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Oyster at Gatwick

Today marks the start of the latest Oyster extension to Gatwick Airport. While there are people who will benefit, this is the most complicated extension yet, and great care will need to be taken to ensure that you aren’t overcharged.  I’ve been shown an internal briefing for Southern and Thameslink staff and some of the details of the implimentation are going to cause lots of problems. This will be quite a lengthy post as I attempt to cover as many issues as I can. Anywhere that Oyster is mentioned also applies to contactless payments for full price adults unless stated otherwise.

Gatwick Express

Oyster will be accepted for travel on the Gatwick Express services between the Airport and London Victoria.  The adult single fare is £19.80 offering a massive 10p reduction over the walkup single fare.  If you wish to return then you should use paper tickets as the return fare offers a discount over two singles.  The Oyster Gatwick Express fare is a special fare for which capping does not apply.  Any other journeys to or from Victoria will be charged separately.  The Gatwick Express fare will be applied whenever touch in or out at Victoria is at the gates to platforms 13 and 14.

Entry Charges and Thresholds

This section only applies to Oyster.  When you touch in at the start of a PAYG journey the Oyster system checks that you have enough credit to make the cheapest single fare journey at that time.  This is known as the entry threshold and is usually either a one or two zone single fare.  It then deducts an entry charge which is usually the cost of a zone 1-6 NR+TfL journey.  It doesn’t matter if that charge takes the balance below zero because when you touch out at the end of the journey the deduction is corrected to be the appropriate fare.

At Horley, Salfords, Earlswood, Redhill and Merstham the same things will happen, although the entry charge will be higher than normal.  At Gatwick Airport the entry threshold will be the same as the entry charge, £14.00 in the peak and £8.00 off-peak.  This is a significant change to the normal Oyster operation and will undoubtedly result in people not making the whole Gatwick to London journey being surprised that their card needs more credit than they intend to use.

At Victoria the situation is even worse at the gates to platforms 13 and 14.  Here, both the entry charge and threshold are the whole £19.80 single fare on the Express.  Most of the time this will not matter because the charge will be that same single fare, but the issue occurs if a normal non Express service is booked to use those platforms. A journey to East Croydon may require up to 6 times the credit than will actually be charged.  Now it is true that where non-Express trains use the Express platforms then staff should direct passengers through an alternative gate, but I can see people touching in using the wrong gates a lot of the time, especially if departure is imminent.

Other wrong platform issues

Notwithstanding the entry threshold and entry charge issues described above, there are other issues if the wrong platforms are used at Victoria.  If passengers are travelling to stations up to and including Horley, the right fare will be charged on exit regardless of which gates have been used for entry at Victoria.  The same also applies in the reverse direction.  But if the journey is on a non-Express service between Victoria and Gatwick then using the wrong gates will result in the wrong fare being charged.  It does work both ways, so if an Express uses a platform other than 13 or 14 the lower fare will be charged.

Daily (and weekly) capping

Firstly, remember that journeys on Gatwick Express do not count towards any daily cap.  Secondly, almost all the daily caps are more expensive than the equivalent paper travelcard.  This is especially true off-peak.  If you are going to use the Underground in London as well as a return journey from beyond zone 6 at Coulsdon South then it will almost certainly be better value to buy a paper travelcard.

The weekly Monday to Sunday cap on contactless payment cards is quite simply a rip off.  You will pay more than you need to.

Child fares

The extension between Coulsdon South and Gatwick Airport is one of only two rail routes where holders on 5-10 zip cards need to pay.  The other is the high speed line between St Pancras and Stratford International.  Furthermore, the staff brief suggests that paper tickets remain the best value for child travellers on the extended route.  This is quite frankly shocking and applies to both 5-10 and 11-15 zip cards.

The only benefit for children are holders of the 16+ zip card who get half adult fares.

Cheaper to Split

Astonishingly it turns out to be cheaper to split most journeys at East Croydon if travelling further north.  This involves walking up the ramp to the gateline to touch out and then touch back in again, but as many journeys to stations other than the main London terminals require a change at East Croydon anyway this may not be as silly as it first appears.  Some examples:

Gatwick Airport to London Terminals: £14.00 peak, £8.00 off-peak.
Gatwick Airport to East Croydon: £5.20 peak, £3.00 off-peak.
East Croydon to London Terminals: £5.00 peak, £3.20 off-peak.
Split totals: £10.20 peak (save £3.80), £6.20 off-peak (save £1.80).

Gatwick Airport to Norwood Junction: £8.20 peak, £5.80 off-peak.
Gatwick Airport to East Croydon: £5.20 peak, £3.00 off-peak.
East Croydon to Norwood Junction: £2.40 peak, £2.00 off-peak.
Split totals: £7.60 peak (save 60p), £5.00 off-peak (save 80p).

Gatwick Airport to Forest Hill: £9.20 peak, £5.80 off-peak.
Gatwick Airport to East Croydon: £5.20 peak, £3.00 off-peak.
East Croydon to Forest Hill: £2.80 peak, £2.20 off-peak.
Split totals: £8.00 peak (save £1.20), £5.20 off-peak (save 60p).

Avoiding zone 1

If you’re travelling in the peak time then it should be cheaper to avoid zone 1 (example using New Cross Gate or Surrey Quays and New Cross).  But, travel off-peak and amazingly the fares become more expensive!  This doesn’t apply if you split the journey at East Croydon of course.  What a mess!

Auto top-up

Credit must go to a site visitor (TheLastWord) for this one.  Auto top up works by adding £20 or £40 to your pay as you go balance whenever that balance is below £10 at touch in.  So what will happen if you have a balance of say £11 and try to touch in at Gatwick Airport in the peak or Victoria platforms 13/14 at any time?  £11 will not satisfy the entry threshold, but neither will it trigger auto top up.  The Oyster helpdesk didn’t know the answer on Saturday and my question has been referred to a different team to look at this week.

Summary

This extension is, in my opinion, going to damage the reputation of Oyster/CPC as being the prefered payment method in London.  The stated aim is to allow TfL and Gatwick Airport to provide a more convenient way for airport passengers to pay for their journeys.  Value for money appears to have gone out of the window.

126 Responses

  1. Even cheaper peak single tickets from East Croydon – £4.50 anytime, if you travel by the normal train service (15 minutes) rather than Gatwick Express.

  2. Hi Nick,

    Well indeed. It really makes me wonder why they bothered with Oyster on that line. It’s giving completely the wrong message.

  3. Any idea what happens when a zone 1&2 Travelcard on Oyster is used through the gates for Platform 13 &14 at Victoria? What fare would be charged to Gatwick? And if travelling on to Brighton, what happens?
    Many thanks.

  4. Hi Eddie,

    If you have a boundary zone 2 to Brighton ticket then it’s a valid combination. The gates may not let you in, but the staff should manually. If you use Oyster PAYG to Gatwick then the full Express fare will be charged when you touch out.

  5. Hi Mike,
    Do you know how the daily cap is calculated?
    For example, if I travel from Gatwick to London (normal train, not Gatwick Express) off-peak using an Oyster card (£8), then I make 10 journeys in zone 1 (£2.40 x 10), what is the daily cap?
    Does it cost £19 (zone 1-9 daily cap) or something else?
    Thanks

  6. Hi Alex,

    The daily caps from Gatwick are £30.50 Anytime and £19.00 after 0930. These are NOT the zone 1-9 caps. Paper off-peak day travelcards are available for £17.00 (Thameslink or Southern, Not GatEx), £16.30 (Southern only) or £14.30 (Thameslink only). The cheaper two are only limited between Gatwick and East Croydon. After that you can use any train off-peak.

  7. Hi Mike,
    Thank you very much for clarifying.

  8. I’m puzzled by the caps – does the peak cap count if you travel out after 9:30 but back between 16:00 & 19:00 or does the off-peak cap apply.

  9. Hi Steve,

    This is the reason why I refer to the caps as anytime and off-peak. All travel after 0930 counts towards the off-peak cap, even during the peak fare period between 1600-1900. See my Peak, Off-peak and Caps page for more details.

  10. Nut sure whether this is the right place to post this question, but your site always provides lots of useful information. I regularly travel from East Croydon to Gatwick on weekdays around 7am and back early pm. I currently buy paper tickets, and my senior railcard saves me by buying day singles each way (anytime outward and off-peak back), Thameslink only, total £7.45. But if I buy online from the websites of Virgin Trains East Coast or GWR, both show that the railcard discount is available on all Thameslink only tickets, even early morning. Am I allowed to use the tickets they are offering, or is there a hidden term which allows them to sell tickets which cannot be used at the times quoted? Southern’s and Thameslink’s websites, which are the newer format, do not offer those discounts at that time of day.

  11. Hi Robbie,

    That’s an interesting error. If you do use those tickets then you are quite likely to get into a conversation with staff at some point. If you purchase them and select the itinerary you intend to use such that the website spells out the trains that it is selling the tickets for then you should be allowed to travel, but your tickets may be withdrawn for investigation.

    However, you may be in luck with another option, especially if you can touch in with Oyster by 0630. The Oyster fares between East Croydon and Gatwick are £5.20 peak single and £2.00 off-peak single with railcard discount. Unlike paper tickets, the railcard discount is allowed on journeys where the first touch in is before 0630.

  12. Hi Mike,

    Thank you for another interesting and informative post – what a mess this extension has turned out to be! I’ve noticed another related problematic situation that has arisen:

    With the extension of Oyster to Grays, Gatwick and Hertford East, (and probably soon to Crossrail stations to the west of London), the Oyster Pay as you Go area is exceeding the boundaries of the Elderly/Disabled Person’s Freedom Pass area (how the Freedom Pass area will be enlarged in the future with the expansion of London Overground remains to be seen).

    This means that Freedom Pass users travelling off-peak to/from stations outside the Freedom Pass area but within the Oyster Pay as you Go area are often penalised vs. Zones 1-6 period travelcard holders, because unlike period travelcard holders they can’t add Pay as you Go credit to their Freedom Passes (to be deducted as an extension fare without breaking the journey, and with or without railcard discount).

    Instead Freedom Pass users have to buy ‘Boundary Zone’ tickets, which are cash fares, so usually more expensive than the Oyster Pay as you Go extension fare equivalent. (Alternatively they could break the journey at the boundary and use a Pay as You go Oyster card for the ‘beyond boundary’ section, but which elderly or disabled person would want to do that when lugging suitcases to Gatwick?)

    In the days when travel beyond the Freedom Pass area meant all travellers would have to pay cash for the ‘beyond’ section, the issue didn’t arise, but now that this is no longer the case there are some big discrepancies. For example for holiday travellers there is more than £4 difference on Southern trains between 2x Oyster extension fare between Boundary Zone 6 and Gatwick vs. 2x cash single fare between Boundary Zone 6 and Gatwick (the latter is also weirdly more expensive coming into London than going out).

    Do you think it would be worth writing to TfL about this, as I imagine it could be argued that it flouts disability and age discrimination legislation, and might become even more pertinent with the advent of Crossrail?

    A sensible solution would appear to be to allow Freedom Pass users to add credit to their cards (they are based on Oyster cards after all), to be automatically deducted as extension fares for such journeys, or otherwise to extend the Freedom Pass area to match the Oyster Pay as you Go area (would require TOC cooperation).

  13. Hi Joshua,

    The big problem with adding PAYG to Freedom passes is that some routes only allow off-peak travel while others allow it at any time. If that could be standardised then it could become a zone 1-6 travelcard, but the whole point of the freedom pass historically was to encourage elderly people off the morning peak trains in favour of the quieter post 0930 trains. I actually think TfL were a bit silly to allow them to be used at any time on the tube/dlr and overground, but that’s where we are at.

  14. I note that the off-peak cap from Redhill is £19 (as it is from some other places that have been added to Oyster outside the zones). If I were to travel from Redhill to East Croydon by train and then make 11 bus journeys without any more trains will I be charged £19 or £3 for the train journey and £4.50 for the one day bus and train cap.

  15. Hi Jonathan,

    Your bus and tram use will always be capped at £4.50 maximum.

  16. Hi Mike,

    Many thanks for your reply on 19th January. The ticketing error on Thameslink paper tickets unfortunately has now been corrected.

    However I was interested in your Oyster option, so I visited one of the two Oyster ticket windows at East Croydon station this afternoon to have my Senior Railcard linked to my Oyster card, and I enquired whether the £2 off-peak single with railcard discount would be available provided I touched in at East Croydon before 0630.

    The response was no, the 0630 time applies to journeys wholly within the London area only, and as the Gatwick Oyster zone extension is beyond this, any travel before 0930 from East Croydon would be charged at peak rates. I was told “fares to Gatwick are a mess” (her exact words!).

  17. Hi Robbie,

    She’s not wrong about the Gatwick extension fares being “a mess”. However, she is wrong about fares before 0630. The TfL single fare finder and the helpdesk confirm that peak only applies between 0630-0930 and 1600-1900.

  18. Many thanks for your quick reply Mike,

    I’ll give it a try sometime soon.

  19. Hi Mike I’m interested in the extension to Gatwick airport as I sometimes travel from Richmond to Gatwick via Clapham Junction. The single paper ticket is about £13 I think, although sometimes I use Oyster to East Croydon and buy a single there which is cheaper. I’m a bit confused about the single fare finder results on the above route. It gives off-peak fares as £8.60 for the default route and two alternatives; £10.20 taking the underground to Victoria and then National Rail to Gatwick or £8 using National Rail services only via Waterloo / Waterloo East.
    First question: What sensible route could I use for the third option?
    Second question Which is the £8.60 default route?
    Third question Can I go via Clapham Junction and use Southern services or does it have to be the Gatwick Express?

    Thanks for your help.

  20. Hi Andy,

    Welcome to the mess that is Oyster fares to Gatwick.

    1) At the moment, not a lot. You’d need to use the Jubilee line between Waterloo and London Bridge while the rebuilding work at the National Rail station means that Charing Cross trains aren’t calling there. You wouldn’t be charged more but it’s a major faff. Sadly it is the cheapest way to make the journey with Oyster in one go.*
    2) Richmond – Clapham Junction – Gatwick Airport.
    3) Yes. You can’t use Gatwick Express as part of a longer journey, it has to be Southern trains.

    * It’s actually much cheaper to split. Richmond to East Croydon is £2.50 off-peak via Clapham Junction then East Croydon to Gatwick Airport is £3.00 off-peak, total £5.50.

  21. Hi Mike

    Thank for your prompt reply.
    I shall carry on as before, and perhaps rethink when London Bridge is finished.

  22. I am travelling on Monday to Gatwick I have a Annual Zone 1/2 season ticket on Oyster
    Do I just touch in at Victoria as normal and the system will calculate the journey from Zone 3 to Gatwick and take the balance off my PAYG top up or will I be charged the full fare from Victoria

  23. Hi Richard,

    If you touch in at platforms 13-14 and use the Gatwick Express then your travelcard will be ignored. If you use any other platforms and normal Southern services then you should be charged the zone 3 to Gatwick fare. I’d be interested to hear exactly what you are charged if you do go that way as there is some confusion over what the extension fares are.

  24. Hi Mike,

    According to Tfl the single peak fare from East Dulwich (Zone 2) to Gatwick is: £9.70. Yet the same fare from London Bridge is £16.20.

    However if I traveled via London Bridge and didn’t cross the barrier would this be valid?

    To make matters more confusing I have a Zone 1-2 annual travelcard., if it makes any difference.

  25. Hi Daniel,

    The general ruling with Oyster is that you cannot be off-route when using PAYG as long as you have touched in at the start of your journey and touch out at the end. You do have to be aware of maximum journey times so you can’t ride around all day, but what you suggest is fine.

    Your travelcard should make a difference unless you use the Gatwick Express. If you do make the journey, please let me know what you are charged as there is some confusion as to what the extension fares actually are.

  26. I want to travel from East Croydon to Gatwick at around 8.15am on a Saturday. Is it better for me to use Oyster or buy a paper ticket?

  27. Hi Nick,

    Is it a single journey or a return? A single is almost certainly better on Oyster whilst a return is better on paper.

  28. Thanks for all your advice. I tried Oyster from Gatwick the other day. I was told about the £3 Oyster fare from Gatwick to East Croydon (although it isn’t yet on brfares.com as an option). However, there was no written information at Gatwick station I could see. Neverthless, I gave it a go. What I guess I hadn’t heard was that this is the offpeak fare: I touched in at about 1615 and so the fare was actually £5.20! You mentioned at the start of this that you had seen the advice that the TOC are giving staff on Oyster acceptance, is it possible to share this more widely?

  29. Hi Ronald,

    Yes, 1615 is peak. The staff guide was very vague on when Oyster would be cheaper or more expensive than paper tickets. In some cases it actually wasn’t right. I’m trying to put together a comprehensive guide which will then be published here.

  30. I had a pleasant surprise using my zone 1-2 annual Travelcard (with Gold Card discount set up) on Friday: my off peak journey from Elephant & Castle to Gatwick only cost me £3.85 and I’m struggling to work out exactly how this was calculated. Any ideas?

  31. Hi Tom,

    That’s actually what I’d expect. You’ve paid the discounted off-peak single from a zone 3 station (eg Gypsy Hill) to Gatwick. It’s good to know that extension fares seem to work properly.

  32. Thanks Mike, realised I was deducting the wrong percentage for my Gold Card discount. As you say, good that it’s working correctly and it makes off-peak travel to Gatwick great value for annual Travelcard holders.

  33. Two capped trips now on contactless from Redhill

    On the first, I was capped at £13.40

    Redhill to Waterloo NR (touch in 0609)
    Two bus journeys
    Waterloo NR to East Croydon (touch in 2103)
    Two bus journeys

    On the second, today, I was capped at £15.30

    Redhill to Euston LUL (via London Bridge NR/LUL)
    Euston LUL to Redhill (via Victoria LUL/NR)

    No railcard / other ticket involved and definitely not charged the full £16 for two £8 single journeys today. So, the £19 off-peak cap from Redhill presumably only applies when you make multiple journeys outside zone 6?

  34. Hi Jonathan,

    Thanks for that. I still can’t make head or tail of where the first caps are coming from, but todays has some logic. I think you’ve been overcharged. I’d be interested to see what the helpline might make of a complaint to that effect. Redhill to a zone 3 station (eg Sydenham) off-peak is £3.90, x2 is £7.80, plus £6.50 zone 1-2 cap should total £14.30. You seem to have been charged Redhill to zone 5 (eg East Croydon) £3.00, x2 is £6.00, plus £9.30 zone 1-4 cap. It looks like the complex algorithm has gone wrong.

  35. Mike, re the above Redhill question: Redhill to a Z3 station plus a Z12 cap wouldn’t actually cover it – there would be a ‘gap’ between the Z3 station and the Z2/3 boundary… what you need to compare against is the extension fare Z3 to Redhill, twice, plus the Z12 cap. Unfortunately I don’t think the extension fares are published anywhere…

  36. Hi Larry,

    Thanks! An Oyster fare to a zone 3 station will be the same to any zone 3 station in the same area and actually works all the way to the boundary in the case of an extension fare. And I am working on getting hold of the extension fares for the out-of-zone lines.

  37. In the strange application of Oyster fares from Redhill (and the other stations from Merstham to Gatwick), a single to Balham (zone 3) is £6.70 peak / £3.90 (off-peak), a single to Mitcham Eastfields (zone 3) is £9.40 (peak) / £7.60 (off-peak) so not the same fare to all stations in the same zone in the same area.

    It would be good to receive some more reports of capping.

  38. Hi Jonathan,

    Yes, I didn’t do very well explaining what I meant there. If you travel to stations on the direct routes between East Croydon and Victoria/London Bridge then you are charged lower zonal fares than if you change to leave the direct routes. I have no idea why. I don’t think I could have come up with a more complicated mess of fares if I’d tried.

  39. Mike,
    Is it possible to travel from Coulsdon South to Redill on a 60+ Oyster free, if not, are you aware of any plans to allow this at any point in the future?
    You can currently travel there on a 405 bus free and can also travel to Tattenham Corner which is 4 stations outside zone 6.

  40. Hi Albert,

    No, you cannot use a 60+ Oyster beyond Coulsdon South on the trains. The 405 is a TfL bus so TfL are free to say who can use it for free. The Tattenham Corner, Caterham and Epsom Downs branches accept the passes under an agreement which I believe involves Surrey County Council contributing to the costs. The benefit is increased usage of the branches as they are in zone 6. I am not aware of any plans to allow use of 60+/Freedom passes beyond Coulsdon South in the future.

  41. Another opportunity to travel from Redhill into London yesterday.

    This time I travelled in the morning peak and returned off-peak. Some interesting points about the capping I experienced.

    My Contactless journeys were:

    07:11 Redhill to Farringdon = £10.30
    19:52 Bus = £1.50

    Total by now was £12.80.

    I then touched in at Waterloo at 2012. Initially, the contactless system auto completed my journey – suggesting that I would go to Redhill – The total fare quoted was £17.50, capping the £5.80 journey by 10 pence.

    However, I touched out at East Croydon and took a bus

    20:12 Waterloo to East Croydon = £3.20

    The bus from Croydon was capped at £1.00 – ie a total of £16.00 (which might be explained as £11.80 1-6 all day cap and a further £4.20 for my journey from Redhill to Coulsdon South.

    Now I went back to East Croydon, the bus obviously being free.

    I then took a train to Redhill, and rather than being capped at £1.50 (which I might have expected given the earlier auto complete), I was charged £2.20, that being 10 pence less than the fare from Coulsdon South to Redhill.

    It seems odd that my auto complete cap of £17.50 became £18.20 after I had touched out en route at East Croydon and taken two buses.

  42. Hi Jonathan,

    Thanks for the further update. Redhill capping is like a very mystical dark art. I have asked for an explanation from TfL but the response is still outstanding. I will get to the bottom of it though.

  43. Hi Mike,

    I’m hoping you might be able to explain the cost of my recent journey to Gatwick Airport please.

    I travelled in the morning during peak time from Archway tube to London Bridge tube.

    Having touched out of the tube at London Bridge, I then had to wait 30 minutes before touching in again at London Bridge rail station to take a train to Gatwick Airport, by which time it was well into off-peak time (approx. 1010).

    However when I touched out for a final time at Gatwick Airport, the total cost on my Oyster PAYG card was £16.20.

    When I went on the TFL single fare finder, it says that £16.20 is the peak fare from Archway to Gatwick however I broke my journey and re-touched in at London Bridge rail station after the off-peak hours had started so shouldn’t I have been charged £2.90 for my peak trip from Archway to London Bridge and then £8 for the off peak trip from London Bridge to Gatwick Airport?

    It seems pretty underhand that this is being treated as a single peak time journey, especially considering the two separate parts of the journey were made using two different modes of transport so surely each one should be treated in isolation from the other?

    Is there a set amount of time from tapping out that you can tap back in for the journey still to be treated as one continuous trip?

    I’m aware that you might need to tap out at a tube station such as Euston and then walk to Euston Square to continue your tube journey and that Oyster will still consider this a single journey but in such cases, isn’t the Oyster system meant to work out the cheapest fare for your journey not the most expensive?

    I’d be interested to get your thoughts.

    Many thanks

  44. Hi James,

    Welcome to the world of out-of-station interchanges. Rail journeys can use any combination of modes between NR, LU and DLR. Where the interchange ends at a NR terminal you are generally allowed 40 minutes in case you have to wait before going through the gates to your train. You can see all the interchanges on this page.

    For the future, you can break an interchange by touching onto a bus and getting straight off. It’ll charge you £1.50 but in this case that would still be less. This is a drawback to the way the system works, but it doesn’t usually involve such a large difference. Now the Oyster system has been extended to Gatwick some of the limits are being tested.

  45. Thanks for the quick reply Mike and for the interchange times – I hadn’t seen them before.

    Interesting that you can have up to 40 minutes but sometimes that can be an unfair negative, as in my case.

    I’m really surprised that the Oyster system has such a fundamental flaw and isn’t able to calculate the lowest applicable fare on a journey that could be considered either a single trip or made up of more than one leg. Maybe, as you say, it wasn’t such an issue before the Gatwick extension?

    I’m going to speak to TFL about this and see what they have to say, as I’m certainly not happy about feeling overcharged by nearly £6.

  46. Hi James,

    Let me know what they say. There will always be winners and losers around the peak/off-peak boundaries. Winners include those who can touch in just at the end of off-peak and then travel for an hour or so in the peak at off-peak rates. Losers obviously, including yourself, where touch in is towards the end of the peak. It’s possible the the back-office Oyster system (as used by contactless) may be able to split journeys in the future, but it doesn’t yet. The current Oyster system could only do it by splitting every interchange which would annoy/upset a much larger number of travellers.

  47. Hi Mike,

    TFL were very good and have agreed to refund me the difference. They accepted that there were still flaws in the system that were in the process of being ironed out, particularly with regard to the inclusion of Gatwick Airport on Oyster.

    I explained this was a journey I might be taking a few times over the next couple of months and they said that if I called them, they would refund me the difference each time, so that sounds positive.

    Thanks for your insight into things Mike

  48. That’s a good result, James.

  49. Just for info competed a journey from Gatwick to Dartford Z8 with a zone 1-6 travelcard :

    Extension fareGatwick Airport to Dartford [National Rail] £2.30

    Touch out, Dartford [National Rail] £0.00
    Touch in, London Bridge [National Rail] £0.00
    Touch out, London Bridge [National Rail] +£5.70
    Touch in, Gatwick Airport £8.00

    Which is the same the other way from Crayford Z6 :

    Extension fareCrayford [National Rail] to Gatwick Airport £2.30

    Touch out, Gatwick Airport £2.30
    Touch in, London Bridge [National Rail] £0.00
    Touch out, London Bridge [National Rail] £0.00
    Touch in, Crayford [National Rail] £0.00

    So looks like Z8 extension is covered by the Gatwick journey.

  50. Hi John,

    Thanks for the info. I think that is what I’d expect, though anything is possible with the Gatwick extension.

  51. Is there somewhere at Gatwick to top-up an Oyster? I’m flying in, but haven’t a clue how much is on my Oyster… and can’t get in to my online account as it keeps telling me the postal code I’m entering is incorrect. Gah.

  52. I believe you should be able to use the ticket machines. I’ve not been there since Oyster arrived though, so I don’t know for certain.

  53. You can top-up your Oyster at the ticket machines in Gatwick, minimum top-up is £14 (checked earlier this week)

  54. Good to know, thanks. Seems a bit rough on people who only want to go to East Croydon though.

  55. Hi Mike,

    I went from East Dulwich to Gatwick Airport (& back) last week and was charged £3.85 each way.

    I am guessing my Zone 1-2 travel card, not touching in/out at London Bridge and my Gold Card discount may have something to with this, as I’ve no idea how they came to that figure!

    On the first journey I touched in at 0629 to benefit from off peak fares!

    Daniel

  56. Hi Daniel,

    £3.85 is the off-peak railcard single from a zone 3 station to Gatwick. So yes, your travelcard and discount were taken into consideration, but it shouldn’t have mattered had you touched in/out at London Bridge.

  57. Hi Mike

    I’m trying to figure out how caps are applied when travelling from Redhill using Contactless or Oyster. Cheapest option for an off-peak day out in London with say 3 zone 1-2 tube journeys seems to be a single to Clapham Junction (in zone 2) for £4.30, several zone 1-2 train / tube journeys capped at £6.50, single from Clapham junction back to Redhill for £4.30. Total = £15.10, which is actually a tiny bit cheaper than an off peak travelcard for £16.00!

    Question is, if I use contactless on a train from Redhill to Victoria do I need to get off at Clapham Junction to tap out and straight back in again to break the journey to recognise the £4.30 fare, rather than the £5.80 fare to Victoria? Or is contactless smart enough to work out the cheapest combination? I think with Oyster you definitely would have to tap out and in at Clapham junction, but I’m hoping with contactless this may not be necessary?

    Many thanks

    Richard

  58. Hi Richard,

    It’s a little more complicated, but you’re on the right lines. Oyster would definitely charge more. Contactless charges a combination of a cap and extension fares if that is cheaper but, as with just about everything on the Gatwick line, it’s not as straightforward as it should be. Extension fares are charged based on the Horley/Salfords fares even if the journey is to/from Earlswood/Redhill/Merstham. This means that you’ll be charged £15.30 which is a zone 1-4 all day cap of £9.30 plus two £3.00 extension fares. I’ve tried every combination I can think of and I can’t get it to charge less than that – unless you use two cards, one for Redhill to Clapham Junction and back and the other for everything else. Is it worth it for 20p?

  59. Hi Mike

    Very helpful, thanks. Indeed not having to tap out and in again at Clapham Junction using different cards is well worth an extra 20p!

    The extension fares you refer to are a bit of a mystery to me as it sounds like they are more expensive than the single fares to Redhill in some cases? Are they published anywhere?

  60. Hi Richard,

    They will be published on here once I finally get my head around everything. There are lots of things about fares between Merstham and Gatwick Airport which are not quite right or logical. It is certainly linked to the lack of space on the existing card-centric Oyster card system. I hope that many of the anomalies will be corrected when Oyster moves to the back-office system that contactless already uses.

  61. Mike,
    My lad and i are covering thw whole of the network shown on the London Connections map. Now Gatwick is on this, We intend getting a Zone 1-6 Travelcard ( our start station is Feltham) to East Croydon Touch in using our Oyster to do Gatwick touch out and in return to East Crodon and touch out with the Oyster, then carry on using the Travelcard.
    Is this the cheapest way to ‘clear’ that part on the map. all this is done on a Saturday. Thanks

  62. Hi Ron,

    If you can restrict yourself to Thameslink branded trains then the Super Off-peak day return East Croydon to Gatwick Airport for Thameslink only is just £4.60 adult or £2.30 child. Otherwise the off-peak day return without operator restriction is £6.00 adult or £3.00 child. The latter is the same price as Oyster but there would be no need to exit and re-enter at Gatwick, nor at East Croydon if you purchase it in advance at Feltham.

  63. Hi, I am planning on travelling from Gatwick airport to Tottenham Hale. The quickest route seems to be Gatwick to Victoria then Victoria Line to Tottenham Hale. Can I now use my Oyster card for this and if so any idea how much it will be? Also is this the best route? Thanks

  64. Hi Di,

    Yes you can use your Oyster card. If you touch in at Gatwick Airport between 0630-0930 or 1600-1900 then the fare will be £16.20, otherwise it will be £10.20. Make sure that the train you catch from Gatwick is not non-stop to Victoria. If you use one of those it will cost in excess of £22 at any time of day. Trains which call at East Croydon and Clapham Junction as well only take 2-3 minutes longer.

  65. Well if you have a z1-3 travelcard w gold card discount and travel from z3 station to Merstham (via LBG) you get charged £3.10 even though the Single Fare Finder lists Sydenham to Merstham as £2.50. And worst case from NXG where the train stopped it lists the fare as £2.85…

    I’m waiting to hear back from CS…

  66. What zone 3 station did you start from. Sadly the brain-damaged way these fares have been set up means that anomalies like this can easily occur. I’ll guess that the correct fare would be charged if the journey was broken at London Bridge, by touching onto a bus outside the station for example.

  67. Stratford. I wish I understood what fare it had actually charged… they seem to have removed all the useful fare tables from the website so it’s hard to know what the correct 4-Merstham with railcard fare is…

    My first message to CS got the below response – entirely ignoring the gold card part… perhaps the fact it was a bank holiday adds confusion – they’ve offered refund but I’m still chasing answers:

    “I would like to advise this journey has been charged an extension fare of £3.10 because you’ve used a combination of London Underground and the Rail. The fare applied is correct.

    I understand you’ve checked on single fare finder a journey from Sydenham to Merstham station and a price of £2.50 is showing. I’m not sure how you’ve viewed this information. Checking single fare finder the journey from Sydenham to Merstham station is £6 during peak and £3.80 during off peak.

    I would also like to advise that your National Rail discount will only apply during off peak journeys, giving you a third off.”

  68. OK, so it’s Stratford to London Bridge on the Jubilee line then Southern to Merstham. I share your frustration at the lack of fare tables, although the fares on the Gatwick extension are so complicated I’m not convinced that they would actually help. I’m still struggling to make sense of the information that I’ve been given nearly 5 months after the system went live.

    However, if it was a bank holiday then peak doesn’t come into it, so your gold card discount was certainly available. But, because your journey involved LU as well as NR the zone 4 – Merstham fare is not the same as the NR fare for Norwood Junction to Merstham. I think your £3.10 fare is probably correct, but I’d certainly be pushing for a better explanation of how it is calculated. It’s no good simply pointing to the single fare finder for precise station to station fares because that doesn’t help when a travelcard is involved and the required fare is not listed.

    Finally, if you had touched on a bus outside London Bridge before getting the Southern train then you would have split the journey in two and you would then have been charged £2.50. That is a long standing oddity with the way that fares are calculated for the whole journey before allowing for any travelcard. The bigger issue here is that there is no simple zone 4 – Merstham journey involving LU and NR to compare with.

    Please do let me know if they further clarify how this fare was worked out.

  69. So, today, having got used to being able to go from Redhill to London using my contactless at the price of the all-day zones 1 to 4 cap plus extension fares I thought, great, I’ll go up to London and return to Redhill and then go back in the evening. I was rather surprised to find that a much higher fare applied.

    My journeys were

    Redhill to Farringdon (touch in at 0619 – charged £5.80 as before 6.30)
    Bus from Holborn to Waterloo (touched at 1159 – charged £1.50)
    Waterloo to Redhill (touch in at 1208 – charged £5.80)

    All well and good – a total of £13.10 as expected and below the ‘cap’ of £9.30 plus 2 x £3.00 = £15.30.

    So, later I travelled as follows

    Bus from Redhill (touched at 1920 – charged £1.50)
    Bus from Purley (charged £1.50)

    This was unexpected as I thought I would be capped at 70p ie at a total of £15.30, but no, now up to £16.10.

    Tram from Mitcham Junction (no charge)

    Then, I took the following

    Wimbledon to East Putney / Putney to Syon Lane (charged £2.00)
    Syon Lane to Redhill (charged £6.70)

    Having expected to pay £18.30 for Zone 1 to 4 plus three extensions to Redhill, I was actually charged £24.80 – £5.80 for the peak journey to Farringdon and the £19.00 off-peak cap from Redhill.

    I am a bit confused by this. Is it because:

    a) I touched out at Redhill the first time having not already reached a cap so that meant that the zone 1-4 cap plus extensions doesn’t apply, or

    b) TfL have actually changed the algorithm so that the only caps applicable when you travel from Redhill are the appropriate Redhill caps (which was what I thought the Southern staff briet said initially)

  70. Hi Jonathan,

    I’ve not had time to check this out fully, but the pre-peak journey at 0619 would not count towards the off-peak cap. Also, the extension fare for Syon Lane to Redhill will be more than if the journey which ended at Redhill was entirely on Southern/Thameslink trains. You may have got a different result if you’d touched out and in again at Clapham Junction. I’ll try and do some maths later on.

  71. I have noticed other reports of people being charged more for contactless capping than they were before 16 May so what I think has now happened is that if you touch in at stations Merstham and beyond, the only caps which apply are those appropriate for those stations – eg from Redhill £19 off-peak / £31.50 peak What was happening before where you had the zone 1-4 all day cap plus extensions providing a lower fare has been ‘fixed’.

    As I found out from my travels, the bus and tram cap is still applied separately. I note that it is now cheaper to have two separate cards and touch in / out at East Croydon or Coulsdon South than to make a journey direct to London.

    Somewhat disappointing but I guess GTR complained about the travelcard price being undercut.

  72. Hi Jonathan,

    I’m not aware of any changes. Can you provide a journey history from your card where you think it’s changed. The bus and tram cap will always be applied separately if you make more than 3 such journeys, but it still counts towards whatever rail cap is going to be applied. Remember that journeys started between 0430 and 0630 will charge off-peak fares but not count towards the off-peak cap.

  73. As I don’t travel regularly, the closest comparison I can make is to the journeys I made on 3 March.

    Redhill to City Thameslink – touch at 0655 – £10.30
    Waterloo to Redhill – touch at 1253 – £5.80
    Bus – touch at 2120 – £1.40
    Tram – touch at 2157 – £0.00
    Wimbledon LU to South Kensington – touch at 2240 – £0.00
    South Kensington to Redhill – touch at 2310 – £2.90

    Total = £20.40

    I think that if I were to make the same journey today the cost would be £29.80.

    I have also read of people who had got used to travelling from Redhill to Canary Wharf for £19.70 (ie £9.30 + 2 x £5.20) and who are now being charged £25 (ie £12.50 x 12).

    We have just passed the 16 May fare revision date (used by the Railways if not by TfL). Nothing official has changed, just the algorithm used by contactless such that outboundary passengers don’t benefit from the inboundary caps.

    PS – I note that the peak cap from Redhill is £29.80 rather than £31.50 in my previous comment.

  74. So, I think my question is whether Merstham to Gatwick are being treated differently to Watford Junction, Grays, Cheshunt, Shenfield etc which are not in the zones? Do you know whether peak fares from those locations are charged at zone 1-4 plus extension or using their own peak caps?

  75. Hi Jonathan,

    Did you receive an email from me? It should be whatever combination of caps and extension fares works out cheapest. That may or may not involve zones 1-4 all the time.

  76. I’m visiting London from Dublin in early July, travelling via Gatwick. Having just bought Visitors’ Oyster cards for myself and my wife online, I am confused about whether to use them at Gatwick. AFAI can see, if we take the Gatwick Express there is very little point as the discount on a single ticket is a derisory 10p. and there are no savings at all on return tickets (i.e., 2 x £19.80 singles = £39.60 WITH Oyster vs. £31.10 pre-booked WITHOUT!). Am I missing something? And, if not, WHAT the HELL was the point of extending Oyster to the Gatwick route??

  77. Hi Mike,

    The point of extending Oyster to Gatwick was convenience rather than value for money. Sadly that does mean it often isn’t the cheapest method. However, I have to point out that in many ways there isn’t a lot of point to the Gatwick Express. Gatwick to Victoria using most of the other services only takes around 2-4 minutes longer but costs a lot less. The calls at East Croydon and Clapham Junction really don’t add that much to the time. The peak fare for Gatwick to Victoria (not GX) is only £14 and off-peak it’s £8.

  78. Hi Mike, I’m moving house to Salfords, Redhill and will need to get to Wimbledon station everyday from Salfords for work. I know Oyster cards are now accepted on this journey, would this be the cheapest option or would a weekly or monthly work out cheaper? Thank you!

  79. Hi Holly,

    Unfortunately you can’t put season tickets from Salfords on an Oyster card. The cheapest option I can see is a Salfords to Zones 5-6 travelcard season. At East Croydon you get off and use the tram to Wimbledon. You can buy seasons for a week or any period between a month and a year. A monthly is cheaper than 4 weeklies. You can add extra days to a monthly at 1/30th of the price per day so you can make them last 5 working weeks and then have a weekend off before starting the next one. Creative timing to coincide with holidays and/or bank holidays can mean you pay about the same as an annual over the course of a year without having to stump up the cash on day one.

  80. Hi Mike,

    Can you please advice what it would cost to travel on the same day, first from Gatwick to Putney + local bus, and that same day various travel (bus, train and tube) within zone 2 and 3?
    All off peak hours. Planing to use Oyster. Would this be capped at £19? Or is this capped firstly for Gatwick at £19 and secondly for zone 1/2 for £6.50?

    Also, if I need to add a journey from Putney to Gatwick, during peak hours (all on that same day), would it be capped at £30.50? Am just wondering if it will make sense to break this bit at East Croydon.

    Thank you!

  81. Hi Sun,

    As long as you touch in at Gatwick after 0930 the whole day will cap at £19.00. It probably won’t make sense to split at East Croydon if using Oyster. It could make sense to split both Gatwick journeys at East Croydon if using contactless, but only if the evening journey might be after 1900 by the time you touch back in at East Croydon.

  82. Hi Mike,
    It is fairly easy to find out the price of single, ‘paper’ tickets to Gatwick. However, as you already said many times, it is a mess working out the fares using Oyster pay-as-you-go. It gets even messier when there’s a travelcard (zones 1-5) and a Gold Card involved, like in my case. Where can I find the prices of ‘extension fares’ for journeys outside of zone 5 using my Oyster loaded with the above? I hope your answer will enlighten many visitors to your useful website.
    Regards and many thanks.

  83. Hi Remus,

    In general the extension fares will be the price of a single from the next zone to where you are going. In your case this will be a zone 6 station. You do need to take account of your whole journey because that can change the fare. As an example, if your journey is Green Park to Heathrow on the Piccadilly line then you will be charged a zone 6 single at the TfL-LU rate. If you were to start at East Croydon and travel via Victoria and South Kensington then you would be charged a zone 6 single at the NR1-T rate. In both cases you would only be paying for the Underground beyond Hatton Cross, but it matters where you have come from.

    As for Gatwick, it is a mess. I’ve just been provided with new information which will hopefully enable me to work things out, but I haven’t yet decoded enough. If you can ensure that your overall journey is only using National Rail trains on the direct routes from Victoria/London Bridge/Blackfriars through East Croydon then you can use the single fare finder to look up fares from Purley to Gatwick. I hope to be able to provide more comprehensive advice in the future.

  84. Hi all,
    Last week I was searching online for tickets from London Bridge to Gatwick- the price came up as £10.30. On the Oyster website, it said something about by using Oyster, I would get the guaranteed lowest fare. But when I exited at Gatwick, £14.00 was deducted. I only had a bit over £11 on the card, so I guess now I’m overdrawn. I live in America and might not be back for a while, so hopefully this won’t freeze up my Oyster card. Anyway, it’s very confusing.

  85. Hi Jason,

    The lowest fare guarantee really only applies to zones 1-6. It definitely doesn’t apply to the Merstham to Gatwick section where the implimentation of Oyster is for convenience only and absolutely no perception of value for money. If you can point me at the page on the Oyster website where you saw this I’ll ask TfL to consider revising the wording.

    Yes, your card is now overdrawn, but no, it won’t freeze it up. You’ll need to top it up to make the balance positive again before you can use it.

    Finally, I wholeheartedly agree about the Gatwick extension being very confusing. It is certainly blurring the important messages about Oyster and I’m a bit surprised that TfL is allowing the DfT to tarnish their brand in this way.

  86. Hi Mike

    Thank you for a great website! And thanks to your website I’ve discovered I can save £2.50 on my trip next week from Gatwick Airport to Wansdworth Town by touching out then back in at East Croydon, paying £5.50 instead of £8.00.

    I see from your comments above that the Gatwick fares do seem rather a big old mess, so I was wondering if you are able to explain these two single fare (off peak) queries:

    1: Redhill – Wandsworth Town is £8.60, but only £8.00 from Gatwick. Why does it cost more to join en route at Redhill?

    2: Redhill to Clapham Junction is £4.30 but to Wandsworth Town £8.60. Why is the fare double when both stations are in Zone 2 and Wandsworth Town is just one stop further?

    Many thanks

    Paul

  87. Hi Paul,

    1) I have absolutely no idea. Ask GTR.
    2) GTR decided to price journeys on the direct routes from Gatwick to London at a cheaper rate than other National Rail only journeys. As Wandsworth Town involves travel on SWT you lose out.

  88. Mike
    I am coming to London in July with my husband and two children aged 8 & 11 we are arriving at Gatwick and are getting the express into Victoria is it worthwhile buying a family &friends card for £27 so that I get discount of my Gatwick express fee and then use the family and friends card for travelling around London or should I just pay the full Gatwick fee and purchase a different card for travel around London. We are staying in a hotel in zone 2. Just trying to work out the cheapest way to go about it?

  89. Hi Pauline,

    Sorry for the delay responding. The family and friends railcard is not a travel ticket itself, it just gives you discounts on paper tickets. Whilst it would be worthwhile for the journey from Gatwick to Victoria (and back at the end?), it won’t be much use if you only travel in zones 1 and 2 while in London. So I would buy one for the Airport trips and use Oyster while in London. As long as you stick to Underground, DLR and London Overground services the 8 year old does not need a ticket in London. The 11-year-old should have their own Oyster which you can get discounted to half rate fares. See https://tfl.gov.uk/fares-and-payments/travel-for-under-18s/travelling-with-children for further details.

    Now the slightly controversial bit. The Gatwick Express usually takes 30 minutes to run non-stop from Gatwick to Victoria. There are Southern trains which take 31-34 minutes for the same journey but they stop at East Croydon and Clapham Junction on the way. The Express single costs £19.90 while the Southern single costs £15.40 (both undiscounted, but you get the idea). I leave it up to you whether the extra is worth it for less than 5 minutes time saving.

  90. For anyone accustomed to using Oyster to travel on Gatwick Express at the ‘Southern’ fare when it departs from platforms other than 13 and 14 at Victoria, the work to create a separate gate line for platforms 5 and 6 is now underway.

    Once installed, presumably touching in/out at either the Gatwick platform 5/6 gateline or Victoria 13/14 gateline on one end of the journey will have the effect of triggering the higher fare.

    It will be interesting to see what they do when Southern trains use Gatwick platforms 5 or 6 (which they currently do through the day).

  91. Hi Jonathan,

    That is not a welcome development.

  92. I have an annual travelcard (zones 1-9) and no credit on the Oyster. How would this work travelling from Victoria on a non-Gatwick Express service?

    Will it just not work at the Gatwick barriers or will I be left with a negative balance, to be claimed when I renew my season ticket?

    Thanks.

  93. Hi Jon,

    If you manage to get to the gateline at Gatwick then it will deduct a fare from your PAYG balance. As this will then be negative the travelcard will cease to work until you top up again. There is also the possibility that you may be checked by an inspector once you have passed the last stop within the zones at which point you may be liable to a penalty fare or even prosecution. I strongly advise you to add enough credit (single from East Croydon to Gatwick) before you start.

  94. MIke,

    I am arriving at Gatwick on a plane from the US on August 10 at 1.00pm and, having no luggage and a British passport, expect to get reasonably swiftly on a train to Victoria (best) or London Bridge (second best, but doable if its much cheaper). I cannot seem to work out what the price would be if I were to use my (standard, not a visitors) Oyster card. The TFL website farefinder suggests it would be £10.20 to Victoria, but you seem to be quoting £8.00 as an offpeak fare. Can you help?

  95. Hi Dan,

    That’s a nice easy one. £10.20 is the fare including Underground travel. If you select “London Victoria Rail Station” then you get the same fares as London Bridge. Sadly, if you start typing Victoria into the single fare finder then it only offers the NR station once you’ve fully entered the whole word Victoria. This isn’t a problem with my alternative fare finder.

  96. I don’t understand. How can they charge me for travel on the tube when I have not told them I want to take it? What if I just lived at Victoria? As it turns out, I do want to use the tube, because I need to end up at Oxford Circus. Does that mean my whole journey will still total total £10.20? Also, can you break it down for me, Mike? Is that £8.00 for the train and £2.20 for the tube? If the total is £10.20, that would actually not be too bad. And would I be guaranteed this price if I just show up and use my Oyster card on any train (other than Gatwick Express, of course) or do I somehow need to book in advance? It would be nice if so, as I would not then need to worry about my flight arriving late.

  97. Hi Dan,

    They aren’t charging you for a journey you haven’t made. If you used a Thameslink train to Blackfriars and then used the Underground to Victoria then the charge would be £10.20. If you just use a Southern train to Victoria then it’s £8.00. The issue is that there are two stations at Victoria and the fare depends on which one you arrive at. The TfL single fare finder doesn’t help when it hides the National Rail station until you have typed in the whole word Victoria.

    Now, the bits of the journey are £8.00 for Gatwick to Victoria (or London Bridge/Blackfriars) using Southern or Thameslink trains. The zone 1 Underground fare is then £2.40, but if you take less than 20 minutes between touching out at the NR station and touching back in at the Underground station the two journeys are joined together and charged at £10.20. Oyster is a pay-as-you-go service, you can’t book in advance but the fares quoted are what you will be charged, at least for this year. The only difference would be if you touched in at Gatwick between 0630-0930 on a weekday as then the peak fares would be charged.

  98. Thanks Mike,

    I emailed TFL and they told me it would be cheaper to buy a “paper” ticket than to use my Oyster card. I cannot see how this can be true if what you are saying is correct. Unless I have misunderstood you, you are telling me that, provided I travel at off-peak times, the cost of simply “touching in” with my Oyster card at Gatwick, and taking a non-Gatwick Express train to Victoria will only be £8.00 and that if I continue on to Oxford Circus on the tube, that will only cost me an extra £2.20 for a total of £10.20. The cheapest fare currently visible on the trainline.com is £15.40, which does not include the tube, and also requires that I book for a specific train, whereas using the Oyster I can just jump on the first non-Gatwick Express train I see. Have I got this right and should I simply assume that the TFL rep who emailed me was clueless?

    The fact that they just announced a strike for the week I arrive is also not helping.

  99. Mike,

    Would it cost the same £10.20 if I took the train to London Bridge rather than Victoria? As I understand it the train to London Bridge is run not by Southern but by a company called Thameslink, who don’t have a strike going on.

  100. Hi Dan,

    You need to remember that TfL have been badly stung by Southern over Gatwick pricing. In many cases it is cheaper to get a paper ticket. One of the cases where Oyster usually ends up cheaper is single journeys, which looks like your case. Southern and Thameslink are both run by Govia Thameslink Railway, but only the Southern part of the franchise is on strike.

  101. Mike,

    You seem immensely knowledgeable about all of this. Do you think that I would be better off giving the Victoria route a miss and going via London Bridge then? Do you think that the Southern Rail service to Gatwick will be screwed up by the strike to the extent that it would simply be safer to avoid it?

  102. Hi Dan,

    That decision really has to be yours on the day. If you are simply making a single trip into London zone 1 then Oyster or contactless is likely to be the best bet. When you arrive at Gatwick you can see how the trains are running. You will either end up at Victoria, Blackfriars or London Bridge and all three have good links into the rest of zone 1 by Underground. By using Oyster you don’t need to decide in advance and the off-peak single fare to a zone 1 Underground station via whichever terminal you choose* will be £10.20.

    *with the obvious caveat that Gatwick Express will be significantly more expensive, but you know that.

  103. Mike,

    I am not going to pay (substantially) more to use Gatwick Express, and I don’t think I can save by buying a return anyway because they all seem to require that the return journey takes place within a month of the initial travel date, and I am going to be in England for more than a month. All of which leads me to think that I have come to my answer – the Oyster card it is, and I will choose the actual route on the day. Of course for that I will need to find a way to top up my Oystercard at Gatwick. I read somewhere else on your site that for some reason one needs lots of money on the card to travel in from Gatwick – even more than the cost of the fare, which seems odd.

  104. Dan,

    You need the cost of a single to London to travel from Gatwick so you’ll be fine. If your Oyster card is linked to a TfL account then you can request topup online to be picked up when you touch in at Gatwick. Otherwise you can top up at the ticket machines.

  105. Hi Mike,
    Thanks for providing all this information.
    I’m an annual season ticket holder from Horley to Imperial Wharf in zone 2. i know that until Horley/Gatwick/Redhill is apart of a Zone i can’t have an annual Oyster Card which would be cheaper than the paper ticket i have, but there must be a cheaper way using the Oyster rather than shelling our 3 grand a year?

  106. Hi Chris,

    Travelcard prices on Oyster aren’t actually cheaper than their paper equivalents in the main. This is one of the problems with Gatwick as there are several different prices depending on which type of train you use to get to the zone 6 boundary. Have you tried putting your season on “The Key”? Or you could get a zone 2-5 travelcard on Oyster and a paper season for Gatwick to East Croydon.

  107. Hi Mike,
    I am visiting London for four days next month. I am planning to travel from Gatwick to Victoria with Southern Railways off-peak. On the same day i will use the tube for several journeys in zone 1-2. I want to use my contactless card (or Oyster if my contactless wont work). Would it actually be cheapest if I use one contactless card for the journey to Victoria (£8) and a different contactless or Oyster card for the tube travel in zone 1-2 (cap £6,50) Otherwise i think the capping would be much higher if i understand it correctly.
    Thank you very much for your help.

  108. Hi Kate,

    If you are using Oyster then the capping would be higher. With contactless it will work it out correctly. You can use two different cards for peace of mind though as the Gatwick fare won’t count towards the zone 1-2 cap. You should pay £14.50 for the day, but Oyster will charge £19.

  109. Hello!
    I need to get to gatwick tomorrow from london bridge, I will take a regular train not the express one, my friend is helping me with my bags, we will travel at 9am (peak time).
    I am trying to work out the cost for me for a single ticket
    and for him (return ticket to Gatwick and coming back to London bridge)
    is it better if we use Oyster or tickets?
    No info found about return tickets whatsoever. Can you please help me out Mike?

  110. My friend has a contactless card too is it cheaper to use it for a return ticket to Gatwick rather than Oyster (travelling from London Bridge)?

  111. Hi Ana,

    You’ll both be better off with paper tickets to be honest. You need an Anytime Day Single which is either £11.00 for Not Gatwick Exp or £10.30 for Thameslink Only. Your friend can get an Anytime Day Return Not Gatwick Exp for £17.60.

    Hope that helps.

  112. Hi Mike,

    As far as I can understand if I touch in in Wimbledon before 16:00 and finish at Gatwick Airport I will pay 8£ and that is the cheapest I can get on a journey from Wimbledon to Gatwick on a week day?
    This peak / off-peak system is a bit complicated.

  113. Hi Ricardo,

    Yes, touch in before 1600 and the whole journey is off-peak.

  114. If I start my Journey at Bromley-by-Bow on a weekday morning (before 6:30) and change at Victoria, and catch a Southern service (by that time it will be into peak), would the whole journey be counted as one through OSI? Or would I get charged for 2 separate journey?

  115. Hi Horace,

    As long as you are using a normal Southern service and not touching in on platforms 13 or 14 at Victoria then the whole journey will be charged as one and off-peak. If you touch in at platforms 13 or 14 to use the Gatwick Express then it will be two journeys. The Gatwick Express fare is the same all day.

  116. Hi Mike

    I have just started commuting to Gatwick from Clapham Junction and am trying to understand this mine field to find the most cost effective way of getting to work!!

    I work shifts so occasionally arrive at work during peak times but on the whole it is off peak.

    I do have a Gatwick staff discount card which gives me 25% off southern trains, however a single with this is still £8.80 so much more than the £6.50 contactless charges

    Most of my other travel is when I am not at work, within z1-2 but not enough to warrant a travel card on its own. Is there an oyster travel card which would cover all travel in 1 or do I need to get a weekly/monthly travel card from southern and just PAYG with contactless/oyster?

    Thanks!!

  117. Hi Alex,

    It’s a very complicated situation. The nature of Gatwick fares means that it is very often cheaper to split ticket at East Croydon. If using Oyster or contactless then that also involves getting off to touch out and in again. If you use Oyster there are further complications which could end up with you paying the full Gatwick cap if you make enough other travel later on in the day, plus you may well need a lot more than the actual fare for your journey to touch in at Gatwick.

    If most of your commute journeys are off-peak then a season ticket will probably be overkill. You can buy return tickets in either direction which are cheaper than two singles. If you work nights then buy from Gatwick to Clapham Junction and use the outward to get home and the return to get back later that day. You can also use the return portion up to 0430 the next day if that helps. You can then use contactless for other journeys. If you are only going one way to/from work on any day then contactless is probably also the cheapest because PAYG fares are all singles so a return is double the single fare.

    Hope this helps a bit, though I agree that the ticketing options between London and Gatwick are incredibly complex and confusing.

  118. Hi Mike,

    So from Gatwick to London Bridge and from there to Hither Green only using national rail services, morning off peak, is 8 pounds, with Oyster.

    If on the same day I use the Oyster card on my next trips from zone 3 to 1, using also national rail services and underground, what will be the daily cap?

    Thank you!

  119. Hi Jim,

    If you start from Gatwick the Oyster system will continue to charge until you reach the Gatwick off-peak cap of £19. If you use contactless then the £8 fare will still be charged, but any further travel only in zones 1-3 will be capped at £7.60, so your total for the day would be capped at £15.60.

  120. Hi Mike

    I need to get to Hackney Central from East Croydon every Sunday. What I’ve been doing is to Victoria, then the Victoria line to H&I and then the Over ground to Hackney Central.

    I’ve just been getting a regular travel card £12.10 for this.
    Any idea how much this would be on oyster? I heard on the radio today about pay as you travel cards, first I’ve heard of these.

    Is sticking with the £12.10 travel card the best bet (I had to make a detour last time unexpectedly)?
    I could get the over ground from west Croydon to dalston junction (which would be cheaper, but I live so near east Croydon station that I prefer that way).
    Many thanks !!

  121. Thank you Mike!

  122. Hi John,

    Sorry for the delay replying.

    The Oyster fare finder says that East Croydon to Hackney Central is £4.70 off-peak single, so £9.40 return. That will cover any route that involves zone 1*. You can pay just £2.50 each way by avoiding zone 1, change at New Cross Gate, Canada Water and Stratford, touching the pink readers on the Overground platforms at Stratford.

    * You should actually be able to pay £3.20 changing at New Cross Gate and Dalston Juction/Kingsland or Cannonbury as that is a purely National Rail journey, but that isn’t going to be resolved quickly.

  123. Hi Mike,

    I have a monthly travel card 1-3 and I will go to Gatwick to pick up guests. my journey will be:

    BEFORE 7PM
    forest gate (zone3) – London bridge
    london bridge – gatwick

    AFTER 7PM
    gatwick – london bridge
    london bridge – stratford

    Reading all those messages I guess is better if I use the oyster rather than buy an anytime return ticket but is pretty confusing.
    Suggestions?

    Furthermore, 27th December is considered off peak all day?
    For same route, better oyster or anytime off peak day return?

    thanks!

  124. Hi Gery,

    If the journey from London Bridge will take place after 7pm then touch on a bus outside the station and your extension will then be off-peak. That was it’s cheaper with Oyster. If it’s all before 7pm then buy an off-peak day return from boundary zone 3 to Gatwick route Not Gatwick Exp as that is valid anytime after 0930. December 27th is off-peak all day as it’s a bank holiday.

  125. Thanks Mike. If guests have no oyster, can they use the same train ticket to reach stratford from london bridge or is only limited to gatwick-london bridge?

  126. Hi Gery,

    For Gatwick to Stratford they’d need a Gatwick travelcard. If they have contactless payment cards they can use them instead and be charged the same Oyster fare. If only travelling one way this will be cheaper than the travelcard.

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