Seeking a way to rid its network of paper tickets, rail operators in the U.K. are extending the use of contactless ticketing through smartphones or cards.
The Rail Delivery Group is testing a barcoded mobile ticket at more than 230 stations in the northern regions of England as well as Scotland and the Midlands.
The RDG, which represents train operators and the Network Rail system, is working with the card payments industry to determine how commuters outside of London could use what it is calling "ticket in the cloud" technology.
London has a reputation for quickly embracing contactless and mobile ticketing and payments, and there’s a move to extend that innovation to rail travel elsewhere in the U.K. With the new tests, train riders would use the barcode on their smartphones or on contactless credit or debit cards as a "token to travel," the agency said in a press release.
Customers will be able to book tickets online or through a mobile app, using the same payment card to enter the gates at the railway station.
Rail operators are funding the joint project with the UK Cards Association to determine how the contactless cards and devices could support long-distance train tickets or season passes, thus eliminating the need for customers to print tickets.
"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 ticket," Jacqueline Starr, RDG managing director of customer experience, said in the release.
Instead, the agency's initiative will allow consumers to use smartcard and barcode technology and products they are familiar with, Starr added.