The government is investing £3.25 million in modernising ‘touch in – touch out’ ticketing technology for rail passengers in the south west, Rail Minister Baroness Kramer announced today (31 October 2013).
The funding will allow South West Trains (SWT), which operates lines between Waterloo and Exeter, and Portsmouth and Weymouth, to upgrade the ITSO ticketing system at all of its stations outside London, paving the way for even more passengers in the region to start using smarter technology for their travel from 2014.
The project is part of the Department for Transport’s £45 million South East Flexible Ticketing (SEFT) scheme to promote seamless and convenient rail travel across the network.
Rail Minister Baroness Kramer said:
“A modern railway system helps drive a strong and vibrant economy. Smart ticketing will help the tens of thousands of commuters who use these services every day, getting them to their places of work more quickly and on time.
“Smart technology also will also help pave the way for passengers to get the best deals for travelling, for instance part-time workers receiving discounts on season tickets for travelling three days rather than five.”
Passengers will benefit immediately from the switch to smart ticketing because:
* they trigger automatic ticket gates more quickly and reliably;
* it will be easier to buy tickets online and collect them at stations;
* they will help to shorten queues at ticket offices; and
* they are much more durable than paper tickets and do not wear out as quickly.
The DfT has plans to roll out smart ticketing across the entire south east region by the end of 2015. As part of this £2.85m has already committed to upgrading ticketing machines with train operator c2c. Furthermore a competition will be held among train operators next year to identify a suitable trial to assess the viability of flexible season tickets.
Tim Shoveller, Managing Director of the South West Trains-Network Rail Alliance, said: “This is great news for our customers and we are pleased to be working with the Department of Transport to expand our existing commitment to smart ticketing.
“We were the first train operator on the UK National Rail network to offer smartcard travel and passengers can already use this convenient technology at more than 100 of our stations. Integrating this with the SEFT investment programme means that travel on Europe’s busiest commuter network will become easier and more convenient.”
South West Trains currently operates 186 railways stations, including the major commuter hubs like Southampton, Basingstoke, Woking and Guildford, serving 210 million passengers a year.
Stagecoach was the first in the UK to launch a national rail smartcard pilot at South West Trains in 2008 and more than 200,000 smartcard transactions are now made on Stagecoach’s bus and rail services each day. Stagecoach has also introduced StagecoachSmart travel cards at its bus companies in Cambridgeshire, Oxfordshire, Manchester and East Kent & East Sussex after becoming the first major UK bus operator to install smartcard-enabled technology on its entire 7,000 fleet of buses outside London. In London, all 1,400 Stagecoach buses accept Transport for London’s Oyster Card.