West Midlands to take major step towards Oyster-style travel card

Rail users will benefit from best value fare capping using Swift, the region’s smart ticketing scheme, under a new pilot to simplify rail fares and payment, announced by Government this week.

Once the scheme launches next year, Swift smartcard users will be able to seamlessly tap and go using rail, bus and tram services with convenience and confidence.

It means that West Midlands Swift smartcard users will, for the first time, enjoy a similar experience to London Oyster card users – to tap in and out and secure the best value fare without having to plan ahead or seek out the right ticket.

Bus and tram passengers already benefit from this, using Swift Go. Passengers will also enjoy the benefit of capped fares over a day or a week safe in the knowledge they will never overpay and can continue to travel at no charge once a cap is reached. This offers passengers greater flexibility over when or how often they travel without being penalised.

Transport for West Midlands and the West Midlands Rail Executive have teamed up with the Department for Transport and Great British Railways Transition Team on the pilot as well as working on further improvements for the region’s rail passengers.

It is the result of the Trailblazer Deeper Devolution Deal agreed last year which gives the WMCA and WMRE a greater say in how our railways are run. The partners are now working on the technology to deliver the pilot. Andy Street, Mayor of the West Midlands and WMCA chair said:

“Our Swift smartcard already enables passengers to transfer seamlessly between our various local bus operators and Metro tram services whilst guaranteeing they get best value fares.

“Thanks to this pilot scheme, we will now add rail to our offering - making Swift truly multi-modal and bringing us much closer to a London ‘Oyster card’ style system.

“This is a practical example of how the Deeper Devolution Deal we agreed with Government is delivering tangible benefits for local people right across our region.”

In parallel to this pilot, TfWM is working in partnership with bus operators and Midlands Connect to develop a new contactless smart payment system. This will allow travellers to use their contactless debit or credit card to automatically secure best value fares across a range of bus and tram operators.

The team are also working closely with DfT and GBRTT to ensure that this system will be able to incorporate train operators in future. This should finally bring the full benefits of London style ticketing to the rest of the country. Stewart Fox-Mills, Director for Fares, Ticketing and Retail at GBRTT added:

"Buying a train ticket is often too complicated. Which is why work to simplify the experience customers have is such a vital part of wider rail reforms.

"Partnership working, bringing the railway together to work with local partners, has unlocked pilots that will deliver a more seamless travel experience for customers in the West Midlands and Greater Manchester.

"GBRTT will continue to work with partners to deliver a more locally accountable, integrated rail network."

The 75 railway stations are those within the TfWM operational area covering the seven metropolitan local authorities of Birmingham, Coventry, Dudley, Sandwell, Solilhull, Walsall and Wolverhampton or zones 1 to 5 on the regional network. It includes five new stations currently under construction.


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