Unlike in the aviation sector, travel across Europe by rail is not always supported by readily available tickets and billing systems or by up-to-date travel information. While other transport modes already make use of mobile devices for travel information and electronic ticketing, this is not yet possible with rail due to the lack of interoperable systems relying on computerised and harmonised data. Only some local and national rail operators use mobile for ticketing and customer information management, but not on a transnational basis.

The European Commission has adopted a regulation on standards in the field of telematics applications for rail passenger services (Commission Regulation (EU) No 454/2011 of 5 May 2011 on the technical specification for interoperability relating to the subsystem ‘telematics applications for passenger services’ of the trans-European rail system). These standards, known to the rail sector as "technical specifications for interoperability" (TSI) relate to the subsystem "telematics applications for 

passengers" (TAP) of the trans-European rail system and define how stakeholders must interact with travel-related data in the field of rail transport.

The main objective of TAP TSI is to facilitate planning, reservations and travelling by train in Europe. It will also strengthen passengers’ protection and enhance informed consumer choice by making it possible for rail companies and ticket vendors to fulfil their obligations under Regulation (EC) No 1371/2007 on rail passengers’ rights and obligations.

The standards define how stakeholders must interact with rail travel data. The data exchange covers timetables, tariffs, information on conditions of carriage before and during the journey, as well as other data. Part of the standard is a definition of a standard rail data exchange architecture and definitions of key data content and but also approved standards of exchange with other modes.

The TAP TSI standard is of high importance for the further development of any European multimodal services. The computerised information and reservation systems that will be developed on the basis of these standards will not necessarily supply "integrated tickets", meaning a single ticket for a trip involving more than one transport mode. However, based on these standards, suitable communication systems between rail companies and ticket vendors will be developed, while rail data will be made available to all players, such as rail companies, infrastructure managers and ticket vendors. They will have at their disposal harmonised travel data, which they can use to develop IT tools and applications. For example, the data could be used to book tickets for international rail journeys, plan a European journey crossing national borders, or display the latest information on the internet or in the train itself.



 European Commission (DG MOVE)

 CER: The Community of European Railway and Infrastructure Companies

 ECTAA: The European Travel Agents’ and Tour Operator Associations

 EIM: The European Rail Infrastructure Managers

 EPF: The European Passengers’ Federation

 EPTO: The European Passenger Transport Operators

 ERA: The European Railway Agency

 ETTSA: The European Technology and Travel Services Association (ETTSA)

 GEBTA: The Guild of European Business Travel Agents

 UIC: The International Union of Railways

 UITP: The international network for public transport authorities and operators, policy decision-makers, scientific institutes and the public transport supply and service industry

 UNIFE: The Association of the European Rail

TAP TSI prescribes protocols for the data exchange of Timetables, Tariffs, Reservation, Fulfillment etc. Identically, standard information content on timetables, (aside from departure and arrival time) is defined as:

 Basic principles of train variants

 Representation of a train,

 Different possibilities to represent days of operation,

 Train category / Service mode.

 Transport service relationships

 Coach groups attached to trains,

 Joining to, splitting from,

 Through connections (connecting to),

 Through connections (Service number change).

 Details of transport services

 Stops with traffic restrictions,

 Overnight trains,

 Time zone crossings,

 Pricing regime and Reservation details,

 Information Provider,

 Reservation Provider,

 Service Facilities,

 Accessibility of the train (including scheduled existence of priority seats, wheelchair spaces, universal sleeping compartments)

 Service extras,

 Connecting - Timing between transport services.

 Station list.

 This is a reflection of the complexity of rail travel.

Timetable data exchange is based on EDIFACT messages. The EDIFACT standard provides a set of syntax rules to structure, an interactive exchange protocol and provides a set of standard messages which allow multi-country and multi-industry exchange of electronic business documents. EDIFACT is widely used across Europe, mainly due to the fact that many companies adopted it at an early stage of development.

The EDIFACT standard provides:

 a set of syntax rules to structure data,

 an interactive exchange protocol (I-EDI),

 standard messages which allow multi-country and multi-industry exchange.

XML-messages are also used e.g. home printed tickets.