Pre-paid Oyster Card

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Sunday 18 June 2006 4.21pm
A few weeks ago I finally succumbed to having an Oyster Card, went onto the TfL Site, gave TfL £50 on the Credit Card and a couple of days later received the Oyster Card.

This afternoon, the 'Gates' at Charing Cross Overground beeped 'Seek Assistance' when I tried to use the Oyster Card and I was told that Pre-paid Oyster Cards don't work on overland trains. I'm sure that Mrs Paul and I used the train to get from London Bridge to Charing Cross recently and there was no problem then.

Can anyone explain the situation to me?
Sunday 18 June 2006 5.23pm
My understanding is that the only oyster card that works on over head trains are travel cards. Pre-paid is only for use on the underground or bus.
Sunday 18 June 2006 6.06pm
Pops is correct, Paul.

Pre-loading cash on your card will not allow you on the train. You must purchase a travel card - but even a week will do.

Makes no sense at all, does it?
Sunday 18 June 2006 7.51pm
The Oystercard system is being upgraded next year to cover overland trains apparently.
Sunday 18 June 2006 9.36pm
wjfox2004 wrote:
The Oystercard system is being upgraded next year to cover overland trains apparently.
It's not a case of 'upgrading' the system - it's that in future it will be a condition of new/renewed overground rail franchises that Oyster equipment be installed at stations in Greater London.

The only reason it hasn't happened till now is that the rail operators haven't wanted to install the equipment - even in some cases when TfL offered to pay. In future they will be compelled by the Department for Transport and TfL.

There are a few National Rail lines where you can use Oyster Pre-Pay:

•Amersham to Marylebone
•Finsbury Park to King's Cross/Moorgate
•Harrow & Wealdstone to Euston (but not at
Kilburn High Road/South Hampstead)
•Kentish Town to Moorgate/Elephant &
Castle/London Bridge
•Liverpool Street to Walthamstow Central
Tottenham Hale/Seven Sisters (but not at
intermediate stations)
•Richmond to Gunnersbury
•Stratford to Canning Town
•Stratford to Liverpool Street
•Upminster to Fenchurch Street/Liverpool
Street via Barking (but not at Forest
Gate/Maryland)
•West Ruislip/South Ruislip to Marylebone
(but not at intermediate stations)

(from the TfL Fares & Tickets booklet)

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Thursday 22 June 2006 10.12pm
deek wrote:
Makes no sense at all, does it?

Exactly - Joined-up Thinking? I believe not. How in heavens name is London going to manage a smoothly-run olympics? I bought an Oyster Card to make things easier on the very rare occasions when I use the public transport system. Confounded again. Oh well, back to the SUV and the bike.
Thursday 29 June 2006 9.11pm
Paul wrote:
Joined-up Thinking? I believe not. [....] I bought an Oyster Card to make things easier on the very rare occasions when I use the public transport system. Confounded again. Oh well, back to the SUV and the bike.

With all due respect this is a terribly silly remark. Up to now the Oyster propaganda has made it clear that there are only a few overground rail services on which you could use Oyster prepay, and the leaflet spells out which ones they are, as James reports above. TfL has had for a long time the laudable objective of bringing all public transport in London into closer integration. This IS joined-up thinking and involves a huge task of coordinating an extremely complicated route network with many different operators who historically had nothing to do with each other. It takes years to bang the necessary heads together and get them to meet the considerable technical challenges needed so that all their entry/exit gates accept the same cards and to agree on how the revenue is to be shared out, etc. It's a very complex business and the fact that TfL has now got agreement to fit out the whole overground network for Oyster pre-pay is an enormous step forward. This will take a year or two to implement (because there is a lot of technical work to be done) and then you will be able to use your card on all local services in Greater London irrespective of operator.
ADT
Friday 30 June 2006 8.47am
paul temperton wrote:
With all due respect this is a terribly silly remark. Up to now the Oyster propaganda has made it clear that there are only a few overground rail services on which you could use Oyster prepay, and the leaflet spells out which ones they are, as James reports above.

Whilst I'm all in favour of Transport for London's efforts with Oyster, I completely disagree that the Oyster propaganda makes anything clear about overland. The Oyster adverts I have seen just say in broad terms that 1) Oyster is great and 2) Oyster is cheaper. Proper propaganda - papering over the cracks.
Friday 30 June 2006 9.02pm
I see what you mean as far as the posters at tube stations are concerned, but I think from TfL's point of view you were meant to take it as read that Oyster was initially to be seen as just a replacement for tube and bus tickets (already a considerable technical challenge in itself and one not yet achieved anywhere else in Europe, though they have it in Hong Kong). Overground rail tickets were always a separate thing, with a few exceptions mostly relating to stretches of line that happened to be shared between LUL and former BR (like the bottom end of the Richmond branch of the District Line which also has North London Line trains as far as Gunnersbury). However, if you actually picked up TfL's free "Tickets and fares" booklet, it was always spelled out in detail where you could and couldn't use Oyster and, indeed, before Oyster came in, Tube singles.

The inescapable fact is, as close study of the fares booklet shows, that the whole situation is extremely complicated, and this is for a mixture of political reasons (tensions between local government and central government, and long-running disputes over who should be responsible for what) and historical reasons (to a degree, we are still suffering from short-term decisions made in Victorian times when nearly all the overground rail infrastucture was built). It was always Ken Livingstone's dream, inspired I'm sure by what many continental cities have achieved, to unite the whole thing into a single integrated system, and he made a big first step at the GLC in the 1970s with the Travelcard and its system of fare zones. But in operational terms the overground railways remain completely separate -- the 1990s privatisation actually made matters worse because there are now 10 separate companies running local trains just within London -- and today's TfL still doesn't have any control over these companies (who mostly aren't very interested in services within London because what they are mainly about is the much more remunerative longer-distance services); in the absence of a more decisive lead from central govt, TfL can only negotiate and cajole. In this extremely messy political context, getting agreement that Oyster will by 2008 cover all local services within Greater London is quite an achievement, and it seems to me a bit petty-minded to whinge about the fact that it hasn't quite happened yet.

By the way, one stretch of overground rail here in SE1 where you CAN already use your Oystercard is the Thameslink service northwards from Elephant & Castle -- it goes via Blackfriars through to Kings Cross and as far as Kentish Town. To a degree this duplicates the Northern Line, but I find it useful for getting to Farringdon without having to change lines, and to so-called "City Thameslink" (Holborn Viaduct and Ludgate Circus, not served by Tube at all). It runs every 15 minutes -- frequent enough to be regarded as almost like a Tube line, and indeed for a while it was actually marked on the Tube map in the same way the North London Line is, but for some reason it's disappeared from recent editions of the pocket map, which seems to me a retrograde step.

Elephant overground station doesn't have "barrier gates" yet, but instead it has an Oystercard reader at street level, near the ticket office, before you go up the stairs to the platforms.
Sunday 2 July 2006 10.13am
and of course one mentions buses, there are several different bus companies operating in London, and they all had to agree with the Oyster thing as well. I think it's great that buses are now considered one zone, and a bus pass can be used on any bus anywhere in London (with a very small number of exceptions).
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