Tuesday, October 24, 2006

Choo choo ring ring

UK train operator Chiltern Trains is – pardon the pun – steaming ahead in the mobile ticketing arena.

The company, which operates services between London and Birmingham, is about to pilot a scheme whereby passengers will be able to buy a ticket online, receive a barcode confirmation, and then use the image on the phone to swipe in and out of stations.

The system will initially only be available to those buying E-Day Passes, but if the pilot scheme is successful – after a three-month period, starting in mid-December – any passenger buying a fare online will be offered the service.

Chiltern told us today that mobile-to-mobile services might be available at a later date.

Problem: Chiltern Trains are heavily reliant on commuter for its business, as a vast number of the stations the company serves are within an hour of London.

Will passengers, who probably buy a weekly, monthly or annual season ticket, want to have a barcode ticket for local stations but then have to whip out their paper ticket or Oyster Card for the London Underground or bus network?

If all the other train operators got together to work on the technology then the project might actually be more effective.

Unfortunately the words “collaborate” and “UK train companies” are not often heard in the same sentence.

Kevin May, editor, Travolution

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