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Great Western Railway to launch smartcard

Great Western Railway (GWR) is to launch ITSO smartcard ticketing for the Severn Beach Line, as part of a pilot which could see combined rail and bus travel in a single ticket offered across Bristol.

Allowing people to add weekly, monthly and annual season rail tickets to an electronic card to begin with, the pilot project is being run in partnership with Bristol City Council and if successful could form part of a wider, integrated scheme, including MetroWest, and local bus services.

Bristol City Council Councillor Mark Bradshaw said: "This investment is good news for passengers using Temple Meads and the Severn Beach Line with more gates to help ease congestion, equipped with new ticket readers making smart payment for local rail travel a reality.

“Piloting the smartcard on the Severn Beach Line and Temple Meads is a big step forward for Bristol. It will also help us move towards comprehensive and convenient smart ticketing across the bus network; local rail network and on Metrobus.

“I recently visited the GWR smart ticket team in Swindon delivering the pilot. Together with the newer trains arriving this year, the Severn Beach Line, which carries well over one million journeys per year, is getting a much-needed boost."

The ITSO smartcard, known as ‘touch’, will enable both adults and children to add weekly and season tickets (monthly through to yearly) to their card using their online account, or at a smartcard enabled ticket vending machine. While carrying the same branding as the First Bristol, Bath and West bus touch smartcard, bus tickets will not initially be available to be added to the GWR touch card.

Charlotte Leslie MP said: “I am absolutely delighted that GWR are to trial their ‘touch’ smartcard system here in Bristol, and that they have chosen the popular Seven Beach line to begin the transfer to the new scheme.

“This could be another step towards creating an all-Bristol-transport smart payment and will make rail travel easier and more passenger friendly. I sincerely hope that the results of the trial will be successful and that the project can soon be rolled out across the city.”

GWR Lee Edworthy explains “Technology has fundamentally changed the way that we travel. Our pilot smartcard scheme for the Severn Beach Line will make buying a ticket and travelling with us much easier and more convenient. Initially starting with rail season tickets, it is the first step towards wider integration of ticketing for bus and rail across the Bristol area.

“As one of the UKs leading transport providers, GWR is committed to providing innovative solutions to keep people moving in these increasingly congested times – and that is why we are keen to develop a smart ticket, putting our customers first.”

Pilot details

Prior to launching the pilot in May, GWR will need to install platform validators at the Severn Beach Line stations, as well as make improvements to ticket gates at Bristol Temple Meads; Network Rail will also take the opportunity to introduce additional ticket barriers at Bristol Temple Meads further improving access to the station.

After initial system testing is complete, the scheme will progressively be made available to customers from this Summer, and further details can be found at GWR.com/touch.

It is anticipated that the pilot will begin in May and conclude in September. Later phases will allow a combined rail and bus ticket to be added to GWR touch smartcard followed by any suitable smartcard, including First Bristol, Bath and West bus touch or the Travelwest smartcards. Funded entirely by GWR and First Group, if the pilot is successful, the company expects to expand the technology to all our customers in Bristol.