Remember back around Christmas I had a whinge about the new automated ticket barriers at Waterloo? I said at the time that it would be interesting to see how long it took before they started to go wrong.

Well, apart from initial teething troubles, they haven’t. What has happened is that people’s tickets have stopped working: the season tickets that people have at the moment weren’t designed for the constant wear and tear of being put through the barriers, so the magnetic strips are wearing away. The ticket no longer works the barriers so I have to queue for the gate that’s being manually operated and show my ticket to the attendant – and explain how my ticket doesn’t work any more.

I’m not the only, or first, person it’s happened to – it’s a regular topic of conversation on the 06:30, and apparently season ticket holders on the Reading/Windsor/Waterloo line were having problems some time before us. One user (at least) has been told that he has to replace his valid ticket within three days of it failing to work the barrier, or he’ll be done for fare-dodging – in spite of having an in-date ticket for which he’s paid. Worryingly, when he raised this on one of South West Trains’ regular online Q+A sessions, there was no attempt to say that this was wrong information: the response focussed on the new barriers being of benefit to all rail users – although it didn’t say how.

If the Travel Centre at Southampton is ever open when I’m in Southampton, I’ll have a go at getting a replacement ticket out of them. I’ll let you know how I get on.

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