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Nine out of 10 train tickets to be available in paperless form

Nine out of 10 train tickets to be available in paperless form

Customers will be able to store nine out of 10 rail tickets on mobiles or smart cards as new technology is rolled out this month.

All train operators now let their passengers buy smart tickets, which are loaded onto a customer's smartphone or smart travelcard rather than being used as a traditional orange paper ticket. 

And the new technology will let passengers use smart tickets at more stations on all types of tickets - singles, returns and season tickets.

The Rail Delivery Group, which represents rail firms, says smart tickets will save passengers time queuing at ticket machine, and could make it easier to claim delay compensation if passengers link their ticket information to their personal accounts.

See our Cheap Train Tickets guides for 17 ways to save.

What are the upgrades?

Smart ticketing is available at most mainline stations across the country, with ticket barriers and readers installed at 890 stations to recognise smart tickets.

Recent upgrades mean passengers can now use smart tickets on journeys from stations such as Waterloo, Brighton, London Gatwick, Edinburgh Waverley and Glasgow Central. 

And this month new readers and software will be installed at Blackfriars, City Thameslink, London Bridge, East Croydon and Shenfield.

How soon after getting a paperless ticket can you use it?

If you get a barcode ticket which you display over your phone, that usually comes via email or you can download it in an app, so you can travel with it as soon as that comes through after you purchase.

With smartcards, you can usually activate your ticket within a couple of hours of buying it – either by tapping in through a ticket barrier as you travel.

If there is no ticket barrier at the station you may need to allow time to activate your ticket at a ticket vending machine or at another station. 

What do the rail firms say?

Robert Nisbet, regional director at the Rail Delivery Group, said: "Together, rail companies are going full steam ahead with smart ticketing, with passengers increasingly able to use their phones or smartcards thanks to station upgrades across the network. 

"Of course, we want to go further, but realising the full benefits of new ticketing technology requires regulatory reform of the wider fares system. That’s why train companies are working with Government to update the rules that underpin our rail fares."