Train station
53 stations across South East England will soon be able to benefit from convenient contactless payment services. Henry Nicholls/Reuters

The Department for Transport has announced that passengers travelling within the Southern Eastern regions of England will be able to access better and simpler train ticketing technology by the time the year closes out. This is as the 'Pay As You Go' service is set to be introduced to 53 stations, with the areas that will be benefiting from the tap-in tap-out technology ranging from Shepperton to Shoeburyness.

The government has put forward £20 million in funding in order for a large number of passengers in the Southern Eastern parts to tap in to their respective train stations by using their bank cards or smart devices. This will bring less chaos for travellers when looking to plan their journeys and mean they always get the best-valued travel deal by simply entering by tapping in with their card or device.

The Pay As You Go technology is already installed and available to the public at more than 350 stations throughout London and Southern Eastern areas, including Reading, Gatwick Airport, Shenfield and Welwyn Garden City. Stated today by the Department for Transport, alongside Transport for London (TfL), C2C, Southeastern, South Western Railway, London Northwestern and Chiltern, that over 400 train stations across England will offer tap-in tap-out services by the end of 2023.

This announcement follows George Bradshaw, the Transport Secretary's pledge earlier this year to modernise the rail industry. Bradshaw made intentions to make the ticketing services across the nation much more convenient for travellers.

Change and reform to the transport sector have been implemented by the government in recent times as an extension for single-leg pricing was granted across the entire London North Eastern Railway network. Also, Derby was selected as the national headquarters for Great British Railways (GBR) in March of this year.

The new headquarters will provide the necessary platform for which the railway industry can evolve due to benefitting from new innovative thinking as well as crucial research and development. Highly skilled jobs will be created as a result and it will bolster Derby's position in the rail industry, which is largely cemented by the city being home to the biggest rail cluster in Europe.

The government prioritising the implementation of more convenient technology in rail stations will allow for more areas across the nation to operate with modern resources. Additionally, more people will be persuaded to travel if the ticketing process is simpler and that will crucially help grow the economy.

Rail Minister, Huw Merriman, touched on the importance of simplifying train journeys. He said: "One of the best ways to get more people using our railways is to make journeys as simple, flexible and convenient as possible and the government's programme for rail reform prioritises exactly that."

Merriman also spoke on the Pay as You Go service and future plans for further implementation of it across the nation. He stated: "The extension of tap-in tap-out ticketing is the next step of our plan for rail reform and we're working towards Pay As You Go being rolled out beyond the South East through the Midlands and up to the North."

Travellers in London and the areas which closely surround it have been using Pay As You Go increasingly more in recent times with data from TfL displaying that over 75 per cent of all tube and rail journeys were using Pay As You Go via contactless payment cards or mobile devices. This was up considerably from 25 per cent in 2016.

Due to this increase in usage of Pay As You Go, the Department for Transport is working alongside GBR's transition team to provide the service to the Midlands and Northern regions. This is part of Trailblazer devolution deals with the West Midlands and Greater Manchester which were put officially forward a few months ago.

Manchester is hoping to introduce the city's inaugural contactless payment system for its rail network with Transport for Greater Manchester declaring a pilot scheme to be in place by the end of 2023. However, it is subject to approval from the government and the outcome of possible funding.

Also, Manchester and other northern territories are looking at improving its train services with the government having announced £72 million in investment recently to aid with that process.

Chief Technology Officer at TfL, Shashi Verma, spoke enthusiastically on delivering the Pay As You Go service to the South East regions. She pronounced, "We are delighted to be delivering this expansion of Pay As You Go with contactless to a further 53 stations across the South East for the Department for Transport, helping to share our experience in smartcard ticketing with the wider rail industry."

Verma also added, "This will help those travelling by rail outside London do so more flexibly and conveniently, and support the wider UK economic recovery through easier access to rail travel."

The 53 stations which are set to have Pay As You Go payment services installed by the end of the year include Apsley, Basildon, Benfleet, Dunton Green, Hemel Hempstead, St Albans Abbey, Watford North and many more.

Elsewhere, a brand-new train station is to be built in southern Cambridge right near Cambridge Biomedical Campus by 2025. It will allow for the very best scientists and researchers to access the site easily and will ultimately go a long way to helping Britain achieve scientific supremacy by the end of the decade.