Passengers can now swap their paper season ticket for the new smart card for weekly, monthly or annual season tickets. This is designed to make it much more convenient for passengers as it allows paperless commuting and speedy, tap-and-go travel.
The £5.5 million project is part of the Department for Transport’s (DfT) South East Flexible Ticketing (SEFT) programme and The Rt Hon Paul Maynard MP was at Sevenoaks station to see the much anticipated initiative go live.
The government's Rail Minister Paul Maynard said: “Today is another milestone in our campaign to ensure smart ticket choices are available by the end of 2018 to every passenger who wants one. The Chancellor recently announced £80 million to help us to do this and, within my department, we have a special team set up to work with the rail companies to make change happen.
“More than eight billion of the familiar orange paper tickets have been issued since they were first introduced in 1983 but in this day and age many people expect to be able to choose a smart ticket, especially for a season ticket which can be worth thousands of pounds. I am delighted our investment has enabled Southeastern to offer this major improvement for their passengers.”
Passengers using The Key can buy their weekly, monthly or annual Season Ticket easily online or, outside London, from Southeastern Ticket Vending Machines (TVMs) – without waiting for them to arrive by post or having to queue at their station.
Instead, tickets are loaded onto their Key simply by tapping it onto a smart card reader at their station, either on the automatic ticket barriers or on the TVM. Online tickets can be collected two hours after purchase, while tickets bought from TVMs will be loaded onto the card immediately.
David Statham, our Managing Director, added: “This is all about making life easier for our passengers. It’s great news for commuters, because it means they can beat those Monday morning queues. The Key is quicker, sturdier and more secure than paper – and it offers huge potential for future exciting developments that can help to give our passengers better journeys. We’ll continue to work closely with the DfT as more developments are explored for delivery in future franchises.”
Mr Maynard and Mr Statham were among the first to ‘tap-in’ with the new smart card, with Area Manager Danny Hackett and Station Manager Dan Morrison standing by to help them on their journey. Having quickly passed through the automatic ticket barrier without delay, the Minister took the time to meet the rest of the station’s frontline employees, in the ticket office and on the platform.
Passenger Keys are blue and personalised with the holder’s name and unique passenger number printed on the front. Child Keys also include a photo on the reverse. Unlike Oyster, The Key does not hold funds or credit, just tickets. Passengers will be able to check the status of their tickets and journey history in their online account or at any Southeastern ticket office.
Because it’s plastic, The Key won’t fade or degrade either, so won’t wear out like paper alternatives, meaning reliable and speedy entry and exit. As well as being sturdier, it’s also more secure: if The Key is lost or stolen, it can be quickly cancelled – or ‘hot listed’ – to stop anyone else using it. Passengers are then sent a replacement, free of charge, pre-loaded with any existing tickets.
Those wishing to transfer their existing paper season ticket can do so by choosing the option upon registering, provided they have at least one month remaining on a full-priced, adult season ticket for a Key-enabled route, purchased on the Southeastern website or at any Southeastern station.
Passengers can apply online to be sent their Key, free, within 3-5 working days at www.southeasternrailway.co.uk/thekey