Thanks to an eagle-eyed visitor from Chesham I have been alerted to some changes to the early starts of the off-peak cap. These take effect from the fare change, effectively from Monday 20th January. Remember that this is the time that the off-peak cap starts being counted, NOT when off-peak fares are charged. And that is an important distinction in the light of one change. The details are:
Chalfont and Latimer was 0915 and now becomes 0920. This allows use of the 0925 to London.
Chesham was 0900 and now becomes 0910. This is pointless as the first train you can now get is the 0934 which is off-peak anyway.
Hatch End has been added to the list at 0920. Again, this is not that useful as the first London train is at 0932, but if the distance from the gates to the train is significant it might have some benefit.
The one that concerns me most is Chesham. If you are going to make lots of journeys around London and trigger the off-peak cap then it won’t matter, but consider someone making a return journey to Baker Street and avoiding the afternoon peak. If they touch in at 0920 they will be charged £10.60 in total, but by leaving it until 0930 the charge drops to £7.80. The off-peak cap is £11.60 so is irrelevant to just a return journey.
You might say that this is the case anywhere with the first train after 0930, which of course it is. But most other places don’t start the off-peak cap early. The effect of this concession already confuses occasional travellers, and I can see more being confused now there is no train which can be caught between 0910 and 0930. It would be better if they just reverted to the normal off-peak cap start.