Contactless is coming to Rail

This morning I attended a briefing at TfL about the soon to be launched contactless payments on rail services.  Sadly TfL wouldn’t commit to an actual date, but late summer/early autumn seems likely.  At the same time as the rail system goes live, the existing bus facility will be merged with it, offering full capping for all rail and bus journeys, including the new Monday to Sunday weekly capping.

I’ll need some time to document all I’ve learnt about the new system, but for now I can confirm that everything mentioned in my pilot diaries is accurate.  Although I haven’t yet managed to test out weekly capping, I’m informed that the final charge made will be worked out using a complex algorithm to ensure a best price is paid.  Put simply, if your regular commute is extended with the odd out of zone journey these will still be charged as extensions as they are now with Oyster.  The added benefits mean that if you make a lot of unusual journeys the system will work out if a different travelcard cap would be cheaper, and of course if you fall ill and don’t travel enough you won’t be charged for the full travelcard.

Finally, despite what some would say, Oyster definitely has a future.  It will be needed for all the youngsters who aren’t old enough for bank cards, for starters.  What is likely is that it will change from the card holding your balance to a similar system as contactless where the balance is held centrally and journeys are worked out in the back office.

6 thoughts on “Contactless is coming to Rail”

  1. Oyster will also be needed for holding railcards, such as my senior railcard. If they decided to register contactless cards, they could hold the info centrally.
    Off topic, I lost my oyster card recently and the replacement was very prompt, though the advice from staff and the tfl website was a bit confusing.

    • Hi David,

      Indeed, discount cards is another reason for Oyster, certainly in the short term. I believe that they want to hold things centrally but how to know whether you should be showing a discount card when checked by an RPI is an issue.

  2. There will always be a need for a separate card.contactless bank cards’ are not available to people who have basic bank accounts.

    These (basic) cards will not work on self service petrol pumps either or any terminal not connected to the banking system,so they cannot go overdrawn.any transaction will be declined.

  3. I wonder if contactless is connected to this…

    Will the key smartcard work in London?

    Yes, the existing London Oyster card system has been updated to also accept the key for travel.. From the 21st October 2013 the key has been accepted on all gates at London Victoria, Clapham Junction and East Croydon, but from summer 2014, you will be able to load a Travelcard onto the key for use on National Rail, London Underground, DLR and buses

    • I don’t think it’s connected as such, although there may have been some common parts of the development.

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