I keep complaining that trains have a terrible user interface for payment: tickets. For example: if you get to the station and there is a very long queue, you might miss your train.
The Register is reporting that two German rail networks are interlinking their payment and ticketing systems:
Frankfurt’s regional travel authority is to merge its NFC infrastructure with the national rail operator, creating an interoperable network for travelling across Germany with a tap of the phone.
The cool part is NFC. Near field communication uses magnetic induction to send data over short distances. This is how Oyster works, but it is also appearing in phones, especially Android phones. This means you could buy a ticket using an app on your phone, then use your phone to touch-in at the gate. No queuing or ticket printing required.
The Reg article also mentions that thetrainline.com are doing something similar in the UK with barcodes. It’s early days: one recent press release suggests that this will work “when rail operators start supporting this feature in the coming months”.
I think NFC is a better long term bet. NFC readers should be cheaper than barcode readers, and easier to use. Around London we already have Oyster readers everywhere, and people are familiar with them. It should only require an electronics upgrade at the gate to the existing Oyster reader, rather than larger physical changes that barcode readers would need. It might take a while for NFC to be ubiquitous in phones, but phone technology moves very fast.
Some while back I started accumulating links to interesting transport things, concerning events during the recent spell of Transport Blog outage, by googling “transport” and ignoring everything boring, which is a hell of a lot. (Mostly politicians moaning about how they aren’t being allowed or should be allowed to waste public money on transport crap of various sorts.)
But then I got ill and forgot about this. Today, just to clear my decks, I give you this file of links. There aren’t actually that many, but for what they are worth, click and enjoy:
Inside the world’s biggest private jet.
Germany gets across the channel. It’s taken seventy years for the big arrows at the beginning of Dad’s Army to get here, but now they are about to.
Video of train spotter failing to spot the train. It’s behind you.
Buy more salt. I.e. for the roads this winter.
And finally, what with Michael’s recent writings here on the subject, a couple of motorcycle links: Motorcycles - miracle or menace?, and The tireless motorcycle museum curator. Tireless. Get it? Oh never mind.
See also this excellent Vietnam motorbike picture.
Patrick: please feel free to re-edit the categorisations below.
LATER: I also agree with the commenter who reckons that this bit of road building video is BRILJANT!!!
Up to know my favourite station anywhere was the central station in Cologne. That was until I clapped eyes on Berlin’s new Hauptbahnhof. Absolutely glorious, inside and out - light, spacious, clean, logical. It’s the way stations should be.
So, that’s a German station beating another German station and if were to do a ranking I think German stations would fill up the next few positions. It would appear that they are on to something.
Which kind of fits in with something I learnt on my study tour of German railways a few years ago. Apparently, Deutsche Bahnhof - Germany’s national railway - had spent a year working out what a station actually was. “A town’s calling card” was the expression they used but I suspect there was a lot more to it than that. Anyway, it appears to have been time well spent. The results have been fantastic.