End of paper rail tickets will make it easier to claim compensation
The Rail Delivery Group, which represents the UK’s train companies, expects nine out of 10 tickets to be available digitally rather than in the old-style orange paper form.
Digital tickets can be bought online or via a smartphone and stored on a handset or a smartcard.
Passengers can already use paperless tickets while travelling from major stations including Waterloo, Brighton, Gatwick Airport, Edinburgh Waverley and Glasgow Central.
This month, new readers and computer software is being installed at Blackfriars, Watford Junction, City Thameslink, London Bridge, East Croydon and Shenfield.
In May and June, there will be further upgrades at more stations, particularly in Scotland. They include Edinburgh Gateway, Bathgate and Glasgow Argyle Street.
On top of the obvious speed and convenience benefits, smart tickets are expected to make it simpler for passengers to claim compensation.
Some operators already operate ‘one click compensation’ and it’s hoped this will be rolled out across the network.
Robert Nisbet, regional director at the Rail Delivery Group (RDG), 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.
“Of course, we want to go further, but realising the full benefits of new ticketing technology requires regulatory reform of the wider fares system. That’s why train companies are working with government to update the rules that underpin our rail fares.”
Earlier this year, the RDG announced a raft of proposals which aim to modernise the country’s rail ticketing system.
As part of the plans, it wants to introduce pay-as-you-go-pricing across the UK, which it said would cut costs for commuters who travel off-peak or fewer than five days a week.
Passengers would also no longer have to buy split tickets to pay the cheapest fare.
Split ticketing is when commuters buy multiple tickets for one journey to reduce costs.
Alex Hayman, managing director of public markets at consumer group Which?, said: “This long overdue rollout of smart ticketing across the rail network is a positive step towards making journeys simpler and improving passengers’ experience.
“However, last year train companies failed to resolve a quarter of a million compensation claims on time and too many people miss out on getting back the compensation they are owed for delays and cancellations. Plans to link smart ticketing to one-click compensation do not go far enough. The rail review should capitalise on this opportunity to finally introduce automatic compensation for all passengers across the network.”