'Security' for Oystercard online top-ups is a joke

Down in London again for the day this week and, like many frequent travellers in London, I decided to top up my pay-as-you-go Oystercard.

The deal is a no-brainer, as even people that visit London once a week or so like me, get discounts on tubes and buses of up to 50 per cent - provided you plan ahead.

The Oystercard behaves like a pre-paid debit card in that you load up credit and then used the RFID-enabled cards on most transport systems in London, including the ghastly Docklands Light Railway.

Loading up your e-cash is easy enough. You can top it up in person with real money or using your plastic at most Underground stations, either using one or more machines with a yellow cardreader or even in person at the pay-window.

Try doing it online. It's archaic and, perhaps worse, you have to specify precisely which tube station you will be entering at. For me, that's London Kings Cross.

But hold hard my good fellow/lady - there are two distinct sets of tube barriers at Kings Cross (it says here). The Circle and Northern lines; and the rest of the lines.Not only do you have to select which tube station you will enter the Underground at, but you have to select which line.

And if you top up with 20 pounds and arrange an auto top-up as well to avoid this mess? Why, you have to enter the tube station twice, which you can't do without exiting and being charged for your non-travel.

I now have my 20 pounds on my Oystercard. But I'll have to wait until next week before I can revisit Kings Cross Underground to trigger the top-up facility.

But I'll have to be quick, as the top-up trigger times out after a week.

Transport for London tell me that is the way the Oystercard security system was designed. For your security sir.

I have another conclusion. They've made it deliberately complex to top up online, to dissuade occasional travellers like me and make them buy paper tickets at a considerable premium.

Madness, utter madness...