Dartford MP Gareth Johnson has urged the Government to ensure smart ticketing will be part of any new train franchise agreement for all stations across Dartford.
This comes after the success of Oyster which was extended to Dartford in September 2015.
The number of people travelling from Dartford station has increased hugely since 2015, with 3,449,539 journeys in 2015/16 compared to 4,163,916 journeys in 2017/18.
Mr Johnson said: “Myself and others successfully campaigned to get the Oyster card system extended to Dartford. Now we need to see this go further and have either Oyster or some form of smart ticketing extended to all stations throughout Dartford and Kent as part of the new franchise.”
Mr Johnson highlighted the issue during an urgent question to the Rail Minister following the announcement by the Government that the bidding process for the next local rail franchise has been delayed.
During the Urgent Question in the House of Commons, Mr Johnson said: “These delays are regrettable, but they at least give the Minister an opportunity to look again at the terms of the franchise. I was pleased when the Oyster card system was extended to Dartford, to cater for my constituents. Does he agree that any new franchise contract should include a term to ensure that smart ticketing is extended beyond the current boundaries?”
In response, Andrew Jones, the Rail Minister, said “My Hon. Friend makes a wise point, as ever. Smart ticketing is a part of the rail future right across the country, not just in Dartford. The pay-as-you-go extension has been very popular across the South East. The benefits of smart ticketing are profound, including convenience for passengers and the ability to change tickets more easily, and we are trying to ensure that they are part of all franchises.”
Earlier this month, the Government extended the Southeastern franchise until November or possibly next spring and said the decision on the new train operator for the South East area was being delayed so the Department for Transport had more time to review the bids.
Following the parliamentary question, Mr Johnson added: “Local people have been waiting a long time for the roll out of smart ticketing. The Oyster Card system has been increasingly popular since it was introduced at Dartford train station three and a half years ago. We need now for smart ticketing to be available across the whole area. All local commuters should have access to this form of ticketing as well as modern trains, a reliable service and a commitment to compensation when delays exceed 15 mins rather than the current 30-minute delay-repay scheme.”