Smart tickets entice Gen Z back to the railway


  • 58% of respondents said they would travel by train after hearing more about smart tickets, rising to 84% among Gen Z (16 - 24-year-olds)
  • 62% of consumers said nothing would prevent them from using a smart ticket
  • Making travel easier (35%), removing the stress of losing paper tickets (35%) and to guarantee the best value fare (28%) were the most popular benefits of smart ticket usage

Smart tickets are the future of rail according to a new survey commissioned by Govia Thameslink Railway (GTR), with 58% of consumers saying they'd travel by train using smart tickets after learning more about them.

Younger generations were the most interested in switching to smart tickets, with 84% of 16- to 24-year-olds agreeing that they would consider travelling by train more often after learning about the benefits of smart tickets.

The research, from the rail operator which runs Southern, Thameslink and Great Northern services, revealed that nearly six in ten (59%) were previously unaware of smart tickets, and therefore were not familiar with the many benefits of their use.

Head of innovation at GTR, Chief Finance Officer Ian McLaren, said, "Smart ticketing options are now available across the UK. GTR's Key Smartcard and eTickets offer an easier and faster way to buy, renew and use train tickets, compared to paper tickets.

"It is now even quicker to load tickets to your Key Smartcard with our app, cutting time spent at the station."

Following an introduction to smart tickets, consumers agreed they would make travelling easier (35%), remove the stress of losing paper tickets (35%) and, for GTR's Pay-As-You-Go option KeyGo, guarantee the best value walk-up fare for all the different journeys taken on one day (28%).

And it isn't just young people who are keen to trade paper tickets for smart tickets; the majority of respondents (66%) from the ages of 35+ stated nothing would prevent them from using a smart ticket.

Mr McLaren continued, "Commuters can buy the new Flexi Season Ticket, ideal for many in the post-pandemic world. If you are not travelling as frequently, you can also enable 'Pay-As-You-Go' KeyGo, which might be a good alternative to a season ticket. eTickets are another great alternative to many paper tickets for daily journeys and they're available to use at many stations. Simply buy the ticket online and add it to your smartphone.

"GTR's durable Key Smartcards provide clear benefits to consumers, such as the best value walk-up fare for the day on KeyGo and automatically prompting passengers to claim compensation for late-running trains. For Govia Thameslink Railway, it's a major boost for our ambition to reduce dependence on the less-sustainable and less-reliable paper tickets.

"We regularly consult our customers to better understand how we can tailor and improve the services we provide to their evolving needs. Our smart ticket options, available on Southern, Thameslink and Great Northern services, are a perfect example of technological innovation that offers access to better fares, automatic delay compensation notification and greater convenience when travelling."


Notes to Editors

The new research for Govia Thameslink Railway was carried out online by Opinion Matters between 25.02.2022 and 28.02.2022 amongst a nationally representative panel of 2,004 UK adults. All research conducted adheres to the MRS Codes of Conduct (2019) in the UK and ICC/ESOMAR World Research Guidelines. Opinion Matters is registered with the Information Commissioner's Office and is fully compliant with the General Data Protection Regulation (GDPR) and the Data Protection Act (2018).

GTR has three types of smart ticket that are revolutionising rail travel:

  1. Key Smartcards that hold digital tickets, including season tickets
  2. Pay-as-You-Go 'KeyGo', that works on your Key Smartcard guaranteeing you the best value walk-up fare for all the different journeys taken on one day
  3. eTickets for daily journeys that you simply download as a barcode to your smartphone and scan at the station

For more information about GTR's smart tickets, visit:

  • https://www.southernrailway.com/tickets/buy-tickets/smart-tickets
  • https://www.thameslinkrailway.com/tickets/buy-tickets/smart-tickets
  • https://www.greatnorthernrail.com/tickets/buy-tickets/smart-tickets

Flexi Season Tickets

Flexi Season is one of many tickets to choose from and may be the cheaper option for people travelling two to three days a week at peak times. We've developed a season ticket calculator to help our customers make an informed choice. Visit: https://www.nationalrail.co.uk/times_fares/season-calculator.aspx

Travel Safe

  • To keep passengers and staff safe, there is an enhanced cleaning regime focused on touch points
  • GTR sanitises all 2,700 of its train carriages every day and uses viricides which give long-lasting protection across stations, trains and staff areas
  • All air-conditioned trains continually refresh the air in each carriage every 6-9 minutes 
  • Weekly Covid safety checks are carried out across trains and stations, looking at cleaning and passenger information
  • Find a quieter train with our online passenger loading prediction service. At National Rail Enquiries, you can also subscribe to journey alerts with information on busier services
  • Over 1,000 touch-free hand sanitisers have been installed at stations
  • We have one-way and queuing systems ready to apply at our busiest stations if necessary
  • We promote the government's offer of twice-weekly lateral flow tests to our staff
  • E-tickets are available at 60 stations to reduce social contact through ticket buying
  • Customers can order a free Key Smartcard online, buy a new season ticket online, and add it to their card simply by tapping it to their phone or a station ticket gate or validator 


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