South West Pains: Oh, Doctor Beeching!

Well.  We’ve just returned to the stone age with South Worst Trains South West Trains.

A Smart card rendered completely dumb by SWT HQ.
A Smart card rendered completely dumb by SWT HQ.

I’ve been using my South West Trains Smart Card just fine for the past month.  I had bought the contactless portion at Woking station’s ticket machines using the season ticket renewal option.

ALAS!

Today when I tried to do the same thing, the machine told me – several times, and most insistently, that it couldn’t find any season tickets.  I could buy regular train tickets for the card, and a 7 day pass between Woking and Guildford – but not a monthly.  So I walked up to the ticket office who told me that they don’t support these contactless cards and could only offer me paper tickets.  Talk about a step backwards!

Grudgingly I had to go for the paper route as I had to catch the next train to Guildford.  But before I went for my daily coffee fix at Costa, I went to one of the ticket office kiosks and asked if they were able to handle contactless cards.  Nope.  They couldn’t even read them.  All HQ’s fault, apparently.

What I don’t understand is why this worked before and now it doesn’t.  The system was working beautifully for the month I had the contactless card.  In/out at the barriers with not one single hassle.  Now I’ve got to go back to using paper tickets which wear out easily (often necessitating me to go and get it replaced), and thumble to pull the ticket out each time.

This is 2016, FFS, not the time of Doctor Beeching.

And when I tried to log into the South West Trains web site, not only am I not able to determine what my credentials are (I have them saved in my password management utility, but they’re not being accepted), but I’m getting this old chestnut:

Classic Windows 2008 Server (now a decrepit 8 year old OS) error - it can't negotiate a stronger set of TLS ciphers, PLUS they're not loading all their assets behind SSL (which they should).
Classic Windows 2008 Server error  (now a decrepit 8 year old OS) – it can’t negotiate a stronger set of TLS ciphers because it’s too old – they need to be using TLS 1.2 which is supported on Windows 2012) PLUS they’re not loading all their assets behind SSL (which they should be doing).  This is all too common a problem with a lot of commercial sites running on the Windows platform, and it’s driving me mad.

I wanted to check if I could buy the ticket in advance (although I’d still have to get the Plusbus component at the ticket office as SWT has never supported Plusbus on tickets longer than a week at the ticket machines).

In short: what a flippin’ mess.

  • krukacz

    Hi, i had the same issue like you. I travel between Woking and Weybrigde, and i was very happy when they introduced smart card. No more waiting in the queue, no risk that paper ticket won’t work again. I bought my ticket on the beginning of January, and everything went smoothly. Now when i tried to renew my monthly ticket website informed me that my route in not enabled for Smart card, ever though on the map of smart card routes it looks just fine. It’s quite strange that South West had this advetisment campaign in Jan to indroduce Smart Card to people, when aparently it’s not ready yet…

    • Do you get a PlusBus as well? Since I got rid of that and use the new (updated a week ago now) Arrive m-Ticket bus app for iPhone, the Smart Card works well enough (with the occasional glitch at Guildford). Downside is I have to pay more for the bus now.. :