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You are here: Home > Tickets & fares > Ticket types > The key terms and conditions

The key terms and conditions

The Key Smartcard terms and conditions

Use of "The Key Smartcard" is subject to these Terms and Conditions together with the National Rail Conditions of Travel and the terms of use for Southern Railway.

Getting the key

Register for The Key Smartcard 

  • When you register you will be asked for your name, address, date of birth and contact details as The Key Smartcard is registered to an individual
  • It normally takes 3-5 working days for your Key Smartcard to be delivered. The Key Smartcard is available free of charge
  • The Key Smartcard remains the property of Govia Thameslink Railway Ltd and we reserve the right to withdraw an individual card or The Key Smartcard scheme generally, at any time
  • The registered holder of The Key Smartcard agrees to keep their personal details up to date either by changing their details through their online account, accessible through the website or by letting us know by telephone on 03451 27 29 20

Using the key

  • Tickets available on the key are valid as advertised at southernrailway.com/thekey. Product availability may vary acording to routes and journeys. Note, where they are valid, smart tickets amy also be used on Gatwick Express services
  • You must always touch 'in' with your Key Smartcard by placing it flat on a yellow card reader or Oyster reader at the ticket gate or free standing validator (a 'Validator') at the station where you start your rail journey
  • At the end of your rail journey, you must touch 'out' with your Key Smartcard by placing it flat on a Validator as you exit
  • Tickets on The Key Smartcard are valid until 04.29 on the expiry date of the ticket
  • Tickets for The Key Smartcard can be purchased online at southernrailway.com and from self-service ticket machines at stations
  • All tickets held on The Key Smartcard require validation at the start and end of the journey, failure to do so could lead to a penalty fare being issued
  • You cannot travel with The Key Smartcard unless you have a valid ticket or keyGo loaded to your Key Smartcard. You can check your Key Smartcard account online or on a self-service ticket machine at stations
  • Your Key Smartcard is not interchangeable and may only be used by the person to whom it has been issued including any tickets or keyGo authority loaded to it. If the card is transferred, it will be confiscated and both the person to whom it was issued and the person to whom it was transferred or attempted to be transferred, will be liable for prosecution
  • It is an offence for a passenger to use, or attempt to use, a ticket that has been altered or defaced. The company will prosecute passengers who break the law in this way
  • Staff may inspect the Key Smartcard at any time and you must show it to them on request
  • All tickets purchased on smartcards are covered by the National Rail Conditions of Travel

If you lose your key or it is stolen

  • The loss, theft or failure of The Key Smartcard must be reported to Southern as soon as possible by calling our customer services team on 03451 27 29 20 or at any staffed ticket office so the key can be cancelled to prevent others from using it. As a basic security check we will ask you to confirm your details before we cancel your Key Smartcard
  • We cannot prevent the unauthorised use of a lost or stolen Key Smartcard until the registered holder has reported it to us. Cancellation of a Key Smartcard will take 24 hours to come into effect. Until it is cancelled, you will be liable for the unauthorised use of the Key Smartcard
  • We will not be liable for any travel costs incurred between the reporting or a lost or stolen key and the receipt of your replacement key

Replacing your key

If your Key Smartcard stops working or it’s lost or stolen, we’ll block it and send a free replacement to your registered address. Log in to your account, contact customer services on 03451 27 29 20 or visit one of our staffed a ticket offices to cancel your existing card. We’ll give you up to 3 free replacements over 12 months. Any subsequent replacements will need to be investigated and we may need to retain your card

  • When we issue the replacement Key Smartcard, it will have the same tickets/products loaded as the one it replaced. Where you hold a valid keyGo account, any credit will remain on the account and will be associated with the replacement card. Once cancelled, a Key Smartcard cannot be “re-activated”.
  • Where your Key Smartcard is faulty you will need to return it to us. We will replace it free of charge and will endeavour to replace any unused tickets. When we reasonably believe it has been deliberately damaged or misused, we reserve the right to charge £15 for its replacement. If we believe your Key Smartcard has been tampered with in any way we may withdraw it without refunding the remaining value. Govia Thameslink Railway Ltd (who operate Gatwick Express, Great Northern, Southern and Thameslink) is entitled to retain any card which they believe has been tampered with, is being misused or which has become electronically unreadable. Where a card has become corrupt, we will replace it.
  • We reserve the right to refuse to replace the Key Smartcard and are not responsible for any travel costs incurred while the Key Smartcard is being replaced

Ticket refunds

  • We have a standard refund and replacement policy which applies in all cases; this is available to view on our website here. We are also subject to the refund terms and conditions as specified in the National Rail Conditions of Travel.
  • If you have purchased a ticket which you have been unable to use you may be eligible for a refund. An administration charge of £10 will be deducted from any refund made in most cases
  • A refund is only available to the original purchaser and proof of purchase may be requested.
  • Refunds are not to be confused with the transfer of outstanding tickets from a lost, stolen, or damaged key as covered above.

Data Protection and Security of your Payment

We take your rights to privacy and data security seriously.

Collecting information

  • For the Key Smartcard, the data we hold includes, title (Mr/Mrs/Ms/Miss etc), first name, and surname, address, telephone number, email address, date of birth
  • When using the Key Smartcard our system records the location, date and time a Key Smartcard was used as well as details of any products (tickets, keyGo) held on the card. This information is stored securely and is used for billing, Delay Repay journey validation, fraud prevention, some automated processing and facilitation of customer support. Data is also used anonymously for our own research and development
  • We have contracts with a number of third party service providers, which provide the administrative and back office services for season tickets, Key Smartcard, registration and customer services. In order for the Key Smartcard to work on different train operating companies and TfL, details may have to be shared with these parties. We also share the information within our Group Companies
  • Other than this, we do not pass on specific details of journeys made unless permitted or required by law. Customers using the Key Smartcard can view details of their personal journeys made on their Key Smartcard using their online account, or by contacting Customer Services on 0345 127 2920
  • We have taken all reasonable steps to ensure the security of your payment transactions including the adoption of the payment industry standard PCI DSS. We do not hold any information about your financial transaction other than details of the type of tickets you purchase and when and where the purchase was made
  • If you have ticked the relevant box on the application form, you agree that we may also contact you to keep you updated with information about our services such as timetable changes and fare changes and also to inform you of special offers and our other related products and services. If you have agreed that you are willing to accept emails from us, you will be sent emails to your specified email address. You can opt out from receiving emails by logging into your account at southernrailway.com/thekey and changing your preferences
  • To view our Data protection policy in more detail, this can be found at southernrailway.com/privacy

You can also contact our Data Protection Officer if you want to exercise any of your rights under Data Protection laws or find out more information. Contact details are available from the websites above.