Dramatic increase in Smart Card use

Monday, 24 June 2019

More rail passengers than ever switched to using innovative rail Smart Cards in East Anglia this year, after train operator Greater Anglia took steps to improve them.

94.6% of Greater Anglia’s annual season tickets holders, and 84% of monthly season ticket holders, are now seeing the benefits of the train operator’s convenient plastic cards over paper tickets.

Sales peaked in November and December - the key time for season ticket renewals and coinciding with a marketing campaign which sent cards out to existing season ticket holders who were still using paper tickets.

Using a Smart Card season ticket is much quicker than the traditional paper ticket as customers simply touch the Smart Card on the reader to pass through the barriers.

Smart Cards are also more durable than paper tickets. Last year Greater Anglia processed over 48K replacements and exchanges for faulty magnetic stripe paper season tickets.

The failure rate of Smart Cards was just 625 by comparison - less than 0.05%

Richard Walton, Greater Anglia’s Smart Service Delivery Manager, said, “We’ve been listening to customers about their experiences of using Smart Cards and have made continuous service improvements to ensure they are really convenient, secure and reliable.

“For example, we’ve upgraded our Greater Anglia app so that if you have an Android phone, you can hold your Smart Card against it and it will automatically transfer the products you have bought from the website or app, onto your Smart Card!

“It’s an amazing innovation which means no more queuing at the ticket machines to administer the card.”

However, the train operator has also ensured a speedy transaction at gate lines and installed Platform Validators, which - after purchasing products - take just milliseconds to load them onto the Smart Card.

Richard added, “We are doing everything we can to introduce much more convenient and flexible season ticket purchasing facilities for rail passengers in East Anglia and that means making sure the customer service behind the ticket is robust too.

“Customers should have electronic receipts for their purchases which they can show to staff as proof in the unlikely event that the Smart Card can’t be read. If they haven’t, a penalty fare may be issued in the moment, but customers will be advised of the right to appeal and if correct proof of purchase is produced the penalty fare will be cancelled.”

“We’ve also enabled staff phones to be able to instantly check the validity of Smart Cards. So passengers can use their card with confidence, and at the same time the systems we have introduced will help to detect and prevent fraud.”

However, statistics have shown that the number of Smart Card failures is minimal, with very low card failure rates reported.

Customers are advised to hold the Smart Card onto the readers for a few seconds, rather than swiping like an Oyster Card, to ensure they work properly. Greater Anglia has also worked with Transport for London (TfL) to address passengers’ reports about difficulty using Smart Cards at the barriers at London Liverpool Street.

As a result, TfL installed new software which has greatly improved gate line reader reliability for Smart Cards, helping to speed up entry and exit to the platforms as Smart Cards are much quicker to use at barriers than paper tickets.