New ScotRail operator will phase out paper tickets

Paper tickets for rail journeys in Scotland will be gradually replaced by smartcards. Picture: Reuters
Paper tickets for rail journeys in Scotland will be gradually replaced by smartcards. Picture: Reuters
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SCOTRAIL passengers will ditch paper tickets for smartcards on most journeys under Dutch firm Abellio’s plans to revolutionise travel after it takes over the train firm next April.

The new operator of the franchise also hopes to see a big increase in cycling to and from stations, with cycle parking provided initially at nearly 50 stops.

Abellio project manager John Dietz said the firm forecast smartcards would be used for one in eight journeys by 2016, more than one in three the following year, and on nearly two in three trips by 2020.

Nearly 90 million passengers a year travel on ScotRail trains.The total is expected to grow significantly further, with new and upgraded lines due to be completed over the next five years.

Smartcards, which are pre-loaded with cash and swiped at ticket gates, are currently used for only about 2 per cent of ScotRail trips, despite being launched five years ago.

Abellio is an offshoot of Dutch national railways, where 14 million of the 16 million population use smartcards in 80 per cent of rail journeys.

Mr Dietz, speaking at Cycling Scotland’s annual conference in Glasgow, also said Abellio planned to increase “sustainable” trips to and from stations by 10 per cent. This would be achieved by improving cycle facilities at stations and on trains.

Covered cycle racks will be provided at 39 stations initially, with extra facilities at Scotland’s eight largest stops. Storage compounds will be established at Aberdeen, Dundee, Glasgow Queen Street, Inverness and Perth, with free cycle spares, air pumps, and possibly cycle hire.

Glasgow Central, Edinburgh Waverley and Stirling will have the highest level of facilities – a staffed cycle storage area and cycle shop along with repair and cycle hire.

The ScotRail smartcards could be used to access secure parking areas, book space on trains and for cycle hire.

Mr Dietz said to achieve the 10 per cent switch from car trips to and from stations, “customers will need to have confidence they can leave their bike at a secure, convenient location and be able to hire bikes to make onward journeys”.

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