Tickets Please!


End user: Rail Company
System: Ticket printing with the DR3
Benefits: Efficient, secure issuing of tickets


A regional rail company with many trains on daily runs was still issuing tickets manually. In local stations customers would request a ticket and receive a hand written version from the local stationmaster.

Issues: Insecure and Overcrowded
The hand-written tickets took time to write, looked unprofessional and sometimes led to problems of legibility. They were also considered insecure, being very easy to copy. The manual issue of tickets also meant that there was no seat reservation system and peak time trains were often overcrowded.

Solution: Barcode Verified Tickets
After contacting a SATO supplier, the regional rail company decided to install a new system where tickets would be printed, in keeping with the corporate identity. DR3 printers were installed at each local station, selected for their ability to print and cut endless ticket material. Their reputation in other ticket issuing industries, as an extremely reliable, low-maintenance printer also made them the rail company's first choice. Connected by a serial port to PCs on a network, the rail company had a customised software package written, to drive the SATO DR3s.

As all PCs are on the same network, tickets with seat numbers can only be issued once, avoiding double booking problems. Passengers are issued with a ticket bearing the relevant date, departure time, train number, route, carriage and seat number data. A barcode has been included on each ticket to verify this data. Ticket inspectors can then scan a ticket if they choose to, to check its authenticity.

Endless ticket material with a security strip is also used. The DR3 with a cutter option receives data from the respective PC on the network, and then prints the ticket on demand. Each print job is added to a database, which is then used to generate statistical information. The stationmasters can see this information and warn passengers if a train is expected to be particularly full, avoiding overcrowding.

The printed tickets are now much more professional, in keeping with corporate advertising. Problems of legibility have been eliminated and the computer driven issuing process is much faster than before. Overcrowding issues have also been addressed. Seat reservations are now possible and the stationmasters also have an overview of how many tickets for each journey have been sold. All information is also centrally controlled and easily accessible for analytical purposes.