Rail Settlement Plan (RSP), a ticketing consortium of train operating companies in the UK, has awarded Smart421 a multi-year contract to design, build and manage a new cloud-based ticketing sales management system.

The new system will support 'Ticket on Departure'; the collection of rail tickets from self-service ticket machines servicing passengers who purchase tickets earlier on the web. The Ticket on Departure service handles ticket sales totalling £1.8 billion per annum.

The new platform provides "a foundation for other delivery channels such as mobile and smartcards", said the rail firms. They said the new system will support next generation ticket issuing systems and will enable cost reductions and better productivity for all franchises when issuing rail tickets.

Work on the development phase commences next month and will last 13 months. Contractor Smart421 has been awarded a five year support service contract and will use Amazon Web Services to run the system.

Smart421 said using the cloud would give train operating companies the ability to support large fluctuations in the demand for tickets during peak periods, and allow the system to scale to a billion tickets per annum by 2018 without the need for capital investment in additional computer hardware.

The system will receive, validate and store records within a secure repository, validate that the correct railcard has been used and deliver reporting on all transactions from all areas of the system.

It is supported by open source technologies such as an identity and access management platform from ForgeRock, a reporting database and reports server from Infobright and Jaspersoft and a core transaction process and routing platform from RedHat.

Steve Howes, managing director at RSP, said, "This Live Sales Management project will deliver a high quality service at reasonable cost. This project will be watched very carefully because of its importance to RSP and the train operating companies we serve."

In other rail IT news Network Rail is putting out to tender a multi-million pound contract for a variety of IT services. And this comes after Network Rail revealed details earlier this year of a £350 million telecoms framework that would cover "multiple projects".