Stocks ran down to one to two weeks’ worth of ticket issues


rail_ticketsIn short supply: A magstripe ticket


Train operators have been alarmed by a shortfall in supplies of paper magnetic stripe tickets since the end of June which created concern that they could run out of tickets to issue to customers. It is understood that operators’ ticket stocks ran down to one to two weeks’ worth of ticket issues and that it was unclear when they would be replenished.

The industry’s approved and dominant ticket provider, Magnadata, has now given assurances that plans are in place to deal with issues affecting its ticket production capacity and restore supplies.

However, the situation has led operators to question whether the Association of Train Operating Companies’ stated aim of phasing out expensive-to-issue and inflexible magnetic stripe tickets within 10 years should be accelerated.

“The problem is just about being addressed, but it doesn’t inspire confidence. It’s another reason, if any were needed, why we need to move away from magnetic stripe ticketing as soon as possible,” a TOC manager affected by irregular supply and diminishing stock told Passenger Transport.

Another senior industry source commented: “There apparently is an issue with this unique [magnetic stripe] paper, that there is only one supplier for. Officially the line is this has been taken care of and there are contingency plans in place. Clearly at the moment the industry is totally dependent on paper tickets  for the vast majority of ticketing so it is obviously a critical issue.

“The big irony is running out of paper tickets might be the most effective way of making the industry move away from them because none of the other projects seem to be doing that particularly successfully at the moment.”

A spokeswoman for Magnadata told Passenger Transport that the shortage of tickets was due to “a technical concern with the raw material from our supplier which has impacted on production by reducing our capacity to manufacture tickets, as we are only able to lay a foil magnetic stripe on this material at the moment”. 

She added: “We are awaiting a new shipment of material from our current supplier and have been in discussions with an alternative material supplier. This will allow us to increase our production capacity going forward.”

In the meantime, she said that Magnadata had agreed measures with ATOC “to see us through the next 3-4 week period”. Magnadata will work with minority ticketing supplier, Bemrose, Booth, Paragon to supply the current backlog of stock for self service ticket machines.

All other ticket stocks will be supplied by Magnadata along with new orders for self service tickets.


This article appears inside the latest issue of Passenger Transport.



DON’T MISS OUT – GET YOUR COPY! – click here to subscribe!