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Fjord Line Puts RFID Aboard Ferry

Passengers use RFID-enabled tickets to enter the ship and access their cabins, and, in the future, will also do so to receive additional services, such as meals or Internet access.
By Claire Swedberg
Oct 14, 2013

Norwegian ship operator Fjord Line is employing radio frequency identification technology to manage ticketing and cabin access on one of its ferries, and plans to extend the technology's use to the identification and confirmation of passengers' onboard services, such as at restaurants. The RFID-enabled ticketing and access system, provided by passenger-ship IT solution company Carus, includes passive high-frequency (HF) 13.56 MHz RFID tags, compliant with the ISO 14443 standard, embedded in paper tickets carried by passengers, as well as handheld readers used by staff members at the ferry's entrance, and RFID-enabled door locks for all of the ship's 300 cabins.

In July 2013, Fjord Line installed the solution on the company's newest ferry as it was put into commission—the MS Stavangerfjord, which travels between Norway and Denmark—while a second new ferry is now being equipped with the technology as well, with plans for the solution to be taken live in April 2014. Fjord Line provides transportation for both tourists and commuters. The Stavangerfjord—which travels between Bergen, Stavanger and Langesund in Norway, as well as Hirtshals, Denmark—has a capacity of 1,500 passengers and 600 vehicles, with 306 cabins and five restaurants or bars.

The MS Stavangerfjord
Carus has provided a reservation and ticketing system to Fjord Line for all of its ferries since 2001, says Anders Rundberg, Carus' CEO. The Carus system manages payments, the printing of tickets and the booking of reservations. On Fjord Line's two older ferries, the MS Bergensfjord and the Fjord Line Express, passengers use a bar-coded paper ticket for boarding and a separate magnetic-stripe card for bunk access. Each guest presents the bar-coded ticket to personnel at the gangway, and the ticket is read by a bar-code scanner and then returned to that individual. This process enables the ferry to create a record of all tickets received before the ferry left the dock. Each passenger uses a separate magnetic-stripe bunk card to gain entrance to a particular cabin (the journey can last for several days, so those onboard overnight would need to reserve a bed). Up to four beds are installed within each cabin; therefore, multiple passengers share a cabin (most often in groups of four, such as families).

This system of bar codes and mag stripes works fine, says Linda Selle, Fjord Line's IT manager. However, RFID offered several benefits. For example, with RFID, a greater amount of data could be linked to a ticket-holder, thereby enabling a staff member equipped with a handheld reader loaded with the software to ensure that the ticket was correct (for example, the proper ticket for that specific date). The mag-stripe readers at the cabin door locks require a great deal of maintenance, she adds.

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