A RAIL passenger was left “fuming” after he was fined for not realising he couldn’t use his Oyster card at Dartford.

Twenty-two-year-old Dale Wilson, who works at an investment bank in Canary Wharf, tapped in using his card at Lewisham station on Friday evening (May 25) and rather than getting off at Bexleyheath at usual, he continued a few stops to Dartford to meet up with friends.

Dale, of Cranbrook Road in Bexleyheath, said there were ten officials waiting at the station gates.

He said: “There were about four other people who didn’t realise Dartford didn’t use Oyster cards.

“They said we hadn’t paid for a ticket so they gave all five of us a £20 fine.

“I had my Oyster card with me and had enough for the fare. It was not like I didn’t have a ticket.

“The police or ticket inspectors would not let me out of the station until I paid it.”

Dale offered to pay the single fare from either Lewisham or Bexleyheath but said the enforcement officer “was having none of it”.

He said: “I must have been there 20 minutes trying to argue my case.

“I was escorted outside to the cash machine and made to withdraw £20 and pay it to them.”

Dale said he saw just one A4 sign stuck to the station wall about the Oyster cards and had no idea he could not use it at Dartford.

He said: “I was fuming. It was not a great start to the weekend.”

Southeastern said there are plenty of places where people can find out about the London travel zones, including maps in every timetable, on every train, on its website and two maps at Lewisham station.

A spokesman said: “Just as it is our responsibility to ensure passengers have the opportunity to buy a ticket before boarding a train, so it’s the passenger’s responsibility to plan out their journey and buy a valid ticket.

“The penalty fare system is a national scheme designed to protect the interests of the overwhelming majority of passengers who do pay their fare.”

Southeastern said there is an independent appeals process, although Dale said he was informed by the enforcement officers that he stood little chance of a successful appeal so discarded the form.

To add insult to injury, Dale said he also had to pay £8 penalty on his Oyster card for not ‘tapping out’ on Friday afternoon, although the fare was refunded by Transport for London.

"Discretion for an honest mistake"

Last week, Train watchdog Passenger Focus says this ‘privatised justice’ needs to be dished out more carefully so people who make a genuine mistake rather than an excuse are dealt with fairly.

Its chief executive Anthony Smith said: “Any form of privatised justice like this must be administered according to clear guidelines, be accountable, give passengers a fair hearing and not assume everyone is guilty.

"Train companies cannot continue to treat some of their customers like this – ‘one strike and you are out’ is simply not fair."

The Association of Train Operating Companies responded that it was working on an industry-wide code of practice “where discretion can be shown for passengers who have made an honest mistake”.