The railcard is set to finally move into the 21st century with an app version which will solve the problem of forgetting to bring the right bit of plastic to gain a discount.
The 16-25 railcard will be the first available digitally when the app is released, according to an announcement today by the Rail Delivery Group, which represents train operating firms in Britain.
While the group did not give a precise timetable for the rollout of the app to mobile devices, it said the digital version should be available at some point "this summer".
The rest of the railcards will be available on the app from the "autumn", the group said, with the ability to move railcards easily between devices. All railcards will cost the same in digital or physical form.
Currently passengers forgetting to bring their railcard when they have bought discounted tickets are forced to pay for the difference to a full fare or to buy a completely new ticket, although a rule introduced this year now allows passengers to claim one refund per year.
The railcard, which gives passengers a third off their fare, was introduced in 1974 as the student railcard. Some 21m of the cards have been sold since April 1991, Rail Delivery Group said.
Since then other railcards have been added: the senior railcard; the friends and family railcard; the disabled persons railcard; and the "two together" railcard. All will be available on the app this autumn. However, local railcards will not be usable on the app.
Jacqueline Starr, managing director of customer experience at the Rail Delivery Group said: “Railcards have joined the digital age just like the new generation of young people using the iconic card which started it all.”