Sunday, August 03, 2008

Oyster Cards at Romford Station

I've had a go at National Express in the Romford Recorder this week. The story, at concerns the lack of facilities for pre paid oyster card users at Romford station. This is an ongoing disgrace which discriminates against Romford residents by denying them access to cheaper oyster 'pay as you go' fares. There are two issues:

First, the main line rail companies refuse to accept oyster pre paid tickets - as opposed to oyster travelcards which are accepted - because they don't want to incur the costs of installing oyster readers at every station. This would require the introduction of ticket barriers at many places, Gidea Park and Harold Wood being good examples, and they are resisting the extra expense. They seem not to realise that the barriers will be a benefit in themselves, restricting access to the platform and improving safety in many places. Livingstone did his best to get a deal and Boris seems to be making progress with some operators, but their foot dragging has to stop.

Second, the ticket barriers at Romford cannot read oyster cards of any type including travelcards. This means that oyster holders have to queue on the stairs to exit the station via a tiny gap where the station staff check the tickets with hand held machines. The staff are great, and long suffering, but the same can't be said of the inspectors who are sometimes drafted in. New barriers have been promised for months but again no progress from National Express.

We all want to stop ticket evasion, but a lot of people who are fined genuinely believe that their oyster pre paid ticket is valid, and after all they have paid their fare so the injustice of a fine is pretty obvious. Better information for travellers at Liverpool Street and Stratford stations would be a good start.


Alan said...

I ran into this little problem when I was in London last. Not living in the UK, when I was last in London on business, I asked a London Underground staff member if a prepaid Oyster would get me to Blackheath station via London Bridge and he answered "yes". I then purchased one (a £3 "deposit"), charged it up and went on my journey. 2 single tube tickets journeys, I discovered in London Bridge that my newly purchased prepaid oyster card would not work on the overground network.

I was livid - the cost of two underground singles plus a single to Blackheath was far more than an off-peak travel card. Did I get compensation for this poor advice? Did I hell.

For a supposed international city, London has a lot to learn from the likes of Geneva, Zurich or Paris.

Patrick said...

Well you probably voted for Boris and he wanted to get rid of Oysters altogether, probably because they favour the less well off. You reap what you sew as the saying goes.

Anonymous said...

Well the barriers at romford station are gone now - i wonder if it will be replaced with oyster accepting machines..

Anonymous said...

my 16 year old daughter was frog marched to the station ATM by staff after receiving a on the spot penalty after having already topped up an oyster card in the mistaken belief that they were accepted at Romford why stop this service at Goodmayes makes no sense when its advertised misleadingly at Stratford not good enough

Anonymous said...

I had this problem the end of last week, I had added money onto my pre-paid card and got to Romford, tried to get through barrier (couldn't) and was fined £20 - I explained to inspector I had no idea I could not use my oyster card there (after all it is a zone 6, I had the money on card and thought it acted in the same way as a travelcard) - he just proceeded to issue fine telling me I had travelled without a valid ticket - I offered to pay whatever it was I was supposed to as I genuninely had no idea I would encounter this - he was having none of it, the experience was very upsetting, there was no information along my journey suggesting I was doing anything wrong or should do otherwise - I will appeal against this