Feeds

Train firm offers phone-based ticketing across UK

Chiltern Railways leads the avalanche to a ticketless future

Choosing a cloud hosting partner with confidence

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. ®

Top 5 reasons to deploy VMware with Tegile

Whitepapers

Designing and building an open ITOA architecture
Learn about a new IT data taxonomy defined by the four data sources of IT visibility: wire, machine, agent, and synthetic data sets.
Getting started with customer-focused identity management
Learn why identity is a fundamental requirement to digital growth, and how without it there is no way to identify and engage customers in a meaningful way.
10 threats to successful enterprise endpoint backup
10 threats to a successful backup including issues with BYOD, slow backups and ineffective security.
Reg Reader Research: SaaS based Email and Office Productivity Tools
Read this Reg reader report which provides advice and guidance for SMBs towards the use of SaaS based email and Office productivity tools.
10 ways wire data helps conquer IT complexity
IT teams can automatically detect problems across the IT environment, spot data theft, select unique pieces of transaction payloads to send to a data source, and more.