Same Station Exits
Sometimes it is necessary to touch out at a station without actually making a journey. The Oyster system reacts in one of three different ways depending on how much time has elapsed between touch in and touch out.
Between 0 and 2 minutes
This could happen if you immedately discover that there is disruption, or if the display on the gate says that you do not have enough credit to complete your intended journey and you decide to exit again to top-up. The maximum fare will remain deducted and this will not count towards the daily cap. However, if you re-enter (after topping up for instance) within 45 minutes the original maximum fare is refunded and a new journey is started. The touch out must be at a ticket gate (ie you had to touch out to open the gate). The new journey can be at the same station or at another one, but you cannot use a bus or tram to get between the stations. This is probably only useful in Central London.
If the touch out is at a validator then the maximum fare will remain.
Between 2 and 30 minutes
In this instance the system will charge the cheapest single fare from that station at the time of touch in. Usually that will be a single zone fare, but it can be two or more zones if the station is the only one on it’s line in that zone. This charge will count towards the daily cap.
More than 30 minutes
Now the system assumes that you have made two incomplete journeys and charges you accordingly. Neither journey counts towards the daily cap.
These charges are levied to discourage fare evasion. If there is a genuine reason for making a same station exit then you will probably be eligible for a refund of the extra charges. If the station has full Oyster facilities (i.e. most Underground stations when the ticket office is open) then you may be able to get the credit immediately, otherwise call the helpdesk for assistance.
There are a number of stations where it isn’t always obvious whether you should touch out or not using platform validators. Usually these validators were intended to start or end Oyster journeys without leaving the station because the overall journey continued using paper tickets on National Rail. In order to avoid problems at the station gatelines and/or the deduction of maximum fares due to unresolved journeys, the validators at these stations are set to continuation exit. Note that this does not apply to readers attached to a gateline.
How it works
When you touch out at a standalone validator at one of these stations your fare is adjusted correctly as if you were leaving the Oyster system. Any further touches at that station within 15 minutes (including at a gateline) will replicate the exit with no further deduction. If you continue on from that station by a different mode then when you exit at your final destination the balance is readjusted for the new end point, as long as the new exit is within the maximum journey time from the station where you started your journey.
There are two drawbacks to be aware of. Firstly, if there are no gates at the station then you must touch out using a validator if that is the end of your journey. However, it is impossible to touch in until 15 minutes has elapsed. If you did not want to stay very long at one of these places then this could cause a problem.
Secondly there may be a problem with National Rail RPIs. The exit touch removes the maximum fare which is what the RPIs are looking for when they check the card using a hand-held reader. If they examine the recent journey history on the card it will appear as though you are out of the system and travelling without a validated Oyster card.
If at all possible you should only touch out and back in again at an interchange station if it is absolutely necessary, usually because one or both parts of the station are protected by gates.
These are the stations where standalone validators are set to continuation exit:
- Chalfont & Latimer
- Ealing Broadway
- Elmers End
- Finsbury Park LU
- Harrow Wealdstone
- Kensington Olympia
- Kentish Town
- Old Street
- Paddington LU
- Seven Sisters
- South Ruislip
- Watford Junction
- West Croydon
- West Ham
- West Ruislip
Note: Finsbury Park was included on the list given by TfL in a FOI response, but the NR side of the station is no longer set this way because the platforms are now gated.
This page updated 17 July 2016.