Peak, Off-peak and Caps

One of the real complications with the new system concerns the difference between peak and off-peak. The daily price cap operates between 0430 in the morning and 0430 the following morning. Obviously Saturday, Sunday and Bank Holidays are off-peak all the time. For Monday to Friday the day is split into five periods with four different meanings as follows:

Time of Touch In*Actual Rate ChargedCounts towards which price cap(s)
09:30-16:00Off-peakAnytime, Off-peak
16:00-19:00PeakAnytime, Off-peak
19:00-04:30Off-peakAnytime, Off-peak

* Remember, if your journey stretches between two of the periods in the table above, the rate and caps are decided by the time of the first touch in.  Any subsequent touches of any description make no difference to the charge for that journey.

On weekdays your travel updates the Anytime total and, if appropriate, the Off-Peak total as well.  If either total exceeds the cap for the zones travelled in then your charges are capped.  Thus, if you make one journey starting before 0930 you may hit the off-peak cap before the anytime cap.  Bus and tram travel also counts towards the independent daily bus cap, such that after 0930 it will only charge if none of the three caps have been reached. Some examples of different capping scenarios can be found on this page.

Note: I am now calling the peak cap “Anytime” because that better describes the way it works.  You are always adding to the anytime total unless you first reach the off-peak cap.


As with all rules there are a number of exceptions.

  1. If you start a journey outside zone 1 between 1600 and 1900 and finish it inside zone 1 then the off-peak fare applies.  (from 2015 this is true for all rail journeys).
  2. If you start an eastbound journey between Reading and Iver between 1600-1900 then the off-peak fare applies regardless of where the journey ends.  (new from 2020).
  3. All travel between Euston and Watford Junction before 0930 is charged at off-peak fares as is travel the other way between 1600 and 1900.
  4. There are a number of earlier starts to the off-peak cap from stations at the extremeties of the Oyster area.  Touch in after the times given in the following table will count towards the off-peak price cap, but note that the single fare charged will still be the peak fare until after 0930:
Station Time of Touch In
Chesham 09:10*
Amersham 09:10
Chalfont & Latimer 09:20
Watford High Street 09:10
Bushey 09:20
Carpenders Park 09:20
Twyford** 09:10
Maidenhead** 09:18
Slough** 09:20
Hertford North09:20

* Warning: first train from Chesham is not until 0934. You are not advised to touch in before 0930 or you may be overcharged.

** Only contactless payments are accepted at these stations.

Link to old site with comments up to 2020

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