Rollout of PAYG Ticketing for UK Rail

24 January 22

PAYG ticketing is already established and proven on parts of our rail network and can be rolled out nationally quickly and cheaply.

Widespread operation across all of UK rail requires a combination of validator infrastructure such as platform validators and ticket gates, plus one or more back offices to calculate and process the payments for the journeys made. A cost efficient, lower risk of enablement and more rapid deployment could be achieved by taking advantage of the existing systems and infrastructure already deployed.

With respect to the back office, iBlocks has already deployed a PAYG solution for GTR, SWR and GWR (in progress). These deployments to date have been largely smart card (ITSO) based but in the near future some of these deployments will be proven with barcode and contactless bank (EMV) card as well.

The same back office used in existing deployments can readily be used to enable other TOCs and urban regions and enable a rapid national rollout. The approach can use existing fare structures, existing ticket gates and existing platform validators. The rapid rollout will enable recognised benefits to both customer and Treasury (in terms of increased revenue and reduced cost) to be realised as soon as possible.

Deployment of a National Solution – Stage 1 – 0 to 12 months

  • Roll out the iBlocks solution to all of the TOCs not upgraded thus far, to ensure all of the urban regions are covered.

  • This could be completed by the end of 2022. This would utilise the existing validator infrastructure in place (barcode, EMV or smart card).

  • In practice because of the limited EMV deployment on validator infrastructure the deployment would be a combination of barcode (where available), smart card (where barcode was not available) and a move from smart card to barcode when this became available as part of the proposed barcode enablement programme.

  • If the travel token is to be barcode, then platform validators/gate validators are only required at one end of the journey. However, if smart card is to be the token then station based smart card validation is required at the start and end locations of the journey.

  • The stated 12 month timeframe is achievable for networks where additional smart card platform validators or barcode enablement of ticket gates are not required beyond existing programmes. If this is the case, then this timeframe may be impacted at this speed of enablement.

EMV Extension and Multi-Modality – Phase 2 – 12 months +

  • Many of the platform validators currently deployed do support EMV bank cards or pre-paid cards which would potentially allow a limited EMV solution to be available in Phase 1. However, the installed ticket gates do not yet support. Full EMV based PAYG on UK Rail will not be possible until this limitation has been addressed. This would be a key part of Phase 2.

  • Whilst PAYG on UK rail is important, it is also a building block to the wider proposition associated with multi-modal travel and Mobility as a Service (MaaS). This envisages an environment where customers can plan and pay for end-to-end multi modal journeys on a single ticket and stored in a digital wallet. Hence, another important part of Phase 2 will be to address multi-modal ticketing integration to enable a joined-up solution with bus, light rail and other forms of mobility.

  • Interoperability between the adjoining regions of different Passenger Transport Executives such as Transport for Greater Manchester and Merseytravel follows multi-modality within a region. The customer experience needs to be joined up across these authorities and across transport types.

Conclusion The widely agreed advantages of PAYG on UK Rail are such that its deployment nationally should not be delayed. The infrastructure to achieve this is already in place and can readily be extended to give UK wide coverage, albeit this will be a barcode or smart card based solution. This solution will be future proofed to readily move to full EMV enablement when all of the infrastructure is ready.

Tracsis Group is a software and technology company based in the UK and Ireland that has a strong presence across all areas of the transportation sector. The company is focussed on providing its customers with innovative and market leading solutions that enable them to optimise operational fulfilment, asset performance, safety and customer experience. To better compliment these objectives, Tracsis has invested in iBlocks, the UK’s first and only accredited provider of rail PAYG smart ticketing solutions. Together, we strive to provide high performing solutions and enhance passenger experience across UK rail networks.

– Chris Barnes, Chief Executive Officer at Tracsis