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Contactless card rail ticketing development funded

14 Jan 2016

UK: The UK Cards Association, which represents the card payment industry, has received funding from the Rail Delivery Group to develop a framework which would enable contactless bank cards, mobile phones, wearables or other devices to be used for pre-purchased rail tickets. This would include long-distance and season tickets, removing the need for passengers who have contactless devices to carry paper tickets.

UKCA has already developed two models which transport operators can now deploy for ticket payment, and which the UK’s five major bus operators have agreed to roll out by 2022. Single Pay As You Go is designed to replace cash payments at the start of journeys with a known fare, for example on tram and bus networks. Aggregated Pay As You Go is designed for situations where a card is used multiple times throughout the day, and journey records processed in back office systems to calculate the correct total amount to charge, taking into account any discounts. Transport for London has already deployed such a system, which it developed in-house.

The third model is Pre-Purchase, which is at an earlier stage of development. The intention is that passengers would book a journey online, associating a virtual ‘ticket in the cloud’ stored on a database with their contactless card, which would then be used as a form of identity that could be checked against the ticket database.

UKCA is working with the rail industry to identify the requirements of operators and passengers and to develop the high-level business rules which would be needed to support such a system. Rail-specific requirements include industry agreements on the allocation of financial liabilities between transport operators and payment companies, and how to handle situations where there is no online connection, meaning a contactless card cannot be verified immediately.

Any roll-out would be some years away, UKCA told Railway Gazette International.