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Chiltern Railways looks to end ticket office queues with iPhone app

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Soon the mobile phone won’t just be for commuters to yell “I am on the train” into, it could be their ticket to ride if a pilot conducted by Chiltern Railways proves a success. The train company has announced details of an integrated mobile ticketing system that will finally solve the age-old problem of ticket office queues.

A free iPhone application will provide passengers with details of the cheapest prices and train times, and then deliver the ticket as a 2D barcode within the application. Special scanners on gates at stations will read the iPhone screen to enable passengers to “touch in” and “touch out” of stations.

For the first time, passengers arriving at a station without a ticket will be able to get through the barrier within seconds, without needing to queue at ticket offices, call contact centres or negotiate ticket machines. The iPhone application will remember favourite journeys and debit card details, so that travel can be made with just a few touches of the screen.

This innovation marks the first time that any rail passengers have been able to use smartphones to buy and receive rail tickets through one transaction. Unlike most commercial booking services, the Chiltern Railways iPhone application will not charge a booking fee, and the application will be free to download.

The iPhone app will launch in Spring, followed shortly by apps for BlackBerry, Android, Nokia, Samsung and Sony Ericsson.

This innovation in ticketing is a first within the rail industry and comes at a time when Chiltern Railways is investing £250 million along their entire route to transform rail travel to and from London through creation of the Chiltern Mainline.

“We are delighted to move rail ticketing into the twenty first century. We are already spending £250m to speed up our passengers’ journeys through faster tracks – we are now speeding up their journeys by ending forever the need to queue at ticket offices or phone call centres,” says Thomas Ableman, Marketing Director of Chiltern Railways. “This announcement leapfrogs rail travel into forefront of travel technology.”

The application has been developed with partners ATOS Origin and Masabi. Graham Bodman, Head of Transport Products for Atos Origin comments: “The i-app solution is connected to our AVANTIX WebTIS retail engine, which Chiltern already use to sell tickets on-line, and also to our AVANTIX Mobile solution, which verifies the mobile barcode. This latest innovation from Chiltern offers customers a quicker and more convenient way to buy and collect tickets directly via their mobile device with no additional transaction fees.”

“The era of queuing at train stations to buy tickets is coming to an end. Mobile handsets can provide an enormously convenient and user friendly means of searching for train times and then buying and displaying tickets. While this is coming first to the iPhone, we’ve designed it so the application can be rolled out on almost all phones in the near future,” adds Ben Whitaker, CEO of Masabi.

Chiltern Railways will continue to work with partners ATOS Origin and Masabi to develop pioneering technology to meet the growing needs of their passengers.
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