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Blighty to get mobe-download barcode rail tickets

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Barcode ticketing specialists Masabi have signed a deal with TheTrainLine.com for a national rollout of its mobile ticketing service, reducing tickets to downloaded images.

Punters can still pick up physical tickets if they want, though that would rather defeat the object of the service which is to sell tickets though the mobile phone without recourse to expensive ticket machines or, equally expensive, humans.

Masabi has been running trials for a while, and managed to get a standard for on-screen bar codes agreed by all the country's rail networks in December 2008. Since then the company has been casting around for a partner to make it all happen.

Masabi's solution uses an on-phone application - native where possible, Java otherwise, and delivered by WAP Push - to walk the user through purchasing a ticket in a process not very different from using an in-station ticket machine, only without the printer and (one hopes) without the queue. The user pays by credit card and the ticket appears on the screen as a bar code which can then be scanned by the inspector.

This solves exactly the kind of problem to which Near Field Communications is addressed, though without requiring new handsets or involving new partners. Once customers have done it once they'll likely do it again and train companies will be delighted at the cost saving achieved by making customers supply the ticketing machines, though we're still working out how one gets an accounts-department-acceptable receipt printed out. ®

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