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Experience with magstripe tickets (reliability)

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lancededcena

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28 Aug 2013
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Colchester, Essex
Hello everyone! Apologies if this was answered in the past, I just never really thought about it before!

How is it that magstripe tickets never work properly 9 times out of 10 I use one. I go my usual train route from COL to LST (also happens from STR):
  1. Take the outbound ticket from the ticket machine, put it in to the barrier, accepts it and the barriers open
  2. Put the outbound ticket in my ticket wallet with the return ticket.
  3. Outbound ticket goes in, accepts it and barriers open
  4. Several hours later at LST, return ticket in, barriers do not open, "Seek Assistance" shows
  5. Find gateline staff, fumble around with my return ticket and 16-25 railcard and show it
  6. Rinse and repeat with COL but sometimes I get home really late at night so the barriers are open anyway.
It could get really annoying with cross London connections using the LU gateline as sometimes my ticket does not accept it from both outbound and return journeys, thats why I didn't bother using paper travelcard tickets anymore and instead use Contactless.

I'm wondering if anyone else has this issue; if so is it more persistant or less persistant than my example? Does different types of ticket machines produce more unreliable tickets or does it happen with walk in tickets? Its hit or miss when I have magstripe tickets on other TOCs in my experience.

Barcode tickets are certainly far more reliable, but the size and durability of the ticket far outweights the minor inconvience of the magstripe. E-tickets I am never fond of because you are tethered to your phone battery and it's very annoying to have a battery bank with you if you forgot to charge.

Looking forward for your replies!
 
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yorkie

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Magnetic stripe tickets can be de-magnetised if the ticket is exposed to a magnetic field.

I understand this can happen if the ticket is stored near a mobile phone, for example.
. E-tickets I am never fond of because you are tethered to your phone battery and it's very annoying to have a battery bank with you if you forgot to charge.
You could print an e-ticket, if you wish.

Edit: Also just a gentle reminder that not everyone is familiar with station codes (in this case COL = Colchester; LST = London Liverpool St and curiously STR = Stranraer :o), so please do state the name of each location the first time they are referred to. Once the locations have been referred to by their names, correct station codes can be used for subsequent mentions)
 
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87 027

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London
What is the gateline error code? Generally 09 means cannot read the magnetic stripe
 

JB_B

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Joined
27 Dec 2013
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1,418
Hello everyone! Apologies if this was answered in the past, I just never really thought about it before!

How is it that magstripe tickets never work properly 9 times out of 10 I use one. I go my usual train route from COL to LST (also happens from STR):
  1. Take the outbound ticket from the ticket machine, put it in to the barrier, accepts it and the barriers open
  2. Put the outbound ticket in my ticket wallet with the return ticket.
  3. Outbound ticket goes in, accepts it and barriers open
  4. Several hours later at LST, return ticket in, barriers do not open, "Seek Assistance" shows
  5. Find gateline staff, fumble around with my return ticket and 16-25 railcard and show it
  6. Rinse and repeat with COL but sometimes I get home really late at night so the barriers are open anyway.
It could get really annoying with cross London connections using the LU gateline as sometimes my ticket does not accept it from both outbound and return journeys, thats why I didn't bother using paper travelcard tickets anymore and instead use Contactless.

I'm wondering if anyone else has this issue; if so is it more persistant or less persistant than my example? Does different types of ticket machines produce more unreliable tickets or does it happen with walk in tickets? Its hit or miss when I have magstripe tickets on other TOCs in my experience.

Barcode tickets are certainly far more reliable, but the size and durability of the ticket far outweights the minor inconvience of the magstripe. E-tickets I am never fond of because you are tethered to your phone battery and it's very annoying to have a battery bank with you if you forgot to charge.

Looking forward for your replies!


It's not unknown for barriers to be programmed to reject all railcard discounted tickets. ( IIRC this was true for the Thameslink barriers at St Pancras for many years.) In general I find magstripe tickets to be very reliable (and quick.)
 

lxfe_mxtterz

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3 Mar 2018
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830
Location
Sarahdale (West of Emmerdale)
Apologies for my ignorance, but what are "magstripe tickets"? Are they the standard orange card tickets you get?

If so, I'm also always having the same problem. Not much to add, but I've found that the ticket machines at my local station are particularly prone to printing tickets which never work.

Also agree about barcode tickets being more reliable, having recently made the switch to them where possible.
 

Mcr Warrior

Veteran Member
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8 Jan 2009
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12,100
Apologies for my ignorance, but what are "magstripe tickets"? Are they the standard orange card tickets you get?
Essentially yes. It's the black stripe on the reverse of a typical Credit Card Sized Ticket (sometimes referred to as 'CCST') and can have some basic data encoded on to it which can be used to operate station barriers. See pic below.

s-l300.jpg
 

lancededcena

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93
Location
Colchester, Essex
Stranraer, obviously ;)
Lol I meant Stratford (SRA), would make a lot more sense if its STR but oh well!

Where do you keep your ticket wallet?
Usually in my left pocket away from my phone or on my coat pockets.
You could print an e-ticket, if you wish.
Most of the time I use walk up tickets so I don't really have a lot of time to print them at home, much more convinent to get the ticket instantly for my use case.
 

trainophile

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Magnetic stripe tickets can be de-magnetised if the ticket is exposed to a magnetic field.

I understand this can happen if the ticket is stored near a mobile phone, for example.

You could print an e-ticket, if you wish.

I tried to convert to e-tickets having accidentally bought them a couple of times, but if I have a lot of stuff to carry it's awkward at the barriers. I don't mind if I drop a paper ticket on the ground and have to pick it up, but finding the ticket on my phone app and holding it to the reader before the display fades is quite awkward, especially if there's a lot of people exiting at once, and I am worried I might drop my phone and break the screen.

I don't intend to use expensive printer ink to print them off, it rather defeats the object of looking for cheap tickets!
 

island

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0036
Without knowing the two- or three-digit code displayed alongside "seek assistance" there is limited help we can give.
 

jon0844

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UK
My money is on some gatelines being set to restrict certain tickets so staff can do a manual check.
 

NorthOxonian

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Magnetic stripe tickets can be de-magnetised if the ticket is exposed to a magnetic field.

I understand this can happen if the ticket is stored near a mobile phone, for example.

You could print an e-ticket, if you wish.

Edit: Also just a gentle reminder that not everyone is familiar with station codes (in this case COL = Colchester; LST = London Liverpool St and curiously STR = Stranraer :o), so please do state the name of each location the first time they are referred to. Once the locations have been referred to by their names, correct station codes can be used for subsequent mentions)
The one issue there is if travel is within London, where I don't believe e-tickets are available.

I often use an outboundary travelcard and they are particularly bad for de-magnetising - very annoying if you're passing through a dozen or more barriers in a day!
 

Wallsendmag

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The worst use case for CCST (Credit Card Size Tickets) are seasons. The encode exchange rate at Peterborough has dropped significantly since we intoroduced Smartcards for Season.
 
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infobleep

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The woest use case for CCST (Credit Card Size Tickets) are seasons. The encode exchange rate at Peterborough has dropped significantly since we intoroduced Smartcards for Season.
Not surprised.

There was one ticket barrier at HRW [Harrow & Wealdstone] that regularly trashed my season ticket.

I did mention it at one point but I'm not sure people understood because the ticket was returned to me with no error at the time. It was just the next time I'd use it, it wouldn't work.
 

superjohn

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11 Mar 2011
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531
I often use an outboundary travelcard and they are particularly bad for de-magnetising - very annoying if you're passing through a dozen or more barriers in a day!
It’s not just demagnetising with travelcards. The introduction of new types with different time restrictions (eg. Super off peak) and evening peak restrictions has hit the limitations in the programming of mag stripes. London Underground gate lines aren’t usually a problem but mainline stations often reject based on the validity of the most restricted outboundary journey regardless of where you are actually going. Liverpool Street and Tottenham Hale seem particularly bad for this, I don’t think I have ever had a travelcard work at either. This happens with inboundary versions as well.
 

Hadders

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It’s not just demagnetising with travelcards. The introduction of new types with different time restrictions (eg. Super off peak) and evening peak restrictions has hit the limitations in the programming of mag stripes. London Underground gate lines aren’t usually a problem but mainline stations often reject based on the validity of the most restricted outboundary journey regardless of where you are actually going. Liverpool Street and Tottenham Hale seem particularly bad for this, I don’t think I have ever had a travelcard work at either. This happens with inboundary versions as well.
This is definitely an issue, and I agree about Liverpool Street and Paddington being problematic. Liverpool Street became a particular issue with Stevenage to London Zones 1-6 weekend super off-peak travelcards after TfL Rail took over the Shenfield services, something must have changes in the gateline programming around then.
 

D6975

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Bristol
I have done several week long trips to London, buying a 7 day 1-6 travelcard in advance. It usually works for 2 or 3 days before it stops operating all barriers at all stations. This is despite taking great care to keep the ticket well away from my phone. (I actually only take shirts with a breast pocket to achieve this.
 
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