Chiltern Railways launches UK railways first trial of contactless payment as Transport for London launches ‘Wave and Pay’ on London’s bus network

December has been a breakthrough month for ‘Wave & Pay’ ticketing in UK passenger transport. Chiltern Railways became the first UK train company to trial contactless payment for train tickets and Transport for London was due to begin accepting payment from contactless bank cards on its entire 7,500-vehicle bus network.

TfL’s work to accept Wave & Pay on buses is well known. It had planned to upgrade Oyster card readers across bus, rail and Tube networks to accept contactless payment in time for last summer’s 2012 London Games. However, this timetable was scrapped earlier this year due to concerns about robustness. Buses in London were due to begin accepting contactless payment from bank cards on December 13, although at time of going to press there had been no official announcement from TfL

Chiltern’s Wave and Pay project is less high profile but could become significant. Working in partnership with ticketing technology company Parkeon Transit and Barclaycard, contactless payment has been introduced for the most popular tickets between Great Missenden and London Marylebone – and is available via a Parkeon ticket vending machine configured for Wave & Pay technology.

Whereas previously customers would either queue at the station booking office or use a chip-and-pin ticket machine, now they simply need to pass their bank

card over the contactless terminal, select the ticket option and go. Wave & Pay enables transactions up to £20 to be processed using the contactless system.

Currently, passengers can use the machine to buy Adult Anytime Day Singles, Adult Anytime Day Returns, Adult Day Returns with Railcard and Adult Day Singles with Railcard.

Chiltern Railways has a track record for being leaders in innovation for ticketing solutions and were the first train company to introduce mobile ticketing and to develop ticket-on-departure machines.

Thomas Ableman, commercial director of Chiltern Railways, said: “The contactless revolution has arrived for rail ticketing and once again we are embracing another technological development.”

Parkeon worked closely with Barclaycard to achieve Wave & Pay accreditation to the latest standards. Paul Moirano, Parkeon’s head of UK rail, believes that the project illustrates the way that innovative technologies are being applied to enhance the passenger experience and improve operational efficiency.

“The route and the fare amount make this a perfect application for Wave & Pay,” he said. “No-one likes queuing for tickets and this new technology means that Chiltern passengers can access valid tickets easily and securely and move through the station concourse quickly.”

Nineteen million people in the UK now have debit and credit cards that use contactless technology. Contactless payment takes on average 12.5 seconds per transaction – less than half the time it takes for transactions using cash or traditional cards.


Average payment transaction time (seconds)
Source: Parkeon Transit

  • Contactless – 12.5 seconds
  • Chip-and-pin – 27 seconds
  • Cash – 34 seconds


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