By: Fabian Cotter, Photography by: courtesy Hitachi + Getty Images

HITACHI RAIL is to conduct a trial of ‘barrierless’ ticketing where sensors detect an app on a commuter’s smartphone as they board trains, with bus application also viable, the company claims.

"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," according to a Hitachi spokesperson.

Although the focus of the proof-of-concept trial – to occur initially via Trentino Transport in Trento, northern Italy – is clearly on rail use, bus, tram and light-rail fares eliminating passengers needing to remove smartcards from pockets and bags to tap on or off end-to-end of their journeys is also part of the next-gen public transport vision.

Seemingly a more unobtrusive and practical method of personal identification and correct-fare ticket payment than anything using proposed microchip implants or even futuristic iris recognition, the company implies once sensors are installed [worldwide] it could make smartcard ticket-reading barriers obsolete.

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"This technology has the ability to transform public transport in every corner of the country, from rural buses to city-centre train stations," Hitachi Rail managing director Karen Boswell said.

"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 are 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.

"This technology could have potential to make public transport more accessible for all passengers," she explained.



A Hitachi Rail spokesman says the company has not yet decided exactly how the smartphone and sensor could interact, but the most touted option is for passengers to install an app that allows the sensor to detect that the person had bought a ticket.

Results from the proof-of-concept tests will help inform the best ways to apply the technology in future, the company states.

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