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This article was published on May 12, 2011

UK’s first mobile rail ticketing service launched

UK’s first mobile rail ticketing service launched
Paul Sawers
Story by

Paul Sawers

Paul Sawers was a reporter with The Next Web in various roles from May 2011 to November 2014. Follow Paul on Twitter: @psawers or check h Paul Sawers was a reporter with The Next Web in various roles from May 2011 to November 2014. Follow Paul on Twitter: @psawers or check him out on Google+.

Chiltern Railways, a local rail operator in the South of England, has launched an innovative new approach to ticketing, involving an integrated mobile ticketing system that enables passengers to buy, receive (instantly) and validate tickets through an app on their mobile phone.

The upshot of this is passengers can turn up at a station without a ticket and circumvent the barrier in a matter of seconds. No queues, call centres or ticket machines.

Developed by Masabi, a company specialising in mobile ticketing software for mobile phones, Chiltern’s application can be used from anywhere and remembers favourite journeys and payment card details, so that travel can be made with just a few key presses. mTickets, however, can only be purchased for some routes on Chiltern Railways, and on others tickets can be collected from ticket machines at stations.

This is the first time rail passengers in the UK have been able to use mobiles to buy, receive and use rail tickets in a single transaction. An additional differentiator is that unlike most commercial booking services, the Chiltern Railways app doesn’t charge a booking fee, and the application is free to download. Passengers can get the app by texting “Chiltern” to 88600, or simply search the relevant app stores.

This free mobile application provides passengers with details of the cheapest prices and train times, and delivers the ticket as a 2D barcode within the application. Special scanners on gates at stations enable passengers to enter and exit barriers as if they had a traditional ticket, whilst ticket inspectors are also equipped to scan the m-ticket.

See for yourself how it works here:

Ben Whitaker, CEO of Masbi, said:

“This app places a ticket machine in the pocket of mobile phone users – providing an enormously convenient and user-friendly means of searching for train times and then buying and displaying tickets. We are proud to have been involved in developing this exciting app allowing instant ticket purchase and travel, to make the process faster and more convenient for rail travellers.”

This is cleary the future for ticketing everywhere, not just on railways, as smartphones continue to integrate themselves more and more in our everyday lives. It won’t be long before all cinemas, concert venues, museums…everywhere, will be using such a ticketing system. It would be great to hear any feedback you have from using Chiltern Railways’ new set-up.