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DfT looks at full smart ticketing roll-out by 2018 with £80m boost

The government has set out details of an £80m programme to introduce smart ticketing across England and Wales by the end of 2018.

The investment will go towards ensuring that all passengers have the choice of travelling without a paper ticket by the end of 2018, with smart cards hosted on their mobile phones.

Mobile barcode ticketing will be rolled out on every rail franchise in the country. A pilot of this technology is expected in the next four months.

Chris Grayling, the transport secretary, said: “Passengers across the country want smart ticketing and this government will deliver it.

“This significant investment will ensure that passengers across the network can use mobile phones, bar codes and smart cards across almost all of the network by the end of next year.”

The DfT is working alongside the Rail Delivery Group to plan the next generation of ticketing systems, giving passengers more tailored options to pay for their travel and saving them money.

It is hoped that the investment will quickly deliver benefits to passengers across the country, with deals on the mobile phone smart cards expected with three train operators soon, and discussions are in progress with other train companies.

Key-Go, a contactless pay-as-you-go travel card, is also being rolled out across the rail network, allowing passengers to tap in and out across most of the Thameslink, Southern and Great Northern networks, from Cambridge to Brighton, and automatically being charged the most appropriate fare for their journey. It is expected that more train operators will follow suit.


Andrew Gwilt   09/10/2017 at 13:33

So does this mean it could be goodbye to the train tickets with the National Rail logo being purchased at the station kiosks and ticket machines at any railway station. I hope not. Even though smart cards are ideal when using the trains if you commute to London everyday.

George   09/10/2017 at 20:32

@Andrew Gwilt I doubt it Andrew. I think this is more about giving people a choice. For me mobile tickets (particularly if they can be added straight to Apple Wallet for quick use at ticket gates) are a no brainer and I look forward to them being rolled out nationwide. For others e.g. those without smartphones, those who simply prefer a physical ticket etc. the traditional orange tickets are the preferred option so I think we'll be seeing them for a long time yet. As I said though, for me personally the sooner this is done the better. I'm gradually moving towards not needing my wallet. Loyalty cards, debit cards and bus tickets are already digital for me so train tickets are now the only physical 'document' I carry nowadays.

Andrew Gwilt   10/10/2017 at 00:55

For me. I still will be using train tickets. Because train tickets are still reliable. And Im a collector of train tickets. Including Gold train tickets and Rover train tickets that Ive purchased when I go on the trains. Plus I do have a Network Southeast railcard that is useful and saves me a 1/3 off train travel no matter I go to London.

Simon   10/10/2017 at 08:45

It would be good if season tickets such as my Gold card where transferred to an oyster style card, would save me the hassle of having to replace it every four weeks after the ink has faded it is annoying and time consuming to change.

Rob   10/10/2017 at 14:18

I'm pleased to see the word 'choice' in this piece. Bearing in mind the myriad fares available with the complexities of validity, many do not trust the rail companies to ensure the lowest fare is charged. I for one will be keeping my electronic cards firmly in my wallet ... luckily there is a limit on contactless transactions!

Andrew JG   12/10/2017 at 04:30

I used to have a 16-25 Railcard that I used it when I went to college for 5 years and it was useful as of when I went to London and elsewhere. I’ve always relied on my 16-25 Railcard which saved a 1/3 off travel plus with using the Underground and DLR aswell. Now I’m over 25 and I’ve applied for a Network Southeast Railcard which is ideal to go to London. The only problem is that I can’t go to other places outside the Southeast including traveling to Norwich by train with a NSE Railcard which I think it’s unfair and I would of applied for a Disabled Railcard but I’m not disabled but I have Autism. And I currently live in Essex. Unless National Rail does introduce a Special Needs Railcard that allows people with Autism to use the Railcard and to get a cheaper return train ticket to Norwich as I go to a football match there as I follow my beloved football team and it would of saved me 1/3 off to go to Norwich on match days.

Jerry Alderson   13/10/2017 at 12:46

Smart phones will overcome many deficiencies in the TVMs. A slight problem with my mobile LG/Android phone at the moment is that it has almost run out of its 8GB did space (the phone's essential software seems to use up nearly all of that) so I cannot download any more apps and I can't even send email on one app because it cannot use any more space. (Android doesn't let me more many of the apps to the smart card.) I flew back in the UK last night and bought a ticket from a TVM just before I caught my train. I wanted to buy it on Tuesday from my originating station but although the GA TVM would let me change the originating station it could only be a GA originating station. Why not *any* station? (Note: I wasn't making a return trip as it was different stations so I wanted two singles.)

Boris   13/10/2017 at 20:59

Bahahaha. I thought you always prided on telling us that you have Aspergers. Which is not the same diagnosis as Autism. If National Rail does introduce an "Autism friendly" railcard. I might have to see if I can get a rediagnosis ;)

Andrew JG   14/10/2017 at 00:31

National Rail could of introduced a Railcard that could be useful or suitable for people who have Aspergers/Autism and are over 25 can save a 1/3 off travel. Disabled Railcard is also useful for those who aren't disabled but have special needs that is ideal for buying a train ticket that saves them a 1/3 off. I nearly applied for a Disabled Railcard but it didn't happen so instead I brought a Network Southeast railcard. But National Rail might introduce a Special Needs railcard in the future.

Sam   14/10/2017 at 12:16

Andrew. Autism (in most cases) doesn't make travelling by train difficult. That's why you wouldn't be eligible.

Peter Tomlinson   14/10/2017 at 17:34

Unlike the seriously and expensively muddled and opaque SEFT ticketing project [1], we need this new national and much more expensive programme to be transparent to public scrutiny throughout, both technically and financially. [1] South East Flexible Ticketing - see:

Andrew JG   15/10/2017 at 10:59

Suppose you are right Sam.

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