For much of the past few years, U.K. railroad systems have been using smartphones to display tickets as bar codes or other forms of digital fares.
The London Transit Hub has garnered much of the attention for ticketing technology advancements, but a rail system on the outskirts of the city is preparing to introduce a new phase of ticket-free travel.
Chiltern Railways is testing a mobile app that will automatically give riders the best price available that day and charge their linked accounts at the end of the day — with geolocation tools within the app keeping track of where riders boarded and departed.
Travel technology company SilverRail Technologies will partner with the rail company to establish the ticket-free travel system.
Passengers will use their smartphones to detect the start of their ride and Bluetooth to open ticket gates at the stations. At ungated stations, geolocation will monitor the customer's travel.
"Customers want to travel easily with assurance they have paid the best price, and this app-based concept eliminates the need to purchase a ticket," Dave Penney, managing director of Chiltern Railways, stated in a press release.
In addition to the ticket-free, best-price features, the Chiltern Railways app will also offer real-time travel updates, commuter advice and various travel options. It will also keep track of a rider's travel history and the prices paid, as well as explanations on how the best fares were calculated.
The pilot for the app, scheduled to begin in July, will be conducted on Chiltern's new route between Oxford Parkway, Bicester Village station, Bicester North and London Marylebone.
Plans for the ticket-free and easy-payment network began in September of 2016, not long after the rail company received funding from an RSSB Future Railway competition seeking future projects to make traveling as frictionless as possible.