The Welsh Government has hinted that paper rail tickets will remain in the devolved nation, despite acknowledging they are outdated.
The news comes a month after the Department for Transport set a target of 2018 for the next West Midlands franchise to withdraw paper-based magnetic strip ticketing.
In a consultation document about the next Wales and Borders franchise, due to start in 2018, the Welsh Government acknowledges the benefits of smartcard and mobile phone tickets and says it understands that ‘the popularity of pay as you go electronic ticketing is increasing’.
Paper tickets: Staying past their sell by date?
However, it also says: ‘Paper tickets are relatively inexpensive to issue and do not need complex equipment. Transport Focus data suggests that 78% of passengers are currently satisfied with ticket buying facilities. Moving away from paper would require investment and additional infrastructure.'
Transport for London invested £40m at 330 stations when it extended its pre-existing Oyster system to National Rail. The current Wales and Borders franchise manages 244 stations, some of which the DfT plans to transfer to English franchises in 2018.
Establishing an Oyster-style system in Wales would also involve the costs of setting up the software and other back office functions. The Welsh Government abandoned its promise of a nationwide pay-as-you-go smartcard for rail and bus by 2014 after running pilots on buses in four areas.
Ticket gates at some South Wales stations have received scanners to read mobile phone barcodes. A year ago, Arriva Trains Wales became Britain’s first train operator to provide discounted flexible mobile tickets, which come in packs of 12 single journeys and are valid for three months.