UK rail smart ticketing scheme introduced

uk rail smart ticketing
© iStock/Marco Rosario Venturini Autieri

The UK’s major railway stations are set to introduce smart ticketing systems, allowing passengers to store tickets on their phones, in printable emails and on smart cards.

Consumers travelling through Brighton, Edinburgh Waverley, Gatwick Airport, Glasgow Central and London Waterloo will be able to purchase smart tickets online or through a dedicated app. The tickets will be compatible with existing ticket reader machines and electronic barriers at 890 UK stations, enabling a widespread move away from paper-based tickets – which are not particularly environmentally sound and can be lost – with nine out of 10 rail tickets sold in the UK projected to be available as smart ticket options by the end of the month.

Robert Nisbet, regional director of the Rail Delivery Group (RDG), the UK’s rail industry body, said: “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.”

Smart tickets purchased via the mobile app will produce a barcode on the user’s phone, which can be directly scanned at ticket barriers; while tickets ordered to a user’s email account will be sent as an attached PDF file which can then be printed or viewed on a mobile phone screen. Smart cards may be purchased online or at stations; and will be able to hold up to five e-tickets at one time.

The RDG has said the introduction of UK rail smart ticketing systems represents the first step towards a full-scale restructuring of fares and ticketing across the industry, saying: “The rail industry is proposing a root-and-branch reform of the current system of fares and tickets. With regulatory changes we can deliver what customers have told us they want: an up-to-date, easier to use system where they have more control over when they travel and how much they pay.” RDG intends to work in tandem with the government to deliver regulatory reform on rail fares.

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