Smartcard ‘hiding’ cheaper train prices

Chris Baber-Davies is complaining about Southern Railway's new smart cards increasing the price of commuting. Pic Steve Robards SUS-150113-044959001
Chris Baber-Davies is complaining about Southern Railway's new smart cards increasing the price of commuting. Pic Steve Robards SUS-150113-044959001

A commuter is ‘appalled’ after discovering his smartcard, introduced to make buying tickets easier, makes some train fares more expensive than a normal ticket.

Chris Baber-Davies, from Haywards Heath, said Southern Railway’s key smartcard is ‘scamming people out of their hard earned cash’.

A comparison of ticket prices with and without the smartcard

A comparison of ticket prices with and without the smartcard

He explained: “They have not made any of their cheaper tickets available on the smart card, so if you travel with a paper ticket you can travel on a Saturday during the same times, same train, same times and same journey for £12.80.

“If, like me, you use their smartcard then the cheapest journey is £23! 79% more!”

To commute to London, Chris paid £4032 last year.

“They are purposefully hiding these cheaper fares. We pay thousands per year to commute and it’s not fair that we get ripped off. For me to work in London I have to earn an £8,000 gross just to pay my transport fees,” he said.

“Why wouldn’t they put the super off peak on a travel card? Financial gain is the only reason.”

He added the cost of tickets can ‘crucify’ train users.

A spokesman for Southern Railway said: “Not all products are available on the key smartcard yet and super off peak is one of them. There are plans to introduce it but for now, the super off peak ticket is only available through traditional channels.”

Southern’s website explains the card makes travelling easier, quicker, secure and durable.

It allows train users to upload tickets to their cards and touch in at the station using their key. This protects customers against loss or theft of tickets.

But Chris claims the card hides cheap prices: “It’s not at all surprising also that the super off peak, which you can travel all weekend with, is on the very last page of available ticket types, four pages in, on the ticket machines. If customers who travel at the weekend conveniently don’t find this cheaper fare then that’s netting them an increase of 79% on an already healthy profit margin.

“I run a business myself and I wouldn’t dream of launching a product unless it was complete.”

The commuter said he ‘dreads’ price hikes.

“On the 5th of January waiting for the newer, more expensive train to arrive, and its the same old train, same old late service, poor customer service, delays and same shoddy experience we have grown to expect with rail providers these days.

“Something has to change and that starts with people speaking out and hopefully forcing their hands.”