The Oyster Extension Permit was a switch which was needed by Oyster users with a travelcard stored on their card and who wanted to travel beyond the validity of that travelcard on National Rail services. Thankfully it is no longer required after TfL managed to persuade the NR TOCs to drop it. It only lasted 505 days and was so poorly publicised that the majority of Oyster users are still oblivious to it’s existance.
I suggest a quiet funeral for the OEP and respectfully ask that no flowers are sent.
This page remains as a historical record, along with it’s many comments, but no new comments are accepted.
Oyster Extension Permits (the old page)
First let’s clear up a common misconception. OEPs do not extend the Oyster system beyond it’s area. They allow you to travel beyond the zones on your stored travelcard but still within the overall Oyster area.
This is possibly the hardest concept within the Oyster system to understand. The whole point about Oyster is to be able to turn up and travel whenever you want without having to queue for tickets. So why do we have OEPs which have to be obtained before starting a journey? Before I answer that question, let me just clarify who needs to obtain a permit. You only need to obtain a permit if you have a travelcard stored on your Oyster card, you start your journey within the zones covered by your travelcard and your journey takes you beyond those zones on National Rail services (excluding Overground). You don’t need one if you start your journey outside your zones, if you haven’t got a stored travelcard (i.e. you only use pay-as-you-go), if the journey is entirely within your zones, or if the part of your journey outside of the zones is only on TfL rail services (i.e. it is by tube, Overground or DLR). The flowchart below summarises whether you need an OEP.
You can set your permit at any Tube or London Overground station ticket office or touchscreen ticket machine, Oyster Ticket Stops, some National Rail ticket offices or self-service ticket machines. You should only set the permit shortly before starting the journey that requires it. You will need at least £1.50 pay-as-you-go balance on your card.
If using a self service machine the process is simple:
- Select the Oyster services option.
- Touch your card on the yellow reader.
- Select the Add OEP button.
- Touch your card on the yellow reader again.
So, why do you need them? When you touch in within the zones on your travelcard the system does not deduct the maximum fare (as it does when using pay-as-you-go). This means that there is no incentive to touch out at the end of your journey where many National Rail stations are ungated and unstaffed. With an OEP on your card you will get a reduced maximum fare deducted which will be adjusted when you touch out. The reduced fare is equivalent to a zone 1-4 single fare. If you fail to touch out this fare would remain deducted from your balance and wouldn’t count towards any cap for that day either.
Now the techincal bit. The OEP is really just a switch. All it does is tell the system to deduct a reduced maximum fare when you touch in within the zones covered by your stored travelcard. It is this deduction that National Rail inspectors will want to see if they check your card while outside the zones covered by your travelcard. Once the switch has been set it will remain on the card until one of the following occur:
- You touch out at the end of a journey outside your zones. It will also calculate the correct fare and adjust the original deduction at this point.
- You touch in at a station outside your zones.
- It is switched off at a ticket stop, ticket office or ticket machine.
The nasty gotcha. You don’t need an OEP when travelling outside your zones on services run by TfL (Tube, DLR, Overground). You do on all other National Rail services. It is advisable to set one if travelling outside your zones between New Cross Gate and West Croydon/Crystal Palace. This is because you might end up on a Southern operated service where an inspector would want to see the entry deduction.
The even nastier gotcha. Originally you would still be charged correctly if you forgot to set an OEP but touched in and out at each end of the journey. However, I’ve now been made aware that Southeastern have changed their gateline programming such that when you go to touch out it flashes up “Seek assistance” and won’t open the gate. When you seek assistance you may well get stung with a penalty fare. Ouch! I’m currently trying to get information about how widespread this practice is.
This page has been heavily updated following the comment posted by John below – thanks John.