New Scotrail app will allow passengers to travel without buying tickets

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The new system will automatically recognise arrival station.

Rail passengers could travel using a new app that automatically charges them for journeys without the need to buy tickets.

Under plans being devised by Scotrail the as-yet unnamed system, passengers would just have to enter their destination, which would be verified via GPS as they alighted at the arrival station.

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The system which could be called Rail as You Go, is aimed by the Scottish Government-owned firm at making paying for train travel even easier than with electronic "mTickets" on its existing app.

However, the Scottish Conservatives called for ScotRail to go further and introduce a "tap in-tap out" system using bank cards, similar to those used by bus companies such as First Glasgow and on the London Underground. The party wants buses and other public transport included too.

ScotRail is testing the concept of the new app on selected passengers, Scotland on Sunday has learned.

It told those taking part: "ScotRail is working on a new "pay-as-you-go" type product. Customers will download an app and fill in their preferred payment method - they'll just do this once. When the customer arrives at the station, they'll tap 'Begin Journey' on the app, and confirm their location via a prompt.

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"A barcode pass will then be generated - this is basically the ticket for travel, and that's what's used to pass through the station gate and show the ticket examiners. There's no further action to be taken after that. The app will automatically recognise the end of your journey and will check for the cheapest fare available before taking payment."

New Scotrail app will allow passengers to travel without buying ticketsNew Scotrail app will allow passengers to travel without buying tickets
New Scotrail app will allow passengers to travel without buying tickets

ScotRail said staff would test it first, followed by some passengers. Interim commercial director Claire Dickie said: "The new app takes mTickets a step further by removing the need to pre- purchase a ticket, enhancing the journey experience for our customers. We are in the very early stages of testing its functionality before we move to an initial set of invited customers who will trial the app. The barcode generated by the app means customers would automatically be charged the cheapest fare based on the journey taken."

Scottish Conservatives transport spokesperson Graham Simpson, who offered to take part in the trial, said: "This sounds interesting, although it is not too different to the ScotRail app at the moment in that you would still need to use your phone to tap in and out of certain stations. We have been calling for a system where you could tap in and out using your bank card, therefore doing away with the need to have an app. Transport Scotland should be more ambitious, though, and go to companies who can provide multi-modal apps working along similar lines. That's where we need to get to - and the technology exists. But anything that makes life easier for passengers is worth exploring."

Scottish Labour transport spokesperson Alex Rowley said "Boosting train use will deliver huge environmental and economic benefits and any efforts to make rail travel more convenient is welcome. It is essential that this new system gives passengers the cheapest possible fares so no-one is left out of pocket. The SNP must work with ScotRail to deliver the accessible, reliable and affordable rail system Scotland needs."

Anything that makes life easier for passengers is worth exploring

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