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 TfL Rail), 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.

Link to old site with comments up to 2020

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