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BBT March/April 2019 cover
March/April 2019

Smart ticketing rolls out to more train stations

Ticket machine at a train station

Thousands more rail passengers will be able to use smart tickets this month as more train operators make the technology available.

According to the Rail Delivery Group (RDG), major stations such as Waterloo, Brighton, Gatwick airport, Edinburgh Waverley and Glasgow Central now have the facilities to enable passengers to use tickets stored on their mobile phones or smart cards rather than the traditional paper version.

Following further installations of readers at stations and software updates due to be issued at the end of April, RDG says it expects nine in ten tickets to be available for sale to customers as smart tickets.

Figures from RDG show 22 per cent of rail journeys in 2018 were made using tickets bought online – up from 7 per cent in 2013.

The move allows users to purchase tickets and display them on their mobile phone rather than having to collect paper versions at the station, potentially saving time.

The scheme is part of the rail industry’s attempt to modernise the fares system, for which it is proposing reforms. RDG says its suggestions are the first major submission to the Williams Review and have “paved the way” for pay-as-you-go price caps to be introduced across the country. The group claims its proposal could enable a greater range of on-the-day fares for people to buy on their smart phone.

RDG claims the roll-out of smart tickets can save trees too, with the equivalent of 1,200km – or the distance from London to Edinburgh and back – in traditional orange paper tickets saved in the first two months of 2019.

In addition, smart ticketing can also enable “one-click compensation”, which is already available on some operators.

Further readers will be installed at Blackfriars, Watford Junction, City Thameslink, London Bridge, East Croydon and Shenfield this month, with upgrades due at stations such as Edinburgh Gateway, Bathgate and Glasgow Argyle Street throughout May and June.

Robert Nisbet, regional director at RDG, commented: “Together, rail companies are going full steam ahead with smart ticketing, with passengers increasingly able to use their phones or smartcards thanks to station upgrades across the network. Of course, we want to go further, but realising the full benefits of new ticketing technology requires regulatory reform of the wider fares system. That’s why train companies are working with government to update the rules that underpin our rail fares.”

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