Over-complicated and inferior to self-printed tickets
I prefer the Deutsche Bahn's system of allowing you to buy a ticket online, then print it on your own printer. You also get a confirmation e-mail with a copy of the PDF, and - even if you lose that - you can just log in to the DB site and search for your purchases - and grab a copy. If you have a BahnCard 50 (1st class will cost 460 euros for one year, 2nd class costs 230 euros for one year), all fares are half price (however, you lose none of the flexibility of a full-price ticket!)
Spend more than 2 grand on tickets in a year, and you get automatic access to the 1st class railway lounges and ticket counters. (Loyalty is rewarded.) Collect enough points on your account, and you get various interesting offers (such as a free 1st class ticket to any destination, or a day's car hire, or a bunch of four upgrade tickets - which, used with any 2nd class ticket, entitle you to sit in the 1st class.)
Online tickets are also free to cancel - there is no penalty charge levied (unlike the 15 euro charge for amending or cancelling paper tickets.) We also don't have ticket barriers here - instead, you can be assured that your ticket WILL be inspected on the train, although if you have to make a run for it and can't plan ahead, you can also buy a paper ticket from the inspector (and if you have a BahnCard 50, you enjoy the usual half-price reduction.)
Ticket security is simple but effective: A 2D barcode on the ticket, signed with the Deutsche Bahn's own private key, is pretty much impossible to crack without having the key (and even if you managed to steal one of their nifty little Casio ticket machines, it still wouldn't help you.). As added security to you, the ticket holder, the barcode is salted with a hash of your credit card or BahnCard, and this is used to identify you on the train (the ticket inspector swipes your card and scan the ticket.) So, even if someone hacks my PC and tries to board the train with a copy of my ticket, they will be unable to validate their ticket without also stealing my card.
Next to this system, the British "solution" seems overly-complicated and decidedly lacking in practicality; pretty much par for the course as far as the British are concerned. Technology is no substitute for a better process, and the British system does not appear to have been designed by people who will actually use it (as usual.) If you want to see how people get from A to B in a first-world country, come to Germany and take a look for yourself.