Smart ticketing to be launched across the UK’s rail network by the end of 2019
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Paperless ticketing will be rolled out across the entirety of the UK’s train network next year, according to transport secretary Chris Grayling.
The £80m programme will allow customers to use their mobile phone to access train services as well as smartcard payment methods.
“Our railways haven’t made nearly enough progress in using new technology for rail tickets - we needed to get rid of the paper ticket on our trains,” Grayling said while speaking at the Conservative Party conference in Manchester.
He also announced plans to extend pay-as-you-go travel on Great Northern, Southern, C2C and Thameslink services by early 2018.
“Since then we’ve been working on plans to achieve that. So today I am setting out details of our £80m programme to bring smart ticketing, using mobile phones, barcodes and smartcards, across almost the entire rail network by the end of next year. It is what passengers want and we will deliver it.”
In July, Grayling came under fire for his inconsistent approach to modernising the train network, with services in the south of England being favoured over those in the north, his critics alleged.
In particular, it was his backing of the multibillion-pound Crossrail 2 scheme just days after he announced that rail electrification plans for Wales and northern England were being cut.
The Transport Secretary also told delegates at the conference that he was aiming to “give the formal go-ahead” for a third runway at Heathrow Airport in the first half of next year.
“I am proud to be the Transport Secretary who announced that we intend to go ahead and build a third runway at Heathrow Airport.
“Subject to the necessary consultation work and securing the backing of Parliament, we are aiming to give it the formal go-ahead in the first half of next year. The expansion of Heathrow will make a difference right across this country.”
This is despite comments made by fellow Conservative MP and former London Mayor Boris Johnson in 2015. At that time, Johnson was lobbying for a new four-runway airport built on an artificial island in the Thames estuary, instead of the Heathrow expansion.