TfL to re-tender Oyster contract

Roger Ford

17 Aug 2008 (provided by Modern Railways), Category: Rail Customer interface

On 8 August Transport for London announced that it has given the required two years’ notice of termination of its £100million a year contract with TranSys for the operation and maintenance of the Oyster smartcard ticketing system. The Privat Finance Initiative to develop and run the system was put in place in 1998 and the contract will now be terminated at the 10-year break-point.


In part the early termination reflects the change in the nature of Oyster, from a large and complex IT project, to an established system with the focus on maintenance and operation and only limited technical development. Industry insiders consider that there are no clear potential bidders for the replacement contract and note that in the original bidding, rivals for the PFI deal dropped out, leaving the TranSys consortium, featuring Cubic and EDS, as the sole candidate.

Both parties emphasised that the termination was unconnected with two recent breakdowns of the Oyster system. The two failures, on 12 July and 25 July, are estimated to have cost TfL more than £1million in lost revenue. Both events were associated with file downloads to the system. On 12 July a file of valid card numbers was incorrectly included with the download of hotlisted cards. This resulted in 78,000 Oyster cards being disabled, with TfL having to issue more than 40,000 new cards with the outstanding balances transferred.

Only the Pay-As-You-Go facility was affected in the incident on 25 July. New files containing special fares for the weekend of the Notting Hill Carnival were downloaded in the wrong order, causing what is termed a Fares Table Clash. This initiated a PAYG system fault which meant that gates had to be locked open.


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