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Campaigners call for investigation into high cost of failed South East smart ticketing programme

15 February 2016

Campaign for Better Transport calls for an audit into the cost of the smart ticketing programme which was to introduce smart Oyster-style ticketing across south east England.

Following the letter from Rail Minister, Claire Perry MP, to the Rail Delivery Group confirming the demise of the South East Flexible Ticketing programme (SEFT), the charity has written to Meg Hillier MP, Chair of the Public Accounts Committee, asking for scrutiny of the £37 million of public money that the Government has spent on the failed smart ticketing programme.

Stephen Joseph, Chief Executive, Campaign for Better Transport, said:

“The Government must answer some very important questions on how the introduction of smart ticketing on rail across the South East has gone so badly wrong and how £37 million of public money has been spent on the South East Flexible Ticketing Programme with very little to show for it.

SEFT was meant to pilot new technology which could enable simpler ticketing across services, but the Government has decided it's too difficult and is just passing the buck onto the train operators. What we need to see is a national strategy to deliver ticketing and fares that will allow for seamless travel across all operators with flexibility for part-time workers, not just in the South East but across the whole country.

Passengers need to know what has actually been delivered for the millions of pounds of taxpayers' money that has already been spent on this debacle."


For further information please contact:

Richard Watkins, Press Officer, at Campaign for Better Transport on 020 7566  6494 or richard.watkins@bettertransport.org.uk  or Alice Ridley on 020 7566 6495 / 07984 773 468 or alice.ridley@bettertransport.org.uk

Notes to editors

  • Campaign for Better Transport is also writing to Louise Ellman MP, Chair of the Transport Select Committee, to look into the future of smart ticketing.
  • Copies of Campaign for Better Transport’s  letters to the Public Accounts Committee and Transport Select Committee are available on request,
  • Rail Minister, Claire Perry MP, wrote to the Rail Delivery Group confirming train operators will not have to use SEFT as a back-office system and they may experience barriers in introducing smart ticketing. Read the letter here
  • In September 2013 the Government announced the £80 million South East Flexible Ticketing (SEFT) programme to introduce smart Oyster-style ticketing across south east England and pilot a flexible, part-time season ticket on a commuter route into London. In December 2015 the Government admitted to having spent £37.64 million on SEFT, despite no pilot having taken place and no timescale for the introduction of flexible ticketing being set.
  • Campaign for Better Transports’ Fair Fares Now campaign calls for cheaper, fairer and simpler train fares.
  • Campaign for Better Transport is the UK's leading authority on sustainable transport. We champion transport solutions that improve people's lives and reduce environmental damage. Our campaigns push innovative, practical policies at local and national levels. Campaign for Better Transport Charitable Trust is a registered charity (1101929)

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