Heathrow Express has come out with a free application that lets consumers purchase train tickets that can be presented directly from their mobile phones.

Heathrow Express is the first U.K. train company to launch a mobile ticketing app, but the concept is not new. Masabi Ltd. of London announced in September that by yearend it would roll out a bar code-based mobile app to let consumers buy train tickets from their mobile phones through thetrainline.com.

BAA Ltd. operates Heathrow Express, which travels between London's Paddington train station and Heathrow Airport.

Heathrow Express' downloadable app works with Research In Motion Ltd.'s BlackBerry and Google Inc.'s Android phones and with any Java-enabled mobile phone, Heathrow Express said in a Dec. 16 press release. It plans to launch a version for Apple Inc. iPhones in early 2011.

The app enables consumers to buy train tickets and receive them as a two-dimensional bar code and reference number, Heathrow Express said. Because of the bar code technology, train staff may scan the tickets directly from the phone screen, which eliminates the need for paper tickets.

To purchase mobile tickets, which are the same price as the company's online tickets, customers choose the direction of travel, the number and type (round-trip or one-way, for instance) of tickets they need. After the ticket information is selected, the app prompts customers to enter their payment card details.

Customers may store their preferred payment method and personal details within the app, which also keeps a history of purchases, Heathrow Express said. The app does not store customers' three-digit security codes, however; it requires users to enter the codes each time they buy a ticket.

The app received accreditation from Barclays PLC. It also complies with the Payment Card Industry Data Security Standard and accepts all major payment cards except MasterCard Inc.'s Maestro PIN-based debit card.

Mobile ticketing is gaining traction in the payments industry, said Megan Bramlette, director of Auriemma Consulting Group. Many companies are developing applications to let people buy train, airline and concert tickets directly with their mobile phones, she said.

Business travelers should find the Heathrow Express app appealing, Bramlette said, since they don't have to wait in line and they can pay for their tickets while planning their trip.

Moreover, ticketing apps reinforce the convenience of card payments, Bramlette said.