TheTrainline.com is to introduce a smartcard ticketing system, which it expects to account for up to 50% of rail ticket sales by 2012, reducing the need for paper tickets.
Trainline Smart uses ITSO technology, the government-defined standard for nationally accepted smartcard ticketing in the UK, which is being rolled out in stages across all UK rail and bus journeys.
ITSO will eventually be used as an upgrade to the London Underground Oyster smart ticketing system.
The Trainline Smart functionality can also be added to a corporate charge card or security pass, removing the need to carry separate pieces of plastic.
Expected to be piloted later this year, rail passengers using Trainline Smart will be able to travel to and from all UK stations that accept smart ticketing.
As all new rail franchises are now required by the government to adopt ITSO smartcard technology, UK rail travel will be achievable via smart card starting from 2009.
Trainline Smart tickets will be purchased via the website or via a mobile phone, and then downloaded onto the smart card either at a "smart target" at stations or via an inexpensive smartcard reader or writer in the office or at home.
The ticket will then be validated in the normal way by smart-enabled ticket gates or by onboard train managers using a handheld reader.
Adrian Watts, director of sales and distribution at TheTrainline.com, said, "This is a massive step towards integrated national smart ticketing. Not only will Trainline Smart remove the need for paper tickets, but as train operating companies begin to install smart enabled readers, only one card will be needed when travelling UK wide by rail, bus and London Underground.
"We expect more than 50% of all TheTrainline ticketing to be via 'Smart' by the 2012 London Olympics."