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Welcome

January 2nd 2010 was the day that Oyster became accepted on almost all National Rail services in Greater London, making cashless pay-as-you-go a reality London-wide.  It should now be really simple, but in reality it is about as complicated as it could possibly be. There are three different fares structures depending on whether your route accepted Oyster before November 2009 or not, and if not whether your journey mixes National Rail and TfL rail and includes zone 1; while children sometimes travel free and sometimes have to pay.

This site has been set up to try and explain how the system works in an alternative fashion to the official TfL site.  It also exposes the alternative approach that families can take where Oyster is not the cheapest option. Plus I will highlight areas where the system is not working and list improvements that I feel need to be made.

The pages listed in the left sidebar allow you to navigate through the main information areas of the site.  Below this introduction is a latest news blog, which includes my own personal diary of experiences using Oyster cards with my family.  Please feel free to add comments to both blog posts and pages, especially if you spot something you think might be wrong.

Croydon Tram Incident

Although not specifically an Oyster issue, our thoughts go out to the families and freinds of those who lost their lives in the tram crash this morning, as well as those who are still in hospital.

Touch pink to say you avoided zone 3

I’ve just become aware of an interesting twist on the pink validators. If you travel between Finsbury Park and Hackney Central there are three fares. The default fares are the same as the via Highbury & Islington fares with a more expensive one via zone 1 as you’d expect.

However, there are a couple of oddities to note here. Hackney Central is effectively the same station as Hackney Downs since the link bridge was opened. And a logical route to Hackney Downs from Finsbury Park is via Seven Sisters, which of course, is in zone 3. Now there is no difference in fare between a zone 2 and a zone 2-3 journey in this case, unless you have a zone 1-2 travelcard. If you don’t touch the pink reader at Highbury & Islington then the system assumes you’ve gone via Seven Sisters and charges you a zone 3 journey.

Using Two Season Tickets in London

The current National Rail Conditions of Carriage are about to be replaced by a new document called the National Rail Conditions of Travel.  The new rules take effect on Saturday 1st October 2016.  Most of the changes are minor, or simply clarify existing wording.  Several clauses have been re-numbered and/or re-ordered to group related rules together.  There are some quite big changes, and one in particular affects multiple seasons in London.  And best of all, it is very good news. Read the rest of this entry »

Bus Hopper arriving 12th Sept

One of the pledges made by Sadiq Khan during his mayoral campaign was to introduce a one hour bus hopper facility. By 2018 TfL hope to allow unlimited bus and tram journeys within the hour, but from next Monday, 12th September, it will be possible to make two journeys while only paying for one.

A second touch on a bus or tram within one hour of the first touch will not charge a new fare. After an hour (or after two touches) another touch on a bus or tram will charge a new fare. The daily bus cap still applies, so all bus and tram journeys after the first three chargeable ones are free – but you must still touch in.

One final note – just as a bus will break a multi-leg train journey, using a train will break a bus hopper so you’ll be charged another fare even if it is within one hour, unless you’ve reached a cap for the day. There is also a problem at Wimbledon where a bus journey after leaving the tram system will be charged, but if it shouldn’t have been it will be automatically refunded a few days later. Both these issues are expected to be fixed when the full bus hopper is rolled out in 2018.

Night tube fares

So the night tube finally started tonight on the Central and Victoria lines. The fares are just normal off-peak fares, including connecting onto any of the through the night National Rail services. Capping also applies, mostly linked to the previous daytime. The detail is as follows:

If the time of touch in at the start of the journey is before 0430 then the whole journey will be treated as part of the previous day and will count towards any cap accumulated for that day.

If the time of touch in at the start of the journey is from 0430 or later then the journey is treated as part of the new day. As the new day is a weekend day the off-peak cap (if applicable) counts straight away. Fares are still off-peak of course.

Gatwick truth (updated)

Yesterday I made some journeys to and from Gatwick to check out various questions. I’ve updated the post above, but here are the main points:

  • Auto topup won’t work if you have between £10 and the entry threshold at either Gatwick Airport or the Express gateline (p13/14) at Victoria. The gate will refuse entry citing insufficient funds.
  • The entry threshold at Gatwick takes no account of whether you have reached (or might reach) the daily cap for Gatwick. You still need the full single fare to enter even if you won’t be charged anything for the journey.
  • Between 1600-1900 you need the peak single non-express fare to London even though if you go to London zone 1 you’ll be charged the off-peak fare.
  • If you do use the gates to p13/14 and travel on a Southern train you will be charged the correct fare to any station other than Gatwick, but there is no OSI so any tube or Southeastern journey will not get linked and you may be overcharged.

Oyster and Gatwick – The truth

Ever since Oyster was expanded to cover the whole National Rail network within the zones there has been a desire by the government for it to be accepted for journeys on the express services to Heathrow and Gatwick airports. There are a number of issues which have prevented progress, but when Govia Thameslink Railway were awarded the management contract to run Great Northern, Thameslink, Southern and Gatwick Express, enabling Oyster (and contactless as well by now) on the Express was one of the key target deliverables. Initially the idea was to allow Oyster on Gatwick Express services only, Read the rest of this entry »

Updated Wimbledon Diagram

I have updated both the Wimbledon page and the diagram showing the positions of the readers around the station. Platform 10 is now split into 10a and 10b and references to FCC have finally been changed to Thameslink.

What’s wrong with this poster?

I made a return trip to Gatwick yesterday to see my son off on a plane. Obviously I didn’t want to line GTR’s pockets (or the DfT) more than I had to so I touched out and back in at East Croydon each way while changing trains.  On the way back I noticed a poster advertising Oyster/contactless at Gatwick.

Read the rest of this entry »

Gatwick Capping Changes

As if the inconsistencies with pricing along the line between Merstham and Gatwick Airport weren’t already bad enough, it looks like TfL have completely ripped up the rule book with regard to contactless capping once you venture south from zone 6 at Coulsdon South. This means that since May 16th some part-time commuters have seen their daily fares rise by 27%, without any warning at all. Read the rest of this entry »

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