Paper train tickets will be a thing of the past by the end of 2018 as UK rolls out £80m Oyster-style smart card plans

Lynsey Barber
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The Demise Of The British Rail System
Say bye-bye to paper train tickets by the end of 2019 (Source: Getty)

The orange train ticket familiar to anyone who travels by rail across the UK will be a thing of the past by the end of next year.

Ambitious plans to introduce a smart ticketing system that lets travellers use a mobile phone or Oyster-style smartcard to "almost all of the rail network by the end of next year" were quietly announced by transport secretary Chris Grayling.

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It's understood to be the first time a timeline has been given for a roll-out of the technology after it was put to the test in Bristol in trials over the summer.

"Our railways haven’t made nearly enough progress in using new technology for rail tickets. Last year I said to you that we needed to get rid of the paper ticket on our trains," Grayling said in a speech at the Conservative Party conference.

"Since then we’ve been working on plans to achieve that. So today I am setting out details of our £80m programme to bring smart ticketing….. using mobile phones, barcodes and smartcards across almost all of the rail network by the end of next year."

Read more: The Oyster card gets a revamp: Soon you'll get balance alerts to your phone

The hugely successful Oyster card, which lets users travel on trains, buses and some rail routes in London with a digital ticket, is more than a decade old.

The government is putting £80m behind efforts to bring paperless tap-in and tap-out technology to the train network.

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