The electronic smartcard introduced at Epsom station has been extended to include travel to major London terminals.
MP Chris Grayling and representatives from Southern gathered at Epsom station on Friday, May 16, to launch the extension of the Key - a new electronic smartcard introduced by the train company, which was made available at Epsom in March.
Whereas before travellers could use the Key to travel to stations south of Epsom, the extension means that it can now be used to travel north into London - to Victoria, Waterloo, London Bridge, Charing Cross, Cannon Street, Blackfriars, City Thameslink, Waterloo East and Vauxhall.
Only season tickets, single tickets and returns can be bought on the smartcard at the moment, but Southern is hoping to introduce a ‘pay-as-you-go’ system with the Key later this year.
At the launch, Alex Foulds, Southern’s commercial director, said: "This latest development offers our passengers the opportunity to use a smartcard from the start of their journey outside London to any one of nine London terminals."
A Southern spokesman added: "Later this year, Southern plans to introduce travelcards to the suite of ticket types, meaning that passengers will be able to use their Key smartcard to travel to national railway stations within the London travel zones, on the Underground, on London buses and Tramlink services."
Mr Grayling said he saw the extension of the Key - and its potential to become ‘pay-as-you-go’ - as the first step towards bringing Epsom station into Zone 6, by introducing the flexibility of using a smartcard to the market town.
He said: "We have got two main stages to do. The next step is to move to pay-as-you-go across the whole London area.
"Beyond that there will still be the push to get Epsom into Zone 6. I’m still very hopeful to get that final piece of the jigsaw.
According to a Southern spokesman, the Key "basically gives the same advantages as the Oyster card".
People can register for the Key online and will then be sent a smartcard which is unique to the individual.
Tickets can then be bought online and will automatically be registered to the card. So when commuters arrive at Epsom station, all they need to do is swipe through the ticket barriers.
A spokesman said that the card has a contactless chip which cannot wear out and, if a traveller loses the card with a high-value ticket still on it, it will be cancelled from the online system and the person sent a replacement.
Surrey county councillor Tina Mountain, who represents Epsom Town and Downs, also attended the launch, added: "How wonderful is this for Epsom? The people of Epsom no longer have to miss a train as they can arrive and swipe straight through."
To register for a Key visit southernrailway.com/thekey.