One of my former work colleagues raised this question, as he works in London, and lives in darkest Hertfordshire...
Baroness Scott of Needham Market (Liberal Democrat)
To ask Her Majesty's Government when the Integrated Transport Smartcard Organisation (ITSO) standard national rail card will be available; whether they have chosen an operator for the card; and why customers cannot use Oyster cards, which are ITSO compliant, for commuter journeys while the national system is being developed.
Earl Attlee (Whip, House of Lords; Conservative)
There are no current plans for a single, centrally developed ITSO smart rail card. The Government strategy is to roll out ITSO-compliant smart ticketing on rail incrementally through the re-franchising process. To accelerate the roll-out, the Chancellor in the Autumn Statement has provided extra funding of £45 million in respect of smart ticketing on rail in the South East. Where franchises have already been let with an ITSO ticketing requirement the franchisee owns and manages their smart cards.
Oyster cards are not ITSO-compliant. However a project is currently under way to equip the London Oyster estate with the capability to read and accept ITSO products.
It's the lack of imagination that depresses me...