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Passengers can now buy season tickets from the comfort of their own home and add them to their Key smartcard using their phone
Passengers can now buy season tickets from the comfort of their own home and add them to their Key smartcard using their phone

Press release -

Buy smart to skip the queues and socially distance

Passengers who need to travel by rail can help socially distance by skipping station queues and buying their weekly, monthly and annual season tickets from the comfort of their own home.

Customers of Southern, Thameslink and Great Northern can now simply buy season tickets through the train firms’ free OnTrack phone app and tap their Key smartcard to their NFC-enabled smartphone (see editor’s notes) to load them up, saving queuing at the station and ticket machines.

Loading up season tickets bought online in this way takes just a few minutes – much quicker than the two hours it can take for the electronic ticket to arrive for loading by tapping on one of the card readers at the station.

Customers can also view on their phone all the tickets they have on their Key smartcard and the expiry dates – again just by tapping it on to their NFC-enabled smartphone.

Tom Moran, Managing Director of Thameslink and Great Northern, said: “Using our Key smartcard and smartphone technology can really save you time queuing at the station, which will also help you socially distance. It’s one of the many ways we are helping those who must travel.

“Please think, ‘Is my journey really necessary?’ If it is, avoid the busiest times of the day, in particular from 6am to 7.30am, wear a face covering, and wash or sanitise your hands before and after each trip.”

Season tickets loaded on to the Thameslink, Great Northern and Southern Key smartcards can now be used to and from stations on the South Western Railway network, such as Southampton, Salisbury and Winchester. The smartcard is already accepted across Southeastern and Greater Anglia.

E-tickets, which are stored on the phone instead of a smartcard, are also available on many routes to further assist social distancing.


Notes to editors

For more information about how to request a free Key smartcard, search "key smartcard" and either Southern RailwayThameslink Railway or Great Northern Rail.

NFC stands for ‘near-field communication’. All the latest smartphones come equipped with this technology which enables wireless data transfer over a short distance. Customers can check which phones are equipped with NFC here.

GTR is supporting social distancing with a wide range of measures:

  • One-way and queuing systems at the busiest stations, with 19,000 floor signs across the network, 25,000 train signs, posters, adverts and announcements to remind people to socially distance
  • 1,000 touch-free hand sanitiser points have been put in at stations
  • We have developed a staff app to monitor passenger volumes and movements to identify ‘hot spots’ across the network – uses data from trains, ticket sales, ticket gates, and from staff seeing where social distancing may not be being observed. We can also use this to modify our service where possible

To keep passengers and staff safe, there is an enhanced cleaning regime focused on touch points:

  • All 2,700 train carriages are sanitised every night and…
  • … GTR has treated all its trains with a powerful new viruscide which sticks to surfaces, killing viruses for up to 30 days.
  • This product is also being used to treat stations, offices and other staff locations such as depots.



Govia Thameslink Railway

Govia Thameslink Railway (GTR) operates Thameslink, Great Northern, Southern and Gatwick Express services as follows:

  • Thameslink – cross-London services between Bedford/Peterborough/Cambridge and Brighton/Horsham/Littlehampton/East Grinstead, and between Luton/St Albans and Sutton/Wimbledon/Rainham; plus services between London and Sevenoaks
  • Great Northern – services between London and Welwyn, Hertford, Peterborough, Cambridge and King’s Lynn
  • Southern – services between London and the Sussex coast (Brighton, Worthing, Eastbourne, Bognor Regis, Hastings) and parts of Surrey, Kent and Hampshire (Ashford International, Southampton, Portsmouth)
  • Gatwick Express – fast, non-stop direct services between Gatwick Airport and London Victoria

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