MDMS Proposal: ALL Policy Options Must Be Back on the Table

Last week, at an online event, Daniel Mes (member of the cabinet of the EU Commission’s Executive Vice President Timmermans) announced that all policy options for the upcoming proposal on Multimodal Digital Mobility Services (MDMS) were back on the EU Commission’s table.

ALLRAIL welcomes very much this announcement as it is indeed crucial that the EU Commission considers ambitious and effective policy options to ease the booking of (multimodal) transport journeys, especially those involving rail transport. And with a customer-oriented legislative framework enabling the re-selling of tickets, including for cross-border journeys – we can achieve that!

However, the EU Commission must also ensure that such a framework goes both ways to unleash the game-changing potential of multimodal travel with a tangible, immediate effect for passengers across Europe:

  1. Willing MDMS must be able to opt either for re-linking or re-selling the tickets of dominant, PSO and/or open access cross-border rail operators under FRAND1 agreements;
  2. Dominant MDMS (e.g. the incumbents’ own ticket retail channels) must be obliged to enter into FRAND agreements with willing transport operators to enable the sale of tickets.

On the one hand, independent MDMS can offer customers the possibility to combine and book transport journeys involving different transport offers across all modes and operators into a single booking, according to their preferences and in a hassle-free manner, especially when it involves rail transport. However, independent MDMS need a legislative framework that ensures access to all content, features and data of dominant rail operators under FRAND terms.

On the other hand, especially in passenger rail, the market of ticket distribution is overly dominated by the in-house MDMS of incumbent rail operators, such as SNCF Connect or DB Navigator. In their respective markets, they are the default go-to channel for passengers seeking to purchase tickets because they inherited their brand-awareness from the historic rail operator.

Unfortunately, those same incumbents’ in-house ticket retail channels are currently refusing to show and/or sell the offers of other rail operators, especially the independent ones. The result is that customers cannot see all existing transport options: they cannot make the most out of a transportation network funded by their own taxes! Changing this by obliging the dominant in-house MDMS to sell the offers of all rail operators would almost magically increase the rail offer for the average consumer overnight – without having to add a single train to the network!

Independent MDMS have so much potential in providing integrated and hassle-free ticketing solutions for multimodal journeys, and they need the right legislative framework for this.

However, if the EU Commission is looking for a real ‘game-changer’ and immediate benefits for passengers, it must also build on existing solutions: rail incumbents’ in-house ticket retail channels must also be obliged to enter into FRAND agreements with willing transport operators to sell their tickets.”

Salim Benkirane, Policy Officer

1 Fair, reasonable and Non-Discriminatory