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Pilot schemes to promote flexible ticketing and multi-modal travel set to include community rail lines

More than 90 railway stations across the West Midlands and Greater Manchester, including some on community rail lines, are set to be part of ‘pay as you go’ pilot schemes to promote simplified ticketing and multi-modal travel.

The stations are set to be fitted with technology allowing people to simply tap-in and tap-out of their local network knowing they will pay the best fare – meaning no need to plan ahead or search for the right ticket.

The project is part of the government’s plans to reform the railways, while also delivering on Trailblazer devolution deals aimed at giving local leaders a bigger say in how the network is run.

The trials are designed to pave the way for a future £100 million rollout of similar technology to more stations across the North and Midlands.

Rail Minister, Huw Merriman, said: “We want to encourage more people back onto our trains, with tap-in technology meaning using our stations couldn’t be easier.

“Our railways have a long history, but projects like these – part of the government’s wider plans for reform – will ensure they have a bright future too.

The West Midlands pilot is planned to cover 75 stations across the Transport for West Midlands (TfWM) area (including five currently under construction), and use existing ‘Swift’ smartcards, meaning passengers can travel seamlessly on local bus and tram services as well.

Greater Manchester’s pilot scheme is planned to include 17 stations on the Glossop to Manchester Piccadilly line, which is covered by the High Peak and Hope Valley Community Rail Partnership, and the Stalybridge to Manchester Victoria line. It will use contactless bank cards and devices and will support the wider ambition to deliver full multi-modal fares and ticketing integration across bus, Metrolink, rail and cycle hire as part of the Bee Network by 2030.

In preparing the pilots, the Department for Transport (DfT), Great British Railways Transition Team (GBRTT) and Rail Delivery Group (RDG) have worked closely with TfWM, the West Midlands Rail Executive, Transport for Greater Manchester and train operators. Work will continue to finalise plans for the pilots ahead of launch in 2025.

You can read the full DfT news release here.