A leading expert in smart ticketing is dismissing reports over the Christmas period that suggested train travel will become ticketless in the next few years.
The Daily Telegraph article said: “Paper train tickets could become extinct under plans to allow passengers to tap in and out of stations with their bank cards, The Telegraph has learnt. As soon as next year, rail users will be able “buy” journeys online – using a computer or mobile phone – and travel carrying just the credit or debit card with which they paid.”
It went on: “Banks, train groups and representatives from the Department for Transport have held meetings to discuss how quickly the technology could be introduced across the country, it can be disclosed. Under the plans, customers will be able to “store” their tickets on so-called contactless credit or debit cards. Ticket barriers will be upgraded so they are similar to those on the London Underground, where tube passengers can tap their cards to pay.”
However a source known to Smart Highways, who asked not to be named, has rubbished the claims. The source, who is an experienced consultant on contactless ticketing systems, told us: “I have no earthly idea what the source is, but it is totally at odds with my understanding of the position of the rail industry. The project that planned to bring smart ticketing to the South East, called SEFT, has been curtailed and will deliver ITSO smart cards to Abellio Greater Anglia and C2C; far short of its original scope. Meanwhile the DfT section responsible for Smart Ticketing implementation has been disbanded.
“The government has decided that smart ticketing should be left to the Train Operating Companies, which means interoperability with TfL (an absolutely key part of any smart ticketing system) cannot now be mandated by any public body.
“I will be astonished if Card As Authority to Travel is delivered before 2025”.