The UK Government has outlined an £80m plan to roll out paperless tickets across the railway network by the end of next year.

Transport Secretary Chris Grayling said railway operators “haven’t made nearly enough progress” on introducing mobile phone and smartcard tickets.

Speaking at the Conservative Party conference in Manchester, Grayling said he wanted smart ticketing to become the norm, with new technology to be trialled by the end of this year to allow season ticket holders to travel without paper tickets.

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

“Since then we’ve been working on plans to achieve that.

“So today I am setting out details of our £80m ($106m/€90m) programme to bring smart ticketing… using mobile phones, barcodes and smartcards across almost all of the rail network by the end of next year.”

He also said he wanted to see more commuter franchises outside London using pay-as-you-go ticketing systems by next year.

SJ Railways, the state-run railway in Sweden, has recently implemented technology that reads microchips embedded between passengers’ thumb and index finger.

The implants use near field communication (NFC) technology, much like the Oyster cards available in London, and will be scanned by the conductor to validate tickets.

“SJ is already one of Sweden’s most digital companies, so this new project could be started up very quickly,” said Peter Dahlqvist, head of SJ business sales. “The microchip ticket is a good example of how we are happy to try out new ideas alongside customers and help to force the pace of digital development.”

IMAGE: Negative Space