back to article French train tickets go USB

The French National Railway Company is trialling contactless tickets with USB connections, replacing the ubiquitous ISO7816 for online top-ups and data storage. The trial, which involves 1,000 tickets, is to start in the autumn in four as-yet-undisclosed regions of France, reports the RFID Journal. SNCF already uses …


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  1. Patrick O'Reilly


    I love when my tickets come prehacked....

    Straight from the NeoWave site, the card uses the MIFARE® Classic 1K/4K.

    Isn't that the compromised one?

  2. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward


    Hasn't the 1mm think USB connector been developed already?

    didn't someone do a micro usb Mem card that fitted insde a USB socket?

    surely that is what they need here also... normal sized card where corner fits into usb socket...

  3. jai

    barcode tattoos

    barcode tattoos are the way forward

    wasn't there that track by the Orb that samples some northerner ranting on all these "facts" pointing towards the end of the world as predicted in the Book of Revelation. and he mentions the line about Wormwood covering the land and how apparently the Russian for wormwood is Chernobyl.

    and there's a bit about how standard barcodes are broken down into 3 sections of 6 lines (or divided by 6 lines, or by a line that means 6 or something) and how the US military is tattoo'ing it's troops with barcodes on the right hand and there's the line about the number of the beast shall be marked upon the forehead or the right plam of all men.....

    it's the end times, i tell you, the end times....

  4. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward


    Bet Japan Rail are really upset they got the FeliCa cards instead of MIFARE...

    But then, that's the thing when you look to invest in your own nations projects instead of the cheapest tatt going.

  5. Paul Clark

    8mm thick?

    My MP3 player is thinner than that! Why not provide a micro-B USB lead like every other portable device out there? Or better still, give away a USB-7816 adaptor...

    Est-ce un billet SNCF dans votre poche, ou êtes-vous simplement heureux de me voir?

    Je vais prendre mon manteau.

  6. Anonymous Coward

    "contactless tickets with USB connections"

    You what ... ???

    Either its contactless, or its USB. It can't be both.

  7. Jon Hulatt

    Maybe I'm dumb, but...

    Maybe I'm dumb, but surely a contactless ticket wouldn't have a connector on it?

    And what happens when some miscreant sticks some chewing gum in the socket?

  8. GrahamT

    Don't expect to use one yet if you are not French...

    I bought a SNCF ticket on t'internet, to be picked up at a French station.

    Put my credit card into the automatc ticket machine for validation, it asked for my PIN, said it was OK, thought about it for a minute or two, then came up with an error, printed out a slip of paper that said go to a desk for help and reset itself.

    At the desk they tried swiping my card and typing in the number. Each time it crashed their application. If a normal credit card for a paper ticket has these problems, what chance a 'smart object'?

    OK, so maybe they hadn't tested for a Swiss credit card being used from England to book a combined SNCF/Eurostar ticket, but I can't be the only foreigner that likes to book in advance for a better deal.

    Btw, TGV train tickets have to be date stamped in a machine just before entering the train - so they are made of thin card like an airline boarding pass. Preumably these USB tickets are just for local journeys, like the Oyster card?

  9. Bill Ray (Written by Reg staff)

    Re: "contactless tickets with USB connections"

    Ah but it can - payment systems are generally referred to as "contactless" when one means "wireless", so strictly speaking it should be "contactless-payment-system-supporting tickets with USB connections", but that's a bit of a mouthful so we abbreviate.

    The Barclays OnePulse card has the same issue, though that has proper ISO7816 contacts on the front alongside it's contactless capabilities.

  10. Bill Ray (Written by Reg staff)

    Re: Maybe I'm dumb, but...

    Not dumb, just an unfamiliar abreviation.

    "contactless" = Contactless-payment-system-supporting

    So it has contact and contactless connection capabilities, used for different things.


  11. Mike Richards Silver badge

    4Gb of memory?

    Crickey, even First Great Western's 'bumper book of piss-poor excuses' wouldn't take up that much room!

  12. Throatwobbler Mangrove

    shameless lead-in line approaching... me a dim passenger, but what's the purpose of this? So you can buy a ticket online and "download" it to your USB-enabled smart object?

    Wouldn't it just be easier to have the smart object/card sync with the reservations database by "touching in" once you got to the station or on the train?

  13. Anonymous Coward

    Happy Hacking!

    How long before the cards are hacked to death... made even easier by the USb connection!

    Hurray for USB!

  14. Regis

    Contactless AND with USB

    To people asking why should a contact-less card need a USB connector.

    The reason is simple: you use the contact-less side of it to go through the gates at the station, like the Oyster card and you plug the card into the USB port your own PC at home to recharge it!

    This is quite a good idea as most PC's have USB ports these days but very few have smart card readers (and even less RF-ID readers).

  15. Anonymous Coward
    Thumb Down

    Yes, but why?

    I can top up my oyster card online, without needing a USB connection. Or any other connection for that matter, other than the internet connection that's handling the top-up.

    The only advantage I can see is by also duplicating the data on a physical device, it can potentially still let me in or out if the fares computer is down.

    So the only possible message they're giving here is that they don't trust their own system reliability, and are therefore developing something clumsy and cumbersome to plug the gap -- something which will almost certainly cost far more than the occasional lost ticket income caused by the fares computer being down.

  16. paul fox

    either usb or contactless

    Ever heard of USB over wifi????

    You dumbwit!!

  17. Boring Bob

    @ Yes, but why?

    Oyster is a closed system, it can only be used on London Transport, hence you can use a central "fares computer". Contactless cards do not work well of there is more than one of them in the magnetic field.

    This solution de-centralises the process, you can have any number of entities charge values onto the card and any number of entities security remove it. If you wanted to make one transport card for all public transport in the UK, such a system would be ideal.

  18. b166er

    Boring Bob

    Or get rid of cash.

  19. Jay

    @barcode tattoos

    The Orb song you're referring to is S.A.L.T, which can be found on their Orblivion CD. The ranting is sample from David Thewlis' Johhny in the film Naked.

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