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Chiltern Railways mobile train ticketing service arrives (on time)

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After much pre-launch hype – not least here at the M-Retailing bunker – Chiltern Railways has (finally!) launched its pioneering integrated mobile ticketing system on the line out of Marylebone in London that enables passengers to buy, instantly receive and validate tickets through an app on their mobile phone. A world first.

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, contact a call centre or negotiate ticket machines. The application can be used from anywhere and remembers favourite journeys and payment card details, so that travel can be made with just a few key presses.

The move marks the first time that any rail passengers have been able to use both Smartphones and everyday handsets to buy and receive rail tickets through one transaction. An additional differentiator is that unlike most commercial booking services, the Chiltern Railways application does not charge a booking fee, and the application is free to download. To get the application passengers just need to text “Chiltern” to 88600 or search the relevant app stores.

This free mobile application provides passengers with details of the cheapest prices and train times, and then delivers the ticket as a 2D barcode within the application. The company has invested in special scanners on gates at stations to enable passengers to enter and exit as if they had a traditional ticket and also on equipment for ticket inspectors to read the mTickets.

Thomas Ableman, Marketing Director of Chiltern Railways says: “This innovation in ticketing is a first within the rail industry and comes at a time when we are investing £250 million on our route to transform rail travel to and from London. The Chiltern Mainline will reduce journey times significantly and our app ensures that passengers spend far less time searching for, queuing, buying and printing tickets. Rigorous usability testing means that we are confident our app is simple and easy to use for all passengers and we are delighted to have developed this industry first by making ticketing faster at a time when we’re also doing the same to our trains.”

The application has been developed with partners Atos Origin and Masabi. Graham Bodman, Head of Transport Products for Atos Origin explains: “The 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, part of our continuing drive to make the whole passenger journey as seamless as possible. 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.”

“This app places a ticket machine in the pocket of mobile phone users – providing an enormously convenient and user-friendly means of searching for train times and then buying and displaying tickets,” adds Ben Whitaker, CEO of Masabi.

The service is initially being launched with versions for iPhone, Blackberry, Nokia, Samsung, Sony Ericsson and other everyday phones. Chiltern Railways will continue to work with partners ATOS Origin and Masabi to develop pioneering technology to meet the growing needs of their passengers.

While the UK’s Chiltern Railways has gone live with mobile ticketing, Teleca, a supplier of mobile software solutions for the consumer electronics, automotive and mobile industries, has released an iPhone application for Rail Europe – that will allow Rail Europe customers to book travel across 35 railroads and 32 countries on their mobile phone.

“We are passionate about European travel,” said Rail Europe´s CEO Frédéric Langlois. “With our new App customers have the depth, breadth and full resources of Rail Europe with them every step of their journey. This will make traveling around Europe by train easy and flexible whether planned in advance or on the go.”
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