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A Visit To Finsbury Park

Other travel during the day had almost applied an off-peak cap to my card so I took the opportunity to investigate reports of problems, both current and future, at Finsbury Park.  Before I outline the full story though, the important message here is that at the moment you do NOT need to touch out or in if interchanging between Underground and National Rail.  In fact, if you try to touch out you will hit serious problems.

As usual I started my journey at Crayford.  I changed at New Cross onto the Overground and again at Dalston Junction for my first trip on the East London Line extension.  At Highbury & Islington I changed to the Victoria line for the single stop to Finsbury Park.  I then headed for the National Rail station and touched out on the validators in the subway below the NR platforms.  Big mistake.  I spent the next few minutes looking at the soon to be installed gatelines on platforms 1&2 and 5&6 while wondering why there are no gates on platform 3.  Of course there aren’t that many trains from that platform, but when there are it may well cause issues, unless they all make their first stop beyond the Oyster area.

I decided to make Kings Cross my next port of call to see how the renovations are progressing.  So, 11 minutes after arriving I ran down the steps to touch back in just as my train was arriving.  To my horror the validator repeated the Exit message.  No time to wonder what to do, I had to get on the train and hope I didn’t encounter any RPIs.  It’s not the first time I’ve inadvertantly travelled with an un-validated card, but my next stop was a London terminal where I might well have to swipe to open gates.  As it happens the gatelines were locked open, but I thought what the hell, let’s touch out anyway.  To my surprise it said Exit, repeating yet again the deduction of £1 which had been shown both times at Finsbury Park.  I say repeating, but it hadn’t deducted £1 again, just told me that that was what the journey had cost.

Now I had a new dilemma.  If I returned immediately to Crayford this would end up as a circular journey and I’d have two unresolved journey charges.  I took the card to an Underground ticket machine and checked the journey history.  Sure enough there were two zero priced journeys from Crayford to Finsbury Park followed by the final effort from Crayford to Kings Cross NR.  Thankfully I could afford to hang around for 20 minutes to let the OSI expire before touching in again at the Underground.  The rest of the journey was uneventful.

But, winding back to Finsbury Park, what happens when the gates are activated on the NR platforms?  My prediction is that it will be a confusing disaster with lots of people not sure what to do.  People will come off the tube and get to the top of the stairs and then touch in again.  Will that give them two unresolved journeys?  Going the other way people will realise that they have to touch back in but there aren’t that many validators between the NR platforms and the stairs to the tube, so will they manage it, especially if it’s busy.  And if there is the possibility that a train on platform 3 might convey Oyster PAYG holders then they really ought to provide validators on that platform.  I think I may well have to write to the Oyster helpdesk to ask what is happening there.

9 Responses

  1. Matthew Dickinson

    Hopefully the gates will be programmed to act as continuation exits, like the former Jubilee line gateline at Stratford.

  2. Hmm. I’m not sure that that is the answer either, given that continuation exits already cause problems at Finsbury Park with the current set up.

  3. I’ve now heard a report that the validators have been changed at Finsbury Park and no longer show as continuation exits. If you touch out and touch back in again you will start a new journey. So if interchanging you MUST NOT touch at all at the moment.

  4. Matthew Dickinson

    The FCC gateline is now active. There is a poster up to inform passengers to touch in or out at the subway validators if interchanging to or from the tube as well as touching out or in at the FCC gatelines, so it would appear that the gates have not been set to act as continuation exits.

  5. Thanks Matthew,

    That’s how it should be so here’s hoping it works. Hopefully the poster(s) are prominent enough to be seen.

  6. I came up from the tube yesterday and if there were any posters, they certainly weren’t prominent as I didn’t see them! When you reach the top of the spiral staircase (I came up from the southbound tube platforms), there are validators on the wall in front of you, but now labelled out of use. There are some working validators, but they are behind you as you come out. It is the tube to NR interchange that will be more confusing than the other way round. I think many will only touch in/out at the new gateline and ignore the subway validators.

  7. Hi Philip,

    I took a look at Finsbury Park last night and found several posters at various points along the NR subway. I’ll be adding another post to the site later today with further details.

  8. A lift was installed some time ago from the ground floor NR entrance at Finsbury Park up to the Up platforms 1&2, via the mezzanine subway under the NR tracks. There is, though, no card validator on either the ground floor or the platforms, only in the subway. This means that an Oyster user arriving at FPK from the North, or travelling from FPK to KGX or South on Thameslink, with a wheelchair, baby buggy or heavy luggage has to get out of the lift half way, tap in, re-call the lift which will have gone by then, and finally arrive at the exit or the platforms. I expect many don’t realise they need to do this and get stung with an uncompleted journey or failed entrance

    I have pointed this out to two NR platform staff members but they either don’t get it or maintain wrongly that there is a validator on the ground floor (there is, but it’s a long way away from this lift along the NR entrance passageway, away from the entrance/exit and it’s situated for passengers using the newer lifts to the LT platforms that are confusingly accessed via the NR entrance)

    My question is: can you get someone at FPK to deal with this, please, or can you tell me who to contact?

  9. Hi Ant,

    Finsbury Park is operated by Govia Thameslink Railway as far as I know. You could try writing to their customer services. I’ll also bring it to the attention of someone there who may be able to highlight the issue to an appropriate department.

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