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Have your say in our forum

I’m delighted to announce the launch of our new forum at oysterfares.com.  I’ll answer any questions raised there, but additionally you may get a quicker response from other users.  Because it’s a separate site you’ll need to register and login before you can post.

Long-standing site visitors may remember a previous forum several years ago which suffered some technical issues and had to close.  The new one is a more robust version which will be more reliable.

New OSIs at Woolwich and Highbury

A couple of new OSIs have been added to the list on this site.  There is a new entrance to Highbury & Islington station in Highbury Station Road and this OSI links the new entrance to the existing main entrance.

In a victory for this site, TfL have added a new OSI between the National Rail and DLR stations at Woolwich Arsenal. This has been a major source of overcharging since a Covid one-way system closed the interchange within the station.  The OSI will remain even after the end of the one-way system which will benefit people who inadvertantly use the wrong exit.

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.

Congestion Charge Extension

Note: If you don’t like political posts on this site then skip this one now …

As part of the negotiation for a further bailout to allow TfL to continue running, the government want them to extend the congestion charge zone from it’s current small area to be the area bounded by the North and South Circular roads.  This will bring places like Walthamstow, Wood Green, Chiswick, Dulwich and Greenwich into the zone.  At £15 per day, anyone living in this extended zone who uses their car 5 days a week is looking at an extra £3750 bill on their motoring costs.  This will catch commuters, school-runs, shopping and leisure trips.  It also affects millions living outside the zone but who travel inside by car.

If you don’t like this proposal then here’s a petition to sign: https://www.change.org/p/petition-the-extension-of-congestion-charge.  You might also like to contact prospective Mayoral candidates to seek their view.  Sadiq Khan is obviously resisting the change, but what is the view of Tory Shaun Bailey, given that it’s his party trying to impose the extortionate additional tax on Londoners.  You almost have to wonder whether this government actually wants a Tory to be Mayor of London next May.

The very unfair fare rises

Some fares have risen by nearly 30% over the last 5 years!

This post is about National Rail fares in zones 1-6 for operators using the NR1 farescale.  That’s most fares for Southeastern, Southern, SouthWestern Railway and Thameslink south of the river Thames plus Thameslink and Great Northern north of West Hampstead and Finsbury Park.  These Oyster fares are set by the Rail Delivery Group with input from the TOCs so that the same fares can be set for all the companies.

The fares are adjusted each January using the same formula for regulated fares throughout the UK.  This means that on average fares rose by around 2-3% each year.  There is a problem where the fare in question is quite small, because the increase must be a multiple of 10p.  A 2% rise on a £2 fare is only 4p, so when rounded up to 10p the increase becomes 5%.  The logical and fair thing to do would be to increase one year and then freeze the next so that cheaper fares did not become disproportionately more expensive.  Sadly that hasn’t happened. Read the rest of this entry »

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.

One-Way System Woes

It is with some dismay that I have to report that TfL do not appear to be coping well with preventing overcharging at stations where one-way systems are in operation.  I’m aware of issues at both Woolwich Arsenal and Finsbury Park. The problem is mainly associated with Oyster or zip cards.  As I understand it, an emergency setting has to be made each day to allow Oyster cards to keep a journey open when passengers have to leave the station and re-enter at a different entrance.  For contactless the setting is permanent in the back office.  The station setting seems to be a bit hit and miss.  I’d urge anyone using the interchanges at either station to check journey history and complain to the helpdesk if they have been overcharged. Read the rest of this entry »

One way system updates

Finsbury Park: A semi permanent EOSI has been set up so that NR to LU journeys should now be joined together.  I’m told that this arrangement is expected to last until October at the earliest.

Woolwich Arsenal: Disappointingly I noticed that the connection between NR and DLR was closed again last night.  I hope that appropriate measures are now in place to ensure that passengers are not overcharged.  I will ask questions again.

Child Fare Changes

Ever since the announcement that the bailout of TfL during lockdown came with conditions, including the end of free travel for under 18s, there has been an enormous amount of misinformation pedalled by media and politicians.  The LibDems started a campaign to reverse the changes despite the fact that they still haven’t been actioned.  The i-news explained how children up to 15 enjoyed free travel on the tube – oh no they don’t!  My London also believed that the changes had already been made, and I’m sure many other news outlets fell for the same poor journalism.

The facts are that as usual with this incompetent government, an idea was put forward and agreed without any understanding of the complexity involved in implimenting it.  Read the rest of this entry »

Overcharging at Woolwich Arsenal

It’s been brought to my attention that the connection between the NR station and DLR station at Woolwich Arsenal has been closed since June 16th. Passengers wishing to change between the two stations have to exit one and walk along the street to the other entrance. Of course touching out and back in again causes your journey to be split in two and you will definitely be overcharged unless you have or will cap or are using a travelcard.

I visited Woolwich Arsenal earlier in the week to investigate.  On the Southeastern side the blue poster to the right is displayed at both the platform entrances (direct and via the footbridge).  As I was travelling well after the evening peak there were no staff present on the National Rail side, so it was just as well I didn’t need assistance!

On the DLR side the posters are a little more helpful as shown below.  Being a TfL station there are staff present at all times, and it appears as though people who require step free access might be let through.

I asked the staff at the station why the measures were in place and they replied that it was instructions from Southeastern and the DfT.  When I pointed out that people would be overcharged when exiting and re-entering they helpfully explained that passengers would be let through the barriers so they didn’t have to break their journey. Unfortunately there is nothing to say that this is allowed so people are being overcharged.

I have to say that the whole arrangement seems to make social distancing harder.  Rather than passing through a wide opening (or crossing a wide overbridge and stairs or lifts), passengers are forced through a much narrower bridge alongside the National Rail ticket office.

The whole issue of overcharging could have been resolved with a simple addition of an out of station interchange between the two street entrances.  It may not have been possible on day 1, but there is an alternative option of setting an emergency OSI which would have a similar effect.

When I asked TfL about this issue they said that they believed an EOSI had been set up.  I’m still waiting for a further response which I hope will include a promise to refund any cards which have been overcharged.  I have also asked Southeastern for comment, but so far none has been received.

As a final postscript, the person who alerted me to this issue called the Oyster helpdesk to ask about a refund.  They were told that it has never been possible to interchange at Woolwich Arsenal without leaving one station and entering another.  I’ve been assured that appropriate reminders have been issued to the helpdesk staff.

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