Parliament’s Transport Committee is set to challenge ministers on their apparent failure to make good on pledges to deliver smart ticketing, which has added to the ‘great disappointment’ of the failed South East Flexible Ticketing (SEFT) scheme.
As Transport Network has previously reported, the rail industry is set to miss a target to give ‘all passengers’ the option of travelling without a paper ticket by the end of the year, despite being handed £80m of public money.
The Department for Transport (DfT) has now effectively admitted that it will fall short of a subsequent target, in the November 2017 Strategic Vision for Rail, ‘that, by the end of the year , both ITSO and barcode tickets will be accepted for travel on almost all of the network’.
It has told Transport Network that by the end of the year passengers will be able to use ‘at least one’ of a barcode ticket, or a smart card, across almost all of the network.
The DfT added that next year, ‘even more passengers’ will have a smart ticketing option and that passengers will be able to make journeys that travel across franchise boundaries using a smart card or a mobile barcode – an implicit admission that at the end of 2018 travel without a paper ticket across franchise boundaries will be limited.
Although Transport Network asked the DfT to clarify how much of the network will accept smart cards by the end of 2018 as a result of its £80m investment in smart card technology it did not add to its previous statement.
Lilian Greenwood, chair of the Commons Transport Committee, told Transport Network that she expected the Government to miss the target in the Strategic Vision for Rail.
She said: ‘Perhaps that’s something that the committee will be minded to ask ministers about – what the revised targets might be – because it seems very unlikely that the original one will be delivered.’
Ms Greenwood, Labour MP for Nottingham South, added: ‘Of course it comes on the back of the SEFT scheme in the South East which is already a great disappointment.’