtiq, has several advantages: it saves time and significantly improves the customer experience because it is no longer necessary to enter data (personal data, station of departure and arrival, etc.) and to to buy and maintain. In addition, the traveler is guaranteed to get the best price for the ticket, depending on his profile (age, etc.). Another advantage is that this technology does not require any additional infrastructure because it works with the GPS function that all smartphones have. This innovation makes traveling by train smoother, because the process is fully automated.

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sale of NMBS tickets Verviers

A first sufficient test

In the course of 2020, 440 SNCB employees and travelers have already successfully tested this system. This allowed the accuracy of the technology to be verified and customer satisfaction measured. It was not yet possible to purchase train tickets effectively.

Thanks to the positive results of the first test, a second test phase can now be started. Ticket sales are also integrated in this. The testers will be able to purchase four products from the SNCB range (Senior, Youth, Weekend, Standard Tickets).

The new concept is one of the projects that the Innovation Lab developed and tested by SNCB and can ultimately be adopted if the test proves successful and the feasibility studies, including the economic ones, prove positive. The traditional sales channels will in any case continue to exist.

The 'FTQ-Lab' mobile phone app can be downloaded on a voluntary basis and respects the privacy of the users.1

Call for candidates!

This second test phase will be spread over several months. During this period, SNCB will evaluate the complete user experience of the system. NMBS is starting the second test phase with 500 people, in order to gradually reach a maximum of 10.000 testers. The testers automatically enjoy the best rate based on their profile (four types of tickets are used during the test).

NMBS is therefore looking for travelers who want to test this functionality: interested parties can register via the website http://nmbs.be/FTQ-Lab. Depending on the number of registrations, NMBS makes a selection in order to ensure a representative test audience. Starting this month, a number of travelers will be able to test the system.

The Innovation Lab

NMBS is a company that wants to innovate, and this wish is made concrete by the Innovation Lab, which has been in existence since the end of 2019. The aim is to integrate new technologies to serve the travellers. The mobility sector is undergoing a profound transformation: new technologies and players are emerging and customer needs are evolving (intermodality, flexibility, connectivity, real time…). SNCB is adapting to this evolution. It is in this context that the team of the Innovation Lab analyzes new trends, tests new technologies and works on the implementation of innovative projects with direct positive effects for SNCB customers. 

As part of this innovation culture, NMBS has also set up an internal Innovation Community. This mobilizes a hundred employees of the company around innovative projects for which SNCB works closely with external partners.

1Compliance with European regulations governing all aspects of privacy in the digital world (General Data Protection Regulation)

Photo: NMBS

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FAIRTIQ is an innovative Swiss start-up based in Bern. Her goal is to make using public transport as easy as possible. The free ticketing application developed and managed by FAIRTIQ is already available on the entire public transport network in Switzerland and Liechtenstein, as well as in parts of Germany and Austria. With more than 28 million journeys to its credit, the application is the most widely used “check-in/check-out” solution for public transport in the world. The application is available on iPhone and Android. FAIRTIQ cooperates with several transport companies and tariff communities in Switzerland, Germany, Austria and Liechtenstein. The Swiss Railways (SBB) also rely on the FAIRTIQ technology and have integrated it into their own application as the EasyRide function.

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