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Smartphones and sensors could spell an end to ticket lines at transport hubs

Key Points
  • The last few years have seen a range of technologies change the way we pay for public transport.
  • Hitachi Rail is developing technology that could remove the need for queues at train stations. 
Simon Dawson | Bloomberg | Getty Images

Hitachi Rail is developing technology that may remove the need for ticket barriers at train stations.

The company hopes that the prototype tech, which is at the testing stage, could use sensors on a train to detect an app on passengers' phones that would act as a ticket.

Depending on what stops they get on and off at, travelers would be automatically charged a fare without needing to take their phone out of their bag or pocket.

In an announcement Monday, Hitachi Rail said this system would signal an end to lines at barriers and ticket machines.

The firm added that a "rigorous" testing program would take place with Italian public transport company Trenito Transporti. It also hopes to introduce the technology to the U.K.'s bus, tram and train networks.

"We are now beginning to test this technology and looking at the possibility of one app working across large stretches of a country," Karen Boswell, the managing director of Hitachi Rail, said in a statement.

"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," Boswell explained.

The last few years have seen a range of technologies change the way passengers pay to use public transport.

In London, for example, people can pay for journeys on the city's tube and overground network using paper tickets, contactless cards and their smartphone.

Why contactless cards haven't caught on in the U.S.