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.

Missing Contactless touches

Time for another update on my personal adventures.  On Monday evening I decided to visit some of the new Overground lines and stations in North East London.  I also took along my son with his zip card for company.  Everything worked fine on the night, but examining my history the next day has highlighted a couple of missing touches, Read the rest of this entry »

New Hackney Interchange

Thanks in part to Noel and PC for spotting this. I visited the stations at Hackney Central and Downs last night and spoke with staff. The new link is due to open in the summer and will provide a direct walkway from Platform 1 at Hackney Downs to Platform 2 at Hackney Central. There will be a pink validator along the walkway so that people avoiding zone 1 can indicate this. It would not surprise me if the OSI was removed once the walkway opens as it will be a considerably quicker route even if you have to change platforms within both stations. I do wonder whether the platforms at Central might need to be renumbered 5 and 6 to avoid confusion.

New fares for Greater Anglia services

Details have been announced about the new Oyster fares from Liverpool Street starting on May 31st. TfL zonal fares will apply to all services between Liverpool Street and Cheshunt, Chingford or Harold Wood except where the TfL rate is higher than the old NR rate. Some fares, particularly off-peak outside zone 1, will be higher than current TfL fares. Brentwood will move to zone 9 for travelcard purposes and most of the fares will fall from todays level, but not to the same level as the fares to Amersham and Chesham. There will no longer be a premium for continuing your journey on the Underground or DLR. Some fares will drop by as much as 40%.

Most fares to Shenfield will remain set by GA although there will be reductions between zone 2-6 and Shenfield.

Even though GA will continue providing the services between London and Cheshunt via Tottenham Hale there is an agreement that will see TfL fares charged in line with the Overground route via Seven Sisters.

Brentwood moves to zone 9

Information is slowly trickling through about the transfer of various Greater Anglia services to TfL. It seems that Brentwood is due to move from its own zone to zone 9 from next month. It’ll be quite a jump from zone 6 at Harold Wood though.

Odd period seasons available online

Quite by chance I noticed that odd period travelcard season tickets can now be ordered online for collection by an Oyster card.  Previously you could only order weekly, monthly, quarterly, half-yearly and annual travelcards.  Now you can specify any period between one month and one year.  This is especially useful when making monthly tickets last for five weeks so you don’t pay for every weekend.

Off-Peak Cap Refunds Due Today

I have found out more about the automatic refunds for people regularly travelling after 0930 (or any time at weekends) from zones 4-6.  The good news is that the first refunds should be available today.  Here is my understanding of how the system works. Read the rest of this entry »

Contactless charging less than Oyster

I’ve recently had several queries where people were charged less than they expected using a CPC, or even less than they were charged making the same journeys with Oyster at a different time.  The reason is the different way that capping is calculated when using CPCs.  There’s a new page which tries to explain the detail.  It’s quite complex in places, so I welcome questions and comments.

Oyster at LM ticket offices

It’s been brought to my attention that London Midland are to cease allowing Oyster transactions at their ticket offices at both Euston and Watford Junction from April this year.  This is yet another kick in the teeth by TOCs following similar actions by Southeastern and South West Trains in recent years.

U-turn on Off-Peak Caps

There has been considerable unrest over the abolition of the cheaper adult off-peak cap, particularly in zones 4-6 where the increases are quite significant.  Of course this was part of the package which made commuting 2-3 times a week at peak times a lot cheaper, but it disadvantaged a number of people who work part-time or shifts and travel at off-peak times.

So, from April the off-peak caps of £8.00 (zone 4) and £8.80 (zones 5-6) will be re-introduced for people travelling 2 or more times a week, or 8 or more times in 4 weeks.  Refunds will be back-dated to January and then processed every month.  Read the rest of this entry »

Bus cap discounted by railcards

An eagle eyed site visitor (thanks Thomas) has noticed that the bus/tram cap can be discounted by adding a railcard to your Oyster.  The reason is that the discounted zone 1-2 off-peak cap (£4.25) is now less than the bus cap (£4.40).  Unless you have a disabled railcard, this only applies if all the bus and tram journeys are after 0930 M-F.  Obviously if you use rail outside zone 1-2 then the cap will increase to the relevant level.

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