A promising sandwich board headline for the Evening Standard on Friday, promising “Oyster cards on all trains“. If it’s true it would prove a well overdue development. Although Londoners regards national rail services within Greater London one of the many elements comprising the capital’s transport network, most of the lines have until now not allowed use of Oyster ‘Pay as you go’ cards. From the point of view of the average commuter or resident this makes travel less coherent and straight forward as it should be. Ideally the smart Oyster card should convey you from A to B within London, on whichever form of public transport is necessary without difficulty, however on many suburban lines a ticket is required for the rail ticket and an Oyster card used elsewhere.
Looking into the story further, the Londonist website sheds further light onto the details, indicating support for Oyster won’t be quite as universal as might have been hoped as South West Trains isn’t joining in. SWT it seems have their own smart card system in the offing, which they want to stick with rather than Oyster. Hopefully if SWT’s system does take off more widely, a dual-system card will become available, as the Oyster’s ease of use as a single means of bus, tube, tram and some rail travel is simply excellent.
A slight fly in the ointment is that that TfL is shelling out for the installation of machines at national rail stations within London due to the complaints of the cost by the train operators. This means of course public money and or that of the London commuter.
The Londonist highlights problems with the implentation of ticket barriers, which I’ve heard is being a considerable issue at Waterloo at peak times presently. However as they also note use of the swipe points is a more sensible option than full blown barriers. After all, barriers check all tickets are are essentially a replacements to checks on trains or manual checks at a terminus. They are not necessary just solely for Oyster checks. Indeed if anything Oyster works more efficiently with ticket barriers if – and this is the issue at Waterloo I’ve heard – there are sufficient gates for the volumes of passengers passing through.
Although the spread of Oyster to national rail within Greater London has been a long time coming, it will mark another star on Mayor Johnson’s report card when it comes into effect.