The Ukrainian Railways joint-stock company (Ukrzaliznytsia) and the Visa international payment system are simultaneously launching in the railway industry three pilot projects that will offer passengers new services and a modern fare payment service, particularly passengers on suburban routes.

Ukrzaliznytsia announced this in a statement, the CFTS portal reports.

According to Oleksandr Pertsovskyi, the director of the Passenger Company, which is a subsidiary of Ukrzaliznytsia, the joint projects envisage introduction of non-cash payment for travel to certain destinations on suburban trains, development of a new platform such as a chat bot for searching for and selling tickets, and creation of convenient recreation areas for passengers who travel frequently.

According to Ukrzaliznytsia, the popular routes of Kyiv-Fastiv and Kyiv-Sviatoshyn have been selected for implementation of a pilot project involving introduction of contactless fare payment on suburban trains. In particular, the project provides for installation of turnstile systems and ticket terminals at a number of stations.

If successfully implemented, Ukrzaliznytsia and Visa plan to extend the project to other suburban routes.

"Our partners at Visa have technical solutions that will allow this service to be launched early next year. Passengers will be able to pay for travel contactlessly with a card or even a smartphone rather than standing in line at the ticket office. By the way, this option is very relevant in the current situation in which coronavirus is spreading. The railway will also benefit because it will be able to combat the problem of fare beaters, at least partially," Pertsovskyi said.

According to him, the second project with Visa involves implementation of new mobile solutions for notification of passengers.

Ukrzaliznytsia expects passengers to be able to obtain information about train timetables, pay for travel tickets, and receive reference information and other services in various mobile messenger applications within a few months. 

According to the statement, the third area of cooperation is creation of so-called “lobby zones” at key train stations, implementation of which will require much more time and financial and technical resources compared with other projects.

"Unfortunately, it is not that simple. The IT infrastructure of the railways is still quite complicated and has many outdated systems. We need to figure out how the latest payment services can be made interoperable with them," the director of the Passenger Company said.

Natalia Voitovich, the head of sales and solutions for retail and service businesses in the CIS and Southeastern Europe at Visa Ukraine LLC, noted that the company has global expertise in development and implementation of transport solutions in many cities in Ukraine and around the world. According to her, the company is ready to help Ukrzaliznytsia take the first steps at the start of the projects.

"We are very pleased to become part of Ukrzaliznytsia’s payment history. Our task is to offer modern technical solutions that will facilitate creation of comfort for passengers, speed up services, and provide high-quality feedback between the company and its clients. We see how much more convenient and safer it is for people to pay for services today. Therefore, we strive to help Ukrzaliznytsia to gradually switch to platforms that will allow its clients to pay for travel and other services via non-cash means," Voitovich said.

As the CFTS reported earlier, Ukrzaliznytsia signed memorandums of cooperation with Visa and MasterCard on September 4. The memorandums of cooperation provide for introduction of a number of innovative projects that will improve and modernize the railway company’s services.