I'm looking to purchase a UK Flexi Season Ticket online, specifically using thetrainline (although I'm ultimately travelling with Thameslink). I would like to get it in QR code format as I believe it's more convenient than carrying around an additional Smartcard.

If I purchase one of these tickets using a Key Smartcard, I can track how many journeys (or more specifically, how many days) I've used so far by holding it up against my phone with the Thameslink app or similar.

If I get the QR code version instead, is there any way to track how much I've used it? I've checked thetrainline's FAQs but they are not forthcoming.

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    I am quite sure the balance would be shown either directly on the QR or very near that code Commented Aug 14, 2023 at 9:53
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    I can confirm that national rail's app won't do this - I installed it this morning to check the flexi season on my smartcard, and it's only for NFCs. Is it a printed QR or on your phone in a specific app? I had so much trouble with GWR's app (e.g. unlock the app, walk up to the gateline, find it had locked again) that I went back to a physical card. It's so much easier - for me. Commented Aug 14, 2023 at 11:05
  • @NicolasFormichella the QR code is just a code - it's a static image. For example, it's available through email, through Apple Wallet - where are you expecting that balance would be? I don't see how that mechanism would work. Commented Aug 14, 2023 at 13:41
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    It seems fundamentally different - the smartcard has storage where it can keep data about how it's been used, but the QR code of course is little more than a database key. So it's got to be an official app/website with access to the database. GWR's website just about gives that, but it seems to flush the data overnight, so when it says "1 passes [sic] remaining" that might include today's that you've already activated. Their app may do something similar, but I uninstalled it before I got my smartcard. Trainline being involved may not be helping Commented Aug 14, 2023 at 14:08
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    If the app is logged in to the account to which the ticket is registered, you shouldn't need the QR code itself. I can go in to my account on GWR and with a few (too many, too subtle) clicks get the information about the flexi-season I have on that account. As I have been able to with print-at-home QR tickets. Commented Aug 14, 2023 at 15:38

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Having done this now, I can answer my own question. When I buy my Flexi Season Ticket from the trainline, for example, the QR code is handled a little differently than for a regular return ticket. Each day I want to use it, I log into the Trainline app and 'activate' that day. This generates a unique QR code which is valid only for that day. This QR code cannot be transferred e.g. to Apple Wallet unlike "regular" QR codes (although I believe it's still fundamentally a QR code, just the app handles it differently).

Below the ticket in the trainline app is listed the number of days left on which the ticket can be used.

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    Nice result. I stand by my earlier comment: "Trainline being involved may not be helping" but it seems less bad than GWR's app. Commented Sep 28, 2023 at 14:58
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    Well in my case, the train operator is Thameslink, and their way of buying a Flexi Season ticket seems to require one of their smartcards, so from my experience so far having tried both, the Trainline app is superior, now I've solved this problem. Commented Sep 29, 2023 at 15:53

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