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Kidbrooke now re-connected

It appears that the connection issues at Kidbrooke station have finally been fixed.  All my journey history has updated to show the correct touches.  I travelled via Kidbrooke this afternoon and initially it didn’t seem ok as there was no sign of the touches half an hour after making them (it’s usually updated within 5 minutes for rail touches).  But then hey presto, everything was there.  I also had a response from Southeastern twitter telling me that it had been fixed, so fingers crossed it’s now ok.

I have to admit to being a little disappointed at the length of time it’s taken.  It started going wrong on 6th September and I personally reported the issue on 29th September.  So that’s either 3 weeks or over 6 weeks depending on when you want to start the clock.  Southeastern were also a bit fed up as they displayed a notice above the Pelger Square validators directing complaints to TfL.

Equipment Failure at Kidbrooke

UPDATE: Southeastern say that a fix has been applied today after they received an email yesterday.

FURTHER UPDATE: It hasn’t been fixed as touches are missing from yesterday (Sun 4th).

After hearing reports about a serious equipment malfunction at Kidbrooke station in Southeast London I visited the station last night.  It seems to be related to the activation of new validators at the Pelger Square entrance on the up platform starting from the weekend of the 5th/6th September.  Contactless and some Oyster touches are not being transmitted to the central system.  This results in incomplete journeys which might be automatically resolved based on previous history.  If they are not resolved then a maximum journey charge is applied.

On my contactless card I ended up with two incomplete journeys, both starting at Crayford because it can’t tell which way you’re going when you use a validator.  The first one was available for me to manually complete, so I did and the change was accepted within an hour and updated.  The second journey was auto completed to Watford Junction.  It said this was to avoid overcharging me, but the fare charged is more than the incomplete journey charge, so that didn’t work out well.  I have been to Watford recently, though not the most recent journey.

On my son’s zip Oyster card the journey from Crayford to Kidbrooke is shown correctly but the return is shown as unspecified location to Crayford.  This is because the fare deduction is made on the card and the validators are working properly in terms of Kidbrooke station itself.  At least I don’t need to get a refund for the zip card.

Notwithstanding the inconvenience of getting incomplete (or wrongly completed) journeys adjusted there is a more serious aspect.  If a revenue check is made and the central system thinks you are out of the system at the time then you get a maximum journey charge and a black mark against your card or device.  If you get three of these then your card or device is hotlisted and cannot be used again on TfLs system.

Brief Updates

While the government stipulates that only essential travel by key workers should be undertaken, there is not a lot going on to report here.  However, there are some things still happening and this is a summary of key points:

  1. London Buses are now centre door only to protect the driver from contact with passengers who may unknowingly be carrying the Covid-19 virus.  At each stop passengers are requested to let people off first and keep their distance within the bus.  There is no need to touch in on buses at this time so journeys are now free.
  2. The sponsorship project with G-Pay at Underground stations has been put on hold.  Some stations did get the white labels on their touch pads before travel restrictions were imposed, but no further changes will be made at this time.
  3. Daily and weekly capping has been activated on the contactless only routes (Reading to Iver, Luton Airport Parkway to St Albans and Welwyn Garden City to Brookmans Park).  Full details will be published on this site once I have answers to a number of questions.  It is extremely unlikely that anyone is reaching caps at this time with the limited essential travel being undertaken.
  4. There are also a couple of other stories that I have been working on which may be published shortly.

Bye Bye Oyster Deposit

As exclusively revealed on this website two months ago, TfL are phasing out the Oyster card deposit from February 23rd.  Cards purchased before that date will still retain the £5 deposit which can be cashed in when returning or cancelling the Oyster card.  From Sunday 23rd onwards an Oyster card will cost a £5 fee.  If the card is retained then that £5 will be added to the PAYG credit balance on the first anniversary of purchase.  Unused credit will still be refundable at any time, along with the deposit on older cards.

The main reason for making the change Read the rest of this entry »

Contactless to Welwyn Garden City

The final PAYG extension for the year, covering Welham Green, Hatfield and Welwyn Garden City went live on Tuesday.  As with Luton Airport Parkway, only contactless payment cards and devices are accepted, not Oyster cards of any variety.  The full range of paper tickets are also still available and may well work out cheaper at times, especially at weekends.  At this time there is also no capping, so if travelling a lot in London you could well be better off with a normal travelcard.

New Fares for 2020

In amongst all the election stuff and other sensational news stories, the Mayor released his decision on fares for next year.  It’s pretty much as expected – bus, tube, dlr, most London Overground, most TfL Rail and National Rail inter-available single fares all frozen for the 4th year.  Other National Rail fares and caps/travelcards all rise in line with DfT advice to the TOCs which is an average of 2.8% this year.

Arrangements for the TfL Rail extension to Reading are confirmed with Freedom Passes, Veterans Oyster cards and under 11s free travel commencing on December 15th, but only on TfL Rail services.  The contactless only fares for stations beyond West Drayton to Reading will start on January 2nd and will be valid on both TfL-Rail and GWR services.  Buried in the small print in the annexes is the news that daily and weekly capping will be supported.  Hopefully that also means that capping will be extended to the contactless only sections of GTR services.

TfL Rail to Reading – No Oyster

Yesterday TfL announced their initial plans following takeover of the GWR suburban services between Paddington and Reading on December 15th.  In contrast to any other TfL takeover, neither Oyster nor contactless will be available on day 1.  To ensure a smooth introduction, contactless PAYG will be introduced from January 2nd 2020.

The big news though is that Oyster PAYG will NOT be valid between West Drayton and Reading.  This means that adults with railcards, 11-15 and 16+ zip card holders will not be able to make use of PAYG.  And holders of Apprentice, 18+ Student and Jobcentre Oyster cards will not be able to seamlessly transition between using a travelcard stored on the card to PAYG.  On the plus side, under 11s accompanied by adults will be able to travel free, but only on the TfL Rail services.

Read the rest of this entry »

Fare Finder Changes

Yesterday GTR launched new PAYG stations at Radlett, Potters Bar and Brookmans Park.  While the first two accept both contactless and Oyster PAYG, Brookmans Park is the first contactless only station.  It was clearly necessary for my fare finder to indicate this for any journey to/from Brookmans Park, so some coding changes were rapidly required.  Sadly the multi-type fare finder has had to be taken out of use at the moment, but the newer version (yellow button at the top of the page) has been updated.  You can also use this directly on a mobile device at https://oysterfares.com/off/.

The zonal coverage and cap information for the new Oyster stations isn’t live yet because I haven’t received the data from TfL.  I’m also waiting for precise information about what capping, if any, will be applied if one journey involves Brookmans Park.  There are a number of potential scenarios, but the statement by both GTR and TfL that capping does not apply from Brookmans Park doesn’t give any clues away.