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Buy your train tickets using your mobile phone

As late as boarding
Wed Dec 17 2008, 18:05

RUN FOR THE TRAIN with laptop and briefcase in tow no longer, as purchasing and displaying your ticket has just been made a whole lot easier with a little help from all commuters’ friend, the mobile phone.

Masabi, the mobile apps company and the Rail Settlement Plan (RSP) announced yesterday that they will be joining UK train companies and operators in bringing us a new standard for secure barcode rail ticketing.

This will mean no longer having to use the normal Internet services to buy your tickets, and certainly cutting out the frantic race to buy your ticket and catch your train at rush hour. Future plans for this service will also mean the acceptance of a single mobile ticket purchase involving multiple rail operators.

You can purchase your ticket using your mobile phone prior to your journey, right up until the moment your train leaves the station. This can be done by sending a simple text message and paying using your credit card – the security will as tight as online banking. Your phone will then hold all the information you need to travel, and will display your ticket to anyone who needs to validate it.

The most significant benefits of this new service include the obvious environmental advantage of not printing out tickets as well as the option to buy any ticket for any journey up until the point of departure without restrictions.

RSP's Mostafa Gulam said that with Massabi’s help, "We have been able to bring down the cost of implementation and raise the functionality of the system in ways we had not thought possible."

The technology used for this barcode system is very similar to that of London's Oyster system, which means that, should the systems go down, the barcode sent to your mobile phone should contain enough information to scan and validate tickets even if the data-base or server connection has gone down.

Mike Short, President of the Mobile Data Association, said: "Mobile phones have become the most inclusive digital device that we carry today, secure mobile bar codes offer a clear pathway towards a increasingly cash free society."

"It's great that RSP has now produced this new standard, but the hard work now falls to the Rail Operators to roll out systems supporting this standard, and agreeing to share tickets on routes with other barcode ready operators," said Ben Whitaker COO of Masabi.

He continued to say that the real operator savings and convenience of mobile ticketing won't be realised until consumers can actually buy every-day walk-up tickets on their mobile.

The system should work quickly and efficiently, yet like all new technology we will just have to wait and see how successful it will be. µ


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