Railway station ticket barriers could be replaced by sensors which detect when passengers board trains

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The desperate scrabble for your ticket while running for a train could be a thing of the past, a manufacturer has claimed, with sensors potentially replacing ticket barriers which detect when passengers board trains.

Train-builder Hitachi Rail is developing technology designed to ensure travellers are automatically charged the correct fare by recognising their smartphones at both ends of their journey.

The firm is testing the system in northern Italy and believes it could be used on trains, buses and trams in the UK.

It said ticket barriers could be obsolete once sensors are installed.

Hitachi Rail managing director Karen Boswell said: “This technology has the ability to transform public transport in every corner of the country, from rural buses to city centre train stations.

“The common travelling woes of queues at ticket machines or trying to find the cheapest fare could be solved without even needing to reach for your pocket.

“We are now beginning to test this technology and looking at the possibility of one app working across large stretches of a country.

“For example, a passenger could use the app to take a bus in their local town and a train elsewhere in the country all in one day.

“This technology could have potential to make public transport more accessible for all passengers.”

A Hitachi Rail spokesman said the company has not yet decided exactly how the smartphone and sensor could interact, but one option is for passengers to install an app which would allow the sensor to detect that the person had bought a ticket.

Passenger groups have said the introduction of smart ticketing, where a ticket is held on a smartphone or plastic card, is long overdue.

A spokeswoman for the Rail Delivery Group said: “We welcome this exciting step towards easier fares and, as we continue to roll out smart ticketing, new innovations have a key role to play.

“To make the most of technology and make it easier for passengers to get the best value fare, outdated fares regulation needs to be updated.”



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