This is an old page. The current version can be found here.
If the Olympics has taught me one thing it is that there is a lot of confusion about how to use both Oyster and a paper ticket on a journey from outside London.
When you want to use a PAYG Oyster card
With PAYG there are no ifs and no buts, you have to get out at the station where you switch from paper to Oyster or vice versa. This doesn’t necessarily make it useless, but it’s certainly a disadvantage where services are infrequent and/or there are no validators on the platform. It can be useful when using some major stations as a gateway to the world beyond Oyster, like Watford Junction, East Croydon, Orpington, Surbiton, Amersham, Upminster and Romford. Other potentially useful stations are just one stop outside the Oyster area (eg Dartford, Epsom and Potters Bar).
When you want to use a Travelcard on Oyster
A travelcard on Oyster is exactly the same as a travelcard on paper. There is no penalty for not touching in or out providing the whole journey (on the Oyster card) is within the zones covered by the travelcard. While this means that you don’t have to get off the train, you do need to be aware whether the train has to call at the station where you switch from one ticket to another. This is defined by condition 19 in the National Rail Conditions of Carriage as follows:
19. Using a combination of tickets
You may use two or more tickets for one journey as long as together they cover the entire journey and one of the following applies:
(a) they are both Zonal Tickets unless special conditions prohibit their use in this way. The Ticket Seller will, if you ask, advise you whether you can use a Zonal Ticket in combination with another ticket.
(b) the train you are in calls at a station where you change from one ticket to another;
(c) one of the tickets is a Season Ticket (which for this purpose does not include Season Tickets or travel passes issued on behalf of a passenger transport executive or local authority) or a leisure travel pass, and the other ticket(s) is/ are not.
You must comply with any restriction shown on the tickets relating to travel in the trains of a particular Train Company or Train Companies (see Condition 10).
If you do not comply with this Condition, you will be treated as having joined the train without a ticket and Condition 2 or 4 will apply, either to the entire journey, or from the last station where the train stopped at which at least one of the tickets was valid.
For the purposes of this Condition, a “leisure travel pass” means any multi-journey ticket (excluding Season Tickets) valid for:
(i) at least 7 consecutive days; or
(ii) at least 3 days in a period of at least 7 consecutive days
and includes rover tickets, travel passes, flexipass tickets and BritRail passes.
A travelcard on an Oyster card is both a season ticket and a zonal ticket. Travelcards are not considered to be issued on behalf of a PTE or LA. Therefore, as long as you are not using any other season tickets, part (c) applies and the train does not need to call. If the ticket adjoining the travelcard is to a boundary zone or includes some zones itself, part (a) applies and again the train does not need to call where you changeover. There are no gaps between London zones so a travelcard for zones 1-3 and a ticket including zones 4-6 will cover the whole journey in the zones.
However, a season ticket to a named station along with a travelcard on Oyster will require the train to stop at the changeover station as per part (b).