While struggling to get back from Chester on the train recently, I started thinking about how e-Paper and RFID might help. Sky has some interviews covering this year’s Hursley 50th celebration which explain both nicely (between about 0:45 to 03:45).
Instead of having a printed timetable of my journey that the train company should have already known was unrealistic, and a ticket not valid for the alternative route via London, a combination of an Oyster-like ticket and e-Ink could have got me home only 15 minutes late with no extra cost. Instead I had to pay extra to arrived an hour and a half late.
An e-Ink display would enhance the current Oyster to visually show what ticket I’m travelling on, along with a mini timetable of my route. When I get to the departure station, the ticket could be automatically updated if there are problems on the rail network, with a new timetable, and with a route upgrade if required. Things might also go wrong during the journey, but the same thing could happen when the guard checks tickets; machine scans ticket and checks it’s valid, while also checking for any known incidents on the route the ticket is displaying.
Unfortunately rail ticketing seems to be getting worse not better at the moment–searching National Rail for timetables has resulted in a few warnings that multiple tickets are required for some journeys recently–so I won’t be holding my breath.
Update: It looks like my e-ink e-ticket might finally be on the way! (16 September 2011)