Feeds

Train firm offers phone-based ticketing across UK

Chiltern Railways leads the avalanche to a ticketless future

Intelligent flash storage arrays

Train passengers can now buy a ticket for any UK train journey from a mobile phone, without paying any additional commission and with the ticket displayed as an on-screen bar code.

The service was developed by ticketing specialists Masabi, and has been available for about a year from TheTrainLine.com which provides an easy booking service for a small additional fee. But Chiltern Railways has deployed the same technology with no fee, and put readers into (a handful of) ticketing gates at London Marylebone and elsewhere to make using a mobile phone ticket as simple as an Oyster card.

The application is available for all the popular phone platforms, with the notable exception of Android which is promised real soon. A J2ME version ensures that all but the most basic handsets are supported. Customers can buy a ticket on the phone, for any UK train journey, then wave the 2D bar code in front of a gate-mounted or guard-wielded reader, the guard can also check tickets without a reader through the reference number though that's not shown in the demonstration video:

The readers, which we saw demonstrated at Mobile World Congress, really do work fast and accurately. Masabi has tried using normal bar-code readers but found mobile-phone screens to be too reflective, so is using slightly-more-expensive 2D readers which appear to work just as fast as any other proximity system such as NFC.

Travel outside the Chiltern Railways region and you'll need a paper version, which can be picked up from any ticket machine though that rather defeats the object of the whole thing. The point of the project is to reduce the number of ticket machines, and windows, and thus save money.

Chiltern does make commission on tickets sold for travel on rival networks, but until those networks start accepting the tickets electronically there's little reason for customers to bother.

If, and how quickly, those networks adopt the system will depend on how much money Chiltern saves, which is in turn dependent on how many people make use of the system. It's no coincidence that Chiltern is owned by Deutsche Bahn AG, the German national train operator whose Touch&Travel (NFC-based) system is currently being integrated with local operations to create an integrated, proximity based, ticketing network.

The new deployment has addressed a couple of issues - receipts are sent to a registered e-mail address, for those claiming expenses, and you can only buy a ticket up to ten minutes before the train leaves, so no frantically tapping on the phone as the inspector makes their way down the carriage towards you. ®

Choosing a cloud hosting partner with confidence

More from The Register

next story
All aboard the Poo Bus! Ding ding, route Number Two departing
Only another three days of pooing and I can have a ride!
Official: European members prefer to fondle Apple iPads
Only 7 of 50 parliamentarians plump for Samsung Galaxy S
Fujitsu CTO: We'll be 3D-printing tech execs in 15 years
Fleshy techie disses network neutrality, helmet-less motorcyclists
Space Commanders rebel as Elite:Dangerous kills offline mode
Frontier cops an epic kicking in its own forums ahead of December revival
Nexus 7 fandroids tell of salty taste after sucking on Google's Lollipop
Web giant looking into why version 5.0 of Android is crippling older slabs
Dragon Age Inquisition: Our chief weapons are...
Bioware's fantasy forces in fine fettle
prev story

Whitepapers

Why cloud backup?
Combining the latest advancements in disk-based backup with secure, integrated, cloud technologies offer organizations fast and assured recovery of their critical enterprise data.
Forging a new future with identity relationship management
Learn about ForgeRock's next generation IRM platform and how it is designed to empower CEOS's and enterprises to engage with consumers.
High Performance for All
While HPC is not new, it has traditionally been seen as a specialist area – is it now geared up to meet more mainstream requirements?
Choosing a cloud hosting partner with confidence
Download Choosing a Cloud Hosting Provider with Confidence to learn more about cloud computing - the new opportunities and new security challenges.
Storage capacity and performance optimization at Mizuno USA
Mizuno USA turn to Tegile storage technology to solve both their SAN and backup issues.