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Rail operator launches smartcard to boost sustainability and ease journeys

Neil Lancefield, PA Transport Correspondent
·1-min read

A long-distance rail operator has launched an alternative to traditional paper tickets.

Passengers travelling on Avanti West Coast services can now store their tickets on a smartcard.

This is aimed at helping passengers concerned about paper tickets becoming lost or damaged, and their environmental impact.

The scheme works by customers ordering a smartcard free of charge from the Avanti West Coast website.

Passengers then purchase a ticket online, and load it on to their smartcard at a station using a ticket machine, an automated gate or a staff member’s hand-held device.

Smart cards can be scanned at ticket barriers and by train crew to show that a traveller has bought a valid ticket for their journey.

Rail minister Chris Heaton-Harris said the system offers passengers “a modern alternative to the paper ticket, providing simpler journeys and reducing time spent in stations”.

He went on: “As we build back better from the Covid-19 pandemic, this Government is committed to smarter ticketing.

Avanti West Coast smartcard
The card can be ordered from the company’s website (Avanti West Coast/PA)

“Avanti West Coast’s scheme will allow for more convenient travel and will improve the passenger experience once it is safe to return to the railways.”

Sarah Copley, an executive director at the operator, said the scheme will be particularly useful for season ticket holders who previously often had to rely on paperwork recording their purchase if they needed a replacement or a refund.

She added: “As we have seen with digital ticketing, the smartcard will enhance customer experience as well as remove the need for multiple paper tickets, which has an obvious impact on sustainability.

“Traditional versions are also susceptible to damage, which can make them unusable, so this will help solve that problem as well.”