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.

Dartford finally appears on the SFF.

It’s only taken 23 days, but finally you can look up Oyster fares from Dartford on the single fare finder. The zonal map will sadly not be changed until later in the year.

Geographical Rail Map

A new geographical map of London’s railways has been released by TfL in response to a freedom of information request.  The request strangely appears to be from last September, hence the map is a little out of date in terms of who runs what.  It does include future plans, some of which are yet to materialise, so it’s still useful.  The map is a large PDF file Read the rest of this entry »

Dartford in zone 8 from Sunday

TfL have now confirmed that Dartford will be in zone 8 from Sunday 6th September.  The previously predicted fares have been confirmed apart from the through fare to Underground in zone 1 (the zone 2 fare was wrong but has been corrected).

The PAYG fares offer considerable savings over paper tickets for a single fare and are also a little cheaper when making a return journey.  The daily cap will be the same as for other zone 8 stations, £20.00 anytime and £11.80 off-peak, which are both cheaper than the current one day travelcards from Dartford.  They also allow travel to other zone 7-9 stations within the same cap.

The weekly/monthly zone 1-8 travelcards are slightly more expensive than the current Dartford to zone 1-6 seasons.  They do offer validity in zones 7 and 8, but unless that is a regular requirement they should probably be avoided for now.

There are other major benefits to users of the three lines to Dartford.  Because Oyster will now be accepted at Dartford it will be possible to interchange there between the three lines without paying extra.  This has always been possible with paper tickets so now it’s consistant over all ticketing methods.  If you have a travelcard including zone 6 (valid to Barnehurst, Crayford and Slade Green) on your Oyster card then you can also interchange at Dartford, but, it would be advisable to have some PAYG credit in case your card is checked outside of zone 6.  You must also ensure that you touch in at the start of your journey so the card is validated.

Oyster at Dartford

The Southeastern website confirms that Oyster will be accepted at Dartford from Sunday September 6th.  It doesn’t list any fares, and customer services can’t confirm them either, but a little digging through the new fares database reveals that these are likely to be the adult fares: Read the rest of this entry »

Oyster at Stratford International

Oyster and Contactless PAYG are now accepted for travel on Southeastern High Speed services between St Pancras and Stratford International stations.  The fare charged is a special fare, like those for the Emirates cable car and the Thames Clipper riverboats and it does not count towards any daily caps.  It will also split any longer journey (eg Romford to Baker Street) into three bits which will cost significantly more than the single journey avoiding High Speed 1.

However, for people travelling to Stratford (for the forthcoming Rugby world cup especially) it will offer speed and convenience.  The adult single fares are £5.40 peak and £3.80 off-peak and all the usual discounted fares for railcards and kids exist as well.  Travelcards* and Freedom Passes are not accepted on HS1 (*unless marked plus high speed).


This post somehow didn’t get published at the time but is dated correctly.

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.

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