With recent developments in technology and changes is user preferences, rail providers have started to up their game and are now offering a range or paperless electronic tickets to save the traveller time and hassle. According to various studies, we now spend over 4 hours a day on average on our mobile phones, so it makes sense that your travel now lives on there too.

Airlines have long been providing personalised apps offering everything from online check in to barcode boarding passes that can be saved straight to your smartphone travel wallet. Now, rail travel is starting to catch up.


Fast Ticket
Book your tickets online through the website. Check your email as you will have been sent confirmation and a booking reference number. You can also find this by signing into your account via the website. Fast ticket machines are located by departures and using your reference code, you can quickly get your tickets printed there and then.

Ticket delivered via email, can be added to Apple Wallet, printed at home or stored in the supplier’s app. Alternatively you can usually open a PDF and present the barcode to staff when boarding.

Ticket purchased via the app or the website. Download the supplier’s app, book tickets through the app or website. Select Mobile delivery option. Activate your M-Ticket in the App. Scan your M-Ticket at the gates and show to staff during boarding.

Whilst Fast Tickets and E-Tickets have been around for a while, M-Tickets are effectively the new kid on the block. Here we look at the potential benefits for you as a traveller and/or booker.


Here is a list of train operator apps for Android, iOS and BlackBerry which allow you to purchase a barcode M-Ticket and display the ticket on your mobile phone, without any booking fees or additional charges:

  • Chiltern Railways
  • Virgin Trains
  • First TransPennine Express
  • Cross Country Trains
  • Hull Trains
  • Great Western Railway
  • Abellio Greater Anglia
  • Arriva Trains Wales

Alternatively, you can book your UK rail through the one app – Trainline https://www.thetrainline. com/ By downloading their app, you can search, book and manage all ticketing directly from the app.


What are the benefits of using an M-Ticket over traditional ticketing options?

  • Save time at the station: no queuing to buy a ticket or at ticket machines
  • You will no longer have a handful of paper tickets to look after
  • Reduce the risk of losing your ticket as it will be safely stored on your phone
  • Better value as there are more fares available through the app than at the machine
  • Book for others: book tickets and send to colleagues or family
  • More environmentally friendly with less paper printed tickets
  • There are many additional benefits to using the app such as Guest Check Out, dynamic ticketing with live updates such as platform changes and quick timetable downloads


As mobile ticketing is in its relative infancy, there are still some minor challenges – such as some routes not being available yet. In these cases, however, development is already on the roadmap and E-Tickets are available in the interim. One of the most useful future developments will no doubt be the dynamic ticketing – live information alerting the traveller to platform changes, train time amends, cancellations and delays which will help users become more time efficient and avoid unnecessary stress.

With apps comes the opportunity to personalise – so once a traveller has the app, they can save preferences, bank details, addresses etc. in turn saving time on future bookings. The app is also a two-way communication tool. So, in the future, we can expect to see rail operators rewarding loyal customers with treats such as last-minute upgrades, buffet cart offers and free Wi-Fi.


Hillgate Travel work closely with Trainline and we are supporting the introduction of M-Tickets to make rail travel easier and more cost effective for our clients. If you wish to have M-Tickets enabled for your travellers and bookers or would just like to find out more, please contact your Hillgate Account Manager.