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Gatwick truth (updated)

Yesterday I made some journeys to and from Gatwick to check out various questions. I’ve updated the post above, but here are the main points:

  • Auto topup won’t work if you have between £10 and the entry threshold at either Gatwick Airport or the Express gateline (p13/14) at Victoria. The gate will refuse entry citing insufficient funds.
  • The entry threshold at Gatwick takes no account of whether you have reached (or might reach) the daily cap for Gatwick. You still need the full single fare to enter even if you won’t be charged anything for the journey.
  • Between 1600-1900 you need the peak single non-express fare to London even though if you go to London zone 1 you’ll be charged the off-peak fare.
  • If you do use the gates to p13/14 and travel on a Southern train you will be charged the correct fare to any station other than Gatwick, but there is no OSI so any tube or Southeastern journey will not get linked and you may be overcharged.

18 Responses

  1. Hi Mike,

    I might go to Gatwick with the missus and take the train from East Croydon. I’m on annual Oyster zones 1-4 while my wife is on PAYG. It’s off-peak so am I better off buying a paper ticket using my Goldcard? My wife can benefit too as we’re travelling together, right?

  2. Hi Jeff,

    Yes, definitely get paper tickets.

  3. Thanks, Mike.

    I’ve consulted the BR fares website and I’m being quoted £2.95 (Thameslink) and £3.45 (Southern). On National Rail it’s £4.50/£5.20 (without Goldcard discount) but it also says “Oyster and contactless from £3.00” but doesn’t give any further explanation. Do you know what the actual Oyster cost would be, please?

  4. Hi Jeff,

    Yes, use the Oyster Fare Finder which is linked at the top of most pages on this site.

  5. Thanks. Done that and it’s £3.00 off peak. As there’s no distinction between Thameslink and Southern, I’ll definitely go for this option!

  6. Hi Jeff,

    If you’re only going one way then yes, use Oyster. If it’s a return then paper is cheaper.

  7. Hi Mike,

    I’m thinking of using my oyster from Gatwick airport to London St Pancras, on a thameslink train is this possible as PAYG? If it is then I’ll buy a paper ticket from three bridges to Gatwick airport. I’m just trying to save money as I’m in work three to four times a week rather than a monthly Travelcard from Three bridges to London St. Pancras.

  8. Hi Lesley,

    I agree that a monthly season is possibly overkill if you only travel 3-4 days a week. A travelcard is also not required just to get from Three Bridges to St Pancras. I think your cheapest/simplest option is a paper Three Bridges to St Pancras Anytime Day Return route “Not Underground”. This is £25.70 and is cheaper than the peak single x2 for Gatwick to St Pancras on Oyster (£14 x2 = £28). If one of the two journeys can be made off-peak then a £3.30 return to Gatwick plus £14 and £8 saves you 40p, but you will have to get off at Gatwick each way to touch in/out. Off-peak for Oyster is touching in at the start of the journey outside of 0630-0930 and 1600-1900.

  9. I think I have got this right, but would appreciate confirmation. I hold a PAYG Oyster with a National Railcard discount.

    If I am doing a single journey on Sun from Gatwick to St Pancras, the best option is to tap in at Gatwick, then out at East Croydon, then back in at East Croydon ?

    Is there a minimum time I must leave before tapping back in at East Croydon ?

  10. Hi Mike,

    Yes, that’s right. You need to go through the gates when touching out and back in again, so no need to wait.

  11. Hi Mike,
    your website is really helpful and brilliant. Many thanks for your effort. I also have a question, since I couldn’t figure out the best options as different web sites seem to contradict each other. Me and my wife are going to Gatwick Airport from New Barnet or High Barnet. I have an annual Oyster zones 1-5 (and a Goldcard) and my wife is on PAYG. We are travelling on a Monday noon, so off-peak. Could you please advice us, what’s best? I thought, going till East Croydon via Euston and Victoria and then change to Thameslink using the Oyster card. Tfl website says it is £ 3 for each of us from East Croydon to Gatwick Airport. Is this correct? Or do you think there are better options? And why are the two separate trips cheaper (High Barnet -> East Croydon £ 4.70 + £ 3 East Croydon -> Gatwick) compared to a single trip from High Barnet -> Gatwick Airport, which is £10.20 according to the TfL website? Many thanks, Christian

  12. Hi Christian,

    Yes, the off-peak single for East Croydon to Gatwick on PAYG is £3.00, or £2.00 if you have the goldcard discount loaded on your Oyster card. And yes, your plan does look like the best way. The answer to why it’s cheaper to split must be sought from Govia Thameslink Railway as they dictate the fares to/from Gatwick.

    Also, a note for your return. You’ll need the single fare to London on your Oyster card to enter at Gatwick, even if you’re only going to Croydon. If you have a contactless card it may be less hassle to pay the £3 that way rather than putting £8 or £14 on the card and having to wait until the end of your season to claim it back.

  13. Hi Mike,

    Many thanks for your reply, you are doing a fantastic job here!
    Merry Christmas to you and your family!

  14. Hi Mike,
    Your website is great!
    I wanna ask you about my off-peak return route Debden – Gatwick.
    My wife has PAYG Oyster and I have Oyster annual ticket for zone 1-6 (with Annual Gold card).
    What is the best option for us?
    I am considering to use this road to avoid zone 1: Debden – Stratford – Canada Water – Coulsdon South. This part for me is free and for my wife it should be £2.80.
    We have to check out our Oysters at Coulsdon South. Are there Yellow readers on the platforms?
    The second part Coulsdon South – Gatwick airport is with bought return tickets from NR.
    What is your opinion? Thank you for your tip!

  15. Hi vorbis,

    I don’t know where the readers are at Couldson South, but the prices to Gatwick are the same as from East Croydon so I would change there. There are many more trains to choose from between East Croydon and Gatwick, and you may even get a discount if you are prepared to limit yourself to Thameslink trains. Your wife would need to touch out at East Croydon but you are ok.

  16. Thanks Mike,
    East Croydon is really better option! There many trains and the price is lower (!!!). This is a paradox of the UK train system. The distance between Gatwick-East Croydon (zone 4) is longer than Gatwick-Coulsdon South (zone 6), and theoretically it should be more expensive. But in fact it is cheaper.

  17. Hi,

    Could you clarify Gatwick and oyster. Can I use gatwick express with oyster or do I need a paper ticket. Is there any other option other than gatwick express.

  18. Hi Charlie,

    Yes you can use Oyster on the Gatwick Express. You can also use the much cheaper Southern trains which generally only take 2-5 minutes longer to get to Victoria. You don’t need paper tickets for either, but in some instances paper can be cheaper.

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