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UK rail operators plan to replace paper tickets with smartphones and contactless cards

03 February 2016  |  5772 views  |  0 people on bridge london

UK rail operators are piloting a new barcoded m-ticket delivered direct to passenger smartphones as a replacement for the familiar orange paper tickets used for travel today.

The Rail Delivery Group (RDG), which represents train operators and Network Rail, has piloted the new m-tickets at more than 230 stations in the north of England, Scotland and the Midlands, and wants it to be available nationwide within the next three years.

The RDG is also working 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.

Under the plans, instead of just paying for journeys with a bank card, customers will be able to book online or via a mobile ‘phone app and use the same payment card to go through the gates at the railway 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.

Jacqueline Starr, RDG managing director of customer experience, says: “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."

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