Magstripe ticket

Iconic magstripe tickets to become “museum exhibit”

Northern says that the iconic orange magstripe train ticket may be a thing of the past within five years.

Northern’s customers have used 2.3 million fewer magstripe tickets in the last 12 months compared to the previous year, as digital tickets grow ever more popular.

A spokesperson for Northern said: “People clearly enjoy the flexibility of buying their ticket ‘on the go’ and being able to store it on their mobile phone or tablet.

“We’re also increasingly able to offer actual paper tickets from our ticket offices and vending machines for those who prefer a physical proof of purchase.

“Whilst magstripes might generate a sense of nostalgia, it’s important to remember that because they’re made from more than one material, they’re less recyclable and could ultimately end up in landfill - whereas paper tickets can be easily recycled with other paper products.

“At the current rate of decline and with an ever-greater focus on digital and paper alternatives, magstripes are definitely nearing the end of the line. They could be something of a museum exhibit within five years.”

Fewer than 20% of journeys on Northern services in 2023-24 were made using a magstripe ticket, down 12% on 2022-23. In real terms, this was a fall of 20.3 million to 18 million.

Conversely, the number of digital tickets purchased over the same period grew by 19%, from 54.8 million to 65.2 million.

The current version of the orange magstripe ticket was first used in 2014, when Northern carried out a trial at stations across northern England. The tickets later became the standard ticket for all operators and have been in use ever since.

Image credit: Northern

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