Update (26 October 2011): Had a call from SWT and Southern have agreed to accept the tickets. The problem goes down to TOCs starting service within already existing smartcard service areas where there aren’t single operator only flows being used on the tickets loaded onto the smartcards.
Whenever you buy a ticket on ITSO – the revenue gets divided up appropriately via ORCATS in the exact same manner as you would if you were on a paper ticket. Therefore, it came to the slightly paradoxical situation last night that Southern were (technically) receiving an ORCATS share for any ticket between Southampton Central and Southampton Airport (and Eastleigh, but that’s irrelevant to me) and not requiring to provide the service.
The primary argument that was placed at the door with Southern was that there was no legal proviso in the NRCoC to allow (this is a network-wide policy!!!!) TOCs to not accept pilot smartcard schemes by other TOCs unless there was a specific route restriction on the ticket loaded onto the card.
In any case, good news in this instance – but it seems like it needs urgently resolving (with regards to general network-wide policy) for if, and really when, this happens elsewhere.
Yesterday, I targeted a theoretical question at Southern on Twitter. The question was thus:
@SouthernRailUK do you accept SWT ITSO [smart]cards? If not, why not?
The answer to this was, apparently, no. Since then, a little ‘battle’, I suppose, has ensued between myself and Southern. It appears that they fail to realise that their requirements under the National Rail Conditions of Carriage.
As a little background, I have a ticket between Bournemouth and Southampton Airport Parkway on a Stagecoach issued ITSO card. This ticket is, obviously, valid on South West Trains. Due to the rules of rail ticketing (in that it is an Any Permitted ticket), it is also valid on CrossCountry. It should also be valid on Southern between Southampton Central and Southampton Airport as they operate a few services between these two stations. Southern state:
@swlines No, not yet, our trial Brighton to Seaford has just started but linking with SWT is something we are looking at from 2013
@swlines For those TOCs who have a smartcard scheme, they all vary slightly as per individual franchise agreements. (ed: this is irrelevant, my ticket is valid if it were on paper)
The exact details relevant to my ticket at present are that it is a Bournemouth to Southampton Airport Parkway 7DS (7 Day Season) on route Any Permitted. This, if it were on paper, implies that it is valid on any permitted route on any operator. Indeed, it is exactly the same on an electronic ticket – in this case, an ITSO card.
Here’s condition 9 from the NRCoC (any emphasis is mine):
In some cases a Train Company, a travel agent or other authorised person may issue you with a ticket where the details of the trains you are entitled to use, together with any rights to goods or services supplied by another person, are stored only in electronic form. Such a ticket is referred to in these Conditions as an Electronic Ticket. Any reference in these Conditions to the term “ticket” includes an Electronic Ticket unless specifically stated otherwise.
An Electronic Ticket may be stored on a:
(i) Smartcard (including an Oyster or ITSO card);
(ii) payment card or identity card;
(iii) mobile telephone;
(iv) personal organiser; or
(v) other mobile electronic device.
If a Smartcard is issued by a Train Company, it remains the property of that Train Company and you may be charged a deposit. If a Smartcard is no longer required and is returned to the office of issue in good condition any deposit paid will be refunded. A Smartcard that does not contain an Electronic Ticket is not a valid authority to travel.
Some Smartcards may be used to buy stored credit which you can use later to buy Electronic Tickets. In these Conditions, credit stored in this way is termed Electronic Funds. It is your responsibility to make sure that you have enough Electronic Funds on your Smartcard to pay for the Electronic Ticket required for the journey you intend to make.
Does anyone spot any reason in this condition as to why my ITSO card loaded with my season ticket isn’t valid? No, thought not.
Just to add fuel to the fire, Southern’s excuse for not accepting them is seemingly purely because they don’t operate their pilot scheme along the line of route. CrossCountry don’t have a pilot scheme that I know of, yet they accept my ticket fine.
ITSO stands for Integrated Transport Smartcard Organisation. Not very integrated by the looks of it on the rail network.
Over to you, Southern…