Published: Oct 4, 2021 by Josef Petrak
Brand new OSDM ticketing standard is poised to unify protocols used by European railways. Passengers benefit from more booking options, carriers, and ticket distributors will take advantage of a standards based solution with lower development costs.
Prague-based Bileto successfully deployed and tested a next-generation ticketing interconnect to enable cross-carrier reservations within the national OneTicket system—a unified fare scheme covering 15 passenger rail operators in the Czech Republic. As of July 2021, carriers using the Bileto platform can seamlessly offer their seat inventory for sale with any OneTicket fare, even when ticketed by a different carrier. ARRIVA became the first operator to make its booking inventory available this way.
This breakthrough is enabled by the adoption of OSDM—a newly-developed data exchange standard designed for a modern rail market. Its objective is to easily connect existing reservation systems used by Europe’s largest railways.
OSDM, short for Open Sales and Distribution Model, defines a standardized communication interface between passenger rail operators and ticket distributors. This enables sales channels to better access carrier’s fares and reservation inventory. Unlike its many predecessors, OSDM is based on modern, internet-era technologies and by its very nature is free from royalties or supplier lock-ins. The standard has been in development since 2020 as a joint effort of UIC member railways, as well as independent software vendors.
Bileto became the very first solution provider to roll out an OSDM implementation into commercial usage in July 2021. The first successful ticketing interconnect was established with Cendis, a state-owned entity tasked with managing the country’s unified fare system and its API. OneTicket’s core uses OSDM to search for and issue seat reservations offered by the Bileto reservation system. By extension, other rail carriers in the country get the same capability through OneTicket’s API. Going forward, the initial implementation will be extended to offer more seat selection options and other features.
“Seamless connection of our booking platform with external distributors have been at the heart of our efforts for several years. Stand-alone seat reservation and search, however, necessitated significant new development on top of our existing interfaces. We even considered defining our own standard to meet our clients’ functional requirements. Ultimately, the advent of OSDM was timed perfectly to facilitate this step. Not only does it cover the full range of features we need; it also provides us and our partners with cost savings thanks to its open nature,” says Bileto’s CEO Josef Petrák.
Major European rail carriers are currently integrating OSDM into their booking and sales systems to enable simplified continent-wide passenger ticketing. Having a single, well-defined interface between carriers and vendors is a key value driver. Ticket distributors and online travel agents no longer need to tailor their systems to each rail operator individually but will instead benefit from an open standard to search for fares, reservations, and ancillary services. A key added benefit is the ability to interconnect multiple carriers’ reservation systems to offer completely new through-ticketing options and even combine trains with bus journeys and urban mobility in a single itinerary.
In the Czech market, OSDM-powered integration of Bileto and OneTicket will soon enable convenient seat selection by implementing interoperable seat maps. The company currently explores possibility to offer reservation of bicycle spaces and baggage fees in near future via OSDM.
Bileto is actively participating in the OSDM working group and is planning to become one of the first vendors to extend its OSDM interface to offer coach routes. Support for OSDM is available for all Bileto platform customers out-of-the-box.
Bileto is a privately owned tech company based in Prague, Czechia. It has been developing its flagship booking system since 2015, focusing on serving public transportation companies that want to modernize and expand their online presence. By adopting the Bileto platform, train and bus operators of all sizes immediately get access to an advanced route search engine ready for web and mobile app integration, along with a comprehensive sales platform covering online, on-board and POS ticket sales, and a versatile API to easily integrate with third-party distributors.