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(Another) proposal for universal PAYG across the country and whether it is possible/a good idea

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miklcct

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Mod - split from https://www.railforums.co.uk/threads/travel-outside-oyster-zones.218256/

I’m presuming exactly the same would apply to someone that tapped in with a bank debit card in the very naive belief that that is all they need to do? Naturally ignorance of the law is no defence!
The National Rail ticketing system is so complicated that a traveller can be tricked into ticketless travel by tapping his debit card into the station.

Why isn't every station equipped with ticket validating machines which allows using a debit card across the whole of Great Britain?!
 
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skyhigh

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Why isn't every station equipped with ticket validating machines which allows using a debit card across the whole of Great Britain?!
This has been discussed many times on here. What amount would you pre-authorise on the card? The largest possible fare? Say I tapped in at Penzance and forgot to tap out at St Erth. I could have travelled to Aberdeen, so what maximum fare would be applied? How would it work where there are multiple routes I could take at different prices? How would it deal with overnight break of journey, or first class travel?

Do any other countries the same size as the UK allow a contactess bank card to be used for travel anywhere in the country?
 

miklcct

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This has been discussed many times on here. What amount would you pre-authorise on the card? The largest possible fare? Say I tapped in at Penzance and forgot to tap out at St Erth. I could have travelled to Aberdeen, so what maximum fare would be applied? How would it work where there are multiple routes I could take at different prices? How would it deal with overnight break of journey, or first class travel?

Do any other countries the same size as the UK allow a contactess bank card to be used for travel anywhere in the country?
Pre-authorise the maximum possible anytime single fare on the card, and release the authorisation on tapping out, adjusting it to the fare actual taken. If there are multiple routes, charge the fare for the "any permitted" route. Specify that "no break of journey is allowed" and "only standard class travel is allowed" when using a bank card.
 

MikeWh

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Pre-authorise the maximum possible anytime single fare on the card, and release the authorisation on tapping out, adjusting it to the fare actual taken. If there are multiple routes, charge the fare for the "any permitted" route. Specify that "no break of journey is allowed" and "only standard class travel is allowed" when using a bank card.
There are many people who would not be able to have over £500 pre-authorised.
 

skyhigh

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Pre-authorise the maximum possible anytime single fare on the card, and release the authorisation on tapping out, adjusting it to the fare actual taken. If there are multiple routes, charge the fare for the "any permitted" route. Specify that "no break of journey is allowed" and "only standard class travel is allowed" when using a bank card.
I note you don't mention what happens if I forget to tap out - what should be charged? The maximum amount you've pre-authorised?

This might be going a bit off topic for this thread, but you can find a recent discussion about UK-wide contactless here: https://www.railforums.co.uk/thread...ncrease-make-widespread-payg-feasible.214796/
 

miklcct

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There are many people who would not be able to have over £500 pre-authorised.
£500 for a single-journey standard class fare?! Are you serious?!

I note you don't mention what happens if I forget to tap out - what should be charged? The maximum amount you've pre-authorised?

This might be going a bit off topic for this thread, but you can find a recent discussion about UK-wide contactless here: https://www.railforums.co.uk/thread...ncrease-make-widespread-payg-feasible.214796/
Yes, the maximum amount pre-authorised, as in similar systems in London and elsewhere in the world.
 

Watershed

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£500 for a single-journey standard class fare?! Are you serious?!
The highest possible single fare for a journey is currently £267, which is charged for Penzance to Wick for example.

Yes, the maximum amount pre-authorised, as in similar systems in London and elsewhere in the world.
Are you seriously suggesting pre-authorising £267 if someone taps in at Penzance? What happens if they then fail to touch out?
 

6Gman

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Pre-authorise the maximum possible anytime single fare on the card, and release the authorisation on tapping out, adjusting it to the fare actual taken. If there are multiple routes, charge the fare for the "any permitted" route. Specify that "no break of journey is allowed" and "only standard class travel is allowed" when using a bank card.
Even on the £266 Penzance - Wick journey?
 
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MikeWh

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£500 for a single-journey standard class fare?! Are you serious?!
Well I'm sure there were headlines a few years ago when a return fare exceeded £1000, but perhaps the outcry caused an adjustment. It does appear that Cornwall to North Scotland is £267 single via London.

Would you be prepared to touch in for a short journey if there was a possibility that system problems could prevent you touching out and thus being charged £267?
 

plugwash

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Why isn't every station equipped with ticket validating machines which allows using a debit card across the whole of Great Britain?!
The biggest issue is how to deal with misuse. During a ticket check it's difficult* to reliably check if someone has touched in and impossible to check if they intend to touch out.

So the ticket-checker's role is mostly reduced to that of a data collector, they scan the cards but they have no idea which passengers are following the rules and which are committing an (intentional or otherwise) irregularity. By the time the irregularity is detected, the moment is gone, all the railway has left is a card number (and even getting the real card numbers, required a special deal with the likes of apple and google).

That is fine for a small well-gated metro system, where the maximum possible fare is £10 or so, it's more problematic but still tolerable on something like the current London system where the maximum possible fare is £25 or so and many stations are ungated. It would be a massive problem on a rail network where the maximum possible fare (for a single journey in standard class) is more like £250

* Requires high reliability connections from all barriers to the central computer.
 

Fawkes Cat

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I note you don't mention what happens if I forget to tap out - what should be charged? The maximum amount you've pre-authorised?
Do we - does anyone - have a handle on what the typical train fare is? Undoubtedly retaining £267 on people's debit cards would be unacceptable and there would be hell to pay the first time a maximum fare was charged (I WAS CHARGED £267 TO TRAVEL FROM BOOTLE ORIEL ROAD TO BOOTLE NEW STRAND JUST BECAUSE I FORGOT TO TOUCH OUT SAYS TEARFUL WIDOWED GRANDMA - FULL SHOCKING STORY PAGES 3, 5, 8 TO 24). But what retention/maximum fare would be needed to cover the vast majority of journeys - and include an element of punishment/disincentive to discourage abuse of the system in future?

It seems to me that if all 'local' fares come in below £50, then that could be a suitable level. But this works on assuming that all journeys with fares above that (presumably long-distance journies) have opportunities for someone to come round and record all the debit/credit cards used by all the passengers - or some other mechanism to enforce the payment of the right fare.
 

JonathanH

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It seems to me that if all 'local' fares come in below £50, then that could be a suitable level.
Even authorising £50 is still a lot of money for some people. That is where extension of the current PAYG to the whole former NSE area falls down (although I note that Gatwick Airport to Reading peak single is already £38.20).

The problem of course is that there is always a creeping push for extending Contactless to the next station outside the current zone (and people already try to use it outside the current area).

But what retention/maximum fare would be needed to cover the vast majority of journeys - and include an element of punishment/disincentive to discourage abuse of the system in future?
The problem is that the system really works best with a fairly limited area - in effect using £50 penalises users in the original area where it was first adopted.

The system ought to be set up based on limited areas - London out to 35 miles, Brighton, Solent and Dorset, Bristol, Devon & Cornwall, West Midlands, East Midlands triangle, South Yorkshire, West Yorkshire, Manchester, Merseyside, Teeside, Tyneside, 'Anglia' and something else in between with no overlaps.
 
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PeterC

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The biggest issue is how to deal with misuse. During a ticket check it's difficult* to reliably check if someone has touched in and impossible to check if they intend to touch out.

So the ticket-checker's role is mostly reduced to that of a data collector, they scan the cards but they have no idea which passengers are following the rules and which are committing an (intentional or otherwise) irregularity. By the time the irregularity is detected, the moment is gone, all the railway has left is a card number (and even getting the real card numbers, required a special deal with the likes of apple and google).

That is fine for a small well-gated metro system, where the maximum possible fare is £10 or so, it's more problematic but still tolerable on something like the current London system where the maximum possible fare is £25 or so and many stations are ungated. It would be a massive problem on a rail network where the maximum possible fare (for a single journey in standard class) is more like £250

* Requires high reliability connections from all barriers to the central computer.
A ticket check records the card being used for travel. If that fits with a touch in and touch out them no problem otherwise the maximum fare is charged.

I don't understand why there should be a specific issue over phone based payments. All legitimate journeys involve a minimum of two touches, more if an OSI is involved.
 

skyhigh

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Yes, the maximum amount pre-authorised, as in similar systems in London and elsewhere in the world.
Do you think it's proportionate to charge a penalty fare of almost £270 if I forgot to tap out at St Erth, having started at Penzance?

In your initial post you wanted to have a system that was simpler- but you've ended up with several arbitrary new rules:
No break of journey
Standard class only
Any permitted only (no discount for cheaper routes)
Ability to have a large amount pre-authorised

The problem is that the system really works best with a fairly limited area - in effect using £50 penalises users in the original area where it was first adopted.

The system ought to be set up based on limited areas - London out to 35 miles, Brighton, Solent and Dorset, Bristol, Devon & Cornwall, West Midlands, East Midlands triangle, South Yorkshire, West Yorkshire, Manchester, Merseyside, Teeside, Tyneside, 'Anglia' and something else in between with no overlaps.
This is the only way I can really see it working - a limited geographical area where a reasonable cap can be set. An honest question - do any other countries with a rail network the size of the one in the UK use a system where you can pay for any journey with a contactless card?
 

6Gman

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etr221

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The National Rail ticketing system is so complicated that a traveller can be tricked into ticketless travel by tapping his debit card into the station.
I don't see any trickery in this.
Hmmm - Quoting the London Rail Network: "PAYG with contactless ... is valid at all stations within the PAYG area" which include Reading and Gatwick Airport. So someone touches in with contactless at Reading to travel to Gatwick - and is directed to the direct train... Do they have a valid ticket?: I would suggest it is reasonable for them to believe that they do, and 'trickery' being involved if they don't.

An issue down perhaps to loose wording...

The problem is that the system really works best with a fairly limited area - in effect using £50 penalises users in the original area where it was first adopted.

The system ought to be set up based on limited areas - London out to 35 miles, Brighton, Solent and Dorset, Bristol, Devon & Cornwall, West Midlands, East Midlands triangle, South Yorkshire, West Yorkshire, Manchester, Merseyside, Teeside, Tyneside, 'Anglia' and something else in between with no overlaps.

Agreed that PAYG - at least as currnely envisaged - needs a limited area - which needs to be well understood and defined: the original Oyster area (of London Underground and Greater London) did this.

I would say that there needs to be a gap - not just a lack of overlap - between areas: so for those suggested (by JonathanH). where do you put the gaps between 'London', 'Brighton' (which has Gatwick?) and 'Solent + Dorset'; and between 'East Midlands triangle', 'South Yorkshire', 'West Yorkshire', 'Gtr Manchester' and 'Merseyside', etc,
 

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I would say that there needs to be a gap - not just a lack of overlap - between areas: so for those suggested (by JonathanH). where do you put the gaps between 'London', 'Brighton' (which has Gatwick?) and 'Solent + Dorset'; and between 'East Midlands triangle', 'South Yorkshire', 'West Yorkshire', 'Gtr Manchester' and 'Merseyside', etc,
That is the fundamental question - let's suppose that the London area ended at Gatwick and the Brighton area started at Haywards Heath, with Littlehampton on the west side and Eastbourne on the east side. How is it justified that a journey from Three Bridges to Haywards Heath can't have the convenience of Contactless? I note that the whole Southern network has KeyGo already using the 'paper' fare structure but I would imagine that take up is much less than the London type arrangements.
 

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An honest question - do any other countries with a rail network the size of the one in the UK use a system where you can pay for any journey with a contactless card?
No, because it's hopelessly impractical for many of the reasons already discussed. Off the top of my head the closest that anybody's got to managing it on a whole-country system is the Netherlands, and that's with the proprietary ITSO-style OV-chipkaart rather than ordinary contactless payment cards.

Pay-as-you-go ticketing with contactless cards is a huge convenience for metropolitan and suburban systems where the range of possible fares isn't all that large and the passenger can feel reasonably confident in advance that they know what they'll end up paying. Usually they're areas that already have a zonal fare structure, or something close to it. For long-distance journeys though PAYG creates more problems than it solves.
 

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A ticket check records the card being used for travel. If that fits with a touch in and touch out them no problem otherwise the maximum fare is charged.

I don't understand why there should be a specific issue over phone based payments. All legitimate journeys involve a minimum of two touches, more if an OSI is involved.
Again, what maximum fare would be charged? £267?
 

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No, because it's hopelessly impractical for many of the reasons already discussed. Off the top of my head the closest that anybody's got to managing it on a whole-country system is the Netherlands, and that's with the proprietary ITSO-style OV-chipkaart rather than ordinary contactless payment cards.

Pay-as-you-go ticketing with contactless cards is a huge convenience for metropolitan and suburban systems where the range of possible fares isn't all that large and the passenger can feel reasonably confident in advance that they know what they'll end up paying. Usually they're areas that already have a zonal fare structure, or something close to it. For long-distance journeys though PAYG creates more problems than it solves.
Denmark also have a whole country smart card. The card can be set for regional or national journeys at TVMs. If set for regional journeys the touch in charge is 70 Danish Kroner (about £8), and for national journeys 600 Danish Kroner (about £70)
 

Llanigraham

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I wonder if the OP has realised just how many stations there are in the UK and calculated what the cost would be to equip every one of them with a reader?
Just on that cost alone this isn't going to work!
 

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Denmark also have a whole country smart card. The card can be set for regional or national journeys at TVMs. If set for regional journeys the touch in charge is 70 Danish Kroner (about £8), and for national journeys 600 Danish Kroner (about £70)
Denmark is a far smaller country than the UK, which makes this issue less difficult (although I'm sure there are still lessons to be learned).
 

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250 is quite a lot - not quite the whole NSE area but a good proportion of it - would seem enough to be heading out to places like Oxford, Cambridge and Brighton - ie the outer range of the area mentioned in the consultation document.
 

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Again, what maximum fare would be charged? £267?

You don't need to do a minimum fare, because the system doesn't have to be 100% secure, because paper tickets and e-tickets aren't 100% secure either. This is basically the same objection as to e-tickets originally which led to the heap of junk that is the m-ticket.

You can instead just charge a fixed penalty if there isn't a touch out before the end of the railway day or before another touch in (perhaps £50), and allow customers to phone up or access their online account to correct it if necessary (perhaps you could partially refund the penalty if you do, maybe down to £10 extra?). If they don't, you then block the card so they can't do it repeatedly.

Yes, that may lose you one fare, but as I said it doesn't need to be perfectly secure. Add to that that it would save the railway a lot of money (fewer booking offices and TVMs needed), so a few lost fares may have them still up overall.
 

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You can instead just charge a fixed penalty if there isn't a touch out before the end of the railway day or before another touch in (perhaps £50)
It does have to time out at some point though, not just the end of the day.
 

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I wonder if the OP has realised just how many stations there are in the UK and calculated what the cost would be to equip every one of them with a reader?
Just on that cost alone this isn't going to work!

Not an awful lot in the scheme of things. Most stations now have at least a TVM. Milton Keynes Council has equipped a fairly large chunk of bus stops with such a device recently, let alone railway stations.

It does have to time out at some point though, not just the end of the day.

Either the end of the day or when you next touch in (whichever is sooner) would probably work fine. The majority of people aren't trying it on, and the majority of journeys are to/from a small number of major stations, most of which are now gated or could be gated, so you'd catch them under "next touch in" on the way home. (This was the whole basis behind day returns being priced only just above singles, FWIW).

Look at Merseyrail - except occasional RPIs, there is no revenue protection at all at intermediate stations as it would cost more than it would bring in.

The Tube only really needs the timeout because of out-of-station interchanges needing to be processable at card level as you go along (for old Oyster). Spending loads of money to add complexity to catch someone who's just doing laps of the Circle Line for the fun of it really is a waste.
 
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Watershed

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You don't need to do a minimum fare, because the system doesn't have to be 100% secure, because paper tickets and e-tickets aren't 100% secure either. This is basically the same objection as to e-tickets originally which led to the heap of junk that is the m-ticket.

You can instead just charge a fixed penalty if there isn't a touch out before the end of the railway day or before another touch in (perhaps £50), and allow customers to phone up or access their online account to correct it if necessary (perhaps you could partially refund the penalty if you do, maybe down to £10 extra?). If they don't, you then block the card so they can't do it repeatedly.

Yes, that may lose you one fare, but as I said it doesn't need to be perfectly secure. Add to that that it would save the railway a lot of money (fewer booking offices and TVMs needed), so a few lost fares may have them still up overall.
Oh absolutely, it's not impossible. But whatever value you set it at, it will put revenue at risk and/or charge people an extortionate penalty for forgetting to touch out. When the maximum single across your area of validity is in the low double figures, that's annoying but not the end of the world. When it's £267, that's a problem.

To be honest, the issue of maximum fares is barely scratching the surface of the problems there would be with introducing such a system. So, as passenger friendly as it would be, I doubt it will be introduced in the foreseeable future.
 
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