Gatwick Capping Changes

As if the inconsistencies with pricing along the line between Merstham and Gatwick Airport weren’t already bad enough, it looks like TfL have completely ripped up the rule book with regard to contactless capping once you venture south from zone 6 at Coulsdon South. This means that since May 16th some part-time commuters have seen their daily fares rise by 27%, without any warning at all.

Rather than calculating the best combination of zonal caps and extension fares, it appears as though full single fares are charged until the much higher Oyster cap for either Merstham to Horley or Gatwick Airport is reached. I wouldn’t have believed it myself if I hadn’t gone out to test it and seen the charges with my own eyes.

If anyone from TfL is reading this, and I know some senior people do, I would be more than happy to be corrected and/or explain the situation properly. Sadly, the opaque methods of calculating extension fares have baffled greater minds than mine.

Here are the details of the trips I made yesterday. I started from Lewisham and made several zone 1-2 journeys by both train/tube and “bus” (to break them up). By the time I touched in at London Bridge to go south I had already capped at £6.50. I was charged £5.80 for the off-peak journey to Redhill and the same for the return to Victoria. Neither journey took account of the fact that I’d already capped for zones 1-2 and only needed to pay for extensions from zone 3. After arriving at Victoria I “used” another bus then travelled back to Crayford. This triggered the £19 off-peak cap from Redhill. By my reckoning I should have been charged £6.50 + £3.90 + £3.90 + £2.50, a total of only £16.80.

Another known calculation would have made the fares £9.30 + £3.00 + £3.00 + £2.00, a total of £17.30 using the zone 1-4 cap and extension fares to Horley. I still don’t quite understand why there are different fares for pairs of stations (Merstham, Redhill/Earlswood, Salfords/Horley, Gatwick) but extensions (used to) only offer Horley to Merstham or Gatwick Airport.

I will be pushing as many buttons as I can find to try and get the full story of what is happening, but again, if someone from TfL wants to contact me I am more than willing to listen.

12 thoughts on “Gatwick Capping Changes”

  1. I’m planning on making 2 off-peak return journeys from zone 4 through zone 1 and on to Gatwick Airport in the coming weeks; I’m also a 16-25 railcard holder and it’s on my Oyster.

    Initially I had hoped to only pay the £7.85 zones 1-7 off-peak daily cap, as it appears that Gatwick Airport is in zone 7.

    However after having read all of your posts about the enigma that is Gatwick capping, it appears that this is a law unto itself, and I’d be better of getting a return rail ticket with Thameslink or Southern for £7.65, and paying £6.15 for the zone 1-4 cap, to avoid the £19 cap. Is this correct?

    I’m almost tempted to risk paying more for the purposes of further research. 😛

    Thanks for all your hard work!

    • Hi Alexander,

      The whole section south of Coulsdon South is OUTSIDE all zones. There are no stations in zone 7, 8 or 9 on that line. How much you pay will depend on what station you are starting at in zone 4 before travelling to zone 1. The off-peak cap with railcard discount is £12.55.

      I think the cheapest method is to get a paper off-peak return from East Croydon to Gatwick for £3.95 and use your Oyster to get to East Croydon, probably paying the £7.25 off-peak zone 1-5 with railcard cap. You will need to touch out at East Croydon. If it’s a Sat/Sun/BH then there is a £3.05 super off-peak return but you are limited to Thameslink trains. The railcard discounted off-peak single from EC to GA is £2.00 which would save getting separate paper tickets at a cost of 5p on weekdays. You must touch out and back in again to get this fare and preserve the 1-5 cap.

  2. Alternatively, will a zone 1-7 off-peak travelcard let me out at Gatwick Airport?

  3. Aaah, I see. I misread the maps and assumed it was in zone 7.

    I think I found a nice hack to get there on the cheap from North East London. For anyone else making a similar journey, here you go:

    Starting at Kenton, getting a single on the overground and NR to East Croydon via Willesden Junction and Clapham Junction only costs £2.50 off-peak as it avoids zone 1.
    Then touch out and touch in again at East Croydon to get the £3 single to Gatwick. £5.50 overall, or £3.65 with a railcard discount.

    So much cheaper than the £19 cap or £19.80 GX!!

  4. I came to this website by chance on a completely unrelated matter and noticed several threads about issues with Gatwick. Clicked on them out of curiosity to see if there was an impending problem I needed to avoid… and instead worked out how to save myself £42 a year.
    (Basically, having taken a long time working out the best balance between speed & price for getting to Gatwick and thinking I’d done a good job, I now discover I can get there faster AND cheaper using my Oyster card. I found that so hard to believe I actually contacted tfl to confirm it!)

    • Hi Len,

      Thanks for letting us know the good news. I’d be interested to know what your scenario is, because there aren’t many cases where Oyster is cheapest at Gatwick.

  5. Now that I’ve actually done it I can confirm: National Rail service from Woolwich Arsenal to London Bridge => quick platform change => more National Rail straight to Gatwick. £8.10 off-peak. Thetrainline is showing the cheapest standard single as £16.70 for that route.
    In the past I’d taken the DLR from Woolwich Arsenal and switched to the Jubilee line to get to London Bridge (£2.80) then bought a National Rail ticket to Gatwick for £9.50 (total £12.30). Oyster all the way was cheaper and faster.

    • Hi Len,

      The Trainline doesn’t indicate Oyster fares as it can’t sell them. If you use Oyster all the way using DLR and Jubilee line then it is £10.30 off-peak. If you’re happy to change trains at East Croydon and touch out and back in again while you do then the National Rail only journey comes down to £3.30 + £3.00 = £6.30 off-peak.

  6. Hi Mike
    I will traveling in 2018 to London. Monday from Gatwick to Uxbridge. Monday to Friday in zones 3-6 and Friday back to Gatwick. Will I pay the weekly cap 3-6 and two extension journeys or do I have to pay the weekly cap of Gatwick. I will use contactless, not oyster. Do you have an better idea.
    kind regards Thomas

    • Hi Thomas,

      You would be charged the weekly zone 3-6 cap but you two Gatwick journeys would be very expensive extensions because of the way TfL are forced to charge Gatwick extension fares by the TOC. There are two cost saving tricks.

      Firstly break your Gatwick to London journey at East Croydon by touching out and back in again on adjacent gates. This will charge only the ridiculously cheap Gatwick to East Croydon fare and the rest will count towards the zonal cap.

      Secondly you can avoid zone 1 by changing at Clapham Junction, West Brompton and Earls Court. It’s not as mad as it looks and means you’d get just a zone 2 extension rather than the much more expensive zone 1-2 extension.

      Finally, do not even think about using the Gatwick Express trains as you will be charged a further £20 or so each way with no account taken of weekly caps etc.

  7. Railcards are going digital. If I get a digital senior railcard, will I still be able to hook my oystercard to it?

    • Hi Jim,

      Yes you will. Just show the railcard on your screen to the staff member updating your Oyster card.

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