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Oyster card rollout to stop at Potters Bar

Brookmans Park and Welham Green to miss out

Contactless reader at Brookmans Park station ready for August activation
Image by North Mymms News released under Creative Commons BY-NC-SA 4.0

The Oyster card payment system which is expected to be introduced at Potters Bar station next month will not be extended further north according to Govia Thameslink Railway (GTR).

Earlier this week this site reported that a contactless payment reader installed at Brookmans Park Station is expected to be operational in August, but that it would not accept Oyster cards.

GTR has today confirmed that Potters Bar is the end of the line for Oyster cards under any current GTR plans.

Late last year some news outlets reported that Oyster cards would be extended through to Welwyn Garden City.

In November, BBC News Online reported “Oyster card scheme extension agreed” and continued: “Later in 2019 the scheme will be extended to Welwyn Garden City and stations in between including Hatfield, Welham Green, Brookmans Park and Potters Bar”.

Local broadcaster Bob FM announced “Oyster Card scheme extended to Welwyn Garden City, Hertford North and Luton Airport Parkway” was due in 2019.

And the area’s MP, Grant Shapps, wrote in December about “Oyster pulling into Welwyn Hatfield” in the second half of 2019.

In November last year the MP tweeted a welcome to the payment scheme.
However that is not the case. Brookmans Park, Welham Green, Hatfield, and Welwyn Garden City are to miss out, although all will have contactless pay-as-you-go readers installed.

Technical, commercial, and practical issues

A GTR spokesperson told this site that the decision to stop the rollout at Potters Bar was down to technical, commercial, and practical reasons.
“Pay as you go with contactless and Oyster is expected to be extended to Potters Bar next month. Further extensions, planned to reach Brookmans Park this summer, and Welwyn Garden City in the autumn, will allow contactless payment as well as the use of GTR’s ‘Key’ smartcard.
For technical, commercial and practical reasons Oyster will not be included in the pay as you go extensions beyond Potters Bar. Contactless will offer a more convenient payment method as there is no need to apply for a card or top up in advance.

GTR says Welwyn Hatfield, including Brookmans Park, Welham Green, Hatfield and Welwyn Garden City stations will be in a "zone" but it will not be an Oyster zone, and it will not be advertised because Oyster cards will not work.

Within the zone structure there can be either Oyster and contactless or just contactless, depending on a number of technical, commercial and practical factors.

In this case, this extension of the pay-as-you-go area will just be for contactless and not Oyster.

We asked GTR whether the contactless fares would be the same as Oyster fares, and whether a person who has registered a credit card with their Oyster card account would be able to use that with the contactless readers in order to benefit from Oyster fare prices -- the GRT spokesperson replied:
“Pay as you go fares will normally be no higher and often lower than for paper tickets. Journeys to or from the stations north of Potters Bar will initially be excluded from price capping, but an improved form of price capping will include these journeys next year.”
When asked whether GTR or DfT had previously announced that Oyster would be extended to Welwyn Garden City the GTR spokesperson replied.
“Last autumn GTR committed to extending pay-as-you-go to Welwyn Garden City, but this commitment did not extend to Oyster. This was reflected in both DfT and GTR announcements at the time. While further extensions of Oyster are unfeasible, we are clear that this should not prevent the extension of the more modern, flexible contactless system.”

Will you be using the new contactless machine?

So are you likely to use contactless? If so, what would be the benefit? If not, why not? You can have your say using the comment box below or on the North Mymms News Facebook Page.

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