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Northern Smart cards - the easiest and fastest way for peak commuters to buy tickets 


Smart season tickets are now available from Northern.

Request a Smart card

Buy a Smart season ticket


Commuting fewer days into the office? Check out our Flexi tickets. 


What is a Smart card?



Smart cards are an upgrade to paper season tickets, offering a quicker and more convenient way to buy and renew. You can choose to do so online, at a Northern ticket machine or at a Northern booking office. With a shelf-life of 10 years, they’re also far more durable than the paper version.

What are the main benefits of a Smart card?


Simply put, Smart cards are far more convenient, last a lot longer and you can also renew online and on the go.

Saying “goodbye” to paper tickets will give you a faster and easier way to buy and renew season tickets at your convenience. They’re completely free, they don’t wear out and by buying your tickets online you can beat the usual Monday morning rush to renew. You can use a Smart card with weekly, monthly and annual season tickets.


...and the pros of season tickets over daily tickets?


  • Unlimited travel between your two stations
  • No need to queue every day to buy a ticket
  • Huge savings over the course of a month or year
  • Online and ticket machine collection now available

Use our season ticket savings calculator to see how much you can save vs your current ticket.



How do I get a Smart card?


Request your free personalised card online or pop in to your nearest Northern ticket office at your next renewal.


How do I purchase a Smart season ticket?


Now that you’re in possession of a Smart card you can buy a Smart season ticket online, at a Northern ticket machine or your nearest ticket office.

If purchasing online, you must load the ticket to your card. This can be done in 2 minutes via the Android Northern app. Alternatively, please allow up to 2 hours prior to collection at a Northern ticket machine.

Frequently asked questions. 


How does a Smart card work?

Your Smart card has a microchip inside of it that stores your season ticket on it. This Smart card can be read by conductors, station staff and ticket vending machines and barriers as per usual.

Does my Smart card replace my existing photocard?

You don’t need a photocard to accompany your season ticket, but you might be asked to show another form of identification by the revenue protection team. 

How do I get a Smart card?
You can request a personalised card online. Alterntively, you will be offered one instead of a paper ticket at the ticket office when it’s time to renew.

What information do I have to provide to get a Smart card?

Your Title, Forename, Surname, Address, email address and contact number.

Do I have to buy a Smart card?

No, it costs nothing to upgrade to a Smart card.

What tickets can I put on my Smart card?

You can put a season ticket for seven days or any period between one month and a year on your Smart card.

Can I get a Child (Under 16) ticket on a Smart card?

Smartcards are currently available only for Adult weekly or period season tickets between one month and a year, except where a 16-17 Saver is used.

Can MerseyRail RailPasses be purchased on a Northern Smart card?

Yes, however Merseytravel require us to issue RailPass onto Walrus cards rather than on Northern Smart cards.

Can Greater Manchester Traincards be purchased on a Northern Smart card?

Traincard rail tickets, including Metrolink, are now available on Smart cards at Northern ticket offices. However, Traincards remain are not available for purchase on the Northern website for the time being.

Is a (Greater Manchester) season ticket more expensive on a Smart card? 

We are aware of this issue as Smart GM Traincards cannot (yet) be bought at a ticket machine or online. However, ticket offices are able to issue the full selection of Smart products to customers resulting in the price being the same for Smart tickets versus paper tickets in the Greater Manchester area.

Do I need to activate my Corporate Season Ticket?

No. Corporate Season Tickets will already be loaded onto the Smart card.

How can I buy a Smart season ticket?

You can do so online or on the Northern Android App (NFC capability is coming soon to our iOS app), at your local ticket office or at a Northern ticket machine.


How do I load a Smart ticket bought online to my Smart card?

This can be done in 2 minutes via the Android Northern app. Alternatively, please allow up to 2 hours prior to collection at a Northern ticket machine.


Can I collect at non-Northern stations?

Yes, you can collect collect at most stations in the North however this does vary by operator.

TransPennine Express and East Midlands Rail stations have ticket machine collection facilities. 

LNER and Avanti have at least one machine available per station. The machine will be marked with the Smart symbol. 

The only Merseyrail station with smart collection facilities is Liverpool South Parkway.

How can I check my ticket has been successfully loaded to my Smart card?

You can use either the Northern Android App (NFC capability is coming soon to iOS!) or a Northern ticket machine to show what tickets are loaded on your card without having to make a purchase. Both will show active tickets and expired tickets.

How far in advance can I renew my smart season ticket?

The rules for renewal are the same as for paper tickets.

Where can I use my Smart card?

You can use it during your regular train travel, just like you use your paper ticket. The same terms and conditions for travel apply.

When can I use my Smart card?

You can use your Smart card on any chosen route you’ve bought a season ticket for.

Can more than one person travel using the same Smart card?

No, because the ticket loaded on to your card comes under the same regulations as paper tickets.

How will my Smart card be inspected during the journey?

The conductor will simply scan your Smart card to confirm that it holds a valid ticket for the journey you’re making.

Can I get off somewhere, then catch a later train to complete my journey using my Smart card?


Ticket usage – How will tickets be activated and validated?

You’ll be able to travel on your Smart card as soon as your Ticket is loaded onto it!

What do I do if I have problems with my Smart card or loading a ticket?

If you encounter an issue with your card or Smart season ticket call our Customer Experience Centre on 0333 2220127. Station staff should also be on hand to help.

To help us with your enquiry please have ready:

  • Times/dates 
  • Any transaction references and error messages
  • Your 18-digit Smart card number (on the front of the card)
  • The product you are trying to load

How do I replace my Smart card if it’s lost or stolen?

We’ve got a dedicated customer helpline for any queries you have or so that you can report lost or stolen cards: 0333 2220127.  

How do I change my personal details?

You can change your personal details at the ticket office.

How will I be helped in a situation of Smart card fraud?

If your Smart card is lost or stolen, be sure to report it at your nearest ticket office or you can give us a call on our support line. Once you report it, we’ll be able to arrange for your Card to be disabled. This must be reported to enable a refund.

How do I change or get a refund on a Smart ticket?

For tickets bought at the ticket office, you can simply return to the ticket office.

Can I claim under the Delay Repay Scheme?

Absolutely. Your rights under Delay Repay are exactly the same.

How do I change or get a refund on a Smart ticket?

For tickets bought at the ticket office, return to the ticket office. If bought online, please contact the Customer Experience Centre on the number on the back of your Smart card (0333 2220127).

Can I claim under the Delay Repay scheme?

Yes. Your rights under delay repay are exactly the same.

What information will you collect and share about me?

Full details can be found in Northern's Privacy Policy. All journey data is anonymised and used to help improve the services we provide.


What is the QR on the reverse of my card for?

We're trialing a new way for customers to give us speedy feedback on their journey or overall experience of Northern. Scan the code via a QR code app or with a modern Smartphone camera to access a short survey.