First phase of smartcard ticketing arrives on Thameslink and Great Northern rail services

Date: 01 Oct 2015

the key card

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.


Notes to editors

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Govia Thameslink Railway

Govia Thameslink Railway (GTR) began running Thameslink (Bedford to Brighton, Sutton and Wimbledon) and Great Northern (London to Peterborough, Cambridge and King’s Lynn) rail services on 14 September 2014. A small number of services and stations previously operated by Southeastern transferred to GTR in December 2014 and on 26 July 2015 the Southern and Gatwick Express routes were incorporated into the franchise. GTR is now the largest rail franchise in the UK in terms of passenger numbers, trains, revenue and staff: GTR carries about 273 million passenger journeys per year, employs around 6,500 people and generates annual passenger revenues of approximately £1.3bn.