London Underground to accept contactless payments in 2014
The technology will help support the new weekend Tube "night service"
Transport for London (TfL) announced today that it plans to close most ticket offices on the London Underground network and move to a system of direct, contactless bank payments to pay for journeys from next year.
Contactless bank card payment technology will be rolled-out on the Tube network from next year as the payment method becomes increasingly accepted by the UK public.
A report released by Visa earlier this year showed more than 51 million purchases were made by UK consumers via NFC-enabled technology in the past 12 months, with the monthly spend reaching £45.2 million in June.
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It is already possible to pay for journeys on London buses using contactless bank payment technology.
Around 750 jobs will be lost with ticket office closures, TfL said, although it promised no compulsory redundancies.
The news came as the 150-year-old travel network revealed that the Tube will run 24-hours a day at weekends from 2015. The new 24-hour weekend "night tube" service will start on the Piccadilly, Victoria, Central and Jubilee lines as well as key sections of the Northern line from 2015. Additional improvements to services will include more frequent trains on some of the busiest lines, with a 20 percent increase in capacity on the Northern line next year.
TfL made a host of other announcements as part of its vision for creating an underground rail network for the 21st century.
For example, it said that Wi-Fi coverage will be rolled out to all remaining below-ground Tube stations by the end of 2014.
It also revealed that it plans to equip staff with tablet computers so they can access up-to-the-minute information on ticketing and train services in order to manage stations on the move.
Mike Brown, managing director of London Underground, said: "Rebuilt stations, new trains and signalling systems mean we are now running some of the most frequent metro services anywhere in Europe. To meet the challenge of London's growing population and development, we must continue to invest and deliver even more efficiently in future.
"Our vision is for a tube network and service that is truly fit for London and our customers in the 21st century – a better face-to-face service at our stations, a 24-hour service at weekends, with easier and more personalised ways to plan and pay for journeys, on and off our network."
The mayor of London, Boris Johnson, said: "For 150 years the tube has been the beating heart of London, its tunnels and tracks providing the arteries that have transported millions of people and helped to drive the development and economic growth of our great city.
"Now it is time to take the tube to the next level and so for the first time in London's history, we will provide a regular 24-hour night tube service at weekends. This will not just boost jobs and our vibrant night-time economy, it will further cement London's reputation as the best big city on the planet to in which to live, work, visit and invest."
Last year, London Underground carried over 1.2billion customers, with over 4.5 million on the busiest days.