New sensor beacon technology could one day mean an end to ticket barriers at railway stations.
Hitachi Rail is trialling prototype technology that uses sensors on trains to detect an app on passengers’ smartphones as they board.
There would be no need to remove the phone from a pocket or bag and no need for station barriers.
Passengers would be automatically charged the correct fare, the rail solutions company said.
Hitachi Rail is testing the system in northern Italy and believes it could be used on trains, buses and trams in the UK.
Karen Boswell, managing director of Hitachi Rail, said: “This technology has the ability to transform public transport in every corner of the country, from rural buses to city centre train stations. The common travelling woes of queues at ticket machines or trying to find the cheapest fare could be solved without even needing to reach for your pocket.
“We are now beginning to test this technology and looking at the possibility of one app working across large stretches of a country. For example, a passenger could use the app to take a bus in their local town and a train elsewhere in the country all in one day.”
The technology also has the potential to make public transport more accessible for all passengers, including those with disabilities or carrying young children, Boswell added.
“We believe this would also be good news for operators, who can entice more people to use public transport thanks to this simple-to-use payment method.”
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