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More rail passengers are getting the option to use paperless tickets, the Rail Delivery Group (RDG) has said.

Major stations are having the infrastructure for smart ticketing installed, with nine in 10 journeys “soon” available in this format, RDG, which represents rail firms, said.

Smart tickets can be bought online and stored on smartphones or smartcards.

Consumer group Which? said the plans were a “positive step” but “long overdue”.

The process has required a rollout of new technology across the network, with recent upgrades at Waterloo, Edinburgh Waverley and Gatwick Airport stations.

This will be followed by new readers and computer software at Blackfriars, Watford Junction, City Thameslink, London Bridge, East Croydon and Shenfield.

Robert Nisbet, regional director at the Rail Delivery Group, said: “Together, rail companies are going full steam ahead with smart ticketing, with passengers increasingly able to use their phones or smartcards thanks to station upgrades across the network.

“Of course, we want to go further, but realising the full benefits of new ticketing technology requires regulatory reform of the wider fares system. That’s why train companies are working with government to update the rules that underpin our rail fares.”

According to RDG:

  • 22% of journeys in 2018 were made using tickets bought online
  • Paper equating to the distance from London to Edinburgh and back was saved in the first two months of 2019 thanks to paperless tickets
  • Smart ticketing makes compensation for delayed or cancelled journeys easier

Which? managing director of public markets Alex Hayman said: “This long overdue rollout of smart ticketing across the rail network is a positive step towards making journeys simpler and improving passengers’ experience.

“Last year train companies failed to resolve a quarter of a million compensation claims on time and too many people miss out on getting back the compensation they are owed for delays and cancellations.”

He said plans to link smart ticketing to one-click compensation did not “go far enough”.

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