Mixing Oyster and Paper Tickets

When you want to use a PAYG Oyster card

With PAYG there are no ifs and no buts, you have to get out at the station where you switch from paper to Oyster or vice versa.  This doesn’t necessarily make it useless, but it’s certainly a disadvantage where services are infrequent and/or there are no validators on the platform.  It can be useful when using some major stations as a gateway to the world beyond Oyster, like Watford Junction, East Croydon, Orpington, Surbiton, Amersham, Upminster and Shenfield.

When you want to use a Travelcard on Oyster

A travelcard on Oyster is exactly the same as a travelcard on paper.  There is no penalty for not touching in or out providing the whole journey (on the Oyster card) is within the zones covered by the travelcard.  There is also no longer a requirement for the train to stop where you switch from one ticket to another (from Oct 1st 2016).  All you need to ensure is that the tickets cover the whole journey.  If your paper ticket is between two named stations then one of them must be within the outer zone of your travelcard (or a dual zoned station with one zone covered).  If your paper ticket is to a boundary zone or includes zones itself then the zones must be adjacent.

As examples, the following are all valid with a zone 1-2 travelcard on the Oyster card:

  • A single or return to or from boundary zone 2.
  • A single or return to or from Clapham Junction (zone 2).
  • A single or return to or from West Ham (zones 2/3).
  • A season ticket to or from Clapham Junction.
  • A season ticket to or from West Ham.
  • A season ticket to zones 3-6.

Where a named station is used, the train MUST pass through (or call at) the named station.  Care should be exercised if using Lewisham (2/3) as not all trains from Hither Green or Ladywell pass through Lewisham.  There may be other examples of this issue.

For those interested, the new conditions of travel can be found on the National Rail website.  The relevant condition reads as follows:

14. Using a combination of Tickets
14.1 Unless shown below, you may use a combination of two or more Tickets to make a journey provided that the train services you use call at the station(s) where you change from one Ticket to another.
14.2 If you are using a Season Ticket, daily Zonal Ticket, or another area based Ticket such as a concessionary pass, ranger or rover in conjunction with another Ticket and the last station at which one Ticket is valid and the first station that the other Ticket is valid are the same, then the train does not need to call at that station for your combination to be valid.
14.3 Some Tickets specifically exclude their use in conjunction with other Tickets. This will be made clear in the terms and conditions when buying such Tickets, and you cannot use such a Ticket in conjunction with another except as set out in 14.1 above.
14.4 In all cases you must comply with the specific terms and conditions of each of the Tickets you are using (for example, keeping to the valid route(s) and train services for which each Ticket is valid). It is your responsibility to check that you comply with the Conditions listed above.

Note that it is condition 14.2 which allows the train not to call when using a travelcard season as one of the tickets.  Note also that despite appearances to the contrary, there is no gap between London zones and therefore it doesn’t matter if the switch takes place between stations as long as the zones covered are adjacent.

Link to old site with comments up to 2020

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