Oyster Cards and Southern Rail Cynicism

One of my biggest transport bug bears over the last few years has been the inability to use Oyster Card on over ground rail in South East London (you know, the bit where there’s no tube). This means that unless you have a weekly or monthly travel card season ticket you cannot use your Oyster Card to pay for your travel from say, Sydenham to London Bridge. This is a pain in the neck for people like me (as we have to remember to buy our travelcard at London Bridge tube) but devastatingly expensive for infrequent train travellers who don’t but season tickets (you know those less likely to be in the receipt of a nice City of London salary). They have to either pay an extra £2 or £3 for the journey or go out of their way to go and get a daily paper travelcard in addition to any money they may have on their Oyster Pay as You Go. To say Ken and TFL have been dragging their heels on making the over ground rail companies to sign up to oyster card is to be kind!

So finally, we are getting Oyster Card at Sydenham and with it Oyster Card barriers. I’m really pleased about the Oyster Card and frankly I can’t complain too much about the barriers, or so I thought.

But…but, go on there had to be a catch, didn’t there? Well, this is it:

For some time now the gate on Platform One at Sydenham train station has been open allowing those travelling to London to go direct to the platform without having to make a detour into station approach, walk halfway down Platform Two, up over the bridge, down again and onto Platform One. My guess had been when they had opened it that they had to comply with DDA legislation. Without this gate open there is no way for those who rely on wheelchairs to get around, to get onto the platform – so they just can’t go to London!!! Never mind the bind for those with pushchairs and luggage. It was a very simple, cost effective solution! Great common sense!!

But now, because of the barriers they are going to lock the gate again!! Can you believe it? Because of course, it would need a second barrier wouldn’t it? And no, it looks like we don’t deserve access and Oyster Cards! The Sydenham Society has proposed an alternative, the provision of a reader so that Sydenham residents can “touch in”. Southern Rail doesn’t think we can be trusted.

So there. So, I’ll just ignore the fact that this morning when I got to London Bridge that they had all the barriers open so people could walk through because there’s too many people trying to get off the platform and out of the station; like they do almost every morning. Because they’re not making much money out of us already for a pretty damn shoddy service, are they?

I’ve signed the Sydenham Society petition already; please join me!

Last year they were threatening to reduce the number of services into London Bridge when the East London Line came in because we could all go to Shoreditch instead (!!!??!) and the Sydenham Society ran a big campaign and got them to change their minds, so they do know what they’re doing and if we campaign hard enough we can get something done about this. The Sydenham Society: they’re grrrrreeeeaaaaat!!!


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