Ticketless train travel: Opal deadline rapidly approaches

Caity Stone

By the end of the month approximately 94 train stations across the NSW TrainLink network “will have no capacity to sell a ticket on site” an internal document has reportedly revealed.

Passengers will instead be required to purchase an Opal ticket before using the public transport however almost 100 stations across NSW will not have the facilities for travellers to purchase or top up their cards Fairfax reports.

As the end date rapidly approaches the increased demand is being felt by staff members to educate as many commuters as possible about making the switch to the electronic ticketing system.

Staff have also been told to encourage pensioners to apply for a Gold Opal concession card. Source: Supplied.
Staff have also been told to encourage pensioners to apply for a Gold Opal concession card. Source: Supplied.

Due to the changes staff at certain stations are therefore being urged to be "empathetic, particularly if the customer is an infrequent traveller or a pensioner", according to Fairfax.

They are however still told to encourage travellers to not travel without a ticket.

However it is not clear to staff what they should do if they encounter a passenger who is unable to buy or ‘top up’ their Opal card.

The single-use Opal tickets have been introduced in the interim. Source: Supplied.
The single-use Opal tickets have been introduced in the interim. Source: Supplied.

Staff are also reportedly confused on how to advise the public if their nearest Opal retailer is too far away for travellers.

Staff have also been told to encourage pensioners to apply for a Gold Opal concession card.

The processing time on these cards can take up to 10 days for travellers to receive them.

As part on an internal slide presentation for NSW TrainLink staff states that the stations "have a number of challenges not faced by the suburban network due to either staff not being in attendance or proximity to an Opal retailer".

Additionally it’s been revealed that some of the intercity network and regional lines will have no staff on site to attend to travellers.

Approximately 130,000 tickets are currently sold at NSW TrainLink stations every month.

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The government is reportedly installing Opal top-up machines at 38 of the 197 stations.

The single-use Opal tickets have been introduced in the interim.

They are made of cardboard and have been introduced for infrequent users such as tourists.

Users will pay a 20 per cent premium in cost compared to fares paid using Opal smartcards.

More than 7.5 million Opal cards have been issued since its introduction in 2012.

News break – July 21