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Last Updated: Tuesday, 19 September 2006, 19:47 GMT 20:47 UK
'Straight-to-mobile' ticket plan
Virgin Pendolino train
Virgin Trains has already begun a trial of print-at-home tickets
Rail travellers could soon be able to use "ticket-to-mobile" technology to buy train tickets, rail company chiefs have announced.

The Association of Train Operating Companies (Atoc) has asked technology firms to develop the means to allow tickets to be sold straight to phones.

The ticket could then be read straight from a passenger's mobile phone.

Atoc is also keen to explore self-printable tickets. Virgin Trains has already begun such a trial scheme.

Atoc director general George Muir said the initiatives were part of a drive to make buying train tickets more convenient for passengers.

We are looking to exploit the technology as rapidly and effectively as possible
George Muir
Atoc

"Technology can go a long way to remove the need for passengers to queue at ticket offices or wait for tickets to arrive in the post," he said.

"We are looking to exploit the technology as rapidly and effectively as possible."

Ticket-to-mobile would be a "great advance" for passengers, he said.

Atoc also hopes that, after initial trials, a national standard for home-printed tickets could be rolled out.

On Monday, Virgin Trains launched a trial of print-at-home tickets on two of its busiest routes.

The tickets are now available between London and Birmingham and between London and Manchester.

The advance single tickets are available on trains with spare capacity and the cheapest fares cost 7 for Birmingham and 9 for Manchester.


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