Gatwick Fares – A New Twist

A last minute change of mind saw the Thameslink/Southern off-peak fares for National Rail only services from Gatwick to and through zone 1 held at last years price of £8.30.  That’s good isn’t it? I hear you ask.  Well, yes and no.  The problem arises where you want to continue onto the Underground, or indeed if you want to avoid zone 1.  Once you mix the Underground into a journey involving zone 1, TL/SN add £2.40 to the fare being the zone 1 tube single.  But off-peak they are adding £2.60 because they thought the basic fare was going to be £8.50.  Hence Gatwick to Bank is £10.90 off-peak, but hang around at London Bridge for 20 minutes and you’ll be charged £8.30+£2.40 = £10.70.

Avoiding zone 1 is even worse.  After initially setting the fares greater than the via zone 1 equivalent in 2016, they matched them in 2017 so there was no benefit in avoiding zone 1 from Gatwick.  This year the avoiding zone 1 off-peak National Rail only fares have all gone up to £8.50, so we’re back to being charged more to avoid zone 1.  Clearly whoever decided to freeze the fare to zone 1 forgot to do the same to the avoiding zone 1 equivalents. And it gets more complicated because at peak times it is cheaper to avoid zone 1.  What a mess!

It should be noted that National Rail Enquiries states that the off-peak fare is £8.50 for Gatwick to London terminals, so GTR even forgot to update the definitive source of fare information for National Rail services.

So, until such time as the confusion gets sorted out, don’t avoid zone 1 if your off-peak journey to/from Gatwick can be made entirely with National Rail.  And if changing to the Underground at a terminal you will save money if you can wait 20 minutes after touching out before touching in at the Underground station.  Sadly the other way is more difficult because you have to wait 40 minutes before touching in to the National Rail platforms to split the journey in two.

Note: This article has been updated on 29th January with new information recieved from TfL.

24 thoughts on “Gatwick Fares – A New Twist”

  1. Hello. Can you explain a bit more the problem with the avoiding-zone-1 off-peak fare? £8.50 is cheaper than £10.90.

    • Hi Luke,

      The problem is when the via zone 1 fare is NR only. For example Gatwick to Crayford.

  2. Can’t you just break the OSI with going in, out and in again on the gateline?

    • Sadly no. On exit from the Underground, before re-entry, the fare has then become Gatwick to London Bridge LU and attracted the higher fare.

  3. Is this why the off-peak Oyster / Contactless fare on the National Rail website from Redhill to London Terminals is shown as £6.20 yet you are actually charged £6.30 (in line with the TfL Single Fare Finder)?

    It doesn’t seem that GTR told TfL that they weren’t increasing the fare. I therefore suspect that the higher fares are being charged for all journeys.

    • Hi Johnathan,

      GTR made late changes to the fares for Oyster for the Gatwick extension. The fares in the fare finder are correct. Those listed on NRE are the original prices. It seems as though they increased Redhill in the late change.

  4. Yes, that seems to make sense. It does of course mean that Oyster both ways off-peak is 10p more expensive than a paper ticket (£12.50 vs 2 x £6.30).

    Arguably, there is no point using Oyster or Contactless after 09:00 from Redhill to London unless making a single journey (or the return having travelled before 09:30) but that has always been the case.

    It would be nice if they got round to updating the information on the National Rail website. Maybe it will be put right at the time of the May fare revision.

    • Hi Jonathan,

      This is the reason why my first item on “When not to use Oyster” is between Merstham and Gatwick Airport!

  5. Hi Mike
    Do you know what the extension fare on an Oyster with a zones 1-8 Travelcard will be to Gatwick? No zone 8 on that route so I am expecting the same as from Coulsdon South but you never know. Also how much would I need to have on my Oyster to get through the barriers on the way back at Gatwick? I have an Annual Gold Card if that makes a difference.

    • Hi Nick,

      Extensions to Gatwick are at least from zone 6, even if you have higher zones. The entry threshold at Gatwick is the appropriate single fare to London Victoria, even if you have a travelcard or have capped for the day.

  6. When travellling from Gatwick to Central London, and then doing more travel in central London that day, does the daily cap apply for the zone 1-6 part of the fare from Gatwick? Or does it not count towards the cap at all.

    • Hi Mihkel,

      If you start travel at Gatwick then the cap for Gatwick applies. Before 0930 that’s £33.10, afterwards it’s £20.50. The cheapest way to do it is to split the journey at East Croydon (ie touch out and back in again) and use contactless. If all the other travel is within zones 1-2 then it’ll be Gatwick to East Croydon single, a zone 5 to zone 3 single on National Rail and a zone 1-2 daily cap. Off peak that’s £3.20 + £2.50 + £7.00 = £12.70.

  7. Thanks, Mike. What would the price be if I used contactless, and did a journey from Gatwick to Zone 1, and then all other journeys in zones 1-2 (hitting the £7 cap). Would that just be £7 + the fare from Gatwick to Zone 3 on NR1?

    • Hi Mihkel,

      That really ought to be the case, but it isn’t sadly. The fare from Gatwick to East Croydon is ridiculously cheap which had the effect of making any trip from Gatwick/Redhill area to London on contactless work out cheaper than GTR wanted it to. To fix this they changed the extension fares for Gatwick/Redhill such that they would always charge the full fare, only limited by the caps applicable to Gatwick/Redill area.

  8. Hi Mike
    Further to my question about extension fares to Gatwick, I was charged £1.65 in each direction, which appears to be the off-peak fare from Merstham with Gold Card discount. As I touched in at Gatwick in the evening peak, I suppose touching out and back in at London Bridge helped.

    • Hi Nick,

      Thanks for the feedback. And yes, if you’d gone out to Dartford without breaking the journey at London Bridge you’d have been charged more.

  9. Hi Mike,
    I will be traveling to Gatwick airport on Monday(off peak) and returning back on the same day. I live in Hayes (Hayes and Harlington is the nearest station) – what is the cheapest way to travel? I also have 16-30 railcard.
    Many thanks,

    • Hi Pakhtana,

      Sorry I didn’t see this in time. Assuming you have an Oyster card with your 16-25 railcard discount linked to it the cheapest way would be to split the journey in two at East Croydon. Touch in at Hayes, change at Ealing Broadway, Shepherd’s Bush* and Clapham Junction, then touch out at East Croydon. Touch back in again and travel to Gatwick. This avoids zone 1 and the premium attached to travelling to Gatwick from north of East Croydon. Fares are £1.85 Hayes to Croydon and £2.10 Croydon to Gatwick, both off-peak with railcard. The through fare is £5.60.

  10. Hi Mike,
    Thank you. No I didn’t get my rail card attached in time so used my contactless. I did break my journey in East Croydon – which you were right it costed me 3.10 (i think) from Croydon to Gatwick (was peak time on return so charged me 5.60.
    However from hayes and harlington it costed me 5 £ – i went through Victoria though- but I thought it will charge me the normal 1-5 rate no? Normally from hayes to zone 1 is 3.10. What happened here?
    All in all it costed me 20 pound (it included one bus too)
    Buying a ticket in advance with rail card was cheaper (18 pound) – any route.

    • Hi Pakhtana,

      £3.10 is the off-peak fare for Underground, DLR and those NR lines which charge LU fares (inc TfL Rail). Once you used NR from Victoria you changed to the National Rail rate including a surcharge for using the Underground between Victoria and Paddington. Had you used an Oyster card with Railcard discount on the same journeys after 0930 then the £13.50 off-peak cap would have applied.

  11. Thank you Mike. I assumed that everywhere between zone 1-5 is the same price (just like from my local station Hayes and Harlington).

    Will keep it in mind for next time.

  12. Hi, hoping to go South Woodford to Gatwick- fare finder shows quite a difference by avoiding zone 1 (ie via Whitechapel), but how would I do that? I can’t figure out the route.

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