Maximum Journey Times

The oyster system is designed for single journeys, although a journey by rail can include any combination of National Rail (inc Overground), Underground and DLR.  Providing you always touch in and touch out at the ends of your journey you should always be charged the correct fare.  Each journey must be completed within a maximum time.  The amount of time you are allowed varies depending on the time of day and the number of zone boundaries crossed.

Journeys in or near Central London
Zones covered Monday-Friday
0430-1900
Mon-Fri 1900-0430
and all day Saturday
Sunday and
Bank Holidays
Zone 1, zone 2, zones 2-3 90 mins 100 mins 110 mins
Zones 1-2 100 mins 110 mins 120 mins
Zones 1-3 110 mins 125 mins 135 mins
Zones 1-4* 110 mins 125 mins 135 mins

* Use these values for upto 5 zones within zones 1-4, see below for 6 or 7 zones.

In the table below the stations outside of zones 1-9 have been given pseudo-zone numbers purely for the calculation of maximum journey times.  Watford Junction, Ockenden, Chafford Hundred, Purfleet and Grays are all considered to be zone 10 while Broxbourne and Brentwood are zone 11 with Shenfield in zone 12.  All zones technically exist, even with no stations, so Watford Junction to Bushey is a 3 zone journey (10-9-8) and Upminster to Grays is 5 zones (6-7-8-9-10).  The TfL site describes the longest journey as Amersham to Shenfield (9 through to 1 then 2 through to 12), but I think Watford Junction to Shenfield should possibly be longer at 21 zones.  Does anyone want to guess how long will be allowed on a through train between Maidenhead and Shenfield when Crossrail opens?

Any other zone combination
Number of zones Monday-Friday
0430-1900
Mon-Fri 1900-0430
and all day Saturday
Sunday and
Bank Holidays
Within 1 zone* 70 mins 80 mins 85 mins
Across 2 zones* 80 mins 90 mins 100 mins
Across 3 zones* 90 mins 100 mins 110 mins
Across 4 zones* 100 mins 110 mins 120 mins
Across 5 zones 110 mins 125 mins 135 mins
Across 6 zones 120 mins 135 mins 145 mins
Across 7 zones 130 mins 145 mins 160 mins
Across 8 zones 140 mins 155 mins 170 mins
Across 9 zones 150 mins 165 mins 180 mins
Across 10 zones 160 mins 180 mins 195 mins
Across 11 zones 170 mins 190 mins 205 mins
Across 12 zones 180 mins 200 mins 220 mins
Across 13 zones 190 mins 210 mins 230 mins
Across 14 zones 200 mins 220 mins 240 mins
Across 15 zones 210 mins 235 mins 255 mins
Across 16 zones 220 mins 245 mins 265 mins
Across 17 zones 230 mins 255 mins 280 mins
Across 18 zones 240 mins 265 mins 290 mins
Across 19 zones 250 mins 275 mins 300 mins
Across 20 zones 260 mins 290 mins 315 mins

* See section above where the journey is close to Central London.

Splitting a journey

Unlike National Rail paper tickets, pay as you go journeys using an Oyster card cannot usually be broken.  The only exception to this rule is where you need to leave one station and walk to another nearby one to continue your journey.  This is called an out-of-station interchange (OSI).  Providing that you do not exceed the time allowed for walking between the stations you can do anything else that you want on the way.  Be aware that the walking time ends when you touch in through the gateline, so if you need to wait on a concourse until your train is advertised then this needs to be taken into consideration.  There is a full list of OSIs on this page.  Note also that the time taken between touch out and touch in is included in the overall journey time.

86 Responses

  1. If you touch out, then does it matter how long you stay outside the station???
    I’m not from London, but will be visiting.
    I feel Touch in at the start and touch out at the end, completes the journey.
    Does it not.

  2. Yes, touch in at the start and touch out at the end does complete a journey. The only time it matters is when you need to leave a station in the middle of your journey. For example, say I was travelling from Crayford to South Kensington to visit the museums. I would touch in at Crayford, touch out at Charing Cross, touch in again at Embankment and touch out at South Kensington. Providing that I spent no more than 20 minutes between Charing Cross and Embankment the system would treat that as one journey. If I took longer then it would be two journeys and would cost more.

  3. Thanks so much for putting this up, as someone who likes to travel without much purpose it’s good to know how long I can spend just meandering around stations and lines before I get stung the excess fee.

    I’ll write it down in my notebook for future reference.

  4. I do recommend using paper travelcards if you intend travelling around without touching out very often. It’s very easy to get held up somewhere and forget. Plus if you go between two nearby stations you might find it’s an out of station interchange and doesn’t end the journey after all.

  5. but oyster caps are always lower than paper travelcards, so anyway you will pay less even if it charges you for two journeys instead of one. i do get the point on being charged extra fees when the system doesn’t accept you as touched out in the interchange stations, but how many of those do we have? charing cross and embankment? penge west and penge east? those are the only ones i can think of

  6. sorry didn’t see your post http://www.oyster-rail.org.uk/out-of-station-interchange-osi/ now i can see there’s a lot of them, i had no idea

  7. Hi Ally,

    Unfortunately the days of Oyster caps being lower than paper travelcards ended years ago, apart from a few special cases like railcard discounted off-peak caps for zones 1-2 and 1-4. Oyster single fares are usually less than cash single fares, but the caps are the same.

  8. Gate Gipsy

    Hi Mike, I’m a bit confused (sorry if this is a daft question!). Doesn’t the Oyster card cap out at the same price as the paper travelcard, effectively turning into a one day travelcard? So, would it make any difference then regardless of the OSIs involved if you were using an Oyster card or a paper travelcard?

  9. Yes, the Oyster card does cap out at the same price as a paper travelcard, if you make enough journeys in the day. In most cases a return journey by rail is not enough to trigger the cap on it’s own.

  10. Hi Mike, love the brilliant advice! Here’s one for you… not really relevant to maximum journey times, it’s more about the maximum fare taken for an incomplete journey.

    Short story – I need to get from HRO (zone 6 BR) to GTW (Gatwick). Route is HRO-LST (National Rail z6-z1) walk to London Bridge the LBG-GTW (First Cap Connect). Time is early morning, c 5am weekday.

    Option 1 is to travel on Oyster PAYG from HRO to LST for £4.40, then buy a ticket on FCC for £9.40

    Option 2 – there is a single fare of £5.10 from ECR-GTW. The LBG-GTW train stops at ECR. Now just to make things interesting, the PAYG single fare from HRO-ECR is shown as £4.40 (including z1).

    So some questions please…

    1 Is there an OSI between Liv St and London Bridge (BR)?
    2. IF not then if I touch in at HRO, out at LST, in at LBG and then don’t touch out at all, will i be charged £4.40 (HRO-LST) + £4.40 (LBG to incomplete)>

    3. Should I get off at Stratford and take Jubilee line to LBG, touch out of the tube and then NOT touch in on National Rail, and if so am I breaking the rules? Or are there gates now, and if I do touch in on the NR platforms, what is my final cost for the incomplete journey?

    The reason I’m talking about an incomplete journey is that I don’t have time to hop off at ECR, touch out and then come back using the paper ticket for ECR-GTW!

    Hope this makes (some) sense!

  11. Hi Vik,

    It all makes perfect sense, although you have made one very easy slip. The off-peak single fare from Harold Wood to Liverpool Street is £3.20. You selected the Underground station which the system then makes a mixed NR+TfL journey which does cost £4.40. Anyway, onto your questions:

    1) No, there is no OSI between Liverpool Street and London Bridge, you would need to take the tube to join the journey into one.
    2) Almost. As mentioned it would be £3.20+£4.40.
    3) Not touching in at London Bridge NR is against the rules and may be impossible if the gates are working. If you touch back in again with in the 40 minute OSI from London Bridge LU to London Bridge NR then you will get charged £4.40 for the whole journey. It won’t count towards your capping for the day, but reading between the lines, that won’t matter because it looks like you’re not coming back. However, depending on what time you arrive at London Bridge, you may find an alternative Southern fast train to East Croydon which would then give you enough time to touch out.

    Anyway, changing at Stratford and London Bridge appears to be the recommended route for this journey. If you have a little more time you could halve the fare by changing at Canada Water, touching on the pink validator, then changing at either New Cross Gate or Norwood Junction. Perhaps this is an option that you might consider when you return later on.

    Hope that helps.

  12. Brilliant – thanks Mike.

    So I’ll touch in at HRO, Jubilee at Stratford, out at London Bridge LUL, in at London Bridge NR (if gates closed at 5am) and then not complete the journey… and I’ll be a good boy and buy a separate ECR-GTW ticket, and my total spend will be £4.40 (incomplete PAYG) + £5.10 = £9.50!

    Not bad considering the National Rail enquiries website quotes more than 20 quid for Harold Wood – Gatwick!

    Yes you are right, I am not fussed about capping that day :)

  13. Yes, that’s all fine. Touch in at London Bridge anyway, even if the gates are open, then you won’t get a penalty fare if inspected before East Croydon. It won’t cost any more as you’ll already have used £4.40 getting to London Bridge. The only issue would be if you touch in after 0630 as it might bump up the entry charge to £6.50 then.

  14. According to the top table (and tfl’s web site) there is a 90 minute allowance travelling from zone 2 to zone 3. I travelled from Whitechapel (z2) to Balham (z3) and was “in the system” for 82 minutes, but was charged 2 maximum fares. I have arranged for a refund but when I asked what the maximum time is for that journey I was told 80 minutes. I pointed out that the web site says 90, but was given the not wholly convincing argument that each journey has its own maximum. I didn’t push the point as I wanted a refund!

  15. That’s slightly worrying, Steve. Assuming you actually travelled via zone 1 then the time allowed ought to have been 110 minutes. I wonder if anything else was not right on that journey. Once you’ve picked up the refund it might be an idea to seek a further explanation.

  16. Hi Mike,

    I always try to avoid zone 1. My route was via West Croydon, which may not be the quickest route (that would be via Crystal Palace), but was well within the stipulated 90 minutes (in fact it was within 80, but I spent a few minutes consulting timetables on the platform before leaving, believing I had plenty of time to spare).

    I will contact them once the refund is in my bank account and let you know the outcome.

  17. Hi Steve,

    Ahh, I didn’t realise the default journey avoided zone 1. Can you check your journey history online? The key thing is that touch in and touch out are no more than 90 minutes apart. It doesn’t matter how long the trains take, if you wait half an hour to get on one you have still used 30 minutes of the allowance.

  18. Mike,

    My history shows touch in to touch out as being 81 minutes.

    ???? – 10:53 [No touch-in] to Balham [National Rail]
    09:32 – ???? Whitechapel to [No touch-out]

    To my mind either the system is in error or Tfl’s web page is.

    From the web page:
    “The table below shows the general rules applied for maximum journey times.”

    The use of the word “general” sounds a bit weaselly!

  19. I agree, there is a problem there. I don’t understand enough about how maximum journey times work, but I will certainly try to find out more.

  20. Thanks Mike. Refund turned up today! Not bad considering the Easter bank holiday.

  21. Here’s another one: Most days I go from Hither Green to either Balham or Tooting Broadway, which I did via London Bridge while I have a Zones 1-3 Travelcard on my Oyster. As I’m trying to economise, I switched to a Zones 2-3 Travelcard, and switched to Hither Green to New Cross, walking to New Cross Gate, going from there to Balham (either direct or changing at Crystal Palace), and from there to Tooting Broadway, obviously fastidiously touching in and out appropriately at each stage.

    I’ve found that journeys to and from Balham are fine, but the short Underground hop to Tooting Broadway leads to me being hit with a £2.00 Pre-Pay deduction. My Oyster History clearly shows that I went via New Cross/Gate and Balham, but because of the out of station interchanges it views it as a single Hither Green to Tooting Broadway journey. The Oyster Helpline initiated a refund, but reckoned that I got charged because I exceeded the maximum journey time. Checking back, the time between the first tap in and the last tap out will have been in the range of 61-73 minutes, which is less than the maximum 80 minutes for two zones Monday-Friday 0430-1900, even though all the journeys I made were actually outside of that.

    Ultimately, the question has to be why OSIs always and only operate as such, rather than have the additional fuctionality of the pink route validators at certain other stations? I’m now seriously thinking to switching to a paper Travelcard to avoid the hassle of getting charges and then refunded, but that presents problems for the days when I do actually need to go into Zone 1!

  22. Hi Nick,

    Sone OSIs do work like pink validators, but only where separate fares have been programmed into the fares database. Interestingly there doesn’t seem to be a non-zone-1 fare for Hither Green to Balham according to the single fare finder, but it appears as though it is in the actual fares database. But the extension to Tooting Broadway definitely isn’t in any database other than a mixed NR+TfL journey via zone 1. The helpline were definitely wrong about exceeding the maximum journey time because with your travelcard that would actually have resulted in no charge. And a zone 3-1-3 journey is actually allowed at least 110 minutes.

    Short term there is quite a simple workaround. New Cross Gate to Tooting Broadway is defined via Balham so all you need to do is break the OSI between New Cross and New Cross Gate. That can be done in two ways: either take longer than 25 minutes between touch out at New Cross and touch in at New Cross Gate; or jump on a bus, touch in, then jump off again. Bus travel is free with any travelcard but the touch in will break the rail journey in two so it works properly. Another alternative if you are not on a through train is to touch out and in again at Crystal Palace. This will also break the journey in two.

    Longer term we need the fares database to include the whole journey as a non-zone-1 option. I will send an email to request that this is considered, but it will carry more weight if others do as well. It may even help to talk the issue through with London Travelwatch.

    Hope this helps.

  23. I did wonder whether “exceeded the journey time” was just the default explanation; having now got a full statement from TfL, I can see that the journeys actually took between 67 and 71 minutes. I knew about using a bus to break the OSI at New Cross/Gate, although with sometimes as little at 9 minutes to get between the stations (I don’t mind saving money at the expense of a little time, but not too much!), and both stations being on the “wrong” side of the road when going from New cross to New Cross Gate, I think it would only be feasible if there’s a bus passing fortuitously. On the other hand, the “Crystal Palace solution” is one I’ll definitely be using on the journeys via that station, as there’s more than enough time while switching platforms.

    Given that the system recognises Hither Green to Balham NR as non-Zone-1, but not Hither Green to Tooting Broadway, it raises the question as to whether any other stations on that part of the Northern line suffer from the same issue. I do occasionally have to go to South Wimbledon, so it’ll be interesting to see what happens with that.

  24. Hi Nick,

    You do realise that you don’t have to actually stay on the bus. Literally hop on, touch in, then hop back off again.

    I would imagine that the issue relates to most Southeastern stations and most below zone 1 Northern line stations.

  25. Yeah, although if it is heading in the “right” direction, all the better! It was more a question of not being able to hang around waiting for one.

  26. I understand. I also hope that the more bus drivers report people touching in and jumping straight off might make someone start asking the right questions.

  27. I always say tell the driver that I am touching in to break an OSI.
    In my experience more drivers are becoming used to this happening, one joking back to me that I was the twelvth that morning to do so.

  28. Good stuff!

  29. I will be travelling from Shadwell(Zone 2) to Southall. I start my journey by London Overground at Shadwell, travel to whitechapel and then to Ealing Broadway by underground and then take National Rail and travel to Southall. My question, where and how many times do i have to touch my Oyster. I have to touch at Shadwell on entry and at Southall on Exit or touch in at Shadwell, touch out at Ealing Broadway; Touch in Back at Ealing Broadway, National Rail and touch out at Southall National Rail? Early reply would be appreciated. thanks in anticipation.

  30. Hi Celton,

    You only need to touch in at Shadwell and out at Southall. You can ignore any other validators you see at Ealing Broadway or anywhere else.

  31. Hi mike,

    Sorry if I am going over old ground here, but I am new to commuting, and oyster, and your helpful site.

    I need a bit of help with how oyster card single fares work, and when to touch on/ off when using more than one line, or mode.

    If I touch on at Bexleyheath, and want to travel to Manor Park, the single fare and route quoted is to London bridge, then jubilee line to Stratford, then over ground to Manor Park. Where on this journey do I need to touch in and touch out along the way?

    Sorry if this sounds ignorant but I don’t really understand the physics of the card and system yet!

    Many thanks,

    Ryan

  32. Hi Ryan,

    It’s not a silly question at all. In fact you’ve highlighted one of the biggest problems with the single fare finder where they don’t describe the default route, just the alternatives.

    The default route from Bexleyheath to Manor Park is via Lewisham and Stratford. You need to touch out at Lewisham NR and in again at Lewisham DLR, otherwise it’s just at each end. If you do go via London Bridge then it’s similar, touch out at London Bridge NR and in again at London Bridge LU.

  33. As TFL are not issuing refunds due to delay during the Olympics http://www.standard.co.uk/news/transport/tube-commuters-told-you-wont-be-given-a-refund-if-you-are-delayed-during-the-olympics-7956405.html it would be nice if they would suspend Maximum Journey Times as well. Otherwise those of us on PAYG will suffer, and have to muck about ringing the Oyster Helpline due to no fault of our own!

  34. That’s an interesting find, Alun. Suspending maximum journey times would have other undesirable side effects, but I’d agree that there ought to be some relaxation.

  35. As you say suspension would probably be asking too much, but I rather doubt the computer system is easily capable of amendment of MJTs covering a period of time. Other than the Standard article I can find nothing about this change to refunds on the TFL offical site, which rather begs the question of what actual period is covered?
    Incidentally, I wonder if you should have a specific page dedicated to TFL refunds policy http://www.tfl.gov.uk/tickets/14775.aspx?

  36. Hi Alun,

    Refunds is one of the aspects I plan to cover in the future. Thanks for the idea.

  37. I’ve received a reply from @TFLOyster on twitter saying, “The terms & conditions for Customer Charter Refunds have not been changed for the Olympics”.

  38. Well technically they are right. They are just re-iterating that delays due to large crowds are not deemed within TfL’s control, so they will not be eligible for a refund.

  39. Hi Mike, Always worth checking anything ‘Oyster’ with you before travelling. I’m going from Stepney Green to Kingston (approx leaving time is 2pm) and wish to stay out of zone 1. I can travel via Whitechapel/West Croydon/Clapham Junction etc quite happily avoiding zone 1 but will run up a travel time of approx 1 hour 45 mins (according to TFL site). Will I be able to make this proposed journey in the alloted max. time for one journey? By my thinking I’ll cover zones 2 (Stepney Green)-3-4-5-6 (Kingston). This should work out as travel across 5 zones I think (which gives me travel time of 1 hour 50 mins). Is that correct? Many thanks.

  40. Hi Sasha,

    That’s an interesting one. At the moment it should be a 7 zone journey because you go out to zone 3 before coming back into zone 2 thus it’s 2-3-2-3-4-5-6. That should give you 2 hours 10 minutes in the daytime Monday to Friday. By the way, it will assume travel via Crystal Palace rather then West Croydon. However, from December 9th when the ELLX opens linking Surrey Quays and Clapham Junction it will become a 5 zone journey. My hesitation is that I don’t at the moment know when the new fares details are going live. Fares are usually only updated in Jan, May and Sep. If you make the journey before the new line opens, and it takes longer than 1 hour 50 minutes, and you get a double incomplete journey, I’m sure that the helpdesk will resolve things for you.

  41. Thanks Mike, Yes good point bout Crystal Palace cos I’d overlooked that as a travel option rather than West Croydon. Seems that cuts my journey time down to 100 mins according to TFL site so I guess I should be able to complete my journey in the alloted time.

  42. Hi Mike,
    My situation is quite unique. I am planning to travel from Barnehurst (NR) Z6 to Mudchute (DLR) Z2, changing at Lewisham NR/DLR. You have two options at Lewisham, either to touch out of NR and touch in at DLR or continue straight to DLR without touching out and back in. I meet my friend at Mudchute, collect my bag from him and then travel back to Barnehurst. What is the max journey time for Barnehurst (NR) to Barnehurst (NR) if I touch in and out at Lewisham and the off-peak fare? Also what would be the case if I don’t touch in/out at Lewisham.

    Thanks
    Shanky

  43. Hi Shanky,

    When you arrive at Lewisham you may have to touch out if the gates are in operation. If you don’t need to then it is fine to carry on into the DLR. When you get to Mudchute you should touch out and back in again to close the first journey and start the second. If you return to Barnehurst without having touched anywhere else then you will get two maximum journey charges neither of which count towards the daily cap. You may also be liable to a penalty fare if your card is checked on a train going the other way. The difference in fare between Barnehurst to Lewisham and Barnehurst to Mudchute is just 20p.

  44. Hi Mike, Yes I understand your point. But my question was this, consider the following journey(s). This is an actual journey that I made. Considering this is a journey across 3 zones (Barnehurst Z6 – Lewisham Z3) and back, I assume I have a maximum journey time of 90 mins. The charge for the last leg of the journey (X.XX) should be 0.00?

    14:36 Touch in, Barnehurst [National Rail] £4.60
    14:58 Touch out, Lewisham [National Rail] +£2.50
    14:59 Touch in, Lewisham DLR £2.50
    15:40 Touch out, Lewisham DLR £0.00
    15:41 Touch in, Lewisham [National Rail] £0.00
    16:04 Touch out, Barnehurst [National Rail] £X.XX

    In this case why am I liable to pay a penalty fare if my card is checked? and which leg exactly am I travelling without a proper fare?

    Cheers,
    Shanky

  45. Hi Shanky,

    Barnehurst to Lewisham is a 4 zone journey, but that isn’t the issue here. When you have touched out on the DLR at 1540 I am surprised that it didn’t charge you another £4.60 as you had exceeded the 30 minute limit on making a same station exit. I think it may be because Lewisham is an OSI and it has instead chosen to join the journeys together. When you touched out at Barnehurst your journey then became a Barnehurst to Barnehurst journey which had taken way more than 30 minutes, so I would expect another £4.60 deduction. However, as it is after 1600 it might be a £6.90 deduction as you are then in the evening peak.

    You could be charged a penalty fare when exiting Mudchute if you don’t touch out. Likewise if you join a train without touching in. Between Lewisham and Barnehurst you would be shown as on a journey from Barnehurst which might cause an RPI to issue a penalty at that stage.

  46. Here I seem to have been charged 2 maximum fares incorrectly on 03 December :-

    ???? – 14:09 [No touch-in] to Balham [National Rail] £4.60
    12:43 – ???? Whitechapel to [No touch-out] £4.60

    Surely Whitechapel Z2 to Balham Z3 is 90 mins, and 12:43 to 14:09 is 86 mins? I went by Overground from Whitechapel to Crystal Palace, where I just missed my connection to Balham, and had to wait 30 mins for next one.

    I’ve got a refund, but am thinking of taking this up further with TFL, I hate MJTs anyway, but this is taking the mickey to penalise even if not gone over the actual time!

    Incidentally, and I don’t remember this before, the Oyster Helpdesk number 0845 330 9876 now takes you through a voicemail maze of options before you actually speak to somebody who can help you.

  47. Hi Alun,

    You’re not the first person to complain about MJTs near central London. I’m not convinced that the extended allowances work in all cases. Fortunately that journey should be much easier from Sunday when it’s ELLX from Whitechapel to Clapham High Street and Northern line from Clapham North to Balham.

    In the meantime I may try to exceed a normal 1 zone MJT but not the zone 2 extension while going round the new orbital overground on Sunday. If I get it to fail then there might be questions asked.

    Oh, the helpdesk has been like that for a while now. It is frustrating.

  48. Ha!, now see that I have fallen into exactly the same trap as Steve in his comment of 10 April 2012. I have sent a complaint via https://custserv.tfl.gov.uk/icss_csip/ZCreateRequestChangeRelatesTo.do?newTab=CA_14340 asking what the actual permitted time for this journey is? Will let you know if I receive a response.

    I look forward to the opening of ELLX, indeed the Single Fare Finder already seems to reflect this as the default route, although the Journey Planner still sends via Monument/Bank.

  49. Hi Alun,

    The fares database was updated in October. I’m not aware of any fares costing more and there is only minimal impact on maximum journey times so it seemed the correct thing to do. There’s no way they could have introduced new fares this weekend with the new year update being made public at the same time. And the journey planner is completely separate to the fares database.

  50. Hi again Alun,

    You’re right, it was the same joureny, wasn’t it. I wonder if there’s just a bug on some entries. Yesterday I travelled from Clapham Junction to Highbury & Islington taking about 110 minutes and it only charged me £1.40 which is right.

  51. Unfortunately the ELLX did not work for me on my journey today. See my entry on your Fares Guide page http://www.oyster-rail.org.uk/fares-guide/

    Also have discovered it seems that if you include a web address in the free form text in your complaint it appears not to accept the whole complaint. Just comes back with a reference of null. Upset I have not even received an email acknowledgement either.

  52. May I note that you were partially successful in your FOI request Problems with Oyster journeys at Balham NR
    http://www.whatdotheyknow.com/request/problems_with_oyster_journeys_at -
    “Following the incidents referred to we identified a small number of Zones 2-3 journeys, including Whitechapel – Balham National Rail (NR), for which the Saturday maximum journey time (MJT) was set at 90 minutes rather than
    100 minutes. The times in question, for all journeys concerned, were changed to 100 minutes from 13 January 2013. Adjustments were also made to the MJT for the same journeys on Monday to Friday and Sunday.”
    Thank you very much!

  53. Hi Mike,

    I actually came to your site to look for something else but just surfing around came across this page about maximum journey times, which I had no idea about. I thought going round and round on the Circle Line and back to where they started was quite a normal activity for some people!

    Anyway, my question: Last week I got on at Northwood for a meeting in central London. By the time I got to Baker Street I’d had a phone call saying the meeting was cancelled. So I had a sandwich and a drink at Baker Street, made a few phone calls (without touching out) then crossed to the other platform and went straight back to Northwood. So what I did was basically touch in and out at the same station and exceeded the maximum journey time for travel within one zone (70 mins). Was that legal? Does it mean that if I get a statement I’ll have been charged more for using Oyster than if I’d just bought a paper return ticket? What would you recommend when this happens- would it be better to touch out and straight back in again at the next station as soon as the meeting gets cancelled (this does happen a fair bit in my line of work).

  54. Hi Steve,

    That’s a lot of questions!

    There are some people who do like going round all over the place and ending up at the original station, but that is not an activity I would recommend using an Oyster card for. Unless you are very careful to touch out and in again at regular intervals you are very likely to end up paying far more than the daily cap.

    No, making a return journey without touching out and in again is not legal. The maximum journey time for a single zone journey doesn’t come into it, it is covered on the same station exits page. You may be able to get a partial refund if you contact the helpdesk and explain what happened. Providing the story sounds reasonable they will usually adjust the fares. Whether you have been charged more than a paper return (ie 2 paper singles) depends on whether the journeys were made at peak time or not. If it’s off peak then you will have been charged more.

    As to the future, that is really up to your desire. It is best to touch out at the end of the journey and back in again to start the return, but whether that needs to be at Harrow (for example) or Baker Street is subjective. Is the drink at Baker Street worth the extra fare?

  55. Mike,
    I don’t see this covered above.
    I touch in at East Finchley(Z3) and out at King’s Cross St Pancras Northern Ticket Hall. I touch in at at King’s Cross St Pancras Tube Ticket Hall within 15′ so an OSI is triggered.
    I touch out at Highgate. I understand that I am charged for a Z1-Z3 journey. Do you know what Maximum Journey Time is applied in Monday-Friday 0430-1900?
    It could be as little as 70′ (Within 1 zone) or as much as 110′ (Zones 1-3).
    What about West Finchley(Z4) to Finchley Central(Z4) via King’s Cross?
    I reckon that could be as little as 70′ (Within 1 zone) or as much as 130′ (Across 7 zones).

  56. Hi Starwill,

    In both cases you will be allowed a one zone journey, so just 70 minutes. It’s a bit of a loophole as you will be charged for only one single journey. This will be deducted at Kings Cross St Pancras and won’t be refunded on touch out at the end station. If you were to return to the same starting station then the same station exit policy would apply and probably result in two maximum journey charges. The same would happen if you exceed the 70 minutes maximum above. In the case of two maximum journey charges I’m sure that the helpdesk would adjust the charge down to two single fares because the OSI touches would make it clear exactly what you’d done.

  57. Hi Mike,

    If I’m travelling from Greenford station (zone 4) to Greenwich or Cutty Sark. Based on the guide above, how much time would I have on a Sunday to complete that journey?

    I’m a bit confused as to whether it falls under zones 1-4 or across 5 zones.

    Also please consider the OSI for me since I would be changing from the central line to the docklands light railway.

    Thank you!

  58. Hi Sandeep,

    That is a 5-zone (4-3-2-1-2) journey so 135 minutes on a Sunday. You shouldn’t have any problems completing it in that time, even allowing a few minutes to change trains at Bank.

  59. Mike,

    How is Shenfield treated for MJT? It is not in a numeric zone.

  60. Hi David,

    I’m not sure. If you work on the basis that Romford is in zone 6 and then add one more zone for each of Brentwood and Shenfield then you won’t go far wrong. In practice there might be a couple of extra zones allowed, but I’m not sure at this time.

  61. Hi Mike,

    Watford Junction – Euston (LM) 1559-1617
    Euston – Waterloo (Northern) 1636-1702
    Waterloo – Hampton (SWT) 1743-1817

    I want to take this SWT service (1 of 3 per day which goes from Strawberry Hill to Fulwell) without paying the evening peak fare!

    Would my route work as a single PAYG journey? I make that 14 zones which gives me 200 mins. I’ll need to drag out my tube journey so that the OSIs work.

    However single fare finder doesn’t seem to want me to change at Euston/Waterloo, it only lists fares for Euston/Vauxhall and WillesdenJct(presumably)/Waterloo.

    Will it still be £3.75 with railcard?

  62. Hi Chris,

    Yes, £3.75 is the fare for any option involving zone 1 and will certainly cover the journey above. You can drag out any bit of that journey, but don’t risk spending too long on the OSIs. I’d suggest spending a while loitering on the platform at Euston before touching out, and likewise watch a few tubes before touching out at Waterloo. Finally, remember that it’s touch in time that kicks it all off and you can always start by watching trains at Watford.

    If you want to save money then take a slower train from Watford to Willesden and then Overground to Clapham Junction. This is the default route and does not require touching in the middle. If your real interest is travelling between Strawberry Hill and Fulwell then you could save even more by changing at Willesden Junction and Richmond, touching the pink validators at both stations. Obviously the latter option is only 10 zones so only allows 160 minutes, but that should still be enough.

  63. Hi, new to this oyster card and so far no problems, until yesterday 25/05.
    Yesterday I touched in at Amersham 11:17 touched out Marylebone 12:01.
    Walked out the station where i was distracted by the Bayern Munich team across the road so hung around for an hour taking a few pics. Touched back in at Marylebone UG 13:03 to Waterloo out at 13:21. I was charged 3.90 from Amersham to Marylebone and 2.10 Marylebone to Waterloo for a total journey time of 2hrs 4mins. Here’s where I’m confused; I crossed 9 zones with an allowance of 2hrs 25mins, so I’m not sure why I was charged an extra 2.10? Am i being completely thick? Pretty much the same thing happened going back, Waterloo to Amersham via a half hour stop at Oxford Circus total journey time 2hrs 4mins, charged 2.10 plus 3.90?

  64. Hi daks,

    Two different reasons. On the first journey you exceeded the transfer time of 20 minutes between touch out at Marylebone NR and touch in at Marylebone LU. You can find full details of this facility on the Out of station interchanges page on this site. On the second journey it might be the same, but more realistically it is because you broke your journey. Other than at OSIs you are not allowed to leave the Oyster system mid journey. Oxford Circus is slightly unusual because one of the entrances only allows exit from the station. To cater for people accidentally using those gates when really wanting to interchange between tube lines, there is a short OSI from that gateline to the main gateline which allows entry and exit. If you went that way then the reason again is that you exceeded the 10 minute allowance.

  65. Thanks for the prompt reply Mike, I’ve been looking at this site in more detail and didn’t know about the OSIs, but now understand why my charges were more than usual. I’ve recently moved down from the Midlands, so I’m still getting used to this amazing and excellent transportation system. Thanks again.

  66. I will be visiting London for a 8 days but the first 4 days, I will have to commute from Weybridge to London and back. After that, I will be staying in London. I plan on doing sightseeing most days in zones 1 & 2. What’s the most economical way to buy fares for these journeys? Thanks in advance for your help.

  67. Hi Jenny,

    As long as you don’t leave Weybridge before 0930 then an off-peak one-day travelcard is probably the best bet on the first days. That gives you one return to London from Weybridge and unlimited travel throughout zones 1-6 in between.

    Once you are staying in London then it becomes less clear. An off-peak zones 1-2 travelcard is £7.30 while the off-peak cap on an Oyster only used in zones 1-2 is £7.00. If you have a railcard (16-25, senior, disabled or forces) then you can get an off-peak zones 1-6 travelcard for £5.90 but if you get the discount added to the Oyster card then the cap is £5.60 for zones 1-6, £5.10 for zones 1-4 and only £4.60 for zones 1-2.

    Hope that helps

  68. Hi Mike,
    Thanks for getting back to me. I thought Weybridge is outside zone 6 & to go to London is via NR (Southwest line) and I cannot use travelcard for this? Thanks again!

  69. Hi Jenny,

    You can get an out-boundary travelcard for a little more than a return to London. This acts as a return to London along with unlimited travel within zones 1-6.

  70. I will do just that. Thank you for all your help.

  71. Hi Mike,

    This isn’t strictly limited to MJT but I think that may have an impact and I’m hoping you can help! I’ve phoned both Oyster customer services and Southeastern Rail but no one can actually tell me the answer!

    I live in Zone 1 and work in Zone 6 so complete that journey in peak time (all on the underground, no overground or DLR) and then back again on an evening.

    However, 3 mornings a week I actually travel from Crayford (but never travel back to there by public transport on an evening).

    I touch in at Crayford around 7.15am, get to London Bridge around 7.49am (via Southeastern trains I believe) where I have to touch out from the overground, touch in to the underground and then out at Debden around 8.45am.

    Work have now offered a season ticket loan and it looks like I will save money by getting a zone 1-6 pass. However, I am aware that it is different pricing for Crayford in to London Bridge due to that journey being by Southeastern trains. When I had a zone 1-2 card the cost was actually reduced more than the stated Oyster travel cost for that journey so I presumed there would be a discount if I had a 1-6 travelcard. However, no one can tell me exactly how much extra I would need to top up onto my card to pay the additional fee from Crayford to London Bridge! They both accept it is likely to be less than the £5.70 (I think that’s what the typical fee is now). Without knowing that, I can’t work out if I will be better of with a season ticket!.
    Thanks!

  72. Hi Claire,

    I’m not surprised Southeastern couldn’t tell you, but the Oyster helpline really should have known. Crayford is in zone 6, like Debden, so a zone 1-6 travelcard will cover you for both. When you had a zone 1-2 travelcard you had to pay for zones 3-6 which is why it was less than the full price for the journey from Crayford. A travelcard covers all rail travel within it’s zones, be it NR, LU, DLR etc.

    The only other thing I’d ask is where do you actually live? If it is close to the zone 1/2 boundary then you could get a zone 2-6 travelcard and maybe use a bus for the last bit home. Buses are free with any travelcard as they charge a flat rate. For coming from Crayford you could change at Lewisham onto the DLR to Stratford and then the Central line to Debden. That also avoids zone 1, and might even be quicker?

    Hope that helps.

  73. Hi Mike,

    Thank you so much that is really helpful! I may have been reading an old document as the one I read said NR isn’t included in a travelcard, it was just that you could do pay as you go from there and have a discount on the normal fee (e.g. from £16 to £5.70).

    The bus option is a brilliant suggestion and might work when I move in the next 9 months but I live at Baker Street so it would just take too long to get the bus to zone 2 in the east to pick up the tube.

    I hadn’t thought about the Lewisham DLR option and that’s a great suggesion as that would save me £700 a year on a travelcard if I avoid zone 1 altogether. Again when I move (as it will be likely to outside zone 1) this will save me an awful lot! I will definitely see if that’s quicker too as I expect it probably will be!

    You’ve been really helpful, thanks so much!

  74. Hi Claire,

    If you take a bus from Baker Street to St Johns Wood, then the Jubilee line to West Hampstead and the Overground to Stratford you can still avoid zone 1. It may be a little slower than tube direct from Baker Street to Liverpool Street, but it would avoid zone 1.

  75. Hi Mike,

    I am still so confused about when to use the oyster card. Eg i leave warren street for marble arch in the morn and spend around 5 hrs in that area and then head back from say bond street. what do i use ?

    I leave warren street and head to walthamstow and from there post a few hrs take the train to Oxford and then to leceister square and back to warren – what do i use ?

  76. Use the Oyster card (assuming Oxford is Oxford Circus and not the City in Oxfordshire!)

  77. Hi Mike, I am visiting london August bank holiday weekend, so all off peak I think? I don’t have an Oyster card so intend to buy one and put around £30 on, I need to be travelling in zones 1,2 and 3 and do as much sight seeing as I can. I was quite confident until I read about max journey times, now I’m scared I will do something wrong and use all my credit on day one! I realise there are paper cards, but these are daily and I don’t want to waste time trying to get one each day, my hotel is in zone 3 so need to cross across zones. Also any credit I don’t use I can keep for another visit.
    Is it really likely I will get a huge bill or will the daily cap save me. I want to do lots of journeys eg go to Olympic site for a quick look etc.
    Thanks for any reply. M

  78. Hi Mary,

    Don’t panic, you will be fine. As long as you ‘do something’ each time you get to a destination then the daily cap will operate fine. The problems arise when enthusiasts spend ages travelling around without getting very far from their original starting point. At most stations you can start a new journey almost immediately, but after 45 minutes it will always be a new journey.

    The zone 1-4 off-peak cap is £7.70 and operates all day Saturday, Sunday and Bank Holiday Monday, so £23.10 should be all you pay unless you venture beyond zone 4. You can of course get a paper travelcard for the same zones but they cost £8.00 each and it wouldn’t be a simple task to suddenly go beyond zone 4 – you’d need a new ticket for the extension before you start. With Oyster it will just take you up towards the next cap from your PAYG balance.

  79. Hi there, two parts to this, not sure if you can answer both. In memory of my late grandad I have taken on the mad scheme of travelling to all tube stations with a C or a T in the name in the same day (his initials were CT). I haven’t even started to figure out how to do it but I will start and end at Kings Cross St Pancras. Will my card just rack up one zone 1 to zone 1 fare for each 70 minute period? Second part is I have to get a photo of the sign at each station which I will do from inside the train if I can. Do I need special permission to take photos on the underground? Many thanks, didn’t really know where else to go for a reply as I was worried if I asked TFL they would try and put me off doing it. x

  80. Hi Poppy,

    I like your plan. You might like to search for tube challenge for some ideas that might help. I’m not sure about photos, particularly underground where flash might have a distracting effect on drivers. If it’s just one pic of a roundel at each station though, you might be ok. That’s just my view though.

    As to fares, my honest advice is to leave the Oyster card at home. If you are covering the whole tube network then buy a zones 1-9 travelcard. If it’s just the ones in zone 1 then a zones 1-2 travelcard will be the smallest area you can get.

  81. Hi Mike,

    What happens if I tap in off-peak but the maximum journey time is reached at peak time during the final leg of my journey? Would the whole journey be reclassified as peak-time or just the final leg?

  82. Hi Khairul,

    You’ll get two incomplete journey charges, one will be off-peak and the other peak.

  83. Further to your comment regarding Oyster capped fares versus paper Travelcards, I see Oyster is now always cheaper, with the exception of Watford Junction.

  84. Hi Nick,

    Yes, any caps within the zonal area (1-9) are cheaper. Watford, Shenfield, Broxbourne etc are the same while Grays is completely broken.

  85. Hi Mike.
    Yesterday I made journey from Heathrow to Plaistow, after 19.00 using Oyster card Pay As You Go. To save money I gone avoiding 1st zone.
    In Heathrow terminal 5 I waited about 15 min. to get my train, then it stuck for 5-7 min. in Northgield, So I went till Earl’s Court there I was waiting long time tube (District line) to go to K. Olympia, there I touched pink reader, and was waiting again long time for Overground to Stratfort, which was very slow, in Stratford I touched again pink reader, then took Jubilee line to West Ham and from West Ham I took District line to Plaistow!
    And funniest was that there in Plaistow gates didn’t open, and charged for me all my money from Oystercard!!! Why so? It was so horrible experience with metro… One of the worse what I used in my life. Can I refund my money back?

  86. Hi Jurya,

    It does indeed look like you exceeded the maximum journey time. If you call the helpdesk and explained what happened they will almost certainly arrange a refund for you.

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