GWR smartcard Bristol: How to get one, how does it work and when does scheme launch?

Smartcards rolls payments and tickets into one, allows passengers to ‘tap in and out’ of stations

Great Western Railway is set to launch a new pay-as-you-go smartcard that rolls payments and tickets into one, making it easier to travel by train in and around Bristol.

The ‘GWR touch smartcard’ will be available to use across the west of England area and valid on GWR, Cross Country and Transport for Wales rail services within the pay-as-you-go boundary.

A map of the ‘pay as you go’ boundary the smartcard will be valid in.

The card will enable passengers to get the ‘best value on walk-up fares’ for the day of travel, plus Weekly Season ticket price capping applied to end-to-end journeys between two stations from Monday - Sunday.

It forms part of major plans to integrate the scheme with other public transport and evetually allow passengers to use their debit cards to tap ‘in and out’ of stations.

How does it work?

At the end of the day, GWR analyses all your entry and exit taps with the smartcard and applies the most appropriate fare for the journeys you made.

The fare will be based upon the ticket types available on the day and the time you travelled on services.

It will then charge you the best value walk-up, flexible fares as available on GWR.com made up of Standard Class Anytime, Off-Peak and Super-Off-Peak Day Single, and Day Return Fares.

Train tickets and season tickets can also be stored on your smartcard with pay-as-you-go, except a Flexi Season Ticket, though you should be able to obtai a separate smartcard for that.

How do I get one?

You can register for a smartcard now and GWR will let you know when you can start using it.

Here’s how:

  • register for a GWR.com account or login if you already have one
  • go to ‘Manage smartcards’ within your account and choose ‘Apply for a smartcard’ from the drop-down menu
  • fill out the form and submit your order
  • you should usually receive your free smartcard within five working days

When does the scheme launch?

The service is expected to be available at the beginning of September.

Metro Mayor Dan Norris said the smartcard was an ‘important first step’ towards the GWR making improvements, with plans to eventually integrate the scheme with other public transport as seen with the Oyster card scheme.

It is hoped that one day passengers will also be able to use their debit cards to tape in and out of stations.

Metro Mayor Dan Norris with Great Western Railway representatives and the new smartcard.

Mr Norris added: “If we are going to reach our really ambitious net-zero-by-2030 target, we need to make it as easy and affordable as possible for West of Englanders to use public transport.

“This will help us cut congestion, improve road safety and begin to clean up our air too.

“The new pay-as-you-go GWR touch smartcard makes it easier for passengers making local journeys across the West of England Mayoral region, letting people breeze through the ticket barriers rather than having to queue in the station for a printed ticket.

“And with money tight it’s good to know you’ll always be charged the best value walk-up, flexible fare.”