Phone payment system spells end of the line for train tickets

Scheme will allow users to pay for their journeys with mobiles and bank cards

Millions of rail commuters will no longer need paper tickets to travel, under proposals being drawn up to use phones and credit cards to pay for and access every form of public transport.

Under plans to be published by the Department for Transport (DfT) later this year, rail firms will be expected to introduce new forms of "ticketless travel" across their networks.

These will allow commuters and long-distance travellers to pay for a ticket online and then use their credit card to open platform barriers. In the longer term, customers will also be able to use their phones in a similar way, replacing the need for season tickets and Oyster cards.

The scheme will initially start across London at the end of this year but ministers expect the technology to be rolled out rapidly across the national rail network, starting in the South-east. The system makes use of contactless payment systems already embedded into millions of credit and debit cards – and soon to be included in smartphones. This allows customers to book a ticket online or on their phone and then use the same card to identify themselves electronically at ticket barriers.

In London the new scheme will eventually replace the hugely successful Oyster card system. Rather than having a separate card, customers will simply use their normal bank card to open gates on the Tube. Travellers will also no longer need to buy weekly or monthly season tickets as the system will automatically calculate when their travel has exceeded the cost of those tickets – and stop charging.

But while Transport for London (TfL) has been at the forefront of using technology to make travel easier, ministers have been frustrated at the slow rate of change on the national rail network. They have now asked officials to draw up detailed proposals for how the scheme can be extended and possibly included as part of forthcoming rail-franchise rounds.

One government source said: "If you can pay for a flight using your phone and then use the same device as your boarding card there is no reason at all why you should need a paper ticket to get on a train. It's madness that while you can book a ticket online you then have to go to a ticket machine and type in a long security number just to get a ticket.

"We already have the technical ability to do this with the barriers and computer systems that we have – it's just a question of ensuring the train-operating companies put the effort into making this happen."

The Transport Secretary, Patrick McLoughlin, said: "The journey from buying tickets online to taking your seat on the train is too complicated at the moment. By harnessing the latest technology to make the ticketing process easier, we can vastly improve the passenger experience."

The DfT is also looking at whether it can introduce budget-airline-style pricing to manage demand across the rail network more effectively. On the Underground, TfL is working on technology which would allow passengers waiting at a station to see exactly how full scheduled trains are and whether it is worth waiting for the next one.

Suggested Topics
Start your day with The Independent, sign up for daily news emails
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
ebooks
ebooksAn introduction to the ground rules of British democracy
Latest stories from i100
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
SPONSORED FEATURES
Independent Dating
and  

By clicking 'Search' you
are agreeing to our
Terms of Use.

iJobs Job Widget
iJobs General

Recruitment Genius: Sales Executive or Senior Sales Executive - B2B Exhibitions

£18000 - £30000 per annum: Recruitment Genius: A Sales Executive or Senior Sal...

Recruitment Genius: Head of Support Services

£40000 - £55000 per annum: Recruitment Genius: This is an exciting opportunity...

Recruitment Genius: Warehouse Team Leader

£22000 per annum: Recruitment Genius: This industry leading company produces h...

Recruitment Genius: Business Development Manager / Sales - OTE £40,000

£20000 - £40000 per annum: Recruitment Genius: This IT provider for the educat...

Day In a Page

The Silk Roads that trace civilisation: Long before the West rose to power, Asian pathways were connecting peoples and places

The Silk Roads that trace civilisation

Long before the West rose to power, Asian pathways were connecting peoples and places
House of Lords: Outcry as donors, fixers and MPs caught up in expenses scandal are ennobled

The honours that shame Britain

Outcry as donors, fixers and MPs caught up in expenses scandal are ennobled
When it comes to street harassment, we need to talk about race

'When it comes to street harassment, we need to talk about race'

Why are black men living the stereotypes and why are we letting them get away with it?
International Tap Festival: Forget Fred Astaire and Ginger Rogers - this dancing is improvised, spontaneous and rhythmic

International Tap Festival comes to the UK

Forget Fred Astaire and Ginger Rogers - this dancing is improvised, spontaneous and rhythmic
War with Isis: Is Turkey's buffer zone in Syria a matter of self-defence – or just anti-Kurd?

Turkey's buffer zone in Syria: self-defence – or just anti-Kurd?

Ankara accused of exacerbating racial division by allowing Turkmen minority to cross the border
Doris Lessing: Acclaimed novelist was kept under MI5 observation for 18 years, newly released papers show

'A subversive brothel keeper and Communist'

Acclaimed novelist Doris Lessing was kept under MI5 observation for 18 years, newly released papers show
Big Blue Live: BBC's Springwatch offshoot swaps back gardens for California's Monterey Bay

BBC heads to the Californian coast

The Big Blue Live crew is preparing for the first of three episodes on Sunday night, filming from boats, planes and an aquarium studio
Austin Bidwell: The Victorian fraudster who shook the Bank of England with the most daring forgery the world had known

Victorian fraudster who shook the Bank of England

Conman Austin Bidwell. was a heartless cad who carried out the most daring forgery the world had known
Car hacking scandal: Security designed to stop thieves hot-wiring almost every modern motor has been cracked

Car hacking scandal

Security designed to stop thieves hot-wiring almost every modern motor has been cracked
10 best placemats

Take your seat: 10 best placemats

Protect your table and dine in style with a bold new accessory
Ashes 2015: Alastair Cook not the only one to be caught in The Oval mindwarp

Cook not the only one to be caught in The Oval mindwarp

Aussie skipper Michael Clarke was lured into believing that what we witnessed at Edgbaston and Trent Bridge would continue in London, says Kevin Garside
Can Rafael Benitez get the best out of Gareth Bale at Real Madrid?

Can Benitez get the best out of Bale?

Back at the club he watched as a boy, the pressure is on Benitez to find a winning blend from Real's multiple talents. As La Liga begins, Pete Jenson asks if it will be enough to stop Barcelona
Athletics World Championships 2015: Beijing witnesses new stage in the Jessica Ennis-Hill and Katarina Johnson-Thompson heptathlon rivalry

Beijing witnesses new stage in the Jess and Kat rivalry

The last time the two British heptathletes competed, Ennis-Hill was on the way to Olympic gold and Johnson-Thompson was just a promising teenager. But a lot has happened in the following three years
Jeremy Corbyn: Joining a shrewd operator desperate for power as he visits the North East

Jeremy Corbyn interview: A shrewd operator desperate for power

His radical anti-austerity agenda has caught the imagination of the left and politically disaffected and set a staid Labour leadership election alight
Isis executes Palmyra antiquities chief: Defender of ancient city's past was killed for protecting its future

Isis executes Palmyra antiquities chief

Robert Fisk on the defender of the ancient city's past who was killed for protecting its future