Route Validators (Pink Readers)

CAUTION! Touching pink readers can now mean you are charged more, often during off-peak hours when travelling to/from Dartford or stations between Merstham and Gatwick Airport inclusive.

The network of rail services across London often offers a choice of routes when deciding how to get from A to B.  Usually the zones covered will be the same in all cases, but there are times when a particular route might avoid, for example, zone 1 altogether.  If there are two routes where both can be acomplished without needing to touch out and back in again the system needs a way to tell which one has been used.  To this end there are a number of special pink readers at stations where you would change trains when using the route with the cheaper fare.  All you need to do is touch your Oystercard on one of the pink readers and the system will register that you’ve taken the cheaper route.

This applies both to PAYG users and those with travelcards which do not include zone 1.

If you’re not sure whether to touch a pink validator or not then it is usually a good idea to touch it, unless you have a travelcard including zone 1.  With PAYG and non zone 1 travelcards you will not normally be charged more by touching a pink validator.  In certain circumstances you might be charged more if your travelcard includes zone 1 but not the zone where the pink validator is. Check the single fare finder and look carefully to see if the alternative fare is higher or lower than the default fare.  If it is higher then do not touch the pink reader.

The pink route validators are located at the following stations:

  • Blackhorse Road
  • Canada Water
  • Clapham Junction
  • Gospel Oak
  • Gunnersbury
  • Hackney Central – Hackney Downs walkway
  • Highbury & Islington
  • Kensington (Olympia)
  • Rayners Lane
  • Richmond
  • Stratford
  • Surrey Quays
  • West Brompton
  • Whitechapel
  • Willesden Junction
  • Wimbledon

Note: Some journeys have been defined as requiring travel via Zone 1 and will be charged accordingly, irrespective of the route taken.

Missing Route Validators

Notwithstanding the note above, we believe that there has been an oversight in not installing route validators at Peckham Rye and Denmark Hill on the ELLX.  The Bexleyheath line offers cheaper fares to many South London destinations because it has direct trains to Peckham Rye and Denmark Hill.  This gives users of that line an unfair advantage when making journeys that are more likely to be undertaken via London Bridge.  It also penalises users of the other lines serving Lewisham who could choose to avoid zone 1, but aren’t given the option.

The problem is that a footbridge links all platforms at London Bridge so it is not possible to differentiate changing there from changing at Peckham Rye or Denmark Hill.

406 Responses

  1. Thanks Mike, I’ve just been back over the year’s contactless account and confirmed that. It appears that for the journey in question I wasn’t technically overcharged but did get a refund and an extra £5 for having been given an incorrect answer the first time. I graciously accepted. :)

  2. Good result!

  3. I’m travelling from Southgate to Canary Wharf, I get charged nearly £800 more as I go through Zone 1. Is there another route or any advise you can give me?

  4. Hi Shana,

    Yes, you can avoid zone 1 by changing at Finsbury Park, Highbury & Islington and Stratford. You must touch the pink validators at Highbury & Islington to confirm that you’ve avoided zone 1.

  5. BTW I see you have not mentioned the pink validator at Farringdon between the Thameslink and Underground lines.

  6. That’s because they are yellow. They are intended for people who switch between long distance Thameslink trains and the Underground.

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