I thought I was just unlucky. It seemed that around 50% of the time I tried to exit a train station by inserting my ticket into the barrier, I’d receive a message asking me to seek assistance. Whether starting or finishing the journey in my local town of Reading or further afield, it seemed to happen very frequently, while everyone else seemed to strut through the barrier with no problem at all.
Today it finally clicked. I’ve been putting my train ticket in my pocket along with my AirPods. The charging case has the same satisfying click as you close it as a premium brand car does when shutting the door. It achieves this using magnets. My theory is that the magnets are interfering with the magnetic strip on the train ticket.
Paper train tickets probably aren’t long for this world anyway, but if you’re also experiencing the humiliation of having to speak to an actual human being on your commute, check your AirPods or other devices bearing magnets aren’t near your ticket.