UK rail passengers are slowly getting rid of conventional paper tickets.
Recently we revealed the progress being made by online agent mytrainticket.co.uk in moving customers to “print at home” and towards mobile phone ticketing (see online news May 11). This development, making it easier for passengers to receive their tickets, aroused a lot of interest from readers.
Now comes news that rival online rail agent thetrainline.com will be rolling out these forms of ticketing starting this year. So far it can only offer print at home ticketing through Cross Country but other Train Operating Companies (TOCs) will follow.
Richard Rowson, product development director at thetrainline.com, says the initial challenge was producing the ticket itself, “The first milestone was getting industry standards agreed both for the visual ticket layout and for how to securely encode the ticket data within a two-dimensional barcode.”
“Unlike airlines, the national rail network does not have the luxury of defined single boarding points and indeed tickets may need to be inspected in a variety of locations – often multiple times within a single trip. As such, thetrainline.com is working with suppliers of on-train and gateline equipment to ensure our ‘Print Your Own’ tickets can be read and validated.”
So far these forms of ticketing are rare and are restricted to a TOC’s own network. The only long distance train firm with print-at-home and, on selected routes, mobile ticketing, is Cross Country.
For more information visit thetrainline.com.
Report by Alex McWhirter