Belgian rail opens ticket sales to third parties
The Belgian railways are allowing third parties to sell train tickets on their own website. Until now, online ticket sales always redirected to the website of the national railway operator.
The move may seem superficial, but will make it easier for mobility providers to seamlessly include the rail option in their range of mobility modes.
Until now, booking a train ticket via an external site inevitably required a reroute to the website of the SNCB/NMBS (the operator's French and Dutch acronyms) itself. There, customers typically had to re-enter their personal and payment details before being to conclude their purchase.
Since that information is already stored with the users' own mobility provider, ordering train tickets in Belgium via third parties will become much easier – and possibly more popular.
The one exception to the rule is Olympus Mobility, a provider of corporate mobility solutions, which since last year offers its users the option of ordering Belgian rail tickets via a module embedded in its own web platform.
It was in reaction to this company's virtual monopoly on online third-party train ticket sales – and by analogy to the fact that Flemish bus and tram company De Lijn already offered a similar service to third parties – that the pressure grew for SNCB/NMBS to offer online ticket sales via third parties.
As a result, SNCB/NMBS has now concluded deals with several third parties. The first and only name as yet released is that of mobility services provider XXImo. Users of its Mobility Card will be able to book and pay train tickets via Milo, an intelligent app for planning and paying for business trips.
Come September, XXImo customers can use Milo for the entire process, which will add all train ticket payments to their single monthly invoices. The deal makes it even easier for companies to offer flexible mobility solutions to their employees, says XXImo.
The added service will also be available to customers of lease companies Arval, Athlon, LeasePlan and Alphabet. Fuel services providers Q8 and MAES also offer the Milo app, in combination with a proprietary mobility budget.
More companies are likely to follow in XXImo's footsteps. Likely candidates are 4411 and Mobiflow.