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The Oyster card system, used by rail commuters across London, is to be extended to Welwyn Garden City, Hertford North and Luton Airport Parkway.

The Department for Transport has confirmed that the launch is set for next year and will include ten other stations for passengers on Thameslink, Southern and Great Northern.

Rail passengers using Hertford North will be among the first to benefit in early 2019, Rail Minister Andrew Jones announced today.

Passengers travelling from Welwyn Garden City, Hatfield, Welham Green and Brookmans Park will see the technology going active later in the year.

Rail Minister Andrew Jones said: "This is about making access to the capital even easier for commuters and other rail travellers, including visitors to the UK arriving at Luton Airport.

"But this is only the first step. Extending pay-as-you-go now will also help us better understand passenger travel patterns and will form the basis of the consultation we are launching early next year into making pay-as-you-go available across much more of the south east network.

"We are committed to its wider expansion and the feedback we get will help both the government and train operators create a network that puts passengers' needs and demands at its very heart."

Welwyn Hatfield MP Grant Shapps (pictures above) says he hopes this will make travelling into the capital more convenient: "I have been trying to get Oyster on this line for a very long time. Finally, combing with some of my colleagues in neighbouring areas, we have managed to get this great news.

I understand Oyster, for anyone that happens to travel that way, will also be running to Hertford North and from London to Luton in the future.

The good news is that if you don't travel every day and maybe you don't have a season ticket, what it will do is calculate the best price for you".

The goal of the Department for Transport is to extend pay-as-you-go travel - whether it be Oyster or other approaches - across urban areas. This will mean increasing opportunities through online and mobile technology for people to travel on the network.

The announcement comes as the root and branch Rail Review, launched by the Secretary of State in September, looks into all parts of the industry, from the current franchising system and structures, to further devolution, accountability and value for money. It will conclude with a White Paper in autumn 2019, explaining how the government will deliver reform from 2020.

The government also wants to see lower levels of fare increases for passengers in future and has written to the Rail Delivery Group and unions seeking their input to reduce cost pressures in the industry. This will require a move away from the use of the Retail Price Index to the more commonly used Consumer Prices Index for both fares and pay, without asking all taxpayers to pay extra.

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