Contactless payments for rail users in South East to be extended

 (Philip Toscano/PA)
(Philip Toscano/PA)

Contactless payments for rail users in the South East are set to be extended as part of a major rail shake-up being announced by Transport Secretary Mark Harper on Tuesday.

The use of contactless bank cards to pay for travel has soared since its launch in London in 2014 and now accounts for about 60 million journeys a month on TfL buses, Tubes and trains.

But many rail passengers who travel in and out of Greater London from commuter towns in the South East still have to use railcards or buy paper tickets for their journeys.

In a speech to rail industry leaders on Tuesday night, Mr Harper is expected to set out details of how pay-as-you-go will be expanded across the South East.

He is also to announce plans to trial surge pricing on some London North Eastern Railway (LNER) services. Under the scheme the price paid by passengers will depend on how many seats have been filled on each train.

“The industry’s road to recovery after Covid has been tough, with reform badly needed to win back that lost passenger revenue while putting customers first,” Mr Harper is expected to say.

He will also confirm plans to expand single leg pricing across the entire LNER network, which runs between London King's Cross and Scotland via the East Coast Main Line.

That means a single fare will always be half the cost of a return.

Currently, an off-peak single between Durham and London, for example, costs just £1 less than a return.

Many one-way fares will be almost halved as a result of the reform, according to the DfT.

LNER, a publicly owned operator, has trialled single-leg pricing on some of its routes since 2020.

The DfT said it will consider rolling out the system across all of Britain's rail network depending on the success of the extended pilot scheme.