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.

Epsom – Off-peak travelcard loophole

Now that the National Rail booking systems have the 2015 fares loaded it appears that there is a good way to undercut the price of a paper zone 1-6 travelcard. As we know, off-peak in boundary travelcards are being withdrawn from Jan 2nd, but out boundary ones will still exist. Epsom has long been one of the cheapest places to get one as Southern offer a discounted version which can only be used on their trains between Epsom and Ewell East. Once you are inside the zones it becomes a normal travelcard. There is no compulsion to use the ticket at Epsom.

So, the £10.50 Southern only travelcard from Epsom will save £1.50 over a zone 1-6 travelcard and £1.20 over the zone 1-6 off-peak cap on Oyster. Ticket offices should sell the ticket if asked, but it can always be bought online and picked up from your local TVM.

Remember that this is only effective once the fares actually change in
January.

Boris clobbers off-peak travel

TfL has announced their fares for 2015 and there is a big surprise.  Adult anytime and off-peak caps are being combined into a new all-day cap.  This is good news for people travelling in zones 1-3 and anyone travelling a lot and starting before 0930.  But if you live in zones 4-6 and travel off-peak you are going to be clobbered for making a lot of journeys. Read the rest of this entry »

Gipsy Hill – Another Success

Edwin, a visitor to this site, found out the hard way that there is no avoiding zone 1 fare from Gipsy Hill to Notting Hill Gate.  Research on the single fare finder showed that such a fare exists from both West Norwood and Crystal Palace, the stations either side of Gipsy Hill.  Frustratingly, the train from Crystal Palace has to call at Gipsy Hill on the way, so it did seem like an oversight.

After quite a wait I’ve just received an email response from the fares team confirming that the avoiding zone 1 fare will be added from the next fares change in January.  Thank you TfL.

Contactless is here

From today, anyone can use a contactless payment card instead of a normal adult Oyster. It charges the same as Oyster and introduces Monday to Sunday capping as well as daily capping. If you choose to register the card on the TfL website you will get access to journey history for a whole year and the ability to request adjustments online. It should be noted that adjustments are less likely to be needed though, because the system processes all touches at the end of the day and can make educated decisions to correct many inconsistencies.

Southwark and Blackfriars

On Saturday afternoon I went walking around the City in search of book benches with my son.  When we had finished we made our way to the north bank entrance to Blackfriars and only then did we realise that FCC trains weren’t serving London Bridge this weekend.  The advertised diversion via Elephant and Castle seemed a bit of a detour so we decided to walk a bit more by crossing the river through Blackfriars, along to Southwark and through there to Waterloo East.  This gave me a chance to check out a report that walking through Southwark is always free.

Read the rest of this entry »

Problems with Forum

Unfortunately the site forum has developed a problem (the database is corrupted and inconsistent) and it looks like it will need to be re-started from scratch.  If you have posted questions recently then I’m sorry but they won’t be able to be shown or answered.

The integration of the forum into the main site also did not really work as planned, or might have done if I could have spent more hours than I have, so with the current issue I have decided to start again with different forum software.  I’ll have more news once it is set up, hopefully in a week or so.

National Rail will take contactless

TfL have now confirmed that agreements are in place for contactless payments to be accepted on National Rail services wherever Oyster is available.

Contactless – Good news and bad

Today has seen good news on the use of contactless payment cards on buses, but confirmation of extremely bad news for the use on trains. Read the rest of this entry »

Interchanges and Maps

A recent project for this site has involved walking between each pair of stations in OSIs and generating Google maps so people can see what is involved.  The full list of OSIs can now be found on it’s own page while the general explanation has been re-written from scratch and renamed Interchanging Trains.  In the list each entry with a map shows the distance in miles between the stations and that is a link to the map page.  The map page lists just the entries applicable to that map (usually two) along with a Google map.  The recommended route is shown with blue dots while Google tries to be helpful by adding one or more alternatives as grey lines.  There are no maps where the two stations are linked by one concourse or are so close together as to make a map pointless.

For the statisticians out there, most OSIs are half a mile or less so should be walkable in under 10 minutes.  The longest one is between Paddington and Marylebone NR stations at 0.8miles.  Others over half a mile include the Bromley stations, Emabankment to Waterloo East, Euston to Kings Cross or St Pancras, and Ickenham to West Ruislip.  Although not mapped, the shortest one is undoubtedly Southwark to Waterloo East which is about 20 yards.

Boris moves a zone boundary

I’m seeing conflicting reports that Boris is planning to move Stratford into zone 2 in January 2016 as part of the Olympic Legacy.  The BBC are suggesting that it will move from zone 3 to zone 2, while ITV think the more logical idea would be to run the zone 2/3 boundary through Stratford High Street, Stratford Regional and Stratford International.  Personally I’d say the boundary shift along the DLR seems more likely as that would not involve putting up any fares.  It’s likely to cost TfL £7million a year.

Is it too much to hope that by January 2016 the High Speed line will accept travelcards and Oyster?

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