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24 Aug 2020

Southeastern unlocks Back to School travel with contactless card

Southeastern unlocks Back to School travel with contactless card: Ticket-Machines-&-Key-IMG 1019 crop

  • Sixth form and college students are encouraged to secure contactless travel cards ahead of the return to school
  • Southeastern promoting safe travel as students set to become the largest demographic to return to five-days-a-week commuting
  • The six busiest stations for schoolchildren in Kent and East Sussex include Tonbridge, Ramsgate and Faversham

Sixth form and college students are being urged to help stations promote safety ahead of the ‘Back to School’ rush by registering for a contactless travel card with Southeastern. The train operator offers a smartcard that provides a contact-free, wipeable and easy to clean ticketing option for students returning to school on the train in September.

‘The Key’ cards are able to be loaded with a range of train tickets from individual journeys to season tickets, while simultaneously allowing sixth form and college students to take advantage of student railcards.

This includes the 16-17 Saver National Railcard, introduced to the Southeastern network this year – the first ever railcard that enables 16- and 17-year olds to continue to travel at the 50% reduced rate of child tickets, and can be used in conjunction with season ticket discounts.

The Key is enabled across Southeastern’s entire network, including 164 managed stations and over 1,000 miles of track across Kent and East Sussex. This includes the six busiest stations for school age children in Kent in 2019: Tonbridge, Maidstone, Sandwich, Ramsgate, Faversham and Sevenoaks.

It comes as the reopening of schools will create a substantial shift in commuter patterns as students become the largest passenger group travelling five-days-a-week.

John Backway, Head of Retail at Southeastern, said: “We want to do everything we can to make it easy for students and their families to manage their travel as they head back to school or college. Throughout the pandemic, Southeastern has been committed to providing a safe experience for all travellers and we see contactless, convenient ticketing as an important part of this for students returning to the railways.

“Although we have tens of thousands of Key Card users, only a few hundred of those are students – and this is what we are actively trying to change ahead of September; to establish contactless travel as the norm amongst young passengers.”

The Key is a smart ticketing system that enables passengers to buy and download tickets from their computer or phone, eliminating the need to carry cash. With this smartcard, passengers are able to fast-track through the station, easing the flow of students and facilitating social distancing by eliminating the need for queueing at ticket desks or use of machine touch screens.

The Key’s contactless technology allows you to hold the card over the reader at the ticket gate, removing another usual contact point within travel. If the card is lost or stolen, Southeastern will block it and replace it, with all tickets restored, for free.

The Key is free and available to all passengers of any age. Sixth form and college students can apply for the adult Key card through a completely online, contact-free registration process.

The Key also enables parents and students to select the most affordable payment options for them – from annual season tickets upfront, to adding by the half or full term, or simply pay as you go.

Contact information

Emma Owen

Notes to editors

The Key registration
To apply for a Key Card, visit the Southeastern website. 

Free travel eligibility
Across Southeastern’s operating region, local councils offer a range of free school transport for those that are eligible. Further information can be found at the following pages:

Kent County Council
Medway Council
East Sussex County Council

For further information please contact:

Emma Owen, Southeastern Press Office
0330 095 9091

Madeleine Carter, BCW Global


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