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Amtrak sells e-tickets nationwide

July 30, 2012|By Hugo Martin
(Gretchen Ertl / Associated…)

Amtrak is taking another step into the digital age.

Following the lead of many airlines, Amtrak announced Monday that passengers can now skip the ticket counter by buying online electronic tickets that are sent as a printable document.

Passengers on the government-owned train service can print the tickets at home or from a train station kiosk. Train riders can also show e-tickets to a conductor from the screen of a smartphone or a mobile device.

"E-tickets deliver the convenience and flexibility expected by passengers and its innovative technology is transforming other aspects of how Amtrak does business," said President and Chief Executive Joe Boardman.

Many airlines began offering e-tickets several years ago and replaced most airport ticket counters with electronic kiosks that can print out tickets.

Previously on Amtrak, passengers bought tickets online but had to either get the paper ticket delivered by mail or pick them up from a kiosk at the train station. On the train, conductors previously walked through the cabins, either punching or tearing tickets to ensure everyone paid their fare. It's a system that hasn't changed much since the 1800s.

With e-tickets, an Amtrak conductor with a hand-held device can now check each passenger by scanning the printed e-ticket or the image on a passenger's  smartphone or mobile device, Amtrak officials said.

The e-ticket effort has been tested on a pilot basis in five Amtrak regions, including a line in Northern California.

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