Could Iris Scans Be Part of Our Commute?

In future years, UK passengers could board their usual train by means of iris scans and biometric profiles

Iris scan image by Sdecoret (via Shutterstock).

The future of UK rail travel? Iris scanning and fingerprint entry. Image by Sdecoret (via Shutterstock).

If you live in the UK, the future of train travel could be personal. According to a report by the Rail Delivery Group, iris scans and biometric identification could replace the photocard. If you’re a season ticket holder, facial recognition at the barriers could enable you to board and disembark quickly. A fingerprint could also be used to check in on your way to or from work.

On the RSSB’s website, the industry body has proposed a vision of ticketless travel. Instead of glossy paper or card, the traditional train ticket could be an e-ticket. He or she could board by means of their smartphone, negotiating a virtual barrier via Bluetooth. This could also mean the end of ticket offices at most railway stations in the UK.

There has been steps towards paperless train travel in the last year, firstly with mobile ticketing. On Chiltern Railways’ London Marylebone to Oxford Parkway route, their commuters will be the first ones to use Bluetooth activated ticket barriers. This will be a transitional step towards the introduction of iris scans.

As well as security, iris scans could also be used to determine train fare rates. He or she could be billed for a season ticket after a week’s travel along their usual route. Fingerprints could be used to open the doors.

Security issues?

If used as a way to cut staff numbers along Britain’s railways, the benefits of iris scans and fingerprint identification could be cancelled out. Cutting staff at railway stations could make them unwelcoming places, if DART style frequencies aren’t the norm. Technological solutions on their own are a poor substitute for a properly manned railway station.

Biometric security solutions may work well in Dublin Airport or at principal railway stations like Dublin Heuston. As for smaller stations like Ennis, less so. Do we need this system on rural lines?

JR Security Devices, 07 February 2017.