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How much is a single fare? Try our Oyster Fare Finder

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.

Improved Online Topup

Ordering top up online and collecting when making a journey has just been given a massive makeover. It also includes ordering travelcards. The key changes are as follows:

  • No need to specify a station to pick it up from. It’s available from any station or tramstop which accepts Oyster for travel. You still need to pick it up as part of a journey. Buses and ticket machines cannot be used.
  • You only need to wait 30 minutes before the order can be picked up.
  • It must be picked up within 3 days or the order will be cancelled and refunded automatically. This includes travelcard season tickets even if the start date is more than 3 days in advance.
  • Only newer Oyster cards can take advantage of this facility. When you log into Oyster online you will be told whether your Oyster is a first generation card or not. As far as I can tell these were issued up to sometime in 2010 or 2011. If your card is a first generation card then you’ll need to arrange a replacement with the helpdesk. The cards will still work at the moment, but you won’t be able to add products online any more.

I’ve got some serious rewriting of some pages on this site to attend to once I have full details confirmed.

Pink Readers – Interchange only

I’ve just been informed that TfL has tightened up the use of pink readers from an unspecified date in March such that they will no longer start a journey if the Oyster card is not touched in at the time. Sadly it appears as though the fact that this was an unpublished feature means that they don’t see a need to communicate it to everyone.

Minor Fare Reduction

It’s not often that there is good news on the fares front, but TfL have corrected what I suspect was an error in the off-peak single fare between zones 5-7. It was £1.90 and is now £1.80, the same as zones 5-8 and 5-9.

This affects singles between Harrow & Wealdstone or Headstone Lane and Carpenders Park, as well as stations between Harrow-on-the-Hill and Uxbridge or Pinner to Rickmansworth, Chorleywood, Croxley and Watford (Met).

New OSI – Euston Sq – Warren Street

After many people have suggested it, TfL have finally added a new OSI between Euston Square and Warren Street. You are allowed 20 minutes between touches in each direction. The entry is live on my list and a map will be added shortly.

They’ve also recently added an OSI between the gatelines at West Harrow. This station suffers a lot from people taking the wrong train and wanting to turn back round, in both directions.

New Improved Oyster Fare Finder

I am delighted to announce the arrival of a new version of our Oyster Fare Finder.  There have been some cosmetic tweaks to make the adult fares stand out more, plus a major new addition.

Alongside each route description is a statement describing the zonal coverage of that route.  This may help when deciding what route is used by the default fare.  It also clarifies which route is assumed when there are two completely different routes using different zone combinations.  It can also help decide whether a travelcard will cover a journey, or which cap may be applied as a result of making the journey.

Read the rest of this entry »

New Expanded Fares Guide

I’m delighted to announce that the fares guide section of this website has been enhanced significantly. There are now pages summarising all types of fares (adult, child, etc) within zones 1-9. This is the first of a number of improvements which will be happening over the coming months.

Missing route in SW London

A site visitor queried why they had been charged the zone 1-3 cap instead of the expected zone 1-2 cap recently, and it has thrown up a missing route option between a number of stations in SW London.  The system thinks you’ve gone via zone 3 even when you haven’t.  The problem Read the rest of this entry »

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 »

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