The UK’s Association of Train Operating Companies (ATOC) is looking for a partner to develop a new mobile app to store railcards.

The new digital app will allow passengers to store their railcards that offer discounts on National Rail passenger services, on a smartphone and tablet.

The development of the digital railcard is a move towards mobile ticketing and follows a successful pilot of mobile ticketing involving a number of train operators in the north of England.

"Passengers will welcome anything that makes their journey easier and prevent them from being unfairly penalised."

The ATOC is planning to introduce the new app in April next year, easing the process of obtaining and using railcards.

Travellers will be able to digitally buy and store the full range of national railcards, including 16-25, Senior and Two Together.

The discount cards can be shown to rail staff on the app even if a passenger does not have internet connection.

Once downloaded, the app will sit on a smartphone or other smart device and the user will be able to retrieve it even if their device is lost, stolen or replaced.

Transport Focus campaign group CEO Anthony Smith said: "Passengers will welcome anything that makes their journey easier and prevent them from being unfairly penalised.

"We have a complex fares system, so it’s crucial that the rail industry makes sure that travelling using the railcard app is made simple to use."

ATOC noted that only national railcards will be available on the app, while Network Railcards, Gold Cards and local railcards will not be available.

ATOC marketing head Andrew Robertson said: "More than half of all users buy their railcards online and we expect that over time a similar proportion will switch to the app to save time and make their journeys more convenient.

"The rail industry is using more and more cutting-edge technology to benefit passengers and to make buying and using new types of electronic train tickets and railcards simpler.

"For example, the industry is rolling out flexible mobile tickets that can be used across different train operators."

There are currently more than 3.7 million national railcards in use and the new digital app is expected to give a major boost to discount cards.