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The Epsom Story (Part 1)

Before we get into the nitty gritty, a little background which might help to explain why Epsom took so long. Epsom station is managed by Southern, part of Govia Thameslink Railway (GTR). Trains are operated by Southern and South Western Railway (SWR), and SWR are designated as the lead operator so they set the majority of the fares from Epsom. One of GTR’s franchise commitments with the DfT was to enable Oyster PAYG at Epsom. To do this they had to provide the infrastructure at the station, liaise with SWR and TfL over what fares to charge and how these could be integrated into the existing Oyster system, and run the whole thing past the DfT for a final sign-off. Anyone with any experience of big companies liaising over projects will realise that this was not an easy task.

With that out of the way, now we come to what’s actually been agreed.

The eagle eyed observer may have noticed that the daily caps for Epsom (£18.30 Anytime, £12.90 off-peak) are remarkably similar to the zone 1-9 caps. In fact they are the same. So the obvious question is, is Epsom in zone 9? The answer is … yes, but. While the daily caps compare favourably with the old paper travelcards from Epsom to zones 1-6, the weekly zone 1-9 travelcard is about £20 more than either (Any permitted or Southern only) weekly Epsom to zones 1-6 travelcard. Quite simply, if you commute from Epsom you should still use paper season tickets, or smart versions stored on “The Key”. This is why you will not see zone 9 mentioned anywhere in relation to Epsom. However, if you usually use a zone 1-9 travelcard to commute from say Brentwood or Amersham, you can use this to travel to Epsom. The gates will let you in or out, without requiring any extra PAYG balance.

So, what about the actual fares. As with all out of zone 6 extensions there are winners and losers. If you are a loser you can still buy tickets the old fashioned way, or treat the difference as a price for the convenience of not having to queue to buy a ticket. We’ve already covered the fact that the daily caps are both cheaper than the equivalent paper day travelcards, so if you are travelling to London and using the tube once there you will be better off using Oyster or contactless. If you are travelling off-peak but one (or both) of your journeys are between 1600-1900 then the peak single fares charged at that time might make a paper ticket cheaper. An example is Epsom to Victoria which is £10.60 off-peak return. The Oyster off-peak single fare is £5.10, but return from Victoria in the afternoon peak will cost £7.30.

There are also some new journey opportunities for Oyster users in SW London. Worcester Park to West Croydon can now be done via Epsom using Oyster. The fare is the same as is charged by default, which in this case is extremely good value.

Given the number of new journeys that have been added to the system it’s not surprising that some errors may have crept in. The obvious one that I’ve spotted is Epsom to Stoneleigh. The fare finder says this is the same as Epsom to Worcester Park, but while the latter is in zone 4, Stoneleigh is zone 5. It’s been reported and I expect it will be fixed shortly.

That’s it for part 1. I’m waiting for answers from SWR before writing part 2, so watch this space.

18 Responses

  1. The implementation of Oyster at Epsom has had a side effect of pushing the rail ticket prices up. An off-peak weekday return from the Boundary of Zone 3 to Epsom went from £5.10 to £6.50. This is now the same as the price from Wimbledon, whereas before it was slightly cheaper. The increase only appears to have been implemented on the direct NR route, so cheaper tickets can still be got by ‘starting’ at other zone 3 stations such as Wimbledon Chase.

  2. I noticed on TFL site that Epsom Railway Statuon is indeed marked as Zone 9

  3. Hi Adam,

    Can you quote the URL of the page where you saw this. On this page Epsom is clearly indicated as being beyond zone 9.

  4. Hi Charles,

    I think what has actually happened is that a number of “Southern only” fares have been removed, I believe at the fares revision on 2nd January. Also bear in mind that if you start from Wimbledon Chase you are limited to travel via Sutton.

  5. Hi Adam,

    So it does. It has to be noted that that page relates to bus stops, but there might be a failure of communication going on there.

  6. Hi Mike.

    This page related to National Rail:

    https://tfl.gov.uk/national-rail/stop/910GEPSM/epsom-rail-station

    Today I ll try to do some journeys between Zone 9 and Epson. Wonder what daily cap will be applied

  7. Hi Adam,

    As I say, you’ve highlighted an issue between two different bits of the website.

    The zone 1-9 cap will be applied; I did just that last weekend.

  8. Whilst Oyster is valid on some TfL bus routes to Epsom, like all buses operated by TfL it is within a single all embracing ‘zone’ as buses use a flat fare of £1.50. As yet TfL have not said which ‘Ghost’ zone for capping purposes Epsom will be in. However, as a ‘heads up’ for the extension of Oyster to Hertford North in April, Cuffley will be in Zone 9 and Bayford and Hertford North will be in B which is ‘Ghost’ zone 11.

  9. Thanks Graham,

    However, I must point out that Epsom is actually in zone 9 for capping purposes, so not a ‘Ghost’ zone at all.

  10. Hi Mike. Thats’s not what TfL are saying internally. As I said they have not yet said which ‘Ghost’ zone it has been allotted but if I had to guess it would probably be B which is ‘Ghost’ zone 11. At a pinch it might be A which is ‘Ghost’ zone 10 like Watford Junction, Grays, etc. We are going to FOI a new list of ‘Ghost’ zones and which stations are in each, after 11 April.

  11. So to be clear: Can I buy weekly 1-9 travelcard and use it for everyday commmute from/to Epsom ?

    Am I right thinking that Epsom has to be placed in one of already existing zones coz oyster zonal syatem is full so there is no space for adfitional “ghost” ?

  12. Hi Graham,

    I have had exchanges with contacts at TfL and GTR and I can confirm that Epsom is in zone 9. I have also travelled there using contactless. I capped at the zone 1-9 rate before going to Epsom and back, and no further charges were added. I stand by everything I have written above.

  13. Hi Adam,

    To be clear, yes you can use a zone 1-9 weekly travelcard to commute from Epsom, BUT YOU WOULD BE ABSOLUTELY BONKERS TO DO SO, unless you also needed to commute to Amersham, Chesham or Brentwood.

    I believe that the Oyster card is full in it’s current configuration, yes.

  14. Matthew Dickinson

    Contactless, but not Oyster will be extended to Radlett in June. This is apparently the first of several stations which will be Contactless only.

    The latest Ticketing & Revenue Update, https://www.whatdotheyknow.com/request/552646/response/1325385/attach/3/TRU115 Redacted.pdf?

    I’m not sure what the reason is behind this. It could either be the Oyster zone limit, or the potential for revenue loss through card abandonment over longer distances.

  15. Thanks Matthew,

    It is indeed an interesting development. Also curious as to why it is only one station when the aim on that line is to get to Luton Airport.

  16. I regularly travel to Edgware Tube from Epsom via the district Line from Wimbledon both peak and off peak. I only do this 1 to 3 days a week max. Is it cheaper now for me to pay via contactless or buy a paper ticket/contactless combo?

  17. Hi Nigel,

    Firstly, do you mean Edgware Road (Z1) or Edgware (Z5)? As you only mention the District line I’ll assume you mean Edgware Road. You’ll be better off sticking to a paper ticket (Epsom to Wimbledon) and contactless (Wimbledon to Edgware Road). This is because you avoid using either SWR or SN in zone 1.

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