Southern Rail, possibly the world’s least popular train operators, could have taken steps to ensure that their passengers would not be subject to £2 transaction charges at the cash machines by East Croydon and other stations – but they chose not to do so.
That’s the latest, startling revelation arising from enquiries prompted by the cash machine charges being imposed in the past week at East Croydon, South Croydon and other stations on the Govia Thameslink network, which includes Southern trains.
The head of a banking think-tank called the charges – for rail passengers wishing to access their own money – “A very worrying trend.”
Inside Croydon reported earlier this week on the £1.99 charge being levied at the three automated telling machines – ATMs – on the concourse between East Croydon Station and Boozepark.
Passenger campaign group ABC – the Association of British Commuters – have taken up the matter with Govia, who first told them that the rail operating company was not benefiting from the extra charges, stating that the decision to raise charges lay with the company operating the cash machines on their stations, Cardtronics.
It was widely assumed that Cardtronics was responding to changes in the levy system operated by the big banks, which paid for the use of their machines by bank customers. The banks had reduced the amounts being paid to the machine operators.
But yesterday afternoon, Cardtronics entered the narrative over why charges are being rolled out at machines on or near railways stations, and they dropped Govia, and Southern, right in it.
“In July, Link cut the fees banks pay us for ATM withdrawals,” Cardtronics said on social media.”Thhis no longer covers our costs for delivering the service.
“Southern Rail refused to accept lower commissions from us, which would have kept the machine as free to use. So we had to start charging, or remove the ATM.”
ABC, and many thousands of rail users, are understandably outraged at the manner that Southern has not only sought to mislead over this issue, but also sought to make even greater profits out of passengers by weedling larger commissions from the ATM operators.
“Needless to say, we stand against any extra profiteering from passengers’ basic needs and convenience,” ABC said in a statement issued last night.
David Clarke is the head of policy at Positive Money UK, the fairer banking campaign group. Yesterday, he said that the station cash machine charges are, “Just one example of the thousands of cash machines that are charging or closing altogether, after banks lobbied for a cut in the fees they pay towards the network.
“A very worrying trend – and it’s only just beginning.”
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