On-board tickets will be receipts
In the coming months, passengers who buy their tickets on board will find themselves clutching restaurant-style paper receipts instead. Getting the train in Britain has long been marked by the orange ticket card, with the rounded edges and your journey printed on it in minuscule type.
Train companies around the country are rolling out new handheld ticket machines, with a number already in operation in Wales and Essex.
Arriva has introduced the tickets on its Cardiff-Treherbert line. A spokesman said: “The ticket itself will contain exactly the same information.
“The big change will be it is no longer printed on the same orange card. What you get will be probably very similar to what you get at a restaurant, a printer paper receipt.
“It will also contain a barcode that allows you to open the ticket barriers.”
Arriva’s 700 handheld ticket machines will be gradually replaced by machines based on smartphones, with a printer attached.
Scotrail and Great Western Railway is also understood to be rolling out the new machines. It means that many passengers will come across the new tickets this year.
The train companies believe the change will make ticketing more flexible, and make life more convenient for tech-hungry passengers.
A Scotrail spokeswoman said the firm was currently piloting a new mobile ticketing solution.
She said: “The new equipment will be lighter, faster and able to accept online and contactless payments. We plan to roll it out over the summer.”
But David Hallowell, a regular rail traveller who lobbies for passenger rights, questioned how many ticket barriers will be able to handle the new format.
He said: “I’ll go anywhere that still dispenses the old tickets. It’s bad enough many ticket offices and machines print the receipt part on receipt paper. It’s better when the receipt is on ticket stock when you need to keep the receipt for expenses.
“The current ticket design is the same size as a credit card which makes them easy to carry in a wallet without getting damaged.”
How train tickets are changing
Mobile ticketing is spreading
The Department for Transport challenged train companies to come up with new ticket options earlier this year, and they are chugging ahead with the plans.
As well as receipt-style tickets, train companies are embracing mobile ticketing. Chiltern Railways already has an app that allows you to send tickets straight to your phone.
According to Mike Hewitson, head of policy at Transport Focus, digital forms of ticketing make it easier for train companies to offer discounts and different ticket types.
But he warned changing tickets came with challenges: “The benefit of a cardboard ticket is it has got the information you need.
“You can see that on a cardboard ticket. You can’t see that on a barcode.”
These aren’t the only ticket innovations arriving. Train companies running commuter lines have introduced smart cards like London’s Oyster system which passengers can simply tap.
And Virgin already allows passengers to purchase digital tickets they can print at home.
The UK Cards Association is also working with train companies to allow more passengers to pay with contactless cards, as they can now on the London Underground.
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