Smart Tickets

We want to provide you with more flexibility and an enhanced rail experience when you travel by train, which is why we have been developing a range of new smart ticket technologies to improve the way you buy and use your tickets across the National Rail network.

Smart tickets are a great way to make train travel more convenient. A smart ticket is a rail ticket that can be loaded onto Smartcards, mobile phones in the form of a mobile ticket or printed at home. This way you can buy your ticket in a way that best meets your needs and travel requirements.

Don't believe us? Here’s why you should be travelling with a smart ticket:

  • Skip the queues: The satisfaction of skipping the ticket office queue and prepared when you get your advance tickets (where available) 
  • All in one place: Stress-free not having to manage all those paper tickets and have them all stored in a Smartcard or a mobile ticket
  • Forest friendly: Feel good about yourself for being kind to the environment

Using smart tickets will replace millions of paper tickets, making it better for the environment

The rail industry, working together in partnership, is always looking to develop new technologies that makes rail travel easier and suits the way people live and travel today.

                          

Smartcards

What is a Smartcard?

Smartcards are a credit card sized card with a microchip to store tickets that is used contactlessly to travel, they are available online via train operators or at some stations.

How do I use a Smartcard?

Set up and use your card in 4 easy steps.

  1. Register for your Smartcard and purchase your ticket online
  2. Your Smartcard will arrive in the post 
  3. Buy more tickets as and when you need to. You can have up to 5 tickets on your card at any one time.
  4. Tap and go!

Mobile Tickets

What is a mobile ticket?

There are two Mobile Ticket options:

  • mTicket
    An mTicket is a train ticket held on your mobile device in a rail travel app. Just download one of the free apps and purchase a ticket online for participating stations.
  • eTicket
    An eTicket is purchased online and is emailed to you: you can then either scan the barcode on your phone at the gates or print the ticket out and scan it at the gates.

How do I use a mobile ticket?

  1. Purchase and receive your mobile ticket on your phone or online
  2. Receive your tickets by email or in your mobile app
  3. Scan and go! 

Tips for a smooth mobile ticketing experience:

  1. Buy train tickets for a journey from any train company website and select the mobile ticket option when available.
  2. Make sure your smartphone is charged, there are no cracks on the screen and that it’s bright enough, so the scan can ready it
  3. If you have a mTicket in a mobile app you will need to activate it before the barcode can be read to validate your ticket.

Frequently Asked Questions

How are smart tickets different?

It's simple but significant, smart tickets are held on your phone, in an app, on an email or on a Smartcard.

Tickets can be tracked from creation through to use, allowing train operators to understand their customers better and offer a more personalised and enhanced service.

Where can smart tickets be used?

The GB rail network is operated by train operators, that together provide a GB wide rail service. Smart ticketing is expanding with more ticket types, routes and station technology being added all the time. To see what ticket types are available for your journey please begin planning your journey and when making your purchase you will be presented with the ticket options available to you.

What types of smart ticket are available now?

Smart tickets are currently available on Smartcards and as mobile tickets. Smartcards are a credit card sized card with a microchip to store tickets that is used contactlessly to travel, they are available online via train operators or at some stations.

Mobile tickets are either mTickets, which are purchased via an app and stored on your device, or eTickets which are purchased online, delivered by email and can be displayed on your phone or printed.

How do I buy a Smart Ticket?

Mobile tickets
To see what ticket types are available for your journey please begin planning your journey and when making your purchase you will be presented with the ticket options available to you.
Customers can also buy mobile tickets via participating apps or on-line and in some cases from a train guard (where permitted), some ticket machines and some ticket offices. eTickets are delivered as PDF by email and can be stored in your phone wallet, copied or printed.

Smartcard
To see what ticket types are available for your journey please begin planning your journey and when making your purchase you will be presented with the ticket options available to you.
Smart tickets must be loaded onto your Smartcard via Smartcard enabled collection points at the station or certain retail outlets.

How do I use smart tickets?

Mobile tickets

Scan it
Scan your ticket on the barcode reader at the gate line, or present to rail staff when requested.
mTickets are mobile tickets that are stored in your app and require activation before you travel.

To activate your ticket, tap activate in the app and your ticket will be ready for use. Activated tickets will appear in full colour. Screen shots of, and unactivated tickets, are not valid for travel. eTickets do not require activation before use.

Smartcard

Tap it
Once your ticket is loaded, tap your Smartcard at the gate line, platform validator or present to rail staff when requested.
Customers are advised to allow 2 hours between purchasing on-line tickets and collecting them at the station.

Can multiple people travel using the same smart ticket?

Mobile tickets
Yes, you can buy tickets for a group and store in the same place.

Some mTickets can be transferred between apps on different phones but cannot exist on more than one device at the same time. Check with your app provider for instructions on how to do this.

Smartcard
No. Smartcards are linked to individuals for their use only.

Can I transfer my current season ticket to a smart ticket?

Yes, participating train operators will be able to swap existing season tickets onto Smartcards or supply as a mobile ticket.

Can smart ticket media hold multiple tickets for different journeys?

Mobile tickets
Yes.

Smartcard
Yes, however there is a limit to the number of tickets (usually 5) that can be held on the Smartcard at any one time. Please check with the train operator or retailer that provided your Smartcard.

What should I do if my phone battery dies or screen is cracked?

Mobile tickets
You must always hold a valid ticket to travel and must be able to show it.

If you are unable to show a valid ticket, it will be treated the same as any other customer unable to provide any other type of ticket, in line with the train company’s ticketless travel policy, however if you are able to retrieve your original tickets it may be possible to apply for a refund.

Please note: eTickets can be downloaded and printed before travel.

Do I need to be connected to Wi-Fi/4G to use a smart ticket?

Mobile tickets
You will need to be connected to receive your ticket, but not to scan it or show it and not to activate mTickets.

Smartcard
No. Your ticket is loaded onto your Smartcard without the need for WiFi/4G.

Where can I use smart tickets and how can I check if smart tickets are available for my journey?

Smart ticketing is expanding with more ticket types, routes and station technology being added all the time. To see what ticket types are available for your journey please begin planning your journey and when making your purchase you will be presented with the ticket options available to you.

To see what smart tickets are available by train operator, please visit the operators site whose services you wish to use, where you will find detailed and local information.

Can I get a refund or make changes to my ticket?

Mobile tickets
You will need to check the Terms & Conditions of your ticket as to whether it is eligible for a refund or is flexible.

Please note: mTickets that have been activated are non-refundable.

Smartcard
You will need to check the terms and conditions of your ticket as to whether it is eligible for a refund or is flexible.

Is there a charge for a smart ticket?

Mobile tickets
No.

Smartcard
In most cases, your first Smartcard is provided free of charge, some train operators charge a nominal fee for replacement cards.

Can I still use my Railcard, including Gold Card, and get discounts on my tickets?

Yes. Railcard discounts apply in the same way as for paper tickets. You will still need to travel with your Railcard for the discount to be valid.

How do I get a replacement smart ticket if it is damaged, lost or stolen?

Mobile tickets
Mobile tickets stored electronically will not be able to be damaged, lost or stolen, unless your phone is. The ticket will continue to exist within your email, phone wallet or app. eTickets can be reprinted but only used once.

Smartcard
Please contact the train operator or retailer that issued your card to report your card as damaged, lost or stolen. Your card will be cancelled, to avoid misuse, and they will make arrangements for a replacement card. You will need to speak to the issuer about recovering unused tickets that were stored on your card.

What happens if I am unable to show my ticket?

Mobile tickets
You must always hold a valid ticket to travel. If you can't show a ticket, you will need to buy another ticket and may be charged a penalty fare. eTickets can be printed or scanned from your mobile device. mTickets require activating before use.

Smartcard
You must always hold a valid ticket to travel. If you can't show a ticket, you will need to buy another ticket and may be charged a penalty fare. Smart tickets bought on-line must be collected and loaded to your Smartcard at enabled collection points at the station or certain retail outlets.

What do I do if a ticket gate or validator doesn’t recognise my smart ticket?

Please show your smart ticket to station staff and ask them for assistance. At unstaffed stations, contact the train operator or retailer of your smart ticket.

What happens if my smart ticket isn't downloaded on to my Smartcard?

Smart tickets must be loaded onto your Smartcard via Smartcard enabled collection points at the station or other certain outlets. Customers are advised to allow 2 hours between purchasing on-line tickets and collecting them.

What happens if I present a smart ticket twice?

Smart Tickets can be read multiple times, including at the gateline, a platform validator or by a member of staff with a hand held device. Please speak to station staff for assistance.

Are tickets the same price regardless of being smart or otherwise?

Yes, the cost of your journey will be the same regardless of the way you receive and present your ticket, smart tickets are the same price as paper tickets (not withstanding any promotional fares that a train operator may choose to offer).