Smartcards at the ready

1 October 2015

Commuters with Thameslink and Great Northern (between Royston, Huntingdon and London) are being given their first taste of smartcard ticketing technology.

Season tickets that start outside the London Travelcard area can now be bought online or at a station ticket machine for loading to a free piece of smartcard plastic known as ‘the key’ that has been pre-delivered to the passenger’s home.

As well as Thameslink and Great Northern, ‘the key’ can also be used on Southern and Gatwick Express, where the system has been in place for almost two years.

David Innis, Commercial Director for Govia Thameslink Railway, which operates Thameslink, Great Northern, Southern and Gatwick Express, said:

“We know our passengers want a smarter, easier way to travel and we are determined to deliver this by extending Southern’s smartcard ‘the key’.

“As well as the season tickets already provided on ‘the key’, we are developing many more ticket types. A carnet product, to meet the growing demand for flexible ticketing by part-time workers, is well under way and next year we will add single and return daily tickets as well as a trial of pay as you go. Also, from next year, the key will be extended to the remaining Great Northern stations north of Royston, to Cambridge and King’s Lynn, and at Peterborough.

“There are great benefits to using ‘the key’ – once passengers have it, they can buy tickets online and then load them up simply by touching one of our new ticket gate card readers, or they can buy tickets to upload to the smartcard at one of our ticket machines.

“And if anyone loses a card, it can be instantly cancelled and a replacement issued with the same ticket pre-loaded.”

The smartcard is supported by a new online ticketing system and updated app which is designed to make the whole ticket buying process easier.

  • ‘the key’ can be requested free online and posted to homes; passengers can then buy tickets using their card easily so there will be no need to queue at a ticket office to buy or collect
  • Purchases and renewals of season, monthly or weekly tickets can be made online and collected simply by touching a smartcard reader at the passenger’s specified station.
  • Passengers will also be able to buy tickets for ‘the key’ at station ticket machines outside the London Travelcard area.
  • Passengers will be able to check the status of their tickets on the key and journey history either online, through our iOS or Android app, or by touching them onto ticket machines at stations.
  • If a registered card is reported lost, it becomes “hot listed”, so cannot be used for travel.  A customer is then issued with a new card with their existing products already on the card.
  • The new mobile app will put customers’ ticket wallets at their fingertips, giving them a new way to buy season tickets.