Ministers are set to scrap paper rail tickets across South East England in favour of contactless payments.
The contactless payments will be integrated into London’s Oyster card system.
Transport officials reportedly want to expand pay-as-you-go smartcards in a pre-emptive strike against trade unions.
The unions are opposing the potential closure of ticket offices across the region.
The Department for Transport has now launched a tender to select a company to run the rollout of ticketless fares at stations across the Home Counties, according to a government filing.
Transport Secretary Grant Shapps needs to find large savings in the rail network after handing subsidies to operators in excess of £10bn since the outbreak of the pandemic in March 2020.
The rail industry has been told to make £2bn of cuts to balance the books.
Roughly a fifth of these savings are expected to come from job cuts.
Ticket offices are expected to suffer the most with thousands of redundancies planned.
Only the driver positions are expected to remain unaffected.
The Telegraph reports that industry leaders have been warned that the Department for Transport will face a “tough settlement” ahead of Chancellor Rishi Sunak’s spending review.
The sector does not enjoy “protected status” in the eyes of the Treasury.
The cuts also follow Shapps pledging in his rail review to end paper ticket queues and simplify the purchase of tickets.