Maximum Journey Times

The oyster system is designed for single journeys, although a journey by rail can include any combination of National Rail (inc Overground and Elizabeth Line), Underground and DLR. Providing you always touch in and touch out at the ends of your journey you should always be charged the correct fare. Each journey must be completed within a maximum time. If the time is exceeded then the system will charge two incomplete journeys, neither of which will count towards any cap for the day. The amount of time you are allowed varies depending on the time of day and the number of zone boundaries crossed.

Journeys in or near Central London

* Use these values for upto 5 zones within zones 1-4, see below for 6 or 7 zones.
Zones covered Monday-Friday
Mon-Fri 1900-0430
and all day Saturday
Sunday and
Bank Holidays
Zone 1, zone 2, zones 2-3 90 mins 100 mins 110 mins
Zones 1-2 100 mins 110 mins 120 mins
Zones 1-3 110 mins 125 mins 135 mins
Zones 1-4* 110 mins 125 mins 135 mins

In the table below the stations outside of zones 1-9 have been given pseudo-zone numbers purely for the calculation of maximum journey times. Watford Junction is treated as zone 9; Ockenden, Chafford Hundred, Purfleet, Grays, Merstham, Redhill, Earlswood, Salfords, Horley and Gatwick Airport are all considered to be zone 10; Broxbourne, Rye House, St Margarets (Herts), Ware, Hertford East and Brentwood** are in zone 11; and Shenfield in zone 12. All zones technically exist, even with no stations, so Upminster to Grays is 5 zones (6-7-8-9-10). The TfL site describes the longest journey as Amersham to Shenfield (9 through to 1 then 2 through to 12), but Gatwick Airport to Shenfield is longer at 21 zones, hence we have an extra row on our table. Does anyone want to guess how long will be allowed on a through train between Reading and Shenfield when Crossrail opens?

** Brentwood remains in zone 11 even though it transferred to zone 9 when TfL took over the stopping services to Shenfield.

Any other zone combination

* See section above where the journey is close to Central London
Zones covered Monday-Friday
Mon-Fri 1900-0430
and all day Saturday
Sunday and
Bank Holidays
Within 1 zone* 70 mins 80 mins 85 mins
Across 2 zones* 80 mins 90 mins 100 mins
Across 3 zones* 90 mins 100 mins 110 mins
Across 4 zones* 100 mins 110 mins 120 mins
Across 5 zones 110 mins 125 mins 135 mins
Across 6 zones 120 mins 135 mins 145 mins
Across 7 zones 130 mins 145 mins 160 mins
Across 8 zones 140 mins 155 mins 170 mins
Across 9 zones 150 mins 165 mins 180 mins
Across 10 zones 160 mins 180 mins 195 mins
Across 11 zones 170 mins 190 mins 205 mins
Across 12 zones 180 mins 200 mins 220 mins
Across 13 zones 190 mins 210 mins 230 mins
Across 14 zones 200 mins 220 mins 240 mins
Across 15 zones 210 mins 235 mins 255 mins
Across 16 zones 220 mins 245 mins 265 mins
Across 17 zones 230 mins 255 mins 280 mins
Across 18 zones 240 mins 265 mins 290 mins
Across 19 zones 250 mins 275 mins 300 mins
Across 20 zones 260 mins 290 mins 315 mins
Across 21 zones 270 mins 300 mins 325 mins

Splitting a journey

Unlike National Rail paper tickets, pay as you go journeys using an Oyster card cannot usually be broken.  The only exception to this rule is where you need to leave one station and walk to another nearby one to continue your journey.  This is called an out-of-station interchange (OSI).  Providing that you do not exceed the time allowed for walking between the stations you can do anything else that you want on the way.  Be aware that the walking time ends when you touch in through the gateline, so if you need to wait on a concourse until your train is advertised then this needs to be taken into consideration.  There is a full list of OSIs on this page.  Note also that the time taken between touch out and touch in is included in the overall journey time.

157 thoughts on “Maximum Journey Times”

  1. If you touch out, then does it matter how long you stay outside the station???
    I’m not from London, but will be visiting.
    I feel Touch in at the start and touch out at the end, completes the journey.
    Does it not.

  2. Yes, touch in at the start and touch out at the end does complete a journey. The only time it matters is when you need to leave a station in the middle of your journey. For example, say I was travelling from Crayford to South Kensington to visit the museums. I would touch in at Crayford, touch out at Charing Cross, touch in again at Embankment and touch out at South Kensington. Providing that I spent no more than 20 minutes between Charing Cross and Embankment the system would treat that as one journey. If I took longer then it would be two journeys and would cost more.

  3. Thanks so much for putting this up, as someone who likes to travel without much purpose it’s good to know how long I can spend just meandering around stations and lines before I get stung the excess fee.

    I’ll write it down in my notebook for future reference.

  4. I do recommend using paper travelcards if you intend travelling around without touching out very often. It’s very easy to get held up somewhere and forget. Plus if you go between two nearby stations you might find it’s an out of station interchange and doesn’t end the journey after all.

  5. but oyster caps are always lower than paper travelcards, so anyway you will pay less even if it charges you for two journeys instead of one. i do get the point on being charged extra fees when the system doesn’t accept you as touched out in the interchange stations, but how many of those do we have? charing cross and embankment? penge west and penge east? those are the only ones i can think of

    • Hi Ally,

      Unfortunately the days of Oyster caps being lower than paper travelcards ended years ago, apart from a few special cases like railcard discounted off-peak caps for zones 1-2 and 1-4. Oyster single fares are usually less than cash single fares, but the caps are the same.

  6. Hi Mike, I’m a bit confused (sorry if this is a daft question!). Doesn’t the Oyster card cap out at the same price as the paper travelcard, effectively turning into a one day travelcard? So, would it make any difference then regardless of the OSIs involved if you were using an Oyster card or a paper travelcard?

  7. Yes, the Oyster card does cap out at the same price as a paper travelcard, if you make enough journeys in the day. In most cases a return journey by rail is not enough to trigger the cap on it’s own.

  8. Hi Mike, love the brilliant advice! Here’s one for you… not really relevant to maximum journey times, it’s more about the maximum fare taken for an incomplete journey.

    Short story – I need to get from HRO (zone 6 BR) to GTW (Gatwick). Route is HRO-LST (National Rail z6-z1) walk to London Bridge the LBG-GTW (First Cap Connect). Time is early morning, c 5am weekday.

    Option 1 is to travel on Oyster PAYG from HRO to LST for £4.40, then buy a ticket on FCC for £9.40

    Option 2 – there is a single fare of £5.10 from ECR-GTW. The LBG-GTW train stops at ECR. Now just to make things interesting, the PAYG single fare from HRO-ECR is shown as £4.40 (including z1).

    So some questions please…

    1 Is there an OSI between Liv St and London Bridge (BR)?
    2. IF not then if I touch in at HRO, out at LST, in at LBG and then don’t touch out at all, will i be charged £4.40 (HRO-LST) + £4.40 (LBG to incomplete)>

    3. Should I get off at Stratford and take Jubilee line to LBG, touch out of the tube and then NOT touch in on National Rail, and if so am I breaking the rules? Or are there gates now, and if I do touch in on the NR platforms, what is my final cost for the incomplete journey?

    The reason I’m talking about an incomplete journey is that I don’t have time to hop off at ECR, touch out and then come back using the paper ticket for ECR-GTW!

    Hope this makes (some) sense!

    • Hi Vik,

      It all makes perfect sense, although you have made one very easy slip. The off-peak single fare from Harold Wood to Liverpool Street is £3.20. You selected the Underground station which the system then makes a mixed NR+TfL journey which does cost £4.40. Anyway, onto your questions:

      1) No, there is no OSI between Liverpool Street and London Bridge, you would need to take the tube to join the journey into one.
      2) Almost. As mentioned it would be £3.20+£4.40.
      3) Not touching in at London Bridge NR is against the rules and may be impossible if the gates are working. If you touch back in again with in the 40 minute OSI from London Bridge LU to London Bridge NR then you will get charged £4.40 for the whole journey. It won’t count towards your capping for the day, but reading between the lines, that won’t matter because it looks like you’re not coming back. However, depending on what time you arrive at London Bridge, you may find an alternative Southern fast train to East Croydon which would then give you enough time to touch out.

      Anyway, changing at Stratford and London Bridge appears to be the recommended route for this journey. If you have a little more time you could halve the fare by changing at Canada Water, touching on the pink validator, then changing at either New Cross Gate or Norwood Junction. Perhaps this is an option that you might consider when you return later on.

      Hope that helps.

  9. Brilliant – thanks Mike.

    So I’ll touch in at HRO, Jubilee at Stratford, out at London Bridge LUL, in at London Bridge NR (if gates closed at 5am) and then not complete the journey… and I’ll be a good boy and buy a separate ECR-GTW ticket, and my total spend will be £4.40 (incomplete PAYG) + £5.10 = £9.50!

    Not bad considering the National Rail enquiries website quotes more than 20 quid for Harold Wood – Gatwick!

    Yes you are right, I am not fussed about capping that day 🙂

    • Yes, that’s all fine. Touch in at London Bridge anyway, even if the gates are open, then you won’t get a penalty fare if inspected before East Croydon. It won’t cost any more as you’ll already have used £4.40 getting to London Bridge. The only issue would be if you touch in after 0630 as it might bump up the entry charge to £6.50 then.

  10. According to the top table (and tfl’s web site) there is a 90 minute allowance travelling from zone 2 to zone 3. I travelled from Whitechapel (z2) to Balham (z3) and was “in the system” for 82 minutes, but was charged 2 maximum fares. I have arranged for a refund but when I asked what the maximum time is for that journey I was told 80 minutes. I pointed out that the web site says 90, but was given the not wholly convincing argument that each journey has its own maximum. I didn’t push the point as I wanted a refund!

    • That’s slightly worrying, Steve. Assuming you actually travelled via zone 1 then the time allowed ought to have been 110 minutes. I wonder if anything else was not right on that journey. Once you’ve picked up the refund it might be an idea to seek a further explanation.

  11. Hi Mike,

    I always try to avoid zone 1. My route was via West Croydon, which may not be the quickest route (that would be via Crystal Palace), but was well within the stipulated 90 minutes (in fact it was within 80, but I spent a few minutes consulting timetables on the platform before leaving, believing I had plenty of time to spare).

    I will contact them once the refund is in my bank account and let you know the outcome.

    • Hi Steve,

      Ahh, I didn’t realise the default journey avoided zone 1. Can you check your journey history online? The key thing is that touch in and touch out are no more than 90 minutes apart. It doesn’t matter how long the trains take, if you wait half an hour to get on one you have still used 30 minutes of the allowance.

  12. Mike,

    My history shows touch in to touch out as being 81 minutes.

    ???? – 10:53 [No touch-in] to Balham [National Rail]
    09:32 – ???? Whitechapel to [No touch-out]

    To my mind either the system is in error or Tfl’s web page is.

    From the web page:
    “The table below shows the general rules applied for maximum journey times.”

    The use of the word “general” sounds a bit weaselly!

    • I agree, there is a problem there. I don’t understand enough about how maximum journey times work, but I will certainly try to find out more.

  13. Here’s another one: Most days I go from Hither Green to either Balham or Tooting Broadway, which I did via London Bridge while I have a Zones 1-3 Travelcard on my Oyster. As I’m trying to economise, I switched to a Zones 2-3 Travelcard, and switched to Hither Green to New Cross, walking to New Cross Gate, going from there to Balham (either direct or changing at Crystal Palace), and from there to Tooting Broadway, obviously fastidiously touching in and out appropriately at each stage.

    I’ve found that journeys to and from Balham are fine, but the short Underground hop to Tooting Broadway leads to me being hit with a £2.00 Pre-Pay deduction. My Oyster History clearly shows that I went via New Cross/Gate and Balham, but because of the out of station interchanges it views it as a single Hither Green to Tooting Broadway journey. The Oyster Helpline initiated a refund, but reckoned that I got charged because I exceeded the maximum journey time. Checking back, the time between the first tap in and the last tap out will have been in the range of 61-73 minutes, which is less than the maximum 80 minutes for two zones Monday-Friday 0430-1900, even though all the journeys I made were actually outside of that.

    Ultimately, the question has to be why OSIs always and only operate as such, rather than have the additional fuctionality of the pink route validators at certain other stations? I’m now seriously thinking to switching to a paper Travelcard to avoid the hassle of getting charges and then refunded, but that presents problems for the days when I do actually need to go into Zone 1!

    • Hi Nick,

      Sone OSIs do work like pink validators, but only where separate fares have been programmed into the fares database. Interestingly there doesn’t seem to be a non-zone-1 fare for Hither Green to Balham according to the single fare finder, but it appears as though it is in the actual fares database. But the extension to Tooting Broadway definitely isn’t in any database other than a mixed NR+TfL journey via zone 1. The helpline were definitely wrong about exceeding the maximum journey time because with your travelcard that would actually have resulted in no charge. And a zone 3-1-3 journey is actually allowed at least 110 minutes.

      Short term there is quite a simple workaround. New Cross Gate to Tooting Broadway is defined via Balham so all you need to do is break the OSI between New Cross and New Cross Gate. That can be done in two ways: either take longer than 25 minutes between touch out at New Cross and touch in at New Cross Gate; or jump on a bus, touch in, then jump off again. Bus travel is free with any travelcard but the touch in will break the rail journey in two so it works properly. Another alternative if you are not on a through train is to touch out and in again at Crystal Palace. This will also break the journey in two.

      Longer term we need the fares database to include the whole journey as a non-zone-1 option. I will send an email to request that this is considered, but it will carry more weight if others do as well. It may even help to talk the issue through with London Travelwatch.

      Hope this helps.

  14. I did wonder whether “exceeded the journey time” was just the default explanation; having now got a full statement from TfL, I can see that the journeys actually took between 67 and 71 minutes. I knew about using a bus to break the OSI at New Cross/Gate, although with sometimes as little at 9 minutes to get between the stations (I don’t mind saving money at the expense of a little time, but not too much!), and both stations being on the “wrong” side of the road when going from New cross to New Cross Gate, I think it would only be feasible if there’s a bus passing fortuitously. On the other hand, the “Crystal Palace solution” is one I’ll definitely be using on the journeys via that station, as there’s more than enough time while switching platforms.

    Given that the system recognises Hither Green to Balham NR as non-Zone-1, but not Hither Green to Tooting Broadway, it raises the question as to whether any other stations on that part of the Northern line suffer from the same issue. I do occasionally have to go to South Wimbledon, so it’ll be interesting to see what happens with that.

    • Hi Nick,

      You do realise that you don’t have to actually stay on the bus. Literally hop on, touch in, then hop back off again.

      I would imagine that the issue relates to most Southeastern stations and most below zone 1 Northern line stations.

    • I understand. I also hope that the more bus drivers report people touching in and jumping straight off might make someone start asking the right questions.

  15. I always say tell the driver that I am touching in to break an OSI.
    In my experience more drivers are becoming used to this happening, one joking back to me that I was the twelvth that morning to do so.

  16. I will be travelling from Shadwell(Zone 2) to Southall. I start my journey by London Overground at Shadwell, travel to whitechapel and then to Ealing Broadway by underground and then take National Rail and travel to Southall. My question, where and how many times do i have to touch my Oyster. I have to touch at Shadwell on entry and at Southall on Exit or touch in at Shadwell, touch out at Ealing Broadway; Touch in Back at Ealing Broadway, National Rail and touch out at Southall National Rail? Early reply would be appreciated. thanks in anticipation.

    • Hi Celton,

      You only need to touch in at Shadwell and out at Southall. You can ignore any other validators you see at Ealing Broadway or anywhere else.

  17. Hi mike,

    Sorry if I am going over old ground here, but I am new to commuting, and oyster, and your helpful site.

    I need a bit of help with how oyster card single fares work, and when to touch on/ off when using more than one line, or mode.

    If I touch on at Bexleyheath, and want to travel to Manor Park, the single fare and route quoted is to London bridge, then jubilee line to Stratford, then over ground to Manor Park. Where on this journey do I need to touch in and touch out along the way?

    Sorry if this sounds ignorant but I don’t really understand the physics of the card and system yet!

    Many thanks,


    • Hi Ryan,

      It’s not a silly question at all. In fact you’ve highlighted one of the biggest problems with the single fare finder where they don’t describe the default route, just the alternatives.

      The default route from Bexleyheath to Manor Park is via Lewisham and Stratford. You need to touch out at Lewisham NR and in again at Lewisham DLR, otherwise it’s just at each end. If you do go via London Bridge then it’s similar, touch out at London Bridge NR and in again at London Bridge LU.

    • That’s an interesting find, Alun. Suspending maximum journey times would have other undesirable side effects, but I’d agree that there ought to be some relaxation.

  18. As you say suspension would probably be asking too much, but I rather doubt the computer system is easily capable of amendment of MJTs covering a period of time. Other than the Standard article I can find nothing about this change to refunds on the TFL offical site, which rather begs the question of what actual period is covered?
    Incidentally, I wonder if you should have a specific page dedicated to TFL refunds policy

  19. I’ve received a reply from @TFLOyster on twitter saying, “The terms & conditions for Customer Charter Refunds have not been changed for the Olympics”.

    • Well technically they are right. They are just re-iterating that delays due to large crowds are not deemed within TfL’s control, so they will not be eligible for a refund.

  20. Hi Mike, Always worth checking anything ‘Oyster’ with you before travelling. I’m going from Stepney Green to Kingston (approx leaving time is 2pm) and wish to stay out of zone 1. I can travel via Whitechapel/West Croydon/Clapham Junction etc quite happily avoiding zone 1 but will run up a travel time of approx 1 hour 45 mins (according to TFL site). Will I be able to make this proposed journey in the alloted max. time for one journey? By my thinking I’ll cover zones 2 (Stepney Green)-3-4-5-6 (Kingston). This should work out as travel across 5 zones I think (which gives me travel time of 1 hour 50 mins). Is that correct? Many thanks.

    • Hi Sasha,

      That’s an interesting one. At the moment it should be a 7 zone journey because you go out to zone 3 before coming back into zone 2 thus it’s 2-3-2-3-4-5-6. That should give you 2 hours 10 minutes in the daytime Monday to Friday. By the way, it will assume travel via Crystal Palace rather then West Croydon. However, from December 9th when the ELLX opens linking Surrey Quays and Clapham Junction it will become a 5 zone journey. My hesitation is that I don’t at the moment know when the new fares details are going live. Fares are usually only updated in Jan, May and Sep. If you make the journey before the new line opens, and it takes longer than 1 hour 50 minutes, and you get a double incomplete journey, I’m sure that the helpdesk will resolve things for you.

  21. Thanks Mike, Yes good point bout Crystal Palace cos I’d overlooked that as a travel option rather than West Croydon. Seems that cuts my journey time down to 100 mins according to TFL site so I guess I should be able to complete my journey in the alloted time.

  22. Hi Mike,
    My situation is quite unique. I am planning to travel from Barnehurst (NR) Z6 to Mudchute (DLR) Z2, changing at Lewisham NR/DLR. You have two options at Lewisham, either to touch out of NR and touch in at DLR or continue straight to DLR without touching out and back in. I meet my friend at Mudchute, collect my bag from him and then travel back to Barnehurst. What is the max journey time for Barnehurst (NR) to Barnehurst (NR) if I touch in and out at Lewisham and the off-peak fare? Also what would be the case if I don’t touch in/out at Lewisham.


    • Hi Shanky,

      When you arrive at Lewisham you may have to touch out if the gates are in operation. If you don’t need to then it is fine to carry on into the DLR. When you get to Mudchute you should touch out and back in again to close the first journey and start the second. If you return to Barnehurst without having touched anywhere else then you will get two maximum journey charges neither of which count towards the daily cap. You may also be liable to a penalty fare if your card is checked on a train going the other way. The difference in fare between Barnehurst to Lewisham and Barnehurst to Mudchute is just 20p.

  23. Hi Mike, Yes I understand your point. But my question was this, consider the following journey(s). This is an actual journey that I made. Considering this is a journey across 3 zones (Barnehurst Z6 – Lewisham Z3) and back, I assume I have a maximum journey time of 90 mins. The charge for the last leg of the journey (X.XX) should be 0.00?

    14:36 Touch in, Barnehurst [National Rail] £4.60
    14:58 Touch out, Lewisham [National Rail] +£2.50
    14:59 Touch in, Lewisham DLR £2.50
    15:40 Touch out, Lewisham DLR £0.00
    15:41 Touch in, Lewisham [National Rail] £0.00
    16:04 Touch out, Barnehurst [National Rail] £X.XX

    In this case why am I liable to pay a penalty fare if my card is checked? and which leg exactly am I travelling without a proper fare?


    • Hi Shanky,

      Barnehurst to Lewisham is a 4 zone journey, but that isn’t the issue here. When you have touched out on the DLR at 1540 I am surprised that it didn’t charge you another £4.60 as you had exceeded the 30 minute limit on making a same station exit. I think it may be because Lewisham is an OSI and it has instead chosen to join the journeys together. When you touched out at Barnehurst your journey then became a Barnehurst to Barnehurst journey which had taken way more than 30 minutes, so I would expect another £4.60 deduction. However, as it is after 1600 it might be a £6.90 deduction as you are then in the evening peak.

      You could be charged a penalty fare when exiting Mudchute if you don’t touch out. Likewise if you join a train without touching in. Between Lewisham and Barnehurst you would be shown as on a journey from Barnehurst which might cause an RPI to issue a penalty at that stage.

  24. Here I seem to have been charged 2 maximum fares incorrectly on 03 December :-

    ???? – 14:09 [No touch-in] to Balham [National Rail] £4.60
    12:43 – ???? Whitechapel to [No touch-out] £4.60

    Surely Whitechapel Z2 to Balham Z3 is 90 mins, and 12:43 to 14:09 is 86 mins? I went by Overground from Whitechapel to Crystal Palace, where I just missed my connection to Balham, and had to wait 30 mins for next one.

    I’ve got a refund, but am thinking of taking this up further with TFL, I hate MJTs anyway, but this is taking the mickey to penalise even if not gone over the actual time!

    Incidentally, and I don’t remember this before, the Oyster Helpdesk number 0845 330 9876 now takes you through a voicemail maze of options before you actually speak to somebody who can help you.

    • Hi Alun,

      You’re not the first person to complain about MJTs near central London. I’m not convinced that the extended allowances work in all cases. Fortunately that journey should be much easier from Sunday when it’s ELLX from Whitechapel to Clapham High Street and Northern line from Clapham North to Balham.

      In the meantime I may try to exceed a normal 1 zone MJT but not the zone 2 extension while going round the new orbital overground on Sunday. If I get it to fail then there might be questions asked.

      Oh, the helpdesk has been like that for a while now. It is frustrating.

  25. Ha!, now see that I have fallen into exactly the same trap as Steve in his comment of 10 April 2012. I have sent a complaint via asking what the actual permitted time for this journey is? Will let you know if I receive a response.

    I look forward to the opening of ELLX, indeed the Single Fare Finder already seems to reflect this as the default route, although the Journey Planner still sends via Monument/Bank.

    • Hi Alun,

      The fares database was updated in October. I’m not aware of any fares costing more and there is only minimal impact on maximum journey times so it seemed the correct thing to do. There’s no way they could have introduced new fares this weekend with the new year update being made public at the same time. And the journey planner is completely separate to the fares database.

  26. Hi again Alun,

    You’re right, it was the same joureny, wasn’t it. I wonder if there’s just a bug on some entries. Yesterday I travelled from Clapham Junction to Highbury & Islington taking about 110 minutes and it only charged me £1.40 which is right.

  27. Unfortunately the ELLX did not work for me on my journey today. See my entry on your Fares Guide page

    Also have discovered it seems that if you include a web address in the free form text in your complaint it appears not to accept the whole complaint. Just comes back with a reference of null. Upset I have not even received an email acknowledgement either.

  28. May I note that you were partially successful in your FOI request Problems with Oyster journeys at Balham NR
    “Following the incidents referred to we identified a small number of Zones 2-3 journeys, including Whitechapel – Balham National Rail (NR), for which the Saturday maximum journey time (MJT) was set at 90 minutes rather than
    100 minutes. The times in question, for all journeys concerned, were changed to 100 minutes from 13 January 2013. Adjustments were also made to the MJT for the same journeys on Monday to Friday and Sunday.”
    Thank you very much!

  29. Hi Mike,

    I actually came to your site to look for something else but just surfing around came across this page about maximum journey times, which I had no idea about. I thought going round and round on the Circle Line and back to where they started was quite a normal activity for some people!

    Anyway, my question: Last week I got on at Northwood for a meeting in central London. By the time I got to Baker Street I’d had a phone call saying the meeting was cancelled. So I had a sandwich and a drink at Baker Street, made a few phone calls (without touching out) then crossed to the other platform and went straight back to Northwood. So what I did was basically touch in and out at the same station and exceeded the maximum journey time for travel within one zone (70 mins). Was that legal? Does it mean that if I get a statement I’ll have been charged more for using Oyster than if I’d just bought a paper return ticket? What would you recommend when this happens- would it be better to touch out and straight back in again at the next station as soon as the meeting gets cancelled (this does happen a fair bit in my line of work).

    • Hi Steve,

      That’s a lot of questions!

      There are some people who do like going round all over the place and ending up at the original station, but that is not an activity I would recommend using an Oyster card for. Unless you are very careful to touch out and in again at regular intervals you are very likely to end up paying far more than the daily cap.

      No, making a return journey without touching out and in again is not legal. The maximum journey time for a single zone journey doesn’t come into it, it is covered on the same station exits page. You may be able to get a partial refund if you contact the helpdesk and explain what happened. Providing the story sounds reasonable they will usually adjust the fares. Whether you have been charged more than a paper return (ie 2 paper singles) depends on whether the journeys were made at peak time or not. If it’s off peak then you will have been charged more.

      As to the future, that is really up to your desire. It is best to touch out at the end of the journey and back in again to start the return, but whether that needs to be at Harrow (for example) or Baker Street is subjective. Is the drink at Baker Street worth the extra fare?

  30. Mike,
    I don’t see this covered above.
    I touch in at East Finchley(Z3) and out at King’s Cross St Pancras Northern Ticket Hall. I touch in at at King’s Cross St Pancras Tube Ticket Hall within 15′ so an OSI is triggered.
    I touch out at Highgate. I understand that I am charged for a Z1-Z3 journey. Do you know what Maximum Journey Time is applied in Monday-Friday 0430-1900?
    It could be as little as 70′ (Within 1 zone) or as much as 110′ (Zones 1-3).
    What about West Finchley(Z4) to Finchley Central(Z4) via King’s Cross?
    I reckon that could be as little as 70′ (Within 1 zone) or as much as 130′ (Across 7 zones).

    • Hi Starwill,

      In both cases you will be allowed a one zone journey, so just 70 minutes. It’s a bit of a loophole as you will be charged for only one single journey. This will be deducted at Kings Cross St Pancras and won’t be refunded on touch out at the end station. If you were to return to the same starting station then the same station exit policy would apply and probably result in two maximum journey charges. The same would happen if you exceed the 70 minutes maximum above. In the case of two maximum journey charges I’m sure that the helpdesk would adjust the charge down to two single fares because the OSI touches would make it clear exactly what you’d done.

  31. Hi Mike,

    If I’m travelling from Greenford station (zone 4) to Greenwich or Cutty Sark. Based on the guide above, how much time would I have on a Sunday to complete that journey?

    I’m a bit confused as to whether it falls under zones 1-4 or across 5 zones.

    Also please consider the OSI for me since I would be changing from the central line to the docklands light railway.

    Thank you!

    • Hi Sandeep,

      That is a 5-zone (4-3-2-1-2) journey so 135 minutes on a Sunday. You shouldn’t have any problems completing it in that time, even allowing a few minutes to change trains at Bank.

    • Hi David,

      I’m not sure. If you work on the basis that Romford is in zone 6 and then add one more zone for each of Brentwood and Shenfield then you won’t go far wrong. In practice there might be a couple of extra zones allowed, but I’m not sure at this time.

  32. Hi Mike,

    Watford Junction – Euston (LM) 1559-1617
    Euston – Waterloo (Northern) 1636-1702
    Waterloo – Hampton (SWT) 1743-1817

    I want to take this SWT service (1 of 3 per day which goes from Strawberry Hill to Fulwell) without paying the evening peak fare!

    Would my route work as a single PAYG journey? I make that 14 zones which gives me 200 mins. I’ll need to drag out my tube journey so that the OSIs work.

    However single fare finder doesn’t seem to want me to change at Euston/Waterloo, it only lists fares for Euston/Vauxhall and WillesdenJct(presumably)/Waterloo.

    Will it still be £3.75 with railcard?

    • Hi Chris,

      Yes, £3.75 is the fare for any option involving zone 1 and will certainly cover the journey above. You can drag out any bit of that journey, but don’t risk spending too long on the OSIs. I’d suggest spending a while loitering on the platform at Euston before touching out, and likewise watch a few tubes before touching out at Waterloo. Finally, remember that it’s touch in time that kicks it all off and you can always start by watching trains at Watford.

      If you want to save money then take a slower train from Watford to Willesden and then Overground to Clapham Junction. This is the default route and does not require touching in the middle. If your real interest is travelling between Strawberry Hill and Fulwell then you could save even more by changing at Willesden Junction and Richmond, touching the pink validators at both stations. Obviously the latter option is only 10 zones so only allows 160 minutes, but that should still be enough.

  33. Hi, new to this oyster card and so far no problems, until yesterday 25/05.
    Yesterday I touched in at Amersham 11:17 touched out Marylebone 12:01.
    Walked out the station where i was distracted by the Bayern Munich team across the road so hung around for an hour taking a few pics. Touched back in at Marylebone UG 13:03 to Waterloo out at 13:21. I was charged 3.90 from Amersham to Marylebone and 2.10 Marylebone to Waterloo for a total journey time of 2hrs 4mins. Here’s where I’m confused; I crossed 9 zones with an allowance of 2hrs 25mins, so I’m not sure why I was charged an extra 2.10? Am i being completely thick? Pretty much the same thing happened going back, Waterloo to Amersham via a half hour stop at Oxford Circus total journey time 2hrs 4mins, charged 2.10 plus 3.90?

    • Hi daks,

      Two different reasons. On the first journey you exceeded the transfer time of 20 minutes between touch out at Marylebone NR and touch in at Marylebone LU. You can find full details of this facility on the Out of station interchanges page on this site. On the second journey it might be the same, but more realistically it is because you broke your journey. Other than at OSIs you are not allowed to leave the Oyster system mid journey. Oxford Circus is slightly unusual because one of the entrances only allows exit from the station. To cater for people accidentally using those gates when really wanting to interchange between tube lines, there is a short OSI from that gateline to the main gateline which allows entry and exit. If you went that way then the reason again is that you exceeded the 10 minute allowance.

  34. Thanks for the prompt reply Mike, I’ve been looking at this site in more detail and didn’t know about the OSIs, but now understand why my charges were more than usual. I’ve recently moved down from the Midlands, so I’m still getting used to this amazing and excellent transportation system. Thanks again.

  35. I will be visiting London for a 8 days but the first 4 days, I will have to commute from Weybridge to London and back. After that, I will be staying in London. I plan on doing sightseeing most days in zones 1 & 2. What’s the most economical way to buy fares for these journeys? Thanks in advance for your help.

    • Hi Jenny,

      As long as you don’t leave Weybridge before 0930 then an off-peak one-day travelcard is probably the best bet on the first days. That gives you one return to London from Weybridge and unlimited travel throughout zones 1-6 in between.

      Once you are staying in London then it becomes less clear. An off-peak zones 1-2 travelcard is £7.30 while the off-peak cap on an Oyster only used in zones 1-2 is £7.00. If you have a railcard (16-25, senior, disabled or forces) then you can get an off-peak zones 1-6 travelcard for £5.90 but if you get the discount added to the Oyster card then the cap is £5.60 for zones 1-6, £5.10 for zones 1-4 and only £4.60 for zones 1-2.

      Hope that helps

  36. Hi Mike,
    Thanks for getting back to me. I thought Weybridge is outside zone 6 & to go to London is via NR (Southwest line) and I cannot use travelcard for this? Thanks again!

    • Hi Jenny,

      You can get an out-boundary travelcard for a little more than a return to London. This acts as a return to London along with unlimited travel within zones 1-6.

  37. Hi Mike,

    This isn’t strictly limited to MJT but I think that may have an impact and I’m hoping you can help! I’ve phoned both Oyster customer services and Southeastern Rail but no one can actually tell me the answer!

    I live in Zone 1 and work in Zone 6 so complete that journey in peak time (all on the underground, no overground or DLR) and then back again on an evening.

    However, 3 mornings a week I actually travel from Crayford (but never travel back to there by public transport on an evening).

    I touch in at Crayford around 7.15am, get to London Bridge around 7.49am (via Southeastern trains I believe) where I have to touch out from the overground, touch in to the underground and then out at Debden around 8.45am.

    Work have now offered a season ticket loan and it looks like I will save money by getting a zone 1-6 pass. However, I am aware that it is different pricing for Crayford in to London Bridge due to that journey being by Southeastern trains. When I had a zone 1-2 card the cost was actually reduced more than the stated Oyster travel cost for that journey so I presumed there would be a discount if I had a 1-6 travelcard. However, no one can tell me exactly how much extra I would need to top up onto my card to pay the additional fee from Crayford to London Bridge! They both accept it is likely to be less than the £5.70 (I think that’s what the typical fee is now). Without knowing that, I can’t work out if I will be better of with a season ticket!.

    • Hi Claire,

      I’m not surprised Southeastern couldn’t tell you, but the Oyster helpline really should have known. Crayford is in zone 6, like Debden, so a zone 1-6 travelcard will cover you for both. When you had a zone 1-2 travelcard you had to pay for zones 3-6 which is why it was less than the full price for the journey from Crayford. A travelcard covers all rail travel within it’s zones, be it NR, LU, DLR etc.

      The only other thing I’d ask is where do you actually live? If it is close to the zone 1/2 boundary then you could get a zone 2-6 travelcard and maybe use a bus for the last bit home. Buses are free with any travelcard as they charge a flat rate. For coming from Crayford you could change at Lewisham onto the DLR to Stratford and then the Central line to Debden. That also avoids zone 1, and might even be quicker?

      Hope that helps.

  38. Hi Mike,

    Thank you so much that is really helpful! I may have been reading an old document as the one I read said NR isn’t included in a travelcard, it was just that you could do pay as you go from there and have a discount on the normal fee (e.g. from £16 to £5.70).

    The bus option is a brilliant suggestion and might work when I move in the next 9 months but I live at Baker Street so it would just take too long to get the bus to zone 2 in the east to pick up the tube.

    I hadn’t thought about the Lewisham DLR option and that’s a great suggesion as that would save me £700 a year on a travelcard if I avoid zone 1 altogether. Again when I move (as it will be likely to outside zone 1) this will save me an awful lot! I will definitely see if that’s quicker too as I expect it probably will be!

    You’ve been really helpful, thanks so much!

    • Hi Claire,

      If you take a bus from Baker Street to St Johns Wood, then the Jubilee line to West Hampstead and the Overground to Stratford you can still avoid zone 1. It may be a little slower than tube direct from Baker Street to Liverpool Street, but it would avoid zone 1.

  39. Hi Mike,

    I am still so confused about when to use the oyster card. Eg i leave warren street for marble arch in the morn and spend around 5 hrs in that area and then head back from say bond street. what do i use ?

    I leave warren street and head to walthamstow and from there post a few hrs take the train to Oxford and then to leceister square and back to warren – what do i use ?

  40. Hi Mike, I am visiting london August bank holiday weekend, so all off peak I think? I don’t have an Oyster card so intend to buy one and put around £30 on, I need to be travelling in zones 1,2 and 3 and do as much sight seeing as I can. I was quite confident until I read about max journey times, now I’m scared I will do something wrong and use all my credit on day one! I realise there are paper cards, but these are daily and I don’t want to waste time trying to get one each day, my hotel is in zone 3 so need to cross across zones. Also any credit I don’t use I can keep for another visit.
    Is it really likely I will get a huge bill or will the daily cap save me. I want to do lots of journeys eg go to Olympic site for a quick look etc.
    Thanks for any reply. M

    • Hi Mary,

      Don’t panic, you will be fine. As long as you ‘do something’ each time you get to a destination then the daily cap will operate fine. The problems arise when enthusiasts spend ages travelling around without getting very far from their original starting point. At most stations you can start a new journey almost immediately, but after 45 minutes it will always be a new journey.

      The zone 1-4 off-peak cap is £7.70 and operates all day Saturday, Sunday and Bank Holiday Monday, so £23.10 should be all you pay unless you venture beyond zone 4. You can of course get a paper travelcard for the same zones but they cost £8.00 each and it wouldn’t be a simple task to suddenly go beyond zone 4 – you’d need a new ticket for the extension before you start. With Oyster it will just take you up towards the next cap from your PAYG balance.

  41. Hi there, two parts to this, not sure if you can answer both. In memory of my late grandad I have taken on the mad scheme of travelling to all tube stations with a C or a T in the name in the same day (his initials were CT). I haven’t even started to figure out how to do it but I will start and end at Kings Cross St Pancras. Will my card just rack up one zone 1 to zone 1 fare for each 70 minute period? Second part is I have to get a photo of the sign at each station which I will do from inside the train if I can. Do I need special permission to take photos on the underground? Many thanks, didn’t really know where else to go for a reply as I was worried if I asked TFL they would try and put me off doing it. x

    • Hi Poppy,

      I like your plan. You might like to search for tube challenge for some ideas that might help. I’m not sure about photos, particularly underground where flash might have a distracting effect on drivers. If it’s just one pic of a roundel at each station though, you might be ok. That’s just my view though.

      As to fares, my honest advice is to leave the Oyster card at home. If you are covering the whole tube network then buy a zones 1-9 travelcard. If it’s just the ones in zone 1 then a zones 1-2 travelcard will be the smallest area you can get.

  42. Hi Mike,

    What happens if I tap in off-peak but the maximum journey time is reached at peak time during the final leg of my journey? Would the whole journey be reclassified as peak-time or just the final leg?

  43. Further to your comment regarding Oyster capped fares versus paper Travelcards, I see Oyster is now always cheaper, with the exception of Watford Junction.

    • Hi Nick,

      Yes, any caps within the zonal area (1-9) are cheaper. Watford, Shenfield, Broxbourne etc are the same while Grays is completely broken.

  44. Hi Mike.
    Yesterday I made journey from Heathrow to Plaistow, after 19.00 using Oyster card Pay As You Go. To save money I gone avoiding 1st zone.
    In Heathrow terminal 5 I waited about 15 min. to get my train, then it stuck for 5-7 min. in Northgield, So I went till Earl’s Court there I was waiting long time tube (District line) to go to K. Olympia, there I touched pink reader, and was waiting again long time for Overground to Stratfort, which was very slow, in Stratford I touched again pink reader, then took Jubilee line to West Ham and from West Ham I took District line to Plaistow!
    And funniest was that there in Plaistow gates didn’t open, and charged for me all my money from Oystercard!!! Why so? It was so horrible experience with metro… One of the worse what I used in my life. Can I refund my money back?

    • Hi Jurya,

      It does indeed look like you exceeded the maximum journey time. If you call the helpdesk and explained what happened they will almost certainly arrange a refund for you.

  45. Hi Mike,

    My limited experience is that the allowed maximum journey time is always adequate by a fair margin (e.g. 2h10m allocated, typically 1h35m used). But the next trip I’m planning looks very tight, if not impossible.

    For these trips I’ll use the Overground to avoid zone 1.

    First I’m going from Feltham to Enfield Lock via Richmond, H&I and Tottenham Hale. No problem: 9 zones, 2h 30m allowed, I should be able to achieve that in 1h55m. Then I walk to Chigwell.

    Chigwell to Feltham via Stratford and Richmond is only 7 zones because the Overground stays in z2 for most of the journey. So I get only 2h10m. But my analysis suggests that the best time I could possibly do this journey in is 1h55m. It only needs a delayed train or a missed connection and it’s over the maximum time.

    The odd thing is that in terms of distance travelled from Feltham, Chigwell is actually further than Enfield Lock: 46km cf. 50km (or 53km anti-clockwise round the Hainault Loop), yet TfL allows less time.

    Am I missing something? Or can you suggest other options?

    • Hi Alan,

      What you’re missing is the stretching of zone 4 to include the whole Hainault loop. Chigwell ought to be in zone 5 really. All I can suggest is leaving touching in until the last minute and if you do go over you’ll get a refund from the helpdesk.

  46. Agreed, according to Wikipedia the northeast stations in the Hainault Loop used to be in zone 5 but in 2007 were moved to zone 4, probably to reduce fares for the locals but without considering the effect on maximum journey times.

    I’ve just marked on a real-world map the last station in zone 4 on each line and there’s a very noticeable bulge around the Loop, just as there is on TfL’s map.

    I think I’ll also wait for an anti-clockwise train because they’re quicker and I’ll then know which platform to use. It’s certainly a strange loop.

  47. Well, I was surprised that Chigwell-Stratford-Richmond-Feltham actually took only 1h45m. This was helped by being able to touch in at the last minute because you can see the train approaching, and by there being a Richmond train almost ready to leave Stratford. It was hindered by the illogical platform numbering and poor signage at Stratford :-(.

  48. Hi Mike,

    I live in Deptford and I would say Surrey Quays station is my nearest station. I have just got a new job working in Weybridge. I would need to get to Weybridge station for around 8.30AM.
    What would be the cheapest ticket to buy? I would probably be buying a season ticket. I am having trouble understanding what the right ticket to buy and all the little terms and conditions etc? I hope you can help!

    Also, when i put in Surrey Quays to Weybridge Return it gives me two prices: £7.10 and £9.90. The cheaper one says “only valid for routes not passing through London” This doesnt make sense because I would be starting the journey from surrey quays???!

    So confused, appreciate your help.


    • Hi Foyzul,

      When London appears in the route field on a ticket it means the London routeing group which roughly translates as the NR stations in zone 1. If you take London Overground from Surrey Quays to Clapham Junction and then SWT to Weybridge you will avoid zone 1. A season ticket for that route will be the cheapest way to make that journey at peak times.

  49. Hi Mike….. first let me say… what an amazing job you do, how patient, hope you get paid for this lol

    It would be wonderful if you could help this old f…. with a brain like mush sort out what must be simple to someone like yourself, but the more I look at all these different fares/caps etc etc. the more confused I become 🙁 Here is my timetable of travel for my job and would really appreciate knowing whether I am using the right fare system or there’s a cheaper alternative that I’m overlooking:

    I am on night shift work, following a 4 on/4 off rotation all year round, so some of the time I would be working through weekends during off peak travel times. so starting this week
    on Friday :

    Bus from Selson in Croydon @ 17:50

    Train from East Croydon to either London Bridge or Victoria at around 18:30
    Tube from either London Bridge or Tube(or bus) from Victoria
    to St. Johns Wood tube station.

    Return journeys is the reverse but I leave work at 8am, now I COULD if it helps take the first tube or bus from st. johns wood after 9.30 am.

    ok…. hope that is clear enough to put me in the picture. At the moment I buy the monthly Zone 1-5 Travel card at £210. Hoping you can either say “great, that’s the best way” or “you DUFFER, you’ve been overpaying for years, try this way….. ” 😀

    • Hi Alan,

      It has changed this month, so you may now benefit from using PAYG rather than a travelcard. If your journey from East Croydon ends in zone 1 then it is now charged off-peak. If you also take the bus to Victoria in the morning and aim to touch in at Victoria after 0930 then the return will be off-peak too. Buses are always £1.50 whatever time of day, but, the bus cap now kicks in on the third bus of the day, so if you return one morning and go in again that afternoon you’ll only be charged £4.40 for all the buses.

      Finally, if you are going to use the tube between London Bridge and St Johns Wood in the evening then there’s a little trick to make it cheaper. East Croydon to St Johns Wood costs £6.50 because going out of zone 1 again makes it peak. East Croydon to London Bridge NR costs £3.10 while London Bridge LU to St Johns Wood is £2.90. All you have to do is enter London Bridge LU, immediately exit again and then re-enter. This breaks the journey into two separate ones.

      In summary, with only working 4 nights out of 8 and keeping as much as possible off-peak, a monthly travelcard is probably now overkill. It won’t have been as bad last year, in fact may have been cheaper, but now it’s time for PAYG. Finally, if you have a contactless payment card then you might benefit from Monday to Sunday weekly capping if it happens to be a Monday night to Thursday night on shift with some extra travel at the weekend.

  50. Oh wow!!! fantastic…. thanks Mike, what a star, knew you’d come through with something….. I’d never in a million years have worked that out lol, guess it all seems easy to you, but i really do appreciate your efforts on my behalf and on behalf of EVERYONE you help on here, I would love to offer you a beer on the savings I make 🙂 so if you’re ever going to be in the Croydon or Central London area give us a shout!!!

  51. Hi mike,

    Excellent work, keep it up!!

    I would be travelling from watford junction -> euston-> bank at 8 am and return at 17:30 pm.

    How much would I be charged if I use contact less. Do you suggest buying a weekly/ monthly pass as a cheaper option?

    Thanks in advance.


    • Hi Rishika,

      The fares for contactless are the same as for Oyster which I gave you earlier. If you use contactless then you don’t have to worry about weekly tickets as long as Monday to Sunday covers your week. A monthly travelcard will save a little money as long as you use it most working days (usually at least 16).

  52. Hi Mike,

    I’m sure I’ve read this somewhere but can’t find it so apologies if this has been answered before. Are there any restrictions on validly ending an Oyster journey by touching out, then immediately starting a new journey by touching in at the same station? I guess this is similar to your tip on breaking an OSI though for a different reason.

    Why might I want to do this? Maximum journey times. I like to keep fares down by avoiding zone 1 where possible but as my “home” station (for Oyster purposes) is Feltham then a journey from, say, north-east London can often be a contest between the cheap fare and the journey time.

    For example, Leytonstone High Road to Feltham is a 6-zone journey so 2 hours. I calculate that a likely time for this journey is 1h46m via Gospel Oak and Richmond costing £4.00/£1.70 (fares peak/off-peak with senior railcard). So it’s possible but as the Overground is only every 15 minutes and SWT every ten on average then it would be easy to exceed the time. The Hainault Loop, as I’ve discussed before, is potentially even more of a problem.

    My plan B, therefore, is if I think that I’m likely to exceed the maximum time then I’ll break the journey at some suitable point. Yes, this would cost more than the single journey but much less than a maximum fare. For example, Leytonstone High Road to Richmond is £2.40/£1.00 and Richmond to Feltham £2.70/£1.40. The total would therefore probably be £3.70 as the second part would be peak. Similar fares would apply for journeys broken at Gunnersbury.

    Another reason why I might want to “break” the journey is to explore the stations. I touch in at a station, have a look round the station, take a train to the next station, have a look round that station, take a train to the next station etc. When I approach the maximum journey time then I touch out and immediately touch in at the same station.

    Any problems you can think of?

    • Hi Alan,

      Only a small one. If you touch out at validators then you need to leave a minute before touching in again. Gates can be done instantly. Also, if engineering works are affecting services at a station then you might find an EOSI is set which will continue a journey within 30 minutes. However, the helpdesk will refund you if an EOSI has an undesired result.

  53. Hi Mike just found this forum of some sorts and wanted to ask. Would 6.95 pounds be enough for an oyster tube journey from Victoria station to Liverpool station and then from there by train to Harold wood. the travelling times will be after 9.40, thank you! x (omw to London atm)

  54. Hi,

    I travel to work from Crayford to London (pre 9am) in the morning and back in the evening around 6pm – I currently buy a return which costs 13.60 – I’ve never had a straight answer on whether it would be cheaper to just use Oyster/Contactless (are these the same fare) – touch in and touch out? Thanks in advance.

    • Hi Matt,

      Straight answers: Yes, Oyster and contactless do charge the same fares. Yes, they will be cheaper than getting a paper return. Since January the maximum daily charge for zones 1-6 has been reduced to just £11.70.

  55. Hi Mike,

    First, thanks for your website which is a goldmine of useful information!

    I took the tube on Saturday night. I touched in and touched out. Unfortunately, I had a bit too much to drink and it took me a few hours to get home (I think I must have got to my stop and eventually the train turned round and went the other direction). So I ended up with two incomplete journeys – one of which I applied successfully for an online refund so that it reflects the actual journey taken.

    I was just wondering whether the helpline would be sympathetic to a request for a complete refund for the other incomplete journey ? Or is it the case that I can only get a refund for circumstances beyond my control ?

    Thanks in advance for any advice.

    • Hi John,

      They should be sympathetic. In general I would only resolve an incomplete journey in isolation online; if it was two incompletes it’s probably easier to get both sorted by the helpdesk. However, that shouldn’t stop them processing another refund.

  56. Dear Mike

    You seem to be very kind in helping with all our queries and I wondered if you could help with mine please?

    I have a young persons railcard and tomorrow I am travelling:

    From Weybridge to Wimbledon anytime day return (peak times) which will cost £6.65.

    Then getting an anytime day return from Weybridge to Chiswick in afternoon which will cost £9.45

    Please could you tell me if there is a way to do this cheaper?

    Help greatly appreciated!


    • Hi Shireen,

      Yes! You only need an off-peak day return for Chiswick. This costs (with railcard) £7.75 if you travel via Wimbledon and/or Clapham Junction, or £7.40 if you travel via Virginia Water.

  57. Hi Mike,

    I have got a job in Heathrow Radison Blu. I live in welling and would be going to work in afternoons and will be finishing by 11pm. What would be the best route in terms of time and money?
    what would be better PAYG or monthly pass working 5 days a week?

    Thank you so much

    • Hi Shatz,

      The first thing to note is that the last Underground train with a connection to Welling leaves Heathrow terminals 1/2/3 at 2307. You may be able to get a slightly later one and still make the last train from Victoria, but it will be tight. The last train from Victoria is at 0009. After that you would need to get to Trafalgar Square for the N89 night bus.

      The cheapest route will be Welling to Victoria or Cannon Street then District and Piccadilly lines to Heathrow. If you use Charing Cross then walk down Villiers Street to Embankment for the District line. You will be charged off-peak fares both ways but you will be eligible for the part-time workers refund making your effective cap £8.90 each day.

  58. Hi Mike,

    My son is a 16+ Zip-Oystercard holder, but seems to regularly fall foul of the maximum journey time limits due to circular journeys. He lives in Palmers Green (Z4-NR), attends college near Selhurst (Z4-NR) and has a girlfriend who lives near Gordon Hill (Z5-NR) who attends college near Woolwich Arsenal (Z4-NR).

    Using the card as PAYG, the journey, Selhurst – London Bridge – Woolwich Arsenal – London Bridge – Moorgate – Gordon Hill sees him timed out with two incomplete journeys i.e. Selhurst to No touch-out and Gordon Hill to No touch-out (his touch-out at Gordon Hill being treated as a touch-in by the Oyster system).

    I’ve suggested he should break the journey by touching-in on a bus Oyster reader when he exits (say) Woolwich Arsenal, but could he also insert a journey break by touching in-out-in at London Bridge (LU)? An explanation of the different ways of breaking one’s journey might be helpful in the maximum journey times section!

    Would maximum journey times still apply if he were to get a Zones 1-4 travelcard, travelling to Gordon Hill (Z5) maybe twice a week, or would he be better off with a Zones 1-5 travelcard, or should he just be mindful of the maximum journey times (inserting journey breaks where necessary) and rely on the Oyster daily capping system to limit his expenditure?

    The travelcard decision is further complicated by him only needing to travel to Selhurst in the morning peak twice a week, usually starting his homeward journey before the afternoon peak and direct to Palmers Green.

    Your advice would be much appreciated…

    • Hi Gryphon,

      Does he actually touch out at Woolwich Arsenal? That should end one journey and start a new one when he touches back in. If it doesn’t then either a bus touch or an in-out-in while interchanging should split the journey in two. Maximum journey times aren’t enforced when travelling wholly within the zones covered by a travelcard, but are if the journey extends outside.

      I think getting zone 5 for just two days a week is probably overkill. In fact a travelcard itself is probably overkill unless he uses it at weekends as well. The daily cap is now 1/5 of the weekly travelcard cost. However, if he only travels before 0930 on two days a week he will probably be eligible for the part-time workers refund if he caps regularly after that time. He does need to avoid incomplete journeys of course, because they don’t count towards capping.

      You might find the caps and travelcards page helpful when trying to work out how much he’ll spend.

  59. Thanks for the quick and helpful reply Mike.
    He did actually touch out at Woolwich Arsenal a couple of days ago (Mon 5th Oct @ 17:30), then touched back in at 17:33 resulting in a continued journey, so maybe 3 minutes is not enough to generate a journey break.

    I did wonder if getting a zone 1-4 weekly travelcard would still leave him subject to maximum journey times if he ventured into zone 5….thanks for confirming this.

    Again, I think we are in agreement about the lack of need for a weekly travelcard, especially since he may well benefit from the part-time scholars(!) refund – I hadn’t even considered that point. Just lately, he seems to have spent more time travelling on the transport network than attending college!

    He’s just completed his first week with the 16+ Oyster card and has tested the Oyster system more thoroughly than his older brother did in the previous two years whilst studying at the same college. Now that he’s aware that he’s got to occasionally break his journey to avoid the incomplete journeys, he shouldn’t have too much trouble in the future.

    As a final point, when I’ve rung the Oyster Helpline about being overcharged, the person I’m speaking with hasn’t been able to help me, saying that they will pass my details onto a colleague who will ring me back within 72hrs – however, they never do…

    Whilst I appreciate that relatively few of TfL’s staff may understand the complexity of the Oyster system fares structure, and that the first week of October is probably the busiest of the year…Is it possible to contact one of these ‘fares gurus’ directly as I now have multiple refund requests dating back to 3rd September?

    • Hi Gryphon,

      3 minutes should be plenty enough for a journey break. I wonder if there was any disruption that day, particularly on the DLR. If there was they may have set an emergency OSI which would have meant a touch back in within 30 minutes would continue the journey. I’d be interested to know if that happens every time.

      As to the refunds. I’m aware that zip photocard refunds have to be processed/approved by a separate team, but they should happen. If he hasn’t received the refunds then I’d call again and ask to speak to a supervisor.

  60. Hi Mike,

    I don’t recall seeing this asked before but it’s a question that’s puzzled me for a while. Are MJTs calculated on the default route, the shortest route, the quickest route, or the journey actually made?

    This is important for journeys avoiding zone 1, which tend to take longer but pass through fewer zones. For example, Feltham to Wembley Park could be nine zones through zone 1 or only seven zones via Richmond & West Hampstead, thus allowing twenty minutes less to make the journey.

    • Hi Alan,

      I’m 99.9% certain that the MJT is based on the zones covered for the route you end up paying for. It’s the only way that really makes sense. Many journeys within zones 1-4 get a longer allowance than the standard. Once you go further out the allowance tends to be enough anyway. Seven zones is 2 hours 10 minutes which should be fine for Feltham to Wembley Park. The TfL journey planner suggests between 1 hour and 1 hour 10 minutes for that right now.

  61. Hi Mike, your site is really impressive!! Could you help me with one query please?
    How much does a Watford J to Euston Oyster fare cost? Can this also be done on contact less payment card?

    How much would I be charged on Oyster if I have an incomplete journey from Watford Junction to London Euston in case I cannot touch in at WJ? I understand there might be a penalty how does it work? Thanks.

    • Hi Anne,

      Watford Junction to Euston NR is £8.10 in the morning peak (0630-0930) and £5.00 at other times. The other way round peak fares are charged when touch in is between 1600-1900. You can also use contactless payment cards.

      If you fail to touch in at Watford Junction then you may be liable to a penalty fare or even prosecution. The default penalty will be a maximum journey charge which will not count towards the daily cap. Fortunately Watford Junction is gated so the chances of not being able to touch in are slim. If the gates open then just make sure you touch on the reader and watch the orange light change to green along with a beep to signal that you’ve touched in.

  62. Hi Mike.

    I was searching through my old posts on railuk forums and found one where I asked about maximum journey times at their extreme, and how long you would be allowed for a journey from Gatwick to Amersham/Chesham. You said that was an interesting question and one to be investigated, did you find the answer at all?

  63. Hi Mike,

    Here’s a question for you. Using Oyster PAYG, I’m going from Kingsbury (Z4) to Stratford (Z 2/3) to meet a friend at Stratford (inside the station) as she’s coming using national rail. Then we’re going from Stratford to South Kensington using Oyster PAYG. Do I have to tap out at Stratford using a validator (which would theoretically end the journey) and then tap back in again using a validator at the same station (Stratford) to start a new journey (from Stratford to South Kensington) ? I know there’s a period you have to wait to tap in again for it to register a tap in. Some clarification on this would be extremely grateful.

    • Hi Shane,

      Yes you do need to touch out and in again. You would need to leave 15 minutes if you use a validator, or you can exit through gates and enter again straight away.

  64. About to buy a Oyster Card I travel to London around 4 times a year to do my hobby of train spotting I arrive at Euston then travel onwards to Clapham Junc were I tend to spend around 2hrs before moving onto say London Bridge then back to Euston on no occasion do I leave the Station at Clapham Junc what will I get charged for these journey’s and would it be better to get a travel card instead.

    • Hi Brian,

      In all honesty you will have a lot less hassle with a travelcard. If you use Oyster you will have to fully understand the concepts of maximum journey time and out-of-station interchanges, and ensure you touch in and out at appropriate times.

  65. Ok – random one. Attempting a tube challenge and checking OSIs. If my journey starts from Ealing Broadway (zone 3), and finishes at Regents Park (zone 1), but I’ve gone up via the West Ruislip/Ickenham OSI (zone 6) – does it count as if my journey covers zones 3 to 1, and therefore 110mins maximum journey time, or 6 zones, and therefore 120 mins?

    • Hi,

      It’ll be the 3 zone time limit. If you do it on contactless and exceed the maximum journey time it will split it at the OSI and charge two journeys. Oyster will give you two maximum journeys, neither of which would count towards the cap.

  66. Hi Mike,

    Are maximum journey times counted from the first tap-in or the most recent one(after multiple OSIs)? ie say from Watford Junction-Lewisham via Euston and London Bridge, would the time I tap out at Lewisham be dependent on when I tapped in at London Bridge NR or Watford Junction as a whole?

  67. Hi Mike,

    Thanks for all the useful info on this site!
    What happens if a maximum journey time is exceeded? Either through a broken-down train or if I wanted to enjoy the view on a new route? What if I returned to my home station and didn’t get out at any other station at all?

    • Hi Jo,

      Thanks for that question. I’ve added the answer to the page above because it wasn’t clear.

      If you exceed the maximum journey time you will be charged for two incomplete journeys. If there is a good reason then the helpdesk will adjust the overall charge. If you don’t get out anywhere and return home it is treated as a same station exit. Again the helpdesk may adjust it if you can explain what you actually did. If you are simply riding around on trains all day then Oyster is not the recommended method of payment; see When not to use Oyster.

  68. Hi Mike,

    How are the zones counted if a journey includes the Clapham Junction branch of the Overground through Willesden Junction? All stations from Clapham Junction to Shepherd’s Bush are in zone 2, and Willesden Junction is on the zone 2/3 boundary, but both the Tube map and the line maps in the trains suggest that the line goes into Zone 3 between Shepherd’s Bush and Willesden Junction before returning to Zone 2 for the remainder of the journey to Stratford. So, for example, is Imperial Wharf to Hackney Wick a single-zone journey or a zones 2-3-2 journey?
    Yesterday I did a journey that exceeded the maximum journey time by 2 minutes if the line does not go into Zone 3 but was not charged a maximum fare. Some time ago, however, I did a similar journey and was charged a maximum fare for exceeding the time, though I got a full refund because some trains had been delayed by more than an hour.

    • Hi Stuart,

      If you look at the top of the page there’s a special table for journeys close to or including zone 1. The MJT is the same whether the journey stays in zone 2 or crosses into zone 3. My fare finder is good for answering the first question as it shows the zones required for the journey. It says that Imperial Wharf to Hackney Wick is a zone 2 only journey. Willesden Junction is an odd station because some through journeys go from zone 3 to zone 2 while others stay in zone 2. That’s actually difficult to show on the standard line diagrams used in carriages.

  69. Hi Mike, after seeing the video which you did with Geoff about the £1.50 Whitechapel to Abbey Wood Fare because of the Elizabeth line introduction that hasn’t happened yet. I had a look and found that you could also travel from Heathrow Terminal 5 to Abbey Wood for £1.50 providing you went via Brompton Road and Willesden Junction and Stratford on the Overground.
    Up for a challenge I went to Heathrow this morning and tapped in at terminal 5 at 10:55. Waited 5 minutes for a train and changed at Earls Court for a Wimbledon bound train. (Just interchange time here). Went one stop used the pink reader on the footbridge at Brompton Road and crossed over and got straight onto a Stratford bound Overground train. Used the pink reader at Stratford and went down to the DLR where I had a 7 minute wait for a Woolwich Arsenal train. Got to Woolwich and there was a 6 minute wait for a train to Abbey Wood. Where I tapped out at 1337.
    The information on the TfL app showed that I had two missing touches. Showed I’d tapped in at terminal 5 but no tap out and at abbey wood it said I’d tapped out not in. So it hasn’t put the journey together.
    I’m concerned I may get charged two maximum fares for going over the maximum journey time as I’ve no clue how the zones are calculated because that section of the Overground seems to go Zone 2 then zone 3 and then zone 2/3!
    TfL no help til tomorrow of course as they can’t see any data til then .

    Any idea if it’s likely that I’ve gone over the time limit and if so then the journey is virtually impossible within the time frame as I didn’t dawdle!!

    • Hi Chris,

      I’d expect that journey to be 9 zones, so 150 minutes on weekday daytimes. You took 162 minutes so it will be two maximum fares. If you explain to the helpdesk what route you were taking they should refund you back to what you should have paid. I think that journey is going to be iffy even when Crossrail is open.

      Further info: You don’t actually go into zone 3 at Willesden Junction. It’s just that the line diagrams have a problem showing it as a zone 2/3 station when both in and out legs are in zone 2. The 9 zones is based on travelling through zone 1. My understanding is that most journeys where there is a less zones route keep the same MJT whichever way you go.

  70. Hi Mike, I got double charged maximum fare. I boarded train at southall to go to White City (WestField). But waited at “Ealing Broadway” for my husband (who was coming from Liverpool). During wait, I think I crossed the maximum journey time and in between my husband cancelled the plan, since he wasn’t feeling well. And From Ealing Broadway, I tapped in to return back to Southall with my husband and checked out at Southall. But now both journeys are showing only checked-in. What should I do?

  71. A friend recently exceeded a Maximum journey time by 2 minutes. His journey included an OSI walk in the middle. TfL split the journey into two separate trips and charged him for that, rather than charging him a maximum fare.
    He got him money back eventually (long journey was due to Overground cancellations).
    Seems harsh not to get the OSI time excluded from the Maximum Journey Time calculation.

    • Hi ADS,

      I’m not sure I agree. The maximum journey time is generous for most journeys. There’s also no way that Oyster could vary the absolute time elapsed by the actual walking time used while calculating fares during a touch out.

  72. Hi Mike. I agree that it is normally generous, as my friend just showed, it doesn’t always work. Why couldn’t they just take the time between touch-out at start of OSI/walk and touch-in at end of OSI/walk and add it to the standard maximum journey for the zones involved ?

    • Hi ADS,

      Basically it would be too much calculation to carry out while the card is touched on the reader. The MJTs are stored in a table so it’s a simple lookup to check whether the start of the journey was late enough to be still within time. There simply isn’t time to check past touches to see whether any OSIs have been used.

      The helpdesk are very good at refunding overcharges caused by disruption extending journey times.

  73. Hi Mike,

    Just wondering if you know what zones stations out towards Reading are in for the purpose of maximum times? I’m specifically interested in Twyford. Thanks in advance!

    • Hi George,

      MJTs are a sensitive issue when it comes to further out places. I’ve been assured that they are set so that customers will have no problem completing the journey in time. However, TfL refused my request for details using FOI a year or so back. The best I could do was to get them to tone down the language on their website on the basis that people couldn’t be expected to keep within a time that was not made public.

  74. Hi, I have two examples:
    10:00 touch in at Bayswater;
    10:30 touch out at Euston Square;
    10:45 touch in at Euston (LU);
    11:20 touch out at Bayswater.
    The journey started and finished at the same station after more than 30 minutes, but using an OSI in between. Will it count as a single journey or two incomplete journeys?
    10:00 touch in at Temple;
    10:45 touch out at Aldgate East;
    10:50 touch in at Aldgate;
    11:40 touch out at Bond Street.
    The second touch, at Aldgate, in happened within both the maximum journey time allowed from Temple, and within 10 minutes from the touch out at Aldgate East, therefore it should be considered an OSI. However, the second touch out, at Bond Street, happened more than 90 minutes later from Temple, so they can’t be part of the same journey. How will be Oyster charge? Will it count two separated journeys, removing the OSI (Temple-Aldgate East and Aldgate-Bond Street) or two incompleted journeys, with a OSI in the first one (Temple-Aldgate East-Aldgate-?? and ??-Bond Street)?

    • Hi Marco,

      I would expect both examples to be a pair of incomplete journeys on Oyster or two separate journeys on contactless. In the second case Oyster will be your second suggestion.

  75. Hi Mike,
    Thanks for the quick answer
    I have a couple of other questions:
    Is there a way to interrupt the OSI apart from tapping on a bus?
    When you’ve reached the daily/weekly cap, do you still need to finish your journey within the maximum time?
    Do I have to keep my journey within the maximum time if I have a travelcard?

    • Hi Marco,

      That’s 3 questions!

      1) You can wait until the OSI has expired. In some circumstances it is possible to break an OSI by entering, immediately exiting and then re-entering the second station of the pair. This only works if the fare from your origin to the second station is the same as the fare from your origin to the first station. Or there is the bus.
      2) Yes you do. If you get charged a maximum fare then that is on top of any cap you may reach.
      3) No. With a travelcard you are allowed to have missing touches as long as you keep within the zones covered by the travelcard. You are advised to always touch in and out anyway, but there is no penalty if something goes wrong.

  76. OSIs are, of course, intended to be helpful and save money but sometimes they can give unexpected results. Consider this journey I did yesterday (I have a senior railcard and had already capped for the day):
    12:33 – 13:56
    Bond Street to Mill Hill East £0.00 £22.60
    12:33 Touch in, Bond Street £3.95 £18.65
    12:54 Touch out, Oxford Circus +£3.95 £22.60
    13:00 Touch in, Oxford Circus £3.95 £18.65
    13:21 Touch out, Tottenham Court Road +£3.95 £22.60
    13:24 Touch in, Tottenham Court Road £3.95 £18.65
    13:56 Touch out, Mill Hill East +£3.95 £22.60

    I’d expected – and I bet most people would expect – this to be three separate journeys. Until re-reading the information on here, I couldn’t see what had happened.

    Why does this matter? Maximum journey times. I thought I had plenty of time to linger both inside and outside the gatelines at each station but the OSIs which were unknown to me meant that I could easily have breached the MJT. I suspect, not for the first time, that MJTs aren’t given sufficient consideration when changing OSIs or fare zones.

    I can understand the need for the OSI at TCR for people who got lost changing underground though I’d have to ask why, when rebuilding the ticket hall for XR, they didn’t make enough space for there to be just one gateline.

    I can also see the thinking behind the Bond Street/Oxford Circus OSI for XR customers but this could catch out others too, as it nearly did me.

    Now I know about these two, I’ll have to be more careful when visiting Oxford Circus and Bond Street. Yes, I know enthusiasts don’t make normal journeys…

    • Hi Alan,

      A zone 1-4 journey is allowed 110 minutes on weekday daytimes so you still had 27 minutes spare. I do understand the point you are making though.

      Just one correction, you actually used the same station OSI at Oxford Circus which is there so that passengers who find themselves at the exit only Argyll Street exit can get back in via the main entrance. It only lasts 10 minutes so there’s not much scope for doing anything else while outside. The same is true of the OSI at Tottenham Court Road as well.

      The Bond Street to Oxford Circus OSI is aimed at Elizabeth Line passengers wanting to change with the Victoria Line or the southern Bakerloo Line. It’s only really useable at the eastern exit of Bond Street EL, although you can technically do it from the other end if you don’t dawdle.

  77. Good day

    Thanks for all the useful information. just wanted to confirm that using a paper travelcard makes it possible to take as long as you like to complete your journey without needing to worry about being penalised.

    Thank you

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