First Capital Connect has launched a mobile ticketing app that allows travellers to buy train tickets for immediate use.
Passengers can have their ticket appear as an encrypted barcode on their phones to be scanned by staff or scanners at gates where the technology has been made available, or they can use reference number sent to their smart devices to collect their ticket from a machine.
The app has been developed by Cambridge-based transport mobile ticketing company Masabi, whose cloud-based technology processes more than £50 million a year, used by 17 global transit agencies and retail brands, including Virgin Trains, CrossCountry Trains and Boston's transit authority, the MBTA.
At present, the gate scanning technology is only available at London King's Cross, Cambridge and King's Lynn stations. The technology will soon be rolled out to Ely, Royston, Hitchin, Stevenage and Letchworth Garden City, and eventually for journeys between London and Gatwick.
In the meantime, passengers travelling to other stations will have to buy tickets to be collected at station machines.
In addition, there is a limit on what types of tickets that can be purchased via the app. Currently, only anytime day single, anytime day return, off-peak day return (excluding services to London King's Cross) and Super Off-peak singles and returns are available. The system is being developed to extend to all ticket types, including carnets, in the future.
However, season tickets will not be available through the app, as the government has an initiative to make these available as smart cards, First Capital Connect said.
First Capital Connect customer service director Keith Jipps said that it hopes the mTicket to make the ticket purchasing process "as easy as possible".
"We have been quietly trialling this app over the past few months and it has proved so successful we are looking to expand mobile ticketing to other stations on our network," he said.
The app also provides real-time information on trains and timetables. Passengers can also use it to save frequent journeys and securely store payment information, so that log-in details don't have to be entered each time.
Ben Whitaker, CEO of Masabi, said: "This service will mean that passengers, for the first time, will be able to buy their tickets as they stroll to the station rather than having to queue for a ticket. We look forward to extending this passenger liberating service to other First Capital Connect routes in the future."
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