Transport For London:Oyster Cards Illegal!

National Rail Conditions of Carriage make Oyster Cards Illegal

Oyster card Image

Contrary to popular belief I don’t often complain but I had what I thought was a very justifiable reason to do so the other day. While travelling around London I was subject to a penalty fare by Southern Trains. I won’t bore you with all the details of how and why but needless to say I hadn’t been trying to avoid paying my fare but as a result of a genuine mistake on my part I used my Oyster PrePay Card on a journey for which it wasn’t valid. I appealed against the ‘fine’ through the IPFAS but was unsuccessful. The wording of the rejection letter provides interesting reading as, if I interpret the wording correctly it makes ANY rail journey using the card liable to a penalty fare.

The Penalty Fares Rules work in conjunction with the National Rail Conditions of Carriage. Both clearly state that it is the passemger’s responsibility to ensure thay are in posession of a valid ticket for their entire journey before bording the train (where the facility for the ticket purchase exists at the station of origin).

So far so good, that alll seems reasonable but then the following paragraph says…

Stored funds loaded on to an Oyster Card do not consitute a valid ticket until the card has been successfully touched in and out as only then can the correct fare for the journey be calculated.

So, my interpretatation is that

  1. You need a fully paid up ticket before you board the train
  2. The Oyster Card doesn’t become valid until you get off at your destination and ‘touch out’

It’s therefore impossible to comply with item (1) if you use an Oyster PrePay.

There’s actually another technically obscure reason this is all bollocks. The Oyster system debits your card on ‘touch in’ a fixed amount usually much greater than the single journey fare. I have no idea what rules they apply here though. On ‘touch out’ the system credist back the temporary ammount and debits the correct fare for the journey. It presumably does this to cater for the occassions that you can’t or forget to touch out.

I will persue this matter out of financial and technical interest. Those around me who say Give up you end up paying in the end I say … Justice and madman2 know no bounds.

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