Same Station Exit Oddity

My son stumbled across a little known oddity of making a same station exit last month.  He touched in at Crayford and after a few minutes was informed that the line was closed because of a fault.  He touched out and I drove him to nearby Slade Green where he touched in on the validators.  Further along the line his card was inspected by a Southeastern RPI and he was told it wasn’t validated.  Thankfully the RPI responded to my son’s protestations by scrolling back through the journey history and he noticed the Crayford to Slade Green journey.  He decided to let my son carry on, and on touch out at London Bridge an incomplete journey was recorded.  I called TfL the next day and they refunded the overcharge.

What actually happened was a mystery to the customer service staff at TfL, but it was escalated to Cubic who came back with the explanation.  If a here-to-here journey is recorded (touch in and out within 2-30 minutes) a minimum fare journey is charged.  If you then touch in at a validator at a different station within the maximum journey time from the first station this journey is changed to be between the two stations.  It’s a revenue protection measure to combat fare evasion using a travelcard.  The problem is that it leaves you out of the system when you should be in.

The problem only exists if you use a validator to touch in at the second station.  If it’s a gate then it knows to start a new journey.  If you use contactless the back office will correctly interpret your touches and charge you properly.  There also won’t be a problem if you use a bus between the two stations.

4 thoughts on “Same Station Exit Oddity”

  1. Interesting report! Looking at TfL’s web site, it states that the 45-minute rule for starting a new journey at an alternative station only applies in the 0-2 minute threshold – but that doesn’t work with standalone validators as you receive a “card already presented” error.

    So is the issue that the 45-minute rule actually applies to the 2-30 minute window as well, but isn’t implemented properly? It seems really weird that it would update the end point.

    Interestingly, if you touch at multiple standalone validators, you get multiple ‘entry’ records. I guess this bit is by design. But I do wonder how it works with Contactless Payment Cards?

    • Hi Chris,

      No, this issue has nothing to do with the 45 minute rule. It’s actually at least 70 minutes. It was put in to counter a particular type of travelcard mis-use, and does that job really well.

      I’m pretty sure contactless also repeats the touch on different validators. It certainly did when I tried to end and start a new journey while staying on the same train. Funnily enough that was at Slade Green too.

  2. Late reply, apologies. I wasn’t aware of that and I’m not sure what travelcard fraud it might be protecting against, which probably suggests I have a too-honest mind 😉

    Interestingly, I notice that repeated touch-ins happen at entry barriers. I entered via Blackfriars yesterday and wasn’t 100% sure whether the “beep” I heard was from my own card, or someone else’s. Having been caught out before for that reason, I went back and tapped again to be on the safe side – and it said “Card already accepted”. But later on checking the statement, two separate touch-ins were recorded.

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