Smart ticketing – contactless payment for rail

15 December 2014

Speed, ease of payment and flexibility make using a bank card to travel by rail more attractive say passengers. 

A report published today  by the independent watchdog Passenger Focus found that rail passengers see the use of contactless payment cards as a good way of avoiding wasting time queuing at ticket offices or ticket vending machines, having to pay by cash for paper tickets, and potentially enabling them to get better ticket options.

Anthony Smith, Passenger Focus chief executive, said:

“Passengers tell us they are open to new methods of payment if it makes their life easier and are more cost-effective.

“We believe using a bank or smart card is a very convenient and flexible way forward when it comes to paying for travel but it is important that the systems are well designed and properly implemented.”

Other findings include:

  • some confusion exists around how contactless payment works but those who do use it already appreciate the benefits and are keen to use it more often 
  • some passengers who don’t currently use contactless payment would be willing to try using the cards for rail travel because of the convenience of not having to queue
  • there are some questions and concerns about practicalities of using contactless payment. Some of these issues are around the security of paying in this way and some passengers feel they should be able to set their own individual limits on their card
  • as with any change in what passengers can do guidance and support on using contactless payment before travelling and from station staff is incredibly important.
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