Eco Innovation

National rail tickets go green

23rd January 2023
Harry Fowle

Paragon ID has revolutionised the rail ticket production process to reduce the environmental impact by 87%.

The familiar orange rail ticket was previously manufactured using a solvent-based system to produce the magnetic strip on the reverse of the ticket, which holds passenger journey data and is read by entry and exit barriers. In partnership with the Rail Delivery Group (RDG), a two-year-long project involved a £230k investment to change the solvent-based production system to a water-based one.

During the project, a total of 11,000 tickets were tested for durability and compatibility with the rail network. This was carried out using the testing facilities at RDG and in conjunction with various ticket machine manufacturers and operators such as Fast Rail Tickets, Flowbird, LNER and Hull Trains.

The programme's success has resulted in an average reduction of 69t of solvent emissions per year, a more environmentally friendly train ticket, and the potential for the production process to be recognised as a Best Available Technique (BAT) by Hull City Council.

Jacqueline Starr, Chief Executive of the Rail Delivery Group, said: “We are excited about the launch of these water-based environmentally friendly tickets. The new tickets are the outcome of a successful two-year partnership between RDG and Paragon ID. We are getting closer to a low carbon future and making rail not only the convenient but also the most sustainable choice for all.”

With the UK rail industry as a pioneer of the new process, the project kickstarts a new standard in train ticket production worldwide, with Paragon ID looking to expand into transport systems in major cities globally. The demand for paper-based tickets still sits comfortably at around 500m per year in the UK, with the Rail Delivery Group investing in encouraging passengers back onto the railway post-COVID.

Ryan Mellors, General Manager – BBP at Paragon ID said: “We are proud of our long-standing relationship with RDG, producing millions of magnetic rail tickets and associated travel products each year. This project is an excellent example of our successful collaboration, this time with the shared goal of protecting the environment and increasing sustainability while continuing to provide a quality product for rail customers across the UK”.

For Paragon ID, the solution will now be rolled out across other sites around the globe, benefitting other transport operators in Europe and beyond such as the Paris rail network, and helping them to reduce their impact on the environment.

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