There has been some misleading coverage over precisely what is happening with regard to contactless travel coming to Welwyn Hatfield.

Indeed the editor of one website has opted not to update their story, even after the Department for Transport (DfT) officially pointed out that their story and particularly the headline “It’s official – Oyster is NOT coming to Welwyn Hatfield” was particularly misleading.

A Department for Transport spokesperson provided the editor of North Mymms News with the complete quote below. Unfortunately, a whole week later, the original story – complete with the above headline – has been left unchanged, leaving Welwyn Hatfield commuters with a misleading picture.

In order to remove commuter concern and provide the up-to-date situation, here is that unpublished DfT response to North Mymms News in full:

A DfT spokesperson said: “First generation technology was used in the original Oyster system, introduced in 2003, and has now been largely superseded with more advanced contactless technology.

“Commuters using this system [i.e. the one that is being installed this year in Welwyn Hatfield] nowadays enjoy the flexibility of simply using their contactless credit [or debit] cards. This innovation did not exist when Oyster was first introduced.

This flexible and modern contactless system is being brought to Welwyn Garden City later in the year and brings the benefits of pay-as-you-go travel, without the hassle of top-up cards.

“People still tend to refer to the overall system as Oyster, even though no specific Oyster card will be required.”

Press Officer, Communications Directorate.
5/29, Great Minster House

Given that Welwyn Hatfield commuters will be able to touch-in on an Oyster-looking machine at Brookmans Park, Welham Green, Hatfield and WGC and then touch-out at any Oyster machine throughout the London underground network, and given that the best possible fare will automatically be calculated and charged – it does feel like splitting hairs to run a headline claiming Oyster is not coming to Welwyn Hatfield.

It is true to say that the older, less technically advanced, Oyster system is not making its way beyond Potters Bar. However, the article should make clear, as the Department for Transport has asked it to stress, that this is an upgraded system which couldn’t have existed in 2003 because contactless credit and debit cards did not exist at the time. And that the overall system is indeed known as Oyster to commuters.

Oyster style machine being installed at Brookmans Park in Welwyn Hatfield