Scotrail smart ticketing, ticketing costs, commute times and passenger journeys: FOI release

Information request and response under the Freedom of Information (Scotland) Act 2002.

FOI reference: FOI/18/03352  
Date received: 13 November 2018
Date responded: 4 December 2018
Information requested and r esponse


Bullet 1 - A description of ScotRail’s smart ticketing scheme including when it was first implemented and what changes, if any, were made and when changes, if any were made.

As part of the Franchise Extension Agreement First ScotRail was committed to implement an ITSO compliant Smartcard Pilot on the Edinburgh – Glasgow route.  After a successful trial ScotRail’s Smartcard was rolled out to season card holders on the following routes; Edinburgh – Glasgow via Falkirk High; Edinburgh/Glasgow – Stirling/Dunblane/Edinburgh, and Glasgow Central – Ayr/Largs/Ardrossan and subsequently further technology was rolled out to make the network Smart enabled.

The new Abellio franchise introduced a Scotland-wide extension of smart and integrated ticketing with smart technology and ticketing being rolled out across the full network and available on most ticket types. 

ScotRail’s Smart ticketing scheme is based on ITSO technology and aligns with the Scottish Government’s wider ambitions for smart across all modes.  Buses in Scotland already carry ITSO hardware, used for the National Concessionary Travel Scheme.

Regarding changes made to ScotRail’s smart ticketing scheme, this information is published on the Public Register on Transport Scotland’s website.  Variations/changes can be found under the ‘Franchise agreement amendments and additional documents’ section of the webpage. I have attached the link for your ease.  Under section 25(1) of FOISA, we do not have to give you information which is already reasonably accessible to you. 


Bullet 2 – Why did ScotRail choose to adopt a smart ticketing scheme?

In our Invitation to Tender document of 23 January 2014, the Scottish Government set out Smart ticketing as a key part of the ticket provision of a future ScotRail franchise.  This document can be found on our website  This would help deliver the Scottish Ministers’ vision ‘That all journeys on Scotland’s bus, rail, ferry, subway and tram networks can be accessed using some form of smart ticketing or payment’.


Bullet 3 – What benefits has ScotRail’s smart ticketing scheme provided?

There have been a number of benefits ScotRail’s smart ticketing scheme has provided.  For passengers, some special promotional fares are only available on Smart.  Super Off Peak Day Return and Club 50 are exclusive to Smart and provide discount travel.  For Smart season ticket holders, exclusive online benefits are offered, including discounts and deals on the high street.  Smart has also offered more convenience for passengers as tickets can be purchased online making it faster and easier with no need to queue at the ticket office as well as providing more security against lost and stolen cards.  Smartcard has also brought the Scottish rail industry in line with other transport operators and it has also provided the opportunity for Transport Scotland to expand and create new ways of making Scotland's public transport interoperable. Other benefits passengers have indicated include; not needing to carry cash, durability of the smartcard over paper, and enjoyment of a new technology.


Bullets 4-6 & 8 – Cost of Smart implementation, ScotRail’s operating ticketing costs, average daily commute time and number of commuters on ScotRail trains. 

While our aim is to provide information whenever possible, in this instance the Scottish Government does not have the information you have requested.


Bullet 7 – How many people have ridden on ScotRail trains in the past decade broken down by year?  

The number of passenger journeys on ScotRail’s trains over the past decade is as follows:




(Millions of passengers)































About FOI

The Scottish Government is committed to publishing all information released in response to Freedom of Information requests. View all FOI responses at


Please quote the FOI reference
Central Enquiry Unit 
Phone: 0300 244 4000 

The Scottish Government 
St Andrew's House 
Regent Road 

Back to top