Orange train tickets to go mobile

train ticketsAmbitious proposals to modernise train tickets over the next three years will see the familiar orange paper ticket well on the way to retirement as more and more people are able to use mobile devices, contactless or smartcards to travel. A vision for the future of ticketing was set out today by the Rail Delivery Group (RDG), which represents train operators and Network Rail, at its annual conference.

The rail industry has piloted a new flexible barcoded m-Ticket, which passengers download to smartphones or other mobile devices, and wants it to be available nationwide as soon as possible – which could be within three years.

Before now m-Tickets were limited for use only on one specific train operator’s services. A pilot scheme covering more than 230 stations in the north of England, Scotland and the Midlands lets people switch between different train operators’ services on a single journey. More than 40,000 have been bought so far.

The RDG is working also with the card payments industry to explore how people outside London could use new ‘ticket in the cloud’ technology to use contactless credit or debit cards as a ‘token to travel’, replacing paper tickets.

In future instead of just paying for journeys with a bank card, customers will be able to book online or via a mobile ‘phone app and simply use the same payment card to go through the gates at the railway station. Customers with compatible smartphones would not even need their bank card with them, simply touching their device on the reader at the station.

Rail operators have agreed to fund a joint project with the UK Cards Association to explore how contactless cards and devices could support long-distance train tickets or season tickets, so passengers no longer have to print out tickets.

The RDG would like to see more pay-as-you-go smartcard schemes available to rail travellers in cities outside London too over the next three years.

Jacqueline Starr, RDG Managing Director of Customer Experience, said, “We have a vision of fully digital, mobile-friendly train travel with smarter types of quick and easy electronic tickets which are convenient, personalized and can be used on different providers’ services. Many train operators already offer options like tickets on mobile ‘phones and travel using smart or contactless cards. The rail industry is developing technology to make buying and using train tickets simpler so that people no longer have to rely on the old orange paper type, instead using technology and products that they are familiar with such as smartcards or barcode readers.

“Our customers must be at the heart of everything we do. The rail industry listens to passengers and understands their needs. There is no one-size-fits-all solution and we’ll continue to cater for everyones,” she added.

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Categories: Ticketing, Transportation

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