SmartCard train season tickets - does anyone know what's going on?

My annual train season ticket is soon up for renewal, and after a year of the paper one failing to be readable at barriers and needing constant reprints, I'm desperate to get the new one on a contactless SmartCard.

I commute between an East Midlands station (where I buy the paper ticket) and Birmingham New St, most routes from the latter are run by CrossCountry as is my one.

I have an new/unused East Mids SmartCard which they've just said cannot have my annual ticket added because 'this is a Cross Country route and they haven't released it to us'.

OK, so I ring CrossCountry about getting the ticket on their SmartCard, as it's their route, but after much confusion and long delays seeking advice I am told that this is impossible, 'Because Virgin operate the barriers at Birmingham New St and they're not yet compatible with SmartCards'. I point out that they are usable as a friend in the railway industry with free travel as a perk has used hers there for years: there's a yellow round card logo on all barriers I've seen . But CrossCountry won't budge from saying it's impossible at present.

So I ask the barrier staff at B'ham New St (probably Virgin staff) but beyond confirming customers do use SmartCards of various colours(!), they know nothing.

Finally I try the New St ticket office who say 'we don't do anything with SmartCards' and can only offer weekly phone tickets.

So both operators are advertising SmartCards, ticket staff (East Mids) are suggesting this as a solution to constant paper ticket failure, but no one can sell me one?


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