Staff at Nexus, which operates the Tyne and Wear transport service, are already trialling the upgrade, which could allow regular users to ditch their paper tickets and pop cards.
The smartphone plans were announced last year, when bosses also hinted it could be extended to bus routes as well.
“We want to give Metro passengers choice,” said Huw Lewis, Nexus’s customer services director, “we were the first train operator outside London to introduce smart travel.
“Passengers can pay [at machines] with contactless cards, with Apple and Google Pay and at some parts of the system they very much choose to do that.
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“It’s been a while in development, mainly for legal reasons to do with the handling of data, but we’ve got to the stage now where we’re happy that’s ok.
“Trials are now taking place with staff where they are on a day to day basis using their phones to touch in and out of the system.”
Mr Lewis was speaking at a meeting of the North East Joint Transport Committee’s Tyne and Wear Sub-Committee on Thursday, November 21.
A report from July 2018 said Nexus was working with Transport for the North (TfN) on plans for ‘account based ticketing’ which would allow ‘mobile devices to pay for their journey by touching in at the point of entry and on exit from the network’.
The trial of phone payments started earlier in November.
The next stage of the trial is expected to see it extended to a ‘limited customer group’ and, if successful, should be rolled out to all passengers sometime next year.
Tobyn Hughes, Nexus’s managing director, said: “I’m one of the [staff] trialists and I’ve been using my phone to touch in and touch out last week and this week.
“The purpose is to get feedback so it’s ready to use and it really makes travel hugely easier, you no longer need cash, all you need to travel with is already in your pocket.”