SWT To Sell Oyster From May 2011

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The DfT have announced that they have concluded a deal with SWT that will see the operator sell Oyster services from May 2011. The money to furnish the necessary changes will come from the funds SWT are required to commit towards station improvements.

SWT currently stand as the only London operator not to offer Oyster products (except at Wimbledon and Richmond) and have, historically, been seen by many as one of the major opponents of the smartcard scheme. Sources suggest that they were one of the key players in both prolonging the time it took PAYG to appear on National Rail, and behind the adoption of the much-derided Oyster Extension Permit scheme.

It is worth remembering, however, that Oyster arguably has a greater impact on SWT than most, both due to the existence within their Franchise agreement of a commitment to early ITSO trials (the technology for which turned out to be largely incompatible with Oyster) and the overlap of various key sections of their network with the District Line.

That aside their increasingly lone position on Oyster has been under attack both locally and in the London Assembly for some time, and Caroline Pidgeon was thus quick to congratulate SWT on the announcement.

I very much welcome South West Trains change of heart, catching up with all the other train companies. At last SWT passengers will be able to top up their Oyster cards at all stations in the London area they cover. It is only a shame that SWT has been so behind in introducing this service.

It’s tricky to imagine that comment wasn’t uttered with a certain sense of enjoyment.

Written by John Bull
John Bull is the Editor of London Reconnections. A transport journalist and historian, his writing often focuses on the political or strategic challenges facing London's transport network and beyond.