Delayed PAYG rollout 'brings rail into 21st Century'


The Department for Transport (DfT) has confirmed December as the target date for the extension of pay as you go (PAYG) functionality to a further 53 rail stations outside London, which should have been completed by now.

The DfT said that by encouraging more people to use the railways through simpler and more convenient ticketing, the Government is helping to ‘bring our railways into the 21st Century’.

Officials said passengers using their bank card or smart device to tap-in (and out) will automatically be guaranteed the best price available on the day of travelling – something that has been possible for years across Transport for London’s (TfL) existing network.

As Transport Network has reported, in February transport secretary Mark Harper also ‘confirmed’ the rollout to what he said were 52 stations by the end of the year.

Last year, The DfT awarded TfL a £68m programme to extend contactless technology to 233 stations outside the boundaries of TfL’s Oyster system.

The programme split delivery into two phases, with an initial phase of 53 stations; and a ‘main’ phase. A TfL paper stated: ‘Both DfT and TfL are aiming to complete a significant number of the initial 53 stations in calendar year 2022 (with any remaining initial stations completed by the end of financial year 2022/23).'

The paper noted that initial staged stations ‘had been selected as an early deliverable due to validation equipment already being installed at the stations and the existing fares structure’.

According to the paper, the Government required the majority of the stations to be delivered by May 2024, with extension of PAYG to all stations to be complete by the end of 2024.

Shashi Verma, chief technology officer at TfL, said: ‘We are delighted to be delivering this expansion of Pay As You Go with contactless to a further 53 stations across the South East for the Department for Transport, helping to share our experience in smartcard ticketing with the wider rail industry.’

Transport Network has asked TfL when the remaining stations will be converted. Despite delivering the programme, it referred the enquiry to the DfT, which had not responded at the time of publication.

Rail minister Huw Merriman said: ‘By removing the stress of finding the best deal in advance or having the right ticket ready to go at the barriers, the extension of tap-in tap-out ticketing is the next step of our plan for rail reform and we’re working towards pay as you go being rolled out beyond the South East through the Midlands and up to the North.

As Transport Network has reported, Transport for Greater Manchester is aiming to have a TfL-style system pay as you go that will include rail travel by the end of the decade.'

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