Train station ticket machines at London’s busiest stations are confusing and unclear, finds Which?
Which? researchers found some machines displayed unhelpful or meaningless information with some machines failing to show the price of different tickets.
15% of train passengers buy train tickets from machines according to a Which? survey carried out in November 2010.
Several ticket machines required researchers to choose between different routes, but then failed to show how much the different routes cost.
Researchers saw ‘any permitted route’ often displayed on screen, but this does not mean that any route is permitted. Rather, that you can travel by any route permitted by the train company.
The Which? researchers were very rarely told what that permitted route was, so unless you carry a detailed rail map in your head, what route is allowed will remain a puzzle.
Unhelpful onscreen guidance
Many information buttons only repeated unhelpful guidance on screen. Some merely said that ‘restrictions apply. Please enquire.’
Some onscreen messages said ‘travel time restrictions apply’, but failed to explain what these restrictions were.
One machine provided the utterly meaningless statement that a ticket was ‘NOT via Valid by Gatwick Express’.
Consistency was also an issue – none of the five companies’ machines described a London Travelcard in the same way.
Train companies’ response
Which? took the findings to the Association of Train Operating Companies.
A spokesperson said: ‘Hundreds of thousands of passengers use ticket machines every day with no problems.
‘But train companies know there are always ways to improve, and are working hard to make the machines more user friendly.’