Same Station Exits

This is an old page.  The current version can be found here.

Sometimes it is necessary to touch out at a station without actually making a journey.  The Oyster system reacts in one of three different ways depending on how much time has elapsed between touch in and touch out.

Between 0 and 2 minutes

This could happen if you immedately discover that there is disruption, or if the display on the gate says that you do not have enough credit to complete your intended journey and you decide to exit again to top-up.  The maximum fare will remain deducted and this will not count towards the daily cap.  However, if you re-enter (after topping up for instance) within 45 minutes the original maximum fare is refunded and a new journey is started.  The touch out must be at a ticket gate (ie you had to touch out to open the gate).  The new journey can be at the same station or at another one, but you cannot use a bus or tram to get between the stations.  This is probably only useful in Central London.

Between 2 and 30 minutes

In this instance the system will charge the cheapest single fare from that station at the time of touch in.  Usually that will be a single zone fare, but it can be two or more zones if the station is the only one on it’s line in that zone.  This charge will count towards the daily cap.

More than 30 minutes

Now the system assumes that you have made two incomplete journeys and charges you accordingly.  Neither journey counts towards the daily cap.

These charges are levied to discourage fare evasion.  If there is a genuine reason for making a same station exit then you will probably be eligible for a refund of the extra charges.  If the station has full Oyster facilities (i.e. most Underground stations when the ticket office is open) then you may be able to get the credit immediately, otherwise call the helpdesk for assistance.

25 thoughts on “Same Station Exits”

  1. I just wanted to let you know about an interesting anomaly which may be of use to your readers who come into Waterloo East regarding Same Station Exits –

    A friend of mine who lives in the wilds of Kent travels in to Waterloo East on a paper point to point ticket but her office is near the Southwark tube exit on Blackfriars Road, she was advised that if she got an Oyster with £1 credit on it this would allow her to use the exit she requires for free.

    She exits Waterloo East as if she was going to get the Jubilee line from Southwark using the paper Point to Point ticket on the first barrier then immediately enters Southwark station using the Oyster PAYG on the second set of barriers, walks through the station touches the barrier on the opposite side of the station and exits without being charged!

    • Thanks James,

      I’m aware that people using Oyster into Waterloo East can exit via Southwark for free, but I didn’t know it worked if you hadn’t travelled and weren’t going to. Useful to know.

  2. What happens in the first scenario if you don’t go back in for 45 minutes (e.g. if you decide to walk instead)? Does the system refund then?

    • It depends how big the disruption was that caused the issue. If it was a major line closure then TfL may well automatically refund incomplete journey charges. If you don’t get an email within 2-3 days then call the helpdesk and explain what happened.

  3. Mike, automated refunds are sent to the gates 4 days after the incident. The email is sent out in the early hours once the refund is ready at the gateline.

    • Thanks Adrian,

      Not sure why it should take 4 days though. It does also depend on the TOC responsible letting TfL know. If you make a decision to leave a NR station because of just one cancellation I’d say you’d probably have to request a refund.

  4. So, lets say there is the following scenario. A friend is arriving from stansted using the train, so i have to do a trip of london bridge->bank->liverpool street using the tube to meet them.
    Then i have to do the opposite trip to go back home with her.
    Would exiting at liverpool street and then going in again be cheaper than just staying within the station until she arrives and then going back? (so exiting from the same station since i did not exit at liverpool street).

    • Hi George,

      It might be or it might not. If you were to get back to London Bridge within the 30 minutes then you would only be charged for one journey instead of two. But if it took longer than 30 minutes you would get two incomplete journey charges which would be significantly more. Plus your friend would need to find you in the tube station rather than you meeting at the end of the Stansted Express platforms. My recommendation would be to touch out and in again.

  5. The 2 to 30 charge doesn’t make any sense at all and doesn’t seem to work properly at stations with only touch points rather than gates.

    If you touch in and out of the same station when it’s physically impossible to have traveled to another station and back why does it charge at all? It just seems like a scam in the hope that people won’t call to claim their money back.

    Furthermore the fact that they charge for impossible journeys is only availible when you know what to google for. I’ve never seen any posters in the actual stations explaining this weird behaviour.

    It’s natural to assume that if you walk into a station and 3 or 4 minutes later find that your train is behind schedual or canceled that touching out of the same station should cancel it rather than charging you for journey to nowhere.

    Even worse if you’re in the station and not entirely sure if you touched in when you entered there’s no way to check for less than the cost of traveling to another station since touching in, touching out and touching in again all in a 3 minute window causes it to assume you’ve flown faster than the trains between stations and it charges you accordingly.

    • Hi David,

      If you know what your balance should be, even roughly, then you can check what it is now at a ticket machine. When using PAYG there will be a deduction of at least £3.00 (usually more) after touching in. This is not shown on the balance confirmed as you actually touch in, but is shown if you check it at a ticket machine afterwards.

  6. That’s an idea though not ideal. Compliments on the great site. it’s much more informative than the official oyster site, I thought it was an official oyster site when I first saw it.

  7. How do same station exits work on standalone validators? At Sudbury Hill Harrow, for instance, there is a standalone validator and a PERTIS machine. Fortunately, I was on a paper Travelcard but didn’t realise there was no service for another 2 hours until I reached the platform. Had I been on Oyster, I would have already touched in by now and would be in a dilemma as how to rectify the matter.

    • Hi Bruce,

      As I understand it, you can’t touch again for a couple of minutes after using a standalone validator for entry. After 2 minutes it works the same as with gatelines.

  8. I want to enquire on single fare finder it’s £1.40 from all saints(DLR) to becontree.
    That’s if you go all saints to Stratford, then Stratford to west ham and then west ham to becontree.

    If I go all saints to bow church and then go bow road to becontree is it still £1.40 or am I going to get charged twice. You have to come out of bow church and walk 200m to bow road then tap in again. Is this correct or should it be £1.40 no matter what way I go.

  9. I’m reading this page (and TfL’s slightly less detailed equivalent) because on 9 December I want to do a full circuit of the completed Overground circle that will have opened that day. Of course that would involve touching in at the starting point, then touching out again about 100 minutes later in the same place!

    I guess the only way to do this on Oyster (without paying a fortune, i.e. two maximum fares) is to touch out and back in at some point halfway around (Highbury & Islington or Clapham Junction, whichever you don’t start at, where you have to change trains)? It’s a shame they can’t cater for this possibility but I realise it’s quite a niche market!

    Or, I suppose, once the circuit is finished, catch one last train to go one stop further or one stop back – as long as the total time between touching in and out is less than 110 minutes (or possibly 120?) that should work out cheapest actually! What do you reckon?

    • Hi Paul,

      My advice when ‘bashing’ is not to use Oyster. If you must, then always aim to touch out and in again well within the maximum journey time. If you only have minutes to spare then you are at the mercy of any delays along the way.

  10. Hi Mike,

    I had a journey two weeks back from hounslow central to Greenwich by tubes and DLR, but I missed the touchin at DLR with my oyster. So around 17 pound got deducted for the journey on that day. I complained about and I am going get it at hounslow central station but I need to touchin and touchout means i need to travel simply, which will cause some amount deduction. Could u please let me know if there is a way to get the whole amount in my oyster. Like if i touchin and touchout at the same station,will I get the whole amount refunded without any charge. What is the minimum charge for oyster between two stations.


    • Hi Amit,

      You should have been asked if you are going to travel in the next 8 days. If you don’t the refund will return to the Oyster helpdesk and they can then arrange to send a cheque or bank transfer instead. The minimum charge from Hounslow Central is £1.40 off-peak.

  11. Hi,
    I recently went through this. I am only visiting London for a few days and on December 24, I touched in and out of Queensway, without making a journey. My journey history online even says that I touched in and out within 1 minute. It charged me 4.60 for that journey even though I had reached my cap for that day. I only realised this a few hours later when I tried to touch-in at a different station, and it told me I had to top-up as I had negative balance. Which I did.

    On december 27, i went to the ticket helpdesk at victoria underground. According to what they could see (they even gave me a print out), there was no case of over charging and in fact their journey history seems to be incomplete to what I can see online.

    So all in all, I still think I should get a refund of that 4.60.

    What do you think, Mike?

    PS. Thanks for a wondeful and resourceful site. Keep it up!

    • Hi Hisham,

      Can you copy and paste your history for that day? I agree that it sounds like you should get a refund, though you might have to contact the helpdesk rather than a tube station. If you can post the history I can tell either way.

  12. Oyster journey planner online seems to be down at the moment “for maintenance”. But I had taken a screenshot the first time I checked. Here’s a link to the image:

    If you don’t allow external links on your site, I understand, and will copy-paste the history as soon as I can access it.

    Just wondering, someone told me that the number to contact the helpdesk is a premium number and not toll-free. So will I be put on hold etc. for too long that I spend all that refund money on the phone call? Just a thought that crossed my mind 🙂

    • Yes, that’s clearly an overcharge and the helpdesk will sort that. I’m guessing that the tube station was relying on the history on your card which is only the last 7-8 journeys, so it’s possible that Queensway had already fallen off. If you can wait a couple of days you might find that your online account offers you the chance to claim a refund. Otherwise you shouldn’t normally have to wait too long to speak to someone and it’s not very expensive from a BT landline.

  13. Paddington Rail Station is one station to take care; if you are used to traveling on a a paper ticket from outside London, and therefore have developed the habit of stopping at the barriers only if they are closed (in other words not used to touching out when arriving from Outside London), then you might forget to do so when actually traveling on oyster (from stations within London like Hayes and Harlington).

    It happened to me as I was switching from Rail to Tube and the barrier was probably open (I don’t even remember of there being one) . I realized this I was about to enter the Tube, but then I thought that either the system would treat it as a touch-out upon entering the Tube gate or it would get capped anyway, and didn’t bother to turn back. But the maximum fare was charged and didn’t get capped.

    I applied for the refund and got it, however since I’m traveling on a paper ticket to outside London and wouldn’t return within 8 days. I can’t make a journey from Hayes & Harlington, so I’m planning to do an entry/exit at Hayes & Harlington from which I should get 3.10 of my 4.60 back.

    In general, be careful when switching from Rail to Tube.

    • Hi Tobias,

      It’s good advice in lots of places, particularly where there are no gates and you have to find a validator.

      Don’t waste a single stop single just to get most of your refund back. If you don’t pick it up, then after 8-9 days have passed you can call again and request a refund to your bank. In fact, if you said you wouldn’t be travelling then you should have been offered that possibility anyway. Now it’s at a station you will have to wait for it to expire before they can do anything different.

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