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Railway ticket are again to include names

01.04.2013    source:
Yevhen Zakharov
The introduction of named railway tickets and the gathering of information about passengers’ movements infringe the right to privacy. Nobody has informed passengers of such a database, and has not asked for their consent to having data about their travels inserted and retained

  Railway tickets are again to become named following amendments to the Regulations on Railway Transport introduced by a Cabinet of Ministers Resolution on 6 March despite numerous protests from human rights organizations. The resolution comes into force on 6 April.

It will only be possible to buy a ticket by showing an ID document or copy of this, or by verbally identifying oneself to the person at the ticket desk.  You’ll then have to show the original of the document when getting on the train.

Interestingly, the list of documents you need to show does not include a student pass?  Did they really forget to include it?  Somehow that’s hard to believe.

Tickets for regional and suburban trains will not give names, and tickets purchased before 6 April remain valid.

What are they doing this for?

The Infrastructure Ministry asserts that named tickets are needed to strengthen control and security during travel. Ukrainian officialdom’s love of control is well-known, however why do they not then want to heighten control and security on regional and suburban trains? And how will names on tickets heighten a passenger’s security?

The Ministry also asserts that this change is needed for processing electronic tickets and making it possible to use self-service channels for organizing tickets. The argument seems entirely idiotic since when buying a ticket on the Internet or in a machine, it’s the person who pays who is identified, not the passenger and there’s no need to insert the passenger’s details onto the ticket. There is no such practice in any EU country.  There are machines at all stations which issue tickets without names.

They also claimed that introducing named tickets will eliminate speculation with tickets and make it possible to avoid infringements by railway staff and passengers in the event of an insurance incident. Yet you could deal successfully with insurance incidents without named tickets, while this will only increase ticket touting. We all remember well how the rules were avoided before 2007 when named tickets were cancelled. They’d write down the first and last name and in 5 minutes bring you the necessary document.  Measures against ticket shenanigans needs to be directed against organized groups breaking the law, and not at restricting the possibility to travel.

Violations of human rights

In our opinion named tickets are being introduced solely for the law enforcement bodies to monitor passengers’ movements. We know that information about a journey by A from one city to another on a certain day automatically gets into a database about passengers’ travels. The police even wanted to add the surname, name and patronymic; date of birth; and ID document number to the ticket!

Introducing monitoring of movements means treating all Ukrainian Railways users as potential criminals. Such states are considered police states everywhere in the world.

It is extremely doubtful how effective it is in fighting crime to gather information about travel by railway. After all it’s clear that organized criminal gangs can easily overcome difficulties with named tickets and it would be hard to anticipate any serious impact on solving crimes.

The introduction of named railway tickets and the gathering of information about passengers’ movements infringe the right to privacy. Nobody has informed passengers about the introduction of such a database, and has not asked for their consent to having data about their travels inserted and retained. This ignores the constitutional norm stipulating that information is gathered about a person solely with his or her consent, except in cases stipulated by law.

There is no law defining the said database, and its functioning is regulated by departmental instructions. This means that the Data Protection Act is also being violated with the purpose of the gathering and very fact of retaining the information in a database not even made public.

All of this creates the opportunity for abuse, for example, for politically motivated control over the movement of passengers, including surveillance over the movements of members of the opposition, journalists and civic activists.

The use of named tickets will seriously restrict freedom of movement. A person whose documents have, for example, been stolen will not be able to travel by train. Yet legislation clearly stipulates that freedom of movement cannot be restricted by the absence of this or that document.

People’s everyday life will be considerably complicated, especially when organizing group travel or travel by foreign nationals. Inconvenience will also be caused if people’s names are incorrectly inserted.  The queues at stations will increase since the time it takes to sell a ticket will double.

In general this new change demonstrates the total lack of understanding by the authorities of the constitutional norm stating that the main duty of the state is to affirm and defend human rights. We are instead seeing a degrading attitude by the State to its citizens, lack of respect of human rights and their violation. 

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