Validation - what's the point?

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MK Tom

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OK, I've just got back from my Europe trip (massive thanks to people on here, especially Oscar, for help with planning it) which involved five train journeys across France and Italy and tram rides in both. Every vehicle I boarded (even buses :o) required that I validate my ticket either before or when boarding. I'm really confused by this whole system... I sort of get the idea on trains that it lets the guard know when you entered the station. But why on trams? I got quite used to it while I was there and now I'm wondering why we don't have the same system here in the UK if it's so common on the continent...

Also I was surprised that Italian trains drove on the left (I knew French ones do already). How many other right-roaded countries have left-driving trains?
 
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stut

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Generally, it's because the tickets are available for use at any time, not just immediately after purchase. Validating it is simply punching the start time. Goes hand in hand with the prevalence of carnets and strip tickets.

Note that not all of France has railways on the left. Alsace still runs theirs on the right. I remember "fondly" the delays on the Lorraine/Alsace border waiting to switch over...
 

Oscar

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Switzerland's trains run on the left whereas Germany's trains run on the right. They cross over at the border.

I agree that in some instances validation appears to serve little purpose but that it most case it marks the ticket as used at a particular time. For example, you could be a carnet of 10 tickets valid for a year or longer but each ticket may only be valid for one hour's travelling. This hour would be timed from validation.
 

starrymarkb

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Day tickets are often 24 hours from time of validation rather then up till midnight as in the UK
 

W-on-Sea

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Validation on local buses (in quite a few places in Italy: not sure if it applies in France too) is because many of the tickets are valid for unlimited journeys within a stated period of time (e.g. an hour or 90 minutes, for local tickets) - sometimes on metro systems, too.

I see Bryan Paddick, in his recent London mayoral manifesto, was proposing the introduction of something similar in London. If it wasn't likely to further complicate ticketing matters there, I'd agree - it's a good system, at least for urban transport networks.

Apart from the DLR when it first opened (when it had validators at every station, but not timed multi-stage tickets), has such a system ever been used in the UK?
 

DownSouth

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Not exactly a European example, but in Adelaide (South Australia) we currently have a ticketing system sourced from the French-based trans-national corporation Crouzet that uses validators.

They perform a number of tasks each time you validate...

• The first is counting the number of people using the service, for revenue (private-operated buses use the same tickets as state-owned trains and trams) and capacity purposes. Even the free tickets given to over-65 passengers in the weekday inter-peak period need to be validated for this purpose so the required capacity can be determined.

• The majority of our tickets are unlimited transfers within two hours (one trip) that come in singletrip and multitrips with ten trips on the same physical ticket. Validating for the first time starts that period with other validations in the next two hours counting on that trip, but after that time the next validation will count as the next trip if it's a multitrip, or a failed validation for a singletrip.

• Exiting the platform area at Adelaide Station has ticket gates which use a quasi-validator which checks that it was validated on an incoming train. For this purpose the tickets count for an additional 45 minutes in case the valid period expires after transferring onto a train service

• Validating when transferring to a different service allows revenue to be counted for all services used, not just the first one you get onto.

• Once validated, a ticket is recorded as used. After the two hour trip period (singletrip), 10x cheaper trips (multitrip) or whole day of usage (daytrip) the ticket will fail to validate, which will draw the attention of the staff and/or block exit/entry at the Adelaide Station gates.

• On trains and trams, the ticket can be checked by a hand-held machine to see if it has been validated to avoid people carrying the same ticket with them multiple times.


Like all ticketing systems, it has flaws (like the magnetic information getting wiped easily) but has remained reasonably serviceable for quite a while. It's not going away even with the new smart card system switched on in the testing phase, there having been no suitable alternatives to the singletrip or daytrip tickets identified for casual users.
 

route101

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Not exactly a European example, but in Adelaide (South Australia) we currently have a ticketing system sourced from the French-based trans-national corporation Crouzet that uses validators.

They perform a number of tasks each time you validate...

• The first is counting the number of people using the service, for revenue (private-operated buses use the same tickets as state-owned trains and trams) and capacity purposes. Even the free tickets given to over-65 passengers in the weekday inter-peak period need to be validated for this purpose so the required capacity can be determined.

• The majority of our tickets are unlimited transfers within two hours (one trip) that come in singletrip and multitrips with ten trips on the same physical ticket. Validating for the first time starts that period with other validations in the next two hours counting on that trip, but after that time the next validation will count as the next trip if it's a multitrip, or a failed validation for a singletrip.

• Exiting the platform area at Adelaide Station has ticket gates which use a quasi-validator which checks that it was validated on an incoming train. For this purpose the tickets count for an additional 45 minutes in case the valid period expires after transferring onto a train service

• Validating when transferring to a different service allows revenue to be counted for all services used, not just the first one you get onto.

• Once validated, a ticket is recorded as used. After the two hour trip period (singletrip), 10x cheaper trips (multitrip) or whole day of usage (daytrip) the ticket will fail to validate, which will draw the attention of the staff and/or block exit/entry at the Adelaide Station gates.

• On trains and trams, the ticket can be checked by a hand-held machine to see if it has been validated to avoid people carrying the same ticket with them multiple times.


Like all ticketing systems, it has flaws (like the magnetic information getting wiped easily) but has remained reasonably serviceable for quite a while. It's not going away even with the new smart card system switched on in the testing phase, there having been no suitable alternatives to the singletrip or daytrip tickets identified for casual users.

Sounds very like Melbourne with their Myki and Metcard system. I did get fined in Sofia for not validting a ticket and not having a ticket for my bag.
 

DownSouth

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Metcard confused me last time I tried using public transport in Melbourne, I tried validating my ticket and I jammed the machine because their stock was cheap arse cardboard not worthy of even a cereal box. They also had too many options for a metro system which confuses tourists! These days if I'm there it's usually for a football or cricket game at Docklands or the MCG so all I need is a V/Line off peak return from Ballarat where we stay with cousins.

I don't have any experience with Myki or any other smartcard systems (such as those used in Perth and South-East Queensland, or Octopus and Oyster overseas) to date so when MetroCard starts here it will be a new thing for me. I'm not eligible for a trial MetroCard here because I cycle too often and don't use public transport enough so they won't get enough trial usage out of me.
 

aformeruser

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Also I was surprised that Italian trains drove on the left (I knew French ones do already).

They don't all drive on the left. The train I caught between Pisa and Lucca earlier this month was on the right except where there were single track sections.

Validation on local buses (in quite a few places in Italy: not sure if it applies in France too) is because many of the tickets are valid for unlimited journeys within a stated period of time (e.g. an hour or 90 minutes, for local tickets) - sometimes on metro systems, too.

OK so validating when you first board a bus means the ticket is valid for 90 minutes or whatever from when you start your journey not from the time when the ticket was sold.

However, with rail the ticket validation machines are on platforms or on the approach to platforms so printing the date and time on your ticket 10 seconds after you purchased it seems a bit pointless.
 

MK Tom

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The thing that strikes me as really dumb is the fact the ticket doesn't count for anything until its been validated. In my mind, if you pay for the ticket, you pay for the journey...
 

starrymarkb

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The thing that strikes me as really dumb is the fact the ticket doesn't count for anything until its been validated. In my mind, if you pay for the ticket, you pay for the journey...

Think of it as being like the scratch card bus passes that some PTEs do. You can buy the pass but then don't have to use it that day. You validate it when you scratch off the date you require. You could buy a book of 10 tickets and validate them when you come to use them.
 

WestCoast

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Validation is also used for stored value cards, which are like "manual" PAYG Oyster cards, used on some bus systems in Europe, although mainly in Spain. For example, the system in Tenerife involves all regular users buying a card for 12 or 30 euros before boarding and a discounted fare is deducted on the drivers machine depending on the distance. It also works on the trams, but that's a flat fare.
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The thing that strikes me as really dumb is the fact the ticket doesn't count for anything until its been validated. In my mind, if you pay for the ticket, you pay for the journey...

I guess a lot of continental users on urban transport systems would think it's also "dumb" that you have to buy a new single ticket when you change bus/tram in the UK. You often buy a single ticket there for 90 minutes and can change as many times as necessary.
 
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radamfi

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The thing that strikes me as really dumb is the fact the ticket doesn't count for anything until its been validated. In my mind, if you pay for the ticket, you pay for the journey...

The problem with the British system is that the ticket has to be used as soon as you buy it, or at least on the same day. That gives you no flexibility to buy a ticket in advance at a time when you aren't in a rush. At best, for example with train tickets, you are able to specify an advance date of use, but you have to use the ticket on that date. Most countries either allow undated tickets, or give a 2 month validity on tickets which need validating on the day of use.

In the case of most British buses, that means buying a ticket from the driver in cash which is very time consuming and causes considerable delay.
 

LE Greys

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The 'drive on the left' thing comes from British engineers building the lines. Being Victorian engineers, they blithely ignored French traditions (although they had only switched sides at the beginning of the century) and built all the lines as left-hand running. The Germans (or Prussians mostly at the time) mostly built their own lines instead of using British contractors. By the time they got round to linking up the networks, signal sighting was so well-established that they could not really switch sides. I think some lines in Canada may have switched, to stay compatible with the USA, but I'm not sure.
 

sheff1

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However, with rail the ticket validation machines are on platforms or on the approach to platforms so printing the date and time on your ticket 10 seconds after you purchased it seems a bit pointless.

The point is that you don't have to buy a ticket and use it immediately. You can buy one at your leisure and then validate it when you travel. No worries then if there are long queues to buy a ticket at the time you are actually travelling.


Apart from the DLR when it first opened (when it had validators at every station, but not timed multi-stage tickets), has such a system ever been used in the UK?

Sheffield Supertram used it at the outset. You could buy tickets from newsagents etc, just like on the continent, with discounts for carnets. The problem was, instead of having the validators on the trams, they put them on the platforms which seemed to confuse people unfamiliar with such systems.
 
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HowMuch?

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Yes, when the sheffield tram started, there were separate ticket machines AND validating machines on the platforms. You bought a ticket and then immediately stuck it in the validator to cancel it before you got on the tram. There were no conductors on the trams, the idea was that if an RPI caught you without a validated ticket you would be fined. You could also buy sets of 10 tickets from shops at a discount (which I suppose is why you needed the validator). Two mahines confused everyone completely. The company gave up and introduced conductors instead. Still have RPIs of course, presumably to check on the conductors.

Other countries have pre-bought tickets (and platform ticket machines) and validators ON THE TRAM. But in the Uk they probably reckon that on-tram validation would not work because no-one (exaggerating for effect, Mr SelfRighteous) would validate their ticket until they saw an RPI looming up.

Manchester trams don't have conductors So they have to have ticket machines on the platforms. It's a real pain when you are still fiddling with the ticket machine and the tram is getting nearer, and nearer, and nearer.... The ticket comes out ready "validated" (ie time stamped). There is no need for a separate validating machine because you can't buy single trip tickets in advance. Because there are no conductors, they have teams of chunky RPIs who pop up at random.
 
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lemonic

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Other countries have pre-bought tickets (and platform ticket machines) and validators ON THE TRAM. But in the Uk they probably reckon that on-tram validation would not work because no-one (exaggerating for effect, Mr SelfRighteous) would validate their ticket until they saw an RPI looming up.

In other countries, when RPI's board the tram they immediately block the validation machines (after having given people getting on that stop time to validate their ticket) so no more tickets can be validated. They are also generally in plain clothes so this helps to stop people simply validating their ticket when they see an RPI.
 

johnnychips

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Just got back from Liguria in Italy, and a lot of the time you don't buy a ticket from place-to-place, you buy it by distance on regional trains. Obviously, the validation shows where you started, so an inspector will be able to see if you have exceeded your distance.
 

gordonthemoron

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I think Austrian trains run on the left too. Budapest Metro line 1 used to run on the left but was changed to the right at some point
 

bb21

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The 'drive on the left' thing comes from British engineers building the lines. Being Victorian engineers, they blithely ignored French traditions (although they had only switched sides at the beginning of the century) and built all the lines as left-hand running. The Germans (or Prussians mostly at the time) mostly built their own lines instead of using British contractors. By the time they got round to linking up the networks, signal sighting was so well-established that they could not really switch sides. I think some lines in Canada may have switched, to stay compatible with the USA, but I'm not sure.

This brings out a strange anomaly in China, where the British designed the first stretch of railway and they stuck with it so national rail runs on the left, whereas newly-designed metro systems drive on the right, as do road vehicles.
 

stut

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This brings out a strange anomaly in China, where the British designed the first stretch of railway and they stuck with it so national rail runs on the left, whereas newly-designed metro systems drive on the right, as do road vehicles.

The same anomaly exists in France, made even more confusing by the fact that the Metros run on the right, yet RER systems run on the left...

IIRC, though, this was mostly down to the insistence of Fulgence Bienvenüe (whom Montparnasse-Bienvenüe station is named after) who was fervently opposing a competing scheme to link all the Paris mainline terminals in lieu of a metro system. Running on the right, and using narrow tunnels (that mainline trains woud never fit down) was all part of his way of ensuring his legacy would not be abused in the future.
 

daniel78

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I'm surprised UK National Rail doesn't have a system like this for tickets with validity of more than one day, it would be a logical way to stop people reusing the return portion of tickets when they get lucky and don't have it checked the first time the do the journey.

The only good reason not to that I can think of is the possibility of small (possibly unmanned) stations having a broken machine.
 

Yew

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I'm surprised UK National Rail doesn't have a system like this for tickets with validity of more than one day, it would be a logical way to stop people reusing the return portion of tickets when they get lucky and don't have it checked the first time the do the journey.

The only good reason not to that I can think of is the possibility of small (possibly unmanned) stations having a broken machine.

There is some similarity between these tickets and Carnet tickets, although the french system is more polished (ie no scribbling on tickets with biros and hoping a guard doesnt think its been tampered with)
 

Deerfold

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I'm surprised UK National Rail doesn't have a system like this for tickets with validity of more than one day, it would be a logical way to stop people reusing the return portion of tickets when they get lucky and don't have it checked the first time the do the journey.

The only good reason not to that I can think of is the possibility of small (possibly unmanned) stations having a broken machine.

Also trickier if you're breaking your return journey and not resuming it the same day.
 

island

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In France you have to validate your ticket because you might otherwise try to get it refunded later. Inspections are often irregular.
 
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