Virgin Trains go digital with new m-tickets

Picture by: Martin Keene/PA Wire/Press Association Images.
Picture by: Martin Keene/PA Wire/Press Association Images.

Virgin Trains are going digital with new m-tickets in a bid to end the orange paper train ticket.

The train operator will make m-tickets available to Virgin customers travelling on all routes along the east and west coast mainlines.

The bar-coded m-tickets, which customers download to their smartphones or other mobile devices, will be offered for journeys on Virgin Trains services purchased through the Virgin Trains (East Coast) website or the Virgin Trains app.

The app means that customers can both buy and use their tickets on their mobile for maximum convenience.

Customers wanting to buy their tickets on the day can download the app via the free Virgin Trains station Wi-Fi, avoid queues, and select their ticket via a simpler interface than ticket machines.

Alisha Jackson, 20, from Newcastle, said: “It’s probably a good thing depending on what situation you are in.

“If your mobile device has no battery then you are screwed.

“However, I’ve also been in a situation where I lost my paper ticket and had pay a lot of money for a new one.”

From March 1, East Coast journeys can be booked via the East Coast website for mobile m-tickets.

It applies to all routes and ticket types except journeys to Leeds, Stevenage and North of Edinburgh, where m-tickets are available on advance fares only, but excludes season ticket holders.

However, from early April, the Virgin Trains app and the Virgin Trains East Coast website will both sell m-tickets for both franchises.

This follows on from Virgin Trains’ participation in the industry pilot scheme looking at making buying and using train tickets simple. As part of this pilot they have been able to increase overall mobile ticket sales to over 170,000 since July 2015, from less than half that amount.

Both companies are looking at ways to bring m-tickets to even more customers and move away from paper tickets completely, which are easily lost or confused with tickets for other journeys.

Rail Minister, Claire Perry, said: “We want to build a 21st century railway that provides better journeys for all and much simpler and smarter ticketing is a vital part of that.

“We have been clear that we will support the industry with ticketing innovation but that we also want rail companies to do what is best for their passengers, without government interference.

“The expansion of mobile tickets means more Virgin Trains customers can enjoy the benefits of this new technology, and it will help us get rid of outdated paper tangerine tickets.”

Graham Leech, group commercial director at Virgin Trains, added: “We always want to be on the side of passengers and make their experience with us the best it can be.

“That’s why we love innovating for our customers, which is why we were the first train company to introduce automatic delay repay and why we’re now the first franchised operator to bring in m-tickets in this way.”

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