Is this the end for orange train tickets?
The end is nigh… for train tickets, at least! Train companies are scrapping the old familiar orange tickets in a quest to make ticketing ‘more flexible'.
Anyone who's ever been on a train anywhere across the UK will recognise them immediately – those trusty little orange cards containing all the details you need for your train journey, at just the right size to fit snuggly into your wallet.
But train companies across the UK have begun taking first steps at rolling out a new ticket system that will see these orange cards replaced by paper receipt-style tickets instead!
They'll start off by dishing these receipt-style tickets out to passengers buying tickets who are already on board the train, but the plan is to make these the norm in the near future.
How the new tickets work
Credit: Derek BridgesThe new style of ticket receipt has already started being used in Wales, on the Cardiff-Treherbert line, to any passengers buying tickets from an onboard conductor.
More rail companies, including Scotrail and Chiltern Railways, are expected to follow suit in the coming months.
A spokesperson for Arriva explained how the new tickets will work:
The ticket itself will contain exactly the same information. The big change will be it is no longer printed on the same orange card. What you get will be probably very similar to what you get at a restaurant, a printer paper receipt.
The receipt will have a barcode that will allegedly open ticket barriers when scanned, but some concerned passengers have already pointed out that not all ticket barriers will be able to read a barcode scan so will need to be upgraded to suit the new system.
Why ditch the orange tickets?
The Department for Transport told train companies earlier this year to come up with more modern alternative ticketing options, and paper tickets are set to be just one of many future updates in response to this.
Word on the street is that replacing orange tickets with paper receipts will make ticketing ‘more flexible', but exactly how the will do this is yet to be explained.
What is clear, however, is that the barcode option is a step further towards digitalising train tickets.
Is transport ticketing going digital?
With ticket barriers having to be upgraded to accept these barcode readings, it's likely that the next step will be something closer to London's Oyster card system, where passengers can simply tap in and out at the barrier using a pre-paid Oyster card, contactless bank card or even just by using their mobile phone (for those with apple pay).
According to Mike Hewitson, who is head of policy at Transport Focus, digital forms of ticketing also make it “easier for train companies to offer discounts.”
But again, an explanation of exactly how digitalising tickets will do this still remains to be seen. We'll keep you posted on this one!
In the meantime, we've got some great tips on how to get cheap train tickets right here.