Oyster makes a premature debut at Blackheath

According to uber-transport geek blog London Reconnections, Oyster pay-as-you-go won’t be introduced to south-east London’s mainline trains until 2 January. Indeed, Southeastern has confirmed this on its website. But at the moment, if you use Blackheath station, and you’re travelling towards central London, you might be able to get an illicit sneak preview.

On the London-bound platform at Blackheath station, two Oyster card readers have had their black covers removed. One still has a NOT IN USE sticker on it, together with a warning about usage of carnet tickets, abolished in Tube zone 1 a couple of years back. Good to see old machines recycled, I guess. The other has its NOT IN USE sticker half-ripped off, and of 8.15pm last night, was working. I know, because I gave it a try. I’ve still got a zones 1-3 Travelcard on my Oyster (for the next couple of weeks, anyway) so my ticket was valid anyway. It responded with the usual BEEP! and an “ENTER” message on the screen.

I jumped on the 2019 to Charing Cross, and hopped off at Lewisham. Down to the Docklands Light Railway platforms, where I knew there was an Oyster top-up machine. I checked my balance. It’d registered me at Blackheath.

I didn’t touch in at Lewisham DLR but took the next train, and touched out after a ride to Cutty Sark station. There, the top-up machine confirmed it… Oyster is alive and well at Blackheath station.

Of course, I should point out that anyone trying to do this with a pay-as-you-go Oyster instead of having a paper ticket is liable to be fined, as Oyster is still not valid on most of Southeastern.

This is probably on test, it may well be that all stations have to go through this, and it’ll be a common sight between now and the new year. There’s probably a small army of people doing nothing but travelling around London, checking how the system works. But it’s an encouraging sign of progress after so many years waiting. Let’s hope it works properly when it does come in.


  1. I noticed at Crayford station yesterday that the cover was off the Oyster reader (again) – sadly it’s not ready to try out as the display read ‘CLOSED’ and the reader had a red light. Will keep an eye on it though!

  2. I’ve seen a few Oyster machines with the big black covers on over the past couple of months – and always been surprised that someone hasn’t stolen the cover to reveal them!

    It is certainly encouraging progress, and about time too.

    I do wonder, however, if they will make exiting certain stations, such as Blackheath, just that little bit slower though. The exits are narrow enough as it is. A petty complaint, maybe.

  3. For anyone keen to learn more about the details of how the scheme might operate I understand the Mayor is ‘launching’ the scheme at Balham rail station on Monday November 23rd at 9.30am.

    It will be a joint event with Boris Johnson and Lord Adonis in attendance. Southern Railway’s Managing Director, Chris Burchell and ATOC’s Chairman, Tom Smith are also apparently to attend. How much opportunity this launch will give to ask detailed questions is debatable.

    However The Mayor and the Chair of the London Assembly’s Transport Committee Lib Dem Caroline Pidgeon had an exchange about some of the issues raised in comments here at Mayor’s Question Time yesterday (Nov 18th) morning.

    You can see a webcast of the meeting at http://www.london.gov.uk/assembly/webcast-captions.jsp and scroll to 2hrs and 16 minutes into the meeting to watch the exchange. Boris Johnson wasn’t able to elucidate much, seemingly being rather annoyed that he had to talk about the issue at the meeting yesterday rather than at the press launch on Monday.

  4. […] I’ve done a summary for greenwich.co.uk which details the effects this will have on SE10’s three National Rail stations – on the whole, you can adapt most of that to any of the zones 2 and 3 stations in this part of south-east London. The full set of fares were covered on this blog earlier this month, and you can see what happened last week when I found one of the readers working at Blackheath. […]

Comments are closed.