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Commuters can now travel smart across the South East rail network

Press release   •   Nov 13, 2019 12:14 GMT

Thameslink's and Southeastern's Key Smartcards now work across one another's networks allowing passengers to travel further, across Kent and Sussex, Herts and Cambridgeshire (download high resolution pictures below)

Rail passengers in the Southeast can now use time-saving, convenient smartcards in place of paper tickets across the Thameslink, Southern, Great Northern and Southeastern networks.

Holders of a Govia Thameslink Railway (GTR) ‘Key Smartcard’ that could previously be used only at Thameslink, Southern and Great Northern-managed stations and those inside London, can now tap in and out across the entire Southeastern network in Kent.

This is particularly helpful for Thameslink passengers travelling beyond Swanley to Sevenoaks and beyond Dartford, to Rainham (view map).

Southern passengers on the Redhill line can also now use the GTR Key Smartcard at Tonbridge station.

In return, Southeastern ‘Key Smartcard’ holders can travel to and from stations across the GTR network, managed by Southern, Thameslink and Great Northern, such as Brighton, Gatwick and Luton Airport Parkway.

Key Smartcard benefits for passengers, compared to travelling with a paper ticket include:

  • time-saving: no queues at the ticket office and a simple tap in, tap out to speed journeys;
  • more secure: lost smartcards can be instantly cancelled and replaced;
  • automatically-generated Delay Repay claims: submitted with just a click of a button (on GTR Key Smartcard only*)

Both operators have prize draws offering Key Smartcard holders the opportunity to win back the value of their season ticket, worth as much as £6,000 for some annual journeys.

Thameslink Customer Services Director Jenny Saunders said: “The expansion of our Key Smartcard across all of Kent at Southeastern stations gives passengers a smarter, easier way to travel. This will be particularly helpful for people travelling on Thameslink trains beyond Swanley, via Eynsford to Sevenoaks, and beyond Dartford, to Rainham.

“The Key is quicker than a paper ticket, more secure and the GTR version enables automatically-generated delay compensation claims. I'm delighted it can now be used on our services across both networks.”

Southeastern Head of Retail John Backway said: “We’re always wanting to make journeys easier, and using The Key is as simple as tapping in at the beginning of a journey and tapping out at the end. It offers passengers with an old-fashioned paper season ticket the opportunity to switch, knowing that their tickets are safe and secure.

“You can register and switch to the Key at any staffed Southeastern station with ease, with validity across the Southeastern, Thameslink, Southern and Great Northern networks – particularly for our passengers who change between Southeastern and GTR services or either or both at places like Ashford, Hastings, Sevenoaks, Tonbridge and many others.”

Southeastern passengers can also now buy Singles and Returns on The Key – meaning that all their tickets can be kept in one place.

Chairman of Sevenoaks Rail Travellers’ Association Cllr Tony Clayton said: “We welcome this as an essential step towards integrated and automated ticketing across Southern, Southeastern, and Thameslink which should make life simpler for many commuters. Making the smart ticket systems work across franchise boundaries really helps rail users.

“We also welcome the recognition by the companies that this is not the final destination and that there’s more to do to deliver an automated fare system which users understand and which charges the right fare for everyone.”


Notes to editors

Key Smartcards can now be used for travel between GTR and Southeastern stations.

Passengers can register and request their Key Smartcard online at and Season tickets can be bought online and added to the card as the passenger taps on the ticket gate, or station smartcard validator, avoiding queues at the station. Daily tickets can be bought at the station

*Automatically-generated Delay Repay claims: valid for passengers travelling with a GTR smartcard on Thameslink, Great Northern, Southern, and Gatwick Express only (not Southeastern services)

Prize-draws: Key Smartcard holders can enter a prize draw to win back the value of their season tickets, online at the websites above.

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

GTR is currently the most punctual of the large and complex operators in UK rail according to 'On Time' statistics released by the Office of Rail and Road for May, June and July 2019, and fourth of all train operators in the UK