London Underground users are expected to be able to use mobile handsets as electronic train tickets in the very near future, as Transport for London (Tfl) and handset partner Nokia prepare to go commercial with a Near Field Communication (NFC) device.

An NFC handset would incorporate the Oyster ‘swipe card’ used by millions of Londoners every day into the mobile phone, allowing users to touch their phone to the card reader on the way into or out of the station.

The device could also be used for bus journeys around the capital as well as some overland train routes.

Transport for London is also nearing the end of a three month trial of NFC technology embedded in ‘smart posters’ around Blackfriars London Underground station.

When a NFC-enabled mobile phoned is placed against the smart poster, it will pinpoint the exact location of the passenger and then transmit detailed information including where to go to make the next stage of the journey, how to get there, how long the transfer will take and when the next service will arrive.

This information includes all modes of transport in the vicinity of Blackfriars: Tube; National Rail; buses and river services.

The project, named VORTIX (Visualization of Real-time Transport Interchange), is a collaboration between TFL, Imperial College London, transport intelligence company Kizoom and UK operator O2, and has received funding from the Department for Trade and Industry.

Although Tfl and Nokia have not yet revealed when the NFC devices are likely to be available, security firm Gemalto and NXP Semiconductors are known to be collaborating on a SIM-enabled NFC platform which will work with NXP’s MIFARE technology. MIFARE is used as the Oyster branded contactless ticket system on London’s public transport network and could potentially see the technology used in any device, simply by changing the SIM card.