A few weeks ago I wrote about the removal of Oyster facilities at most NR ticket offices. The last two remaining train companies were London Overground and TfL Rail, both concessions of TfL. This week it has been confirmed that both of these will also lose their ticket office capabilities this month. A Transport for London spokesperson said:
From June 2021 customers will no longer be able to buy or top up Oyster cards at TfL Rail or London Overground ticket offices. This is because the ticket office machines no longer support these functions. Customers can still buy and top up cards at ticket machines, online via TfL’s website or using the TfL Oyster app. Our stations are also fully staffed during operating hours and our staff can assist customers as required.
- The changes will take effect from Tuesday 15 June on TfL Rail (Wednesday 9 June at Hanwell, West Drayton, Maryland and Manor Park) and from Monday 21 June at London Overground stations.
- Use of Oyster cards has fallen considerably in recent years with the increase in popularity of pay as you go with contactless. Around two thirds of all pay as you go journeys in London are now made using contactless rather than an Oyster card, meaning that development of a replacement system for ticket offices is not economically viable.
- Customers can also buy and top up Oyster cards from local newsagents, London Underground stations, and online from the TfL website.
So, after June 21st it will no longer be possible to carry out any Oyster transactions at any ticket office. Most functions can be carried out elsewhere, but there are a couple of changes that need noting. Most importantly, it will no longer be possible to convert NR travel vouchers into PAYG credit. The other change affects some NR staff who are entitled to get a staff discount applied to their Oyster card. This can only be done at National Rail stations and will still be possible at both TfL Rail and London Overground stations, but the transaction will be done using a staff function at a ticket machine rather than in the ticket office.
My final concern about these changes is the ability to add NR railcard and gold card discounts to Oyster cards. This can be done at Underground stations, although I repeatedly hear of refusal by some staff. It is also apparently possible to add discounts at ticket stops. It is likely that you’ll be asked to either buy a travelcard or add PAYG credit at the same time. I would be very keen to hear about people’s experiences at both shops and Underground stations. If you are told that a discount can’t be added, please let me know in the comments the shop name or station and the date/time that it happened so the issue can be followed up.