Southeastern Press Office

We are introducing smart cards from December

Press release   •   Nov 18, 2016 15:17 GMT

Passengers will soon be able to swap their paper season ticket for a new smart card called ‘The Key’, promising more convenient, paperless commuting.

Smart ticketing will be rolled out across the network from 5 December – initially for weekly, monthly or annual season tickets. The £5.5 million project is part of the Department for Transport’s (DfT) South East Flexible Ticketing (SEFT) programme.

“From 5 December, our passengers will be able to unlock the benefits of smart, paperless ticketing and speedy, tap-and-go travel,” said our Managing Director David Statham. “The Key will be easier, quicker, sturdier and more secure.”

Posters appeared across the network today announcing that the blue smart cards are ‘coming soon’. Images unveiled as part of the campaign show each will be personalised with the holder’s name and unique passenger number printed on the front. Child Keys also include a photo on the reverse.

Passengers will buy tickets online or, outside London, from Southeastern ticket vending machines (TVMs). Tickets are automatically loaded onto the Key by tapping it onto a smart card reader at their station, either on the automatic ticket barriers or on the TVM. Online tickets can be collected two hours after purchase, while tickets bought from TVMs will be loaded onto the card immediately.

The government's Rail Minister Paul Maynard said: “This new smart card is great news for season ticket holders on Southeastern who will no longer have to rely on paper tickets. Monday morning queues to buy tickets before you board will also be a thing of the past.

“We are making the biggest investment in the railways in Britain since Victorian times which means passengers can look forward to safer, faster and more comfortable journeys. By the end of 2018, our aim is for every passenger to have the choice of travelling without a paper ticket, which could mean instead paying with the flick of a card or touch of a mobile phone. With technology like this new card we are finally bringing rail travel into the 21st century.”

Up to five tickets can be stored on the new smart card at any one time – each must be bought and loaded separately. Unlike Oyster, The Key does not hold funds or credit. Passengers will be able to check the status of their tickets and journey history in their online account or at any ticket office.

Because the plastic card is more durable than paper tickets it will ensure speedy and reliable entry through automatic ticket barriers. If stolen it can be cancelled – or ‘hot listed’ – to stop anyone else using it fraudulently; a replacement is then issued, free of charge, pre-loaded with any existing tickets.

Hardware and software upgrades have been completed on TVMs and automatic ticket gates to enable the introduction of smart ticketing. Passengers can apply easily online from 30 November to be sent their Key, free, within 3-5 working days.

Those wishing to transfer their existing paper season ticket can do so by choosing the option upon registering, provided they have at least one month remaining on a full-priced, adult season ticket for a Key-enabled route, purchased on the Southeastern website or at any Southeastern station.

For further information visit

  1. For further information contact:

Southeastern Press Office

Ph: 0207 620 5080 (24-hours)



About SEFT

Delivered in partnership with the rail industry and transport operators, SEFT aims to promote smart ticketing technology on different types of transport throughout London and the South East.

About Southeastern

Southeastern runs train services into London from Kent and East Sussex, operating over 2000 trains a day, carrying more than 640,000 passengers a day, serving 176 stations and covering 540-miles of railway infrastructure.

Southeastern is owned by Govia, a joint venture between the Go-Ahead Group (65 per cent) and Keolis (35 per cent). Govia is the most enduring partnership between transport operators delivering rail franchises in this country.

It is the UK’s busiest rail operator, responsible for 28.7 per cent of UK passenger rail journeys through its four rail companies, Southern, Southeastern, Govia Thameslink Railway and London Midland Further information on Govia is available at:www.govia.infoGo-Ahead Group plc is one of the UK's leading providers of passenger transport services operating in the bus, rail and aviation services sectors.

Keolis is a French-based operator of transport services in 13 countries worldwide and is owned by SNCF, AXA Private Equity, Caisse de dépôt et placement du Québec, and Keolis management.