Wireless "MultiPass" Being Trialled for National Rail Train Journeys

By James O Malley on at

A new system that will automatically detect what trains you've taken and charge you accordingly is being trialled by the Association of Train Operating Companies, and could at long last mean the end of paper ticketing.

Passenger Transport reports that the way the new system works is that the passenger carries around a small device (the "MultiPass"). When you pass through a station the pass will detect wireless beacons transmitting a signal, essentially identifying which station you're at. Then once a day, the pass will connect to your phone via bluetooth, upload all of the data and charge you the lowest possible fare for the journeys that you have made that day.

The MultiPass also has a signal a "Permission to Travel" pass built in - so that if there is a gateline at the station you can simply wave the pass over and the gates will swing open, just like with an Oyster card in London. If there isn't a gate, you won't even need to take the MultiPass out of your pocket.

If a ticket inspector approaches, you can simply show them your pass either on the phone app, or they scan your MultiPass.

Just like with Oyster ticketing, the system will work out the cheapest possible journey, and will even give you Off-Peak fares if need be, as it will know the time that you travelled. As the Multipass itself will have a bluetooth receiver, it will need charging "twice a year" - but this can be done simply with your phone charger.

Since March 2015 a small trial has been taking place with 40 customers on the route between Liverpool Street and Cambridge - though there are now plans to roll it out further by the end of the year. Apparently the company Global Travel Ventures, which owns MultiPass, is also planning a trial with Glasgow buses too.

So could National Rail be about to undergo a much overdue technological transformation? We hope so. [Passenger Transport]