So I went out yesterday and ceremonially touched-in at Charlton station. Several hours later, I touched out again. Job done, Oyster works more or less as advertised, although the ticket machine outside Charlton station still can’t accept the little blue cards yet, although the reader’s been fitted. Nearly there. Not many people using it, though – but I bet the station’s neighbours hate the loud BEEEP! from the readers.
One little catch, though, might sting you if your habits are the same as mine. My old journey to work used to take me to Cannon Street, from where I’d stroll 100 yards up Walbrook to Bank, where I’d take the Central Line west.
The closeness of Bank and Cannon Street isn’t widely advertised, but with most local trains going to Cannon Street, it’s a handy shortcut to the West End and beyond without having to faff around at London Bridge. If I’m heading to the West End in the evening, it’s often easier for me to go via Cannon Street to Tottenham Court Road or Oxford Circus, and then walk back to Charing Cross later on. In fact, that’s what I did yesterday.
But the new fares system isn’t recognising Cannon Street and Bank as an interchange. Plenty of other non-obvious “out of station interchanges” are – Baker Street and Marylebone, even Bank and Fenchurch Street. But not Bank and Cannon Street, it seems. So instead of the £3.10 through fare I was expecting to be charged, I was stung for the £2 from Charlton to Cannon Street, plus the £1.80 from Bank to Oxford Circus.
Most people will do this kind of journey on travelcards, admittedly. But many will be thinking of trading down to Oyster PAYG – especially with “rail fares go down” publicity elsewhere – or, like me, will be using Oyster instead of buying daily travelcards and would be expecting a small saving. Not so.
This could be an omission by TfL – I don’t know if Charing Cross/Embankment works as an interchange – so I’ve dropped them a line to ask what’s happening. And while on the whole Oyster is an excellent thing, it’s worth keeping an eye out for quirks and snags like this. Otherwise, how else will they be fixed, and how else will we get a fair deal on our new fares?
- BorisWatch laments the fact that there won’t be a paper guide to fares this year – just as the system gets complicated. All the information is now online.
- Travelcard holder Gert lets rip about having to get an “Oyster extension permit” to leave her zones.
(All Oyster on National Rail information and grumbles on one page.)
UPDATE: 01.00, 5 JANUARY – Finally, here’s what it says on the Oyster journey history screen. My fare hits the Travelcard cap on the way home from Charing Cross, so I’m charged £1.30 instead of £2. The full timings can be seen here for Oyster experts.