London Travelcards at risk

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JonathanH

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With the Mayor having recently come to a settlement with DfT and announced fare increases, does anyone please have any definitive information as to whether physical travel cards will be continuing?
They are clearly continuing past March since new prices have been announced.

It is government policy to a) eliminate paper tickets and b) introduce PAYG to a wider area around the outskirts of London.

Surely the whole point of contactless is that it doesn't matter how complex your journeys are - just tap in and out properly, and it'll charge you the appropriate fare(s)?
The issue is maximum journey times and out of station interchanges. Yes, complex journeys can be made but so can mistakes.
 
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MikeWh

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The issue is maximum journey times and out of station interchanges. Yes, complex journeys can be made but so can mistakes.
Indeed, although contactless does have an advantage here because it will break OSIs to avoid exceeding MJTs. I imagine Oyster will too now, but only after the event. Something to check there next time I'm out.
 

CHAPS2034

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They are clearly continuing past March since new prices have been announced.

It is government policy to a) eliminate paper tickets and b) introduce PAYG to a wider area around the outskirts of London.


The issue is maximum journey times and out of station interchanges. Yes, complex journeys can be made but so can mistakes.

Thanks for that.

My journeys can be complex and usually spontaneous with no set plan for a few hours, so I don't want to be clock watching to start with. The other possibility is missing some point where I should tap where these things are not obvious.

A card is nice and simple and I know I can go anywhere in the Zones I have paid for without wondering what the system is charging me or if I have inadvertently broken the rules. Suits a provincial like me who only travels in and around London a couple of times a year.
 

PeterY

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Thanks for that.

My journeys can be complex and usually spontaneous with no set plan for a few hours, so I don't want to be clock watching to start with. The other possibility is missing some point where I should tap where these things are not obvious.

A card is nice and simple and I know I can go anywhere in the Zones I have paid for without wondering what the system is charging me or if I have inadvertently broken the rules. Suits a provincial like me who only travels in and around London a couple of times a year.
I make the same type of journeys when using a travelcard. Once I'm in the system I can stay in the system.
 

Nunners

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I make the same type of journeys when using a travelcard. Once I'm in the system I can stay in the system.
I once tried to do a day bashing in London with an Oyster. 3 maximum fares later, I vowed never to try it again.
 

Haywain

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I make the same type of journeys when using a travelcard. Once I'm in the system I can stay in the system.
You might do well to consider what you’ll do when there is not a paper Travelcard option, because I’ll be surprised if it’s around for much beyond the next 12 months.
 

londonbridge

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They are clearly continuing past March since new prices have been announced.

It is government policy to a) eliminate paper tickets and b) introduce PAYG to a wider area around the outskirts of London.


The issue is maximum journey times and out of station interchanges. Yes, complex journeys can be made but so can mistakes.
All very well, as long as there is an expansion of pink readers or some other method of verifying which route you have taken when given a choice. Just one example, I've occasionally travelled from Croydon to Tonbridge/Tunbridge Wells for the parkrun. An expanded system would need to know whether I'd gone via London Bridge or Redhill.
 

Starmill

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All very well, as long as there is an expansion of pink readers or some other method of verifying which route you have taken when given a choice. Just one example, I've occasionally travelled from Croydon to Tonbridge/Tunbridge Wells for the parkrun. An expanded system would need to know whether I'd gone via London Bridge or Redhill.
Strictly it wouldn't actually need to. The charge can easily be programmed to use the lower fare where there's an inherent uncertainty about which routes you take. Indeed this is commonly done today. Of course the issue arises where the journey is on a through train but default fare is not the cheapest i.e. only cases where a positive action to receive the lower fare, but there's no opportunity for that positive action because you're using a through train, is there a potential issue. Gatwick Airport to Reading for example would be very problematic if the default fare isn't based on the current route 'Gomshall' fares.
 

JonathanH

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Gatwick Airport to Reading for example would be very problematic if the default fare isn't based on the current route 'Gomshall' fares.
In that instance, a higher fare can still be charged if the journey uses the gateline in the Paddington trainshed. Indeed, it could also be allowed for if platforms 4 to 6 at Reading had a separate gateline (with GWR early and late finishes at Reading only using those platforms before shunting).

You might do well to consider what you’ll do when there is not a paper Travelcard option, because I’ll be surprised if it’s around for much beyond the next 12 months.
Maybe but someone is going to have to work out what to do with child fares (perhaps abolish them or make them only available on Zip Oyster) ahead of the full application of the PAYG solution.
 
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Hadders

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I believe TfL would need to give 12 months notice to withdraw from the Travelcard Agreement. I don’t believe notice has been served.
 

Haywain

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I believe TfL would need to give 12 months notice to withdraw from the Travelcard Agreement. I don’t believe notice has been served.
I wonder if that would be the case for a mutually agreed removal of just day Travelcards? I see no prospect of period Travelcards being withdrawn, other than perhaps in paper form.
 

AM9

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You might do well to consider what you’ll do when there is not a paper Travelcard option, because I’ll be surprised if it’s around for much beyond the next 12 months.
So what will happen to outboundary travelcards. Will they be valid on NR trains only? Or will a trip to London with more than one zone destination require a London Terminal ticket followed by contactless charges up to the capped daily limit?
 

JonathanH

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So what will happen to outboundary travelcards. Will they be valid on NR trains only? Or will a trip to London with more than one zone destination require a London Terminal ticket followed by contactless charges up to the capped daily limit?
Where Contactless has been extended beyond Zone 6, there is seemless PAYG capping and it must be imagined that would be extended. What happens beyond the new PAYG area is a different matter.
 

ABB125

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I once tried to do a day bashing in London with an Oyster. 3 maximum fares later, I vowed never to try it again.
Same!
I managed to get the costs refunded, but apparently you can't get Railcard discounts on Oyster cards (hmmm...), so I was charged the full adult cap.

Paper travelcards are so much better.
 

AM9

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Where Contactless has been extended beyond Zone 6, there is seemless PAYG capping and it must be imagined that would be extended. What happens beyond the new PAYG area is a different matter.
So does that mean (in my case St Albans), there would be a capped fare to replace the current OB Travelcards - currently priced about the same as a Elstree return plus the zone 1-6 in-boundary Travelcard? If so that means that a day travelling around might cost les than the current arrangements, especially if keeping out of Zone 1 was done.
 

miklcct

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Same!
I managed to get the costs refunded, but apparently you can't get Railcard discounts on Oyster cards (hmmm...), so I was charged the full adult cap.

Paper travelcards are so much better.
Last month I bought a paper 1-9 Travelcard with the intention of doing train bashing on the Met line, and travelling on a through Thameslink train in combination with another ticket (a Clapham Junction not London ticket) to outside the zones, but unfortunately I had an incident on the day resulting in a hospital stay, and I only ended up taking 2 buses using that paper Travelcard.

The only situation where a paper Travelcard is worthwhile is 1. travelling on a through train where you don't have a chance to tap out at the zone border; 2. as an outboundary Travelcard where the cost is minimal compared to a London ticket (e.g. a Basingstoke - Zone 1-6 Travelcard).

Note that some railcards can be added to Oyster, for example, 26-30 card.
 

JonathanH

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So does that mean (in my case St Albans), there would be a capped fare to replace the current OB Travelcards - currently priced about the same as a Elstree return plus the zone 1-6 in-boundary Travelcard?
There is already a daily cap from St Albans for Contactless travel. It is £30.50 peak, £23.50 off-peak.

It isn't priced the same as an Elstree return plus the Zone 1-6 cap as the boundary fares are set such that a higher fare will be charged than Elstree to St Albans. (This was first introduced on the Redhill route because Southern found they were losing too much revenue.)

More background on MikeWh's pages
https://oysterfares.com/oyster-and-gatwick-the-truth/

Oyster and Gatwick – The truth
01/08/2016 by Mike

Ever since Oyster was expanded to cover the whole National Rail network within the zones there has been a desire by the government for it to be accepted for journeys on the express services to Heathrow and Gatwick airports. There are a number of issues which have prevented progress, but when Govia Thameslink Railway were awarded the management contract to run Great Northern, Thameslink, Southern and Gatwick Express, enabling Oyster (and contactless as well by now) on the Express was one of the key target deliverables. Initially the idea was to allow Oyster on Gatwick Express services only, because of the limitations of the Oyster system with regard to the number of zones it can cope with. The difficulty with that is that passengers may see the Oyster pads at Gatwick and use it to board a stopping service, perhaps alighting at Redhill. The potential for bad press when penalty fares and/or prosecutions were threatened was too great. So finally the system was squeezed and contorted in ways it was never designed for and fares were set for all the stations between Merstham and Gatwick Airport inclusive.

As soon as the fares became available to view on TfL’s single fare finder it rapidly became clear that Southern, probably at the behest of the DfT, had seriously cludged the fare setting system. Gone was the idea that you only paid for each zone travelled through once, especially if you reamained on National Rail. Now there were fares for direct Southern and Thameslink services and higher fares if you wanted to use Southeastern and South West Trains, and also other Southern services if you ventured off the direct Gatwick to London routes. They had also abandoned the long standing rule that if you avoided zone 1 you got a cheaper fare. OK, it still holds true for Gatwick itself, but from any of the intermediate stations it costs more to avoid zone 1 (eg via New Cross/New Cross Gate) than it does to travel via London Bridge. Utter madness!

Then there were the fares for travelling on the Express itself. The only way they could differentiate between the Express and other Southern services was by using the gates to platforms 13 and 14 at Victoria. This is fine when things run to plan, but as anyone who has used Southern in the last six months will know, running to plan often goes out of the window. If normal services use platforms 13/14 then Oyster/CPC users have to be directed to use other validators, while if the express gets routed into another platform all the Oyster/CPC users get a cheap ride. If you travel to/from anywhere other than Gatwick then the correct fare will be charged, but only to/from Victoria NR. There is no OSI to link an Underground or Southeastern journey so you may still be overcharged.

And that’s not all. Southern (the DfT) stipulated that the minimum balance required on an Oyster card at Gatwick Airport is the non-express fare to London. Yes, even if you have a travelcard on your Oyster and will only be paying the relatively cheap fare to East Croydon. And there’s no way to get that extra balance back without cancelling the Oyster card, which is a really big faff if you have a travelcard which you need to keep for commuting. Also, no account is made if you have already reached (or soon will reach) the daily cap for Gatwick Airport. You still need the full non-express fare even if you’ll actually pay nothing. Oh, and in the afternoon peak (1600-1900) you need the peak single fare even though you’ll only be charged the off-peak fare if your journey ends in zone 1.

Then there’s the auto topup system. Auto topup adds funds to your PAYG balance if you start a journey with less than £10. But £14 is required at Gatwick in the peak (and £19.80 at anytime at Victoria P13/14), so the gate simply rejects your card saying you have insufficient credit. So much for the “never need to worry about topping up again” advantage of auto topup.

The light at the end of the tunnel. There were some winners in all this upheaval. Holders of contactless payment cards making return journeys to London found that they benefitted from TfL’s “best fare policy” where every combination of zonal cap and extension fares were compared and the cheapest one was charged. In most cases this was the zone 1-4 daily cap and extensions from Gatwick etc to zone 5 (effectively East Croydon). This meant that for contactless users the Gatwick or Redhill etc daily caps almost never applied. Word quickly spread through social media and part-time commuters found their travel costs much more reasonable. That is until the mandarins at the DfT worked out what was going on.

It’s worse than just that though. TfL are actively promoting adult Oyster users to switch to contactless. You can’t make an Underground journey without hearing announcements extolling the virtues of contactless. It’s the same fares as Oyster without the need to top up, they say. And in the zones it is true – in fact it can sometimes work out cheaper thanks to the best value combination of caps and extension fares. But travel beyond Coulsdon South and it gets very muddy indeed. If you have a weekly zone 1-4 travelcard on an Oyster card and make a one-off journey to Gatwick you will be charged from East Croydon. But if you use a contactless card to travel from say Norwood Junction to Oxford Circus each day and make a similar one-off journey to Gatwick you will be charged much much more. Which is why there is no mention of the Gatwick/Redhill caps on TfL’s website where it explains how contactless fares are charged.

So, well done DfT. You have successfully undermined almost every aspect of the Oyster system with your precious acceptance of Oyster from Gatwick Airport. Politically there is nothing TfL can do, though I suspect that privately they wish that they’d never agreed to allow Oyster to Gatwick.

If so that means that a day travelling around might cost les than the current arrangements, especially if keeping out of Zone 1 was done.
No chance. Capping is only ever Zone 1 centric so the cap is the same whether you only reach Zone 6 or spend the day in Zone 1.
 
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Bikeman78

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Surely the whole point of contactless is that it doesn't matter how complex your journeys are - just tap in and out properly, and it'll charge you the appropriate fare(s)?

Unless your "bashing" involves riding round the Circle Line and never going out of the station of course.
Back in the days of the A stock I would often spend 8 to 10 hours riding around without ever going through ticket barriers. Likewise on the District line around the same time. To be honest, on train inspections are so rare (I think it was literally zero on all my Met line rides) I'd be happy to wing it if it weren't for the possibility of a criminal record.
 

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About 80% of what I sell is paper One Day Travelcards. Many buyers have had bad experiences with contactless/Oyster and can't or won't use them.

If there is any truth in there being a push to withdraw paper ODTs, what is the recommendation for those passengers?
 

JonathanH

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About 80% of what I sell is paper One Day Travelcards. Many buyers have had bad experiences with contactless/Oyster and can't or won't use them.

If there is any truth in there being a push to withdraw paper ODTs, what is the recommendation for those passengers?
They will have to use Contactless or Oyster. It is the favoured ticket medium for travel in London and the area round London of TfL, the DfT and Government.

Paper tickets are being withdrawn and TfL isn't installing barcode readers.
 

plugwash

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In that instance, a higher fare can still be charged if the journey uses the gateline in the Paddington trainshed.
At paddington are there gatelines on all routes between underground and mainline? The Map on NRE doesn't show one on the connection to the hammersmith and city/north circle route, but i'm fairly sure I encountered gatelines when I took that route to paddington a few years ago.

It does strike me as shortsighted that Farringdon was apparently built with Thameslink and Crossrail behind the same gateline.
 

miklcct

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It does strike me as shortsighted that Farringdon was apparently built with Thameslink and Crossrail behind the same gateline.
What's the problem of this? As interchanging at Farringdon is usually the fastest way for a lot of journeys on both lines, just make the "via zone 1" fare the default, and force people to tap pink readers otherwise.
 

MikeWh

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What's the problem of this? As interchanging at Farringdon is usually the fastest way for a lot of journeys on both lines, just make the "via zone 1" fare the default, and force people to tap pink readers otherwise.
Well in the particular option we're discussing, quite a big one. How do you differentiate between:

a) Reading - Farringdon - Gatwick
b) Reading - Gatwick direct via Guildford
 

miklcct

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Well in the particular option we're discussing, quite a big one. How do you differentiate between:

a) Reading - Farringdon - Gatwick
b) Reading - Gatwick direct via Guildford
In such case a new gateline (either at Reading or Farringdon) or on-train reader is unavoidable if they need to be charged differently. I prefer installing on-train pink readers as they give the maximum route flexibility.
 

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Well in the particular option we're discussing, quite a big one. How do you differentiate between:

a) Reading - Farringdon - Gatwick
b) Reading - Gatwick direct via Guildford

Install honesty validators at Farringdon and get people to touch them so they can be charged a higher fare :p
 

AM9

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There is already a daily cap from St Albans for Contactless travel. It is £30.50 peak, £23.50 off-peak.

It isn't priced the same as an Elstree return plus the Zone 1-6 cap as the boundary fares are set such that a higher fare will be charged than Elstree to St Albans. (This was first introduced on the Redhill route because Southern found they were losing too much revenue.)

More background on MikeWh's pages
https://oysterfares.com/oyster-and-gatwick-the-truth/




No chance. Capping is only ever Zone 1 centric so the cap is the same whether you only reach Zone 6 or spend the day in Zone 1.
So, looking at BR Fares for the fares, it seems that their are 'Smart' versions of some of the existing paper ticket prices. The two that you have quote (ADT and ODT), are the same as the Smart and paper prices, would that apply any contactless payment and would the cheaper versions also be included, e.g. the 'AM3' -avoiding evening peak and 'WRE' - weekend BH only?
I also assume that there is currenly no mechanism for applying a railcard discount on contactless, so will that be changed before all passengers are preventd from using paper tickets?
 

johncrossley

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So, looking at BR Fares for the fares, it seems that their are 'Smart' versions of some of the existing paper ticket prices. The two that you have quote (ADT and ODT), are the same as the Smart and paper prices, would that apply any contactless payment and would the cheaper versions also be included, e.g. the 'AM3' -avoiding evening peak and 'WRE' - weekend BH only?
I also assume that there is currenly no mechanism for applying a railcard discount on contactless, so will that be changed before all passengers are preventd from using paper tickets?

GTR call tickets issued using a smartcard 'Smart'.

If paper Travelcards are withdrawn, they can still presumably continue on ITSO. Many Day Travelcards are already available on ITSO. No problems with exceeding maximum journey times using those.
 

davews

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A senior rail card discounted out boundary travel card from Martins Heron is worth it if you are doing more than one Zone 1 journey. As for on board ticket inspections I was checked yesterday on an Overground train, two burly ticket revenue chaps going through the carriage. I seemed to be the the only one with a paper ticket, the rest were a combination of oyster/contactless/phones so regrettably the writing may be on the wall for paper travelcards.
 
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