It will be all change in Britain on Tuesday when the new £1 coin enters circulation but millions of commuters could be left facing fresh chaos as it emerged 11 out of 18 rail providers had not upgraded their machines and would be unable to accept the new tender.
Operators including Virgin East Coast, Transport for London, Southern Rail and Chiltern Rail have failed to adequately prepare for the introduction of the new coin and some will not be ready by tomorrow, Tuesday March 28, according to a survey by the Daily Telegraph.
The new tender, instantly recognisable to the touch thanks to its distinctive 12-sided shape, is the first coin in 30 years to replace the current, round £1, which has become increasingly vulnerable to counterfeiters.
Approximately one in thirty £1 coins currently in circulation is a counterfeit, according to the Royal Mint.
Unlike its predecessor, which was introduced in 1983, the new £1 coin is “highly secure”, and will reduce the cost of counterfeits to businesses and the taxpayer, the coin-striking body said.
The new coin has a series of features that make it “much more difficult” to counterfeit, it added.
In addition to its dodecagonal shape, the coin is made of two metals – the gold-coloured outer ring is nickel-brass while the silver-colored inner ring is nickel-plated alloy.
The coin also features a hologram-like image that changes from a “£” symbol to a the digit “1” when viewed from different angles.
To further foil counterfeiting attempts, a “hidden high-security feature” is built into the coin, the Royal Mint revealed.
Measuring 2.8mm in thickness and 8.75g in weight, the new coin is thinner and lighter than the round version, which is 3.15mm thick and weighs 9.5g. With the maximum diameter measuring 23.43mm, the new coin is slightly larger than that which it replaces (22.5mm).
It also features a new design that incorporates the English rose, the Welsh leek, the Scottish thistle and the Northern Irish shamrock emerging from one stem within a royal coronet.
The fifth coin portrait of the Queen is displayed too.
Rail providers fail to prepare
All businesses that handle cash should have prepared for the change by upgrading coin-handling equipment such as cash counting devices, vending machines, car park ticket machines, supermarket trolleys or leisure centre lockers, and by training staff on the features of the new coin, the Royal Mint said.
But many rail passengers will be unable to use the new coins to purchase tickets as the majority of providers have failed to heed the body’s advice.
Customers will be forced to queue up at ticket offices to exchange their cash for the old coin so should expect delays.
After the new coin is introduced into circulation on Tuesday the round pound will remain legal tender for a little over six months. The legal tender status of the older coin will be withdrawn on 15 October this year. From this date shops will no longer accept these coins, though banks will.