Well it had to happen and it will probably occur more and more – paper train tickets will not be issued perhaps from next year.
The grand theory is that everyone has ‘contactless credit or debit cards’. You will book your journeys online using a computer or mobile phone which of course everyone has and then travel with the special credit or debit card with which you paid. When you reach a train station you tap in your special card or smartphone against a digital reader at the barrier. The computer will recognise the customer has paid through that location and will open the barrier (as Oyster for the tube in London) but will you be charged a surcharge if you don’t tap in and out? Will you have to pay double the fare? Look at the amount of times oyster cards make the wrong charges, don’t work etc.
Why the secrecy?
You are all supposed to love this new way of travelling – the fact that it appears that it is going to prevent anyone who does not have one of these special phones or a computer and one of these special cards from travelling does not appear to have been considered. It is a done deal as banks, train groups, representatives from the Department for Transport have met to discuss how quickly this can be implemented. Jacqueline Starr – Managing Director at the Rail Delivery Group which represents Network Rail and train operators says this new system will ‘improve the experience’ it doesn’t sound as if it is going to improve the experience for everyone – in fact many people may be excluded from the experience… the plan is being developed by UK Cards Association.
Why no consultation with the paying passenger? Is this a way of silently dropping the Senior Rail Card so there will be no discount fares? Is there going to be any sort of choice or are they expecting everyone including those on low incomes to rush out and buy all this new equipment just so they can catch a train? The government, NHS and everyone in-between is saying that people must be encouraged to go out and about, keep up with family etc. to prevent loneliness and isolation and yet they are denying access to travel. Would you be happy putting your bank card on one of those machines with no or little idea of how much is taken from your account, with anyone being able to access that account as you don’t put a pin number in and you get no receipt to show how much has been taken out of your account? How will this help tourists? They may not have the right sort of phones and cards for this new system?
I think it is really time to be shouting from the rooftops and making a lot of noise. Apparently one in ten people at present use this system of travel and that is fine but let the other nine in ten people have a choice as to how they want or are able to buy their tickets and pay for them. We need to get all older peoples group motivated to question this. After all we loudly raised the issue about the stopping of payment by cheque and the government and banks back tracked to enable people to have a choice as to how they could pay – let us unite to ensure we have a choice as to how we buy and pay for our rail tickets.
Let us know what you are doing to highlight this issue – are you writing or contacting Jacqueline Starr at the Rail Delivery Group, Network Rail, Department of Transport, UK Cards Association? Are you highlighting this in your newsletter, writing to the letters pages in the Metro, Standard and the big nationals? It is coming up to election time – maybe it could be a question for candidates?