Absolutely bonkers fares from Dartford

As anyone who reads this site regularly already knows, the Oyster fares system is ridiculously complicated. There are odd scenarios, particularly in the afternoon peak, where it can be cheaper to finish a journey in zone 1 than at the zone 2 station beforehand. However, this evening I’ve found a case where the cheapest route varies depending on the time of day you travel.

An example is Dartford to Highbury & Islington. Forget the really expensive route via London Terminals and the Underground, but there are two alternatives: via New Cross and Shoreditch High Street; and via Stratford. Shoreditch is in zone 1 whereas diverting via Stratford avoids zone 1. In the peak common sense prevails and the zone 1 route is slightly more expensive (£7.00 vs £6.40). Travel off-peak and the reverse is true (£4.00 vs £4.20). You may well be wondering why. Travel via Shoreditch is wholly on National Rail while the diversion via Stratford requires either Underground and/or DLR. Unlike within zones 2-6, from Dartford there is a premium for mixing travel in zones 2-3 as well as the usual zone 1.

It really is madness.

7 thoughts on “Absolutely bonkers fares from Dartford”

  1. This is unusual in that you need to touch the pink reader in order for the higher fare via Stratford to be applied, else it will charge the default fare of £4.00. I was previously under the impression that touching a pink reader would only ever reduces the fare. Does this mean that you may be liable for a penalty fare if you a caught travelling via Stratford not having touched the pink reader?

    • Hi Rob, that’s a very good point. No, you can’t be issued a penalty fare for not touching a pink reader. This is because it almost always will reduce the fare.

  2. It’s only madness from the travellers’ point of view. From the TOC’s point of view, it makes perfect sense. After all, OEPs made perfect sense to them as well 🙂

  3. The best way especially travelling in the rush hour is NR Dartford to Woolwich Arsenal, DLR to Stratford (change at Canning Town off peak) then LO service to Highbury

    • Yes, I agree when peak fares are charged. The issue is whether to touch the pink reader at Stratford or not.

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