Rail passengers 'ripped off' by Oyster Card system

Rail passengers in London are being "ripped off" after being overcharged by more than £60 million because of problems with pay-as-you-go travel card payments, it was claimed today.

Caroline Pidgeon, Liberal Democrat leader on the London Assembly, said she had been told that mistakes at ticket barriers at Tube and railway stations in the capital were to blame for Oyster card users being overcharged.

Where barriers are not working properly, are left open or where the card isn't swiped accurately, Oyster cards are automatically charged the maximum single fare of £6, irrespective of what journey is made by passengers.

Ms Pidgeon said: "The rise in Oyster overcharging throughout 2010 is just one further insult to passengers who are now being hit for six by steep fare rises from both the Mayor of London and the railway operating companies.

"If passengers actually knew how much overcharging was taking place at every Tube and train station, changes would quickly take place. It is time that a league table was published showing exactly how much people are being ripped off at each and every Tube and train station.

"It is simply not good enough for the Mayor and Transport for London to wash their hands and just blame the rise in Oyster overcharging on the train operating companies.

"Of course the train companies have an obligation to get their act together but the Mayor and TfL also need to take action, especially as so many Tube users are being ripped off as well."

A TfL spokesman said: "The number of incomplete journeys recorded are only a fraction of the 135 million Oyster journeys undertaken on the Tube, DLR and National Rail each month. The vast majority of Oyster pay-as-you-go customers pay the correct fare as they touch out at the end of every journey.

"We would urge all customers to touch out at the end of their Tube, DLR or rail journeys to ensure they pay the correct fare. If passengers don't touch out we have no way of knowing what journey they have taken or what fare they should pay, therefore we have no option other than to charge the maximum fare - the equivalent to a Zones 1-6 single fare.

"The level of maximum fares incurred on National Rail is significantly higher than TfL services because a large number of stations do not have ticket barriers to act as a physical reminder to touch in and out.

"TfL is not profiting from maximum fares on National Rail as this money is provided to the train operating companies.

"Any customer who feels they have been incorrectly charged a maximum fare can contact TfL and apply for a refund."