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Big Blue red-faced over Congestion charge crash

First day fumble of new systems

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Things did not go entirely smoothly for IBM on its first day in control of Transport for London's Congestion Charge systems yesterday.

Capita set up the system and ran it for five years before TfL handed the contract to IBM in October 2007. Some staff were moved across and new systems put in place.

But sources told The Register on the morning of the first day that the system had not been live tested and staff were overrun with complaints.

A TfL spokeswoman said: “We apologise to customers for any problems they are experiencing since the transfer of systems to our new contractor this weekend. There have been some issues with accessing the online Congestion Charging payment accounts this morning, which the contractor is working to resolve as soon as possible.

"Customers should be assured that we are making arrangements so that no one will be penalised as a result of any problems today."

Error messages on the website warned people that there were "intermittent problems". But our insider complained that the transfer was not properly planned and problems were therefore inevitable. They said it was possible the system could send out penalty charge notices incorrectly because either people could not pay or the system would fail to record payments.

But TfL, which admitted there had been a high volume of calls to its help and payment lines, insisted that any teething problems would be fixed within 48 hours.

People needing to pay the congestion charge were advised not to use their existing registered accounts but should instead pay without registering. You can also pay via the call centre, or local shop, until midnight tomorrow without getting fined.

If any Register readers had problems with the system yesterday, please let us know via comments, or email me directly by clicking on the byline at the top of this story. ®

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