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Business & Economy

Hitachi Rail trials new smart ticket technology

Rail passengers could soon board trains without having to queue at barriers or ticket machines under plans revealed by a North East rolling stock manufacturer.

Hitachi Rail is developing and trialling new technology it says has the potential to transform customer journeys.

The firm, which has a factory in Newton Aycliffe, County Durham, says prototype technology currently being tested could use sensors on trains to detect an app on passengers’ smartphones as they board.

Bosses say there would be no need to remove phones from pockets or bags and therefore no need for existing station barriers, shown left.

They added the technology will ensure passengers are automatically charged the correct fare.

The technology will now undergo a rigorous testing programme for Trenito Transporti, in Trento, Italy, with Hitachi hoping to bring it to the UK for use on buses, trams and trains.

Karen Boswell, Hitachi Rail managing director, said: “This technology has the ability to transform public transport in every corner of the country, from rural buses to city centre train stations.

“The common travelling woes of queues at ticket machines or trying to find the cheapest fare could be solved without even needing to reach for your pocket.

“We are now beginning to test this technology and looking at the possibility of one app working across large stretches of a country,” added Karen.

“For example, a passenger could use the app to take a bus in their local town and a train elsewhere in the country all in one day.

“This technology could have potential to make public transport more accessible for all passengers.

“We believe this would also be good news for operators, who can entice more people to use public transport thanks to this simple-to-use payment method.”

Hitachi’s ticketless plans comes just days after the business revealed its Newton Aycliffe plant will play an integral role in a new £400 million contract to deliver next generation rolling stock for British lines.

The company will supply 33 five-carriage trains to operator Abellio UK, which will run on the East Midlands Railway franchise, serving cities including London, Sheffield, Nottingham, Derby and Leicester.

Bosses say the rolling stock, which will secure and support hundreds of jobs at Hitachi’s North East base, will start operating in 2022.