Introducing Enroute's Annual Group Strategy 2024-25

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What’s going on?

Merseyrail, the principal rail operator in Merseyside, has been fining passengers who travel with digital tickets (also known as e-tickets or QR code tickets) purchased from apps such as Trainline. These passengers are being penalised even though they have a valid ticket, simply because Merseyrail requires digital tickets to be printed on paper.

This policy goes against common practice in the UK, where digital tickets displayed on mobile devices are generally accepted by other rail operators. National Rail’s Conditions of Travel explicitly states that tickets stored on electronic devices or smartcards can be valid when shown digitally or printed.

Separately, Merseyrail operates under its own set of regulations called the ‘Merseyrail Byelaws’, last updated in 2014. These byelaws, established under the Railways Act 2005 and separate from the National Rail Conditions of Travel and National Rail Byelaws, do allow Merseyrail an additional layer of control on ticketing, but do not ‘overrule’ the National Rail Conditions of Travel.

While we haven’t been able to come to a conclusion on whether Merseyrail’s policy is technically lawful, we have come to the conclusion that these activities are morally wrong, and this campaign is here to change it.

What is this campaign for?

Our campaign aims to simplify this issue and encourage Merseyrail to adopt a more user-friendly approach. If Merseyrail needs to upgrade its IT systems to accept digital tickets, we urge them to take the necessary steps. If there is a miscommunication or lack of clarity in their policies, we call on them to address it transparently. And so on.

Ultimately, our goal is to ensure that passengers can travel seamlessly using digital tickets, aligning with modern consumer expectations and promoting the use of public transport. We believe that Merseyrail can achieve this while still operating within the legal framework, but it may require updating their practices and improving communication with the public.

Our core ask to Merseyrail is that they review their policies and start accepting e-tickets simply by them being produced on a mobile device, rather than the old-fashioned requirement of printing a QR code in order to make it valid when travelling.

What are we doing about it?

We have written and published an open letter to Merseyrail’s Managing Director, Neil Grabham, and gathered passenger testimonials and case studies of how this unusual stance from Merseyrail has affected the travelling public.

We have also launched a petition for Merseyrail to acknowledge our letter to their Managing Director and amend their policies to allow passengers travelling with e-tickets to be permitted travel if they are shown to an authorised official from a mobile device.

We will be working with decision-makers, other campaign groups and advocacy organisations, as well as promoting the case for change on social media, pushing Merseyrail to change their policies for the public good.

How can you help?

If you are a member of the public, sign our petition to show Merseyrail and other decision-makers that we feel strongly about this absolutely needed change on the network. Get in touch with your local MP, councillor, or other local politicians and spread the word of this movement. And if you have been affected by Merseyrail’s e-ticketing policies, tell us your story by submitting a response to our online form here.

If you are a stakeholder, advocate or decision-maker, get in touch with Harry Burr, Joint Chief Executive on We can provide advice and further insights and help you understand how you can support the campaign and spread the word.

If you are Neil Grabham or Steve Rotheram (or work for Merseyrail and could make a difference), please read our open letters!

Enroute Group CIC attempted to request information from Merseytravel, the public body which is responsible for appointing and monitoring the Merseyrail franchise, through the Freedom of Information Act.

Merseyrail did not hold the information any of the information that we requested. The current operator is not a public body, therefore not liable to respond to a Freedom of Information Act request.

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