Smart ticketing is a 'big miss' from the invitation to tender for the new Northern franchise, the current Northern Rail managing director, Alex Hynes, has said.
He slated its omission as a 'massive barrier' to people choosing to use public transport in the north of the country, when speaking at the National Rail Conference in Leeds.
Reinforcing his message, a new study by non-profit body, the Campaign for Better Transport has found that the UK is 'light years' behind the European mainland when it comes to fare simplification and payment, smart ticketing and the overall passenger experience.
'We already accept smartcards in many of the urban areas across the North - Newcastle, Liverpool, West Yorkshire and South Yorkshire', said Mr Hynes, 'but people want to be able to travel across the borders from a suburb of one city to another one, and they can’t do that today'.
The new Northern franchise, which The Department for Transport has yet to award, will run from April 2016.
Campaign for Better Transport spokesperson Martin Abrams said '20 EU countries are already offering some form of flexible ticketing to their commuters, and some have been doing so the past 15 years'.
He told Transport Network: ‘There is a deficit of innovation and creativity within both the DfT and the rail industry as a whole, and a complete absence of any strategy’.
He cited the postponement of the planned delivery of the South East Flexible Ticketing project from 2015 to 2018 as a case in point.
In the Spending Review, chancellor George Osborne announced he would provide £150m to support the delivery of smart and integrated ticketing across local transport and rail services in the North.
TfN will produce a regional implementation plan, working in partnership with the DfT, by Budget 2016.