Skip to content
Smartphone e-tickets speed passengers on their way and help everyone to socially-distance
Smartphone e-tickets speed passengers on their way and help everyone to socially-distance

Press release -

New smartphone train tickets help Thameslink and Great Northern passengers socially distance

High-resolution pictures are available to download at the bottom of this press release

15 December 2020: Passengers can now travel using Thameslink and Great Northern smartphone e-tickets at eight stations in Herts, Cambs and Beds, helping people socially distance, preventing the spread of Covid-19.

Barcode readers have just been installed on ticket gates at:

  • Hitchin
  • Huntingdon
  • St Neots
  • Sandy
  • Royston
  • Letchworth
  • Leagrave
  • Flitwick

The technology is already available at eight other major stations in the region (see editor’s notes). They allow passengers to scan e-tickets bought via the Great Northern OnTrack app, Thameslink OnTrack app or online at and and displayed on their smartphones or printed out at home.

Barcode e-ticket sales have increased in the UK from 25% of UK rail ticket revenues pre-Covid to 33% as people realise the benefits of non-contact travel. E-tickets can help passengers travel with confidence and are ideal for advanced singles, peak and off-peak singles, and peak and off-peak day return tickets.

Another 10 stations will follow over the coming months, in addition to the 46 stations already fitted with the technology across the Govia Thameslink Railway network of Southern, Thameslink and Great Northern.

Season tickets go smart

Season ticket holders looking for similar Covid-safe benefits are urged to use the free Key smartcard which is also now available over all ticket office counters across the Govia Thameslink Railway network and not just by ordering it online, a process that would otherwise take up to five days.

Thameslink and Great Northern Managing Director Tom Moran said: “People who need to travel with Thameslink and Great Northern can already do so with confidence thanks to our intensive cleaning regime and long-lasting viruscide.

“Now, by rolling out smartphone e-tickets, and making our free Key smartcard available over the counter, we’re making it even quicker and easier to book tickets online, speeding your trip through the station, minimising contact and helping everyone to socially distance.”

Rail Minister Chris Heaton-Harris said: “This is a welcome improvement that will help passengers to move to digital tickets, helping reduce the spread of Coronavirus and making travel quicker and more convenient.

“As we continue to build back better, smartphone e-tickets are a step towards improving our rail network for those that use it.”


Editor’s notes

The Thameslink OnTrack app and Thameslink website and Great Northern OnTrack app and Great Northern website will offer passengers an e-ticket if they are available on the route they want to travel.

E-tickets are available for advanced singles, peak and off-peak single tickets and peak and off-peak day returns, between any stations with a barcode reader on the ticket gates. Over the coming months, e-tickets will also become available for journeys between stations with a barcode reader on the ticket gates and stations with no gates, substantially increasing the journeys available.

  • Passengers could already use e-tickets if travelling to or from 15 major destinations on the Thameslink, Great Northern and Southern network: Brighton, Gatwick Airport, East Croydon, London Bridge, London Blackfriars, City Thameslink, St Pancras International, St Albans, Luton Airport Parkway, Luton, Bedford, King’s Cross, Stevenage and King’s Lynn, plus London Victoria.
  • A further 12 stations along the Southern coast were fitted with the new technology in October: Chichester, Bognor Regis, Barnham, Littlehampton, Angmering, Worthing, Lancing, Shoreham-by-Sea, Portslade, Eastbourne, Lewes and Falmer.
  • 11 in Sussex and Surrey were added at the beginning of December: Hassocks, Burgess Hill, Haywards Heath, Three Bridges, Horsham, Crawley, Dorking, Leatherhead, Ashtead, East Grinstead and Oxted.
  • Huntingdon, St Neots, Sandy, Royston, Letchworth, Hitchin, Leagrave and Flitwick are part of a further 18 stations due to have barcode readers fitted by spring next year.

These improvements are part of the ongoing national Barcode Programme that the Rail Delivery Group has been delivering with train operators, enabling passengers to use barcode e-tickets on more journeys across Britain.

The Key smartcard is ideal for commuters with season tickets. Smartcards are now increasingly available from Great Northern, Southern and Thameslink ticket offices where customers can now register for a new smartcard and purchase smart tickets. Alternatively, passengers can buy smart tickets online and simply tap their smartphone to the smartcard to load it up. Smartcards have no magnetic strip to fail and they can be easily cancelled and replaced if lost. Passengers also benefit from automatic delay-repay compensation when travelling with a Key Smartcard and it can be used for pay-as-you-go journeys via keyGo.



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

Related content

Govia Thameslink Railway
United Kingdom