Route Validators (Pink Readers)

CAUTION!  Do NOT touch a pink reader at the station at the end of your journey.

Note: Touching pink readers can sometimes mean you are charged more.  This only happens on journeys which start or end outside zones 1-9.  The anomaly usually gets fixed soon after it’s spotted.

The network of rail services across London often offers a choice of routes when deciding how to get from A to B.  Usually the zones covered will be the same in all cases, but there are times when a particular route might avoid, for example, zone 1 altogether.  If there are two routes where both can be acomplished without needing to touch out and back in again the system needs a way to tell which one has been used.  To this end there are a number of special pink readers at stations where you would change trains when using the route with the cheaper fare.  All you need to do is touch your Oyster or contactless payment card or device on one of the pink readers and the system will register that you’ve taken the cheaper route.

This applies both to PAYG users and those with travelcards which do not include zone 1.

If you’re not sure whether to touch a pink validator or not then it is usually a good idea to touch it, unless you have a travelcard including zone 1.  With PAYG and non zone 1 travelcards you will not normally be charged more by touching a pink validator.  In certain circumstances you might be charged more if your travelcard includes zone 1 but not the zone where the pink validator is. Check our single fare finder and look carefully to see if the alternative fare is higher or lower than the default fare.  If it is higher then do not touch the pink reader.

The pink route validators are located at the following stations:

  • Blackhorse Road
  • Canada Water
  • Clapham Junction
  • Ealing Broadway
  • Gospel Oak
  • Gunnersbury
  • Hackney Central – Hackney Downs walkway
  • Highbury & Islington
  • Kensington (Olympia)
  • Rayners Lane
  • Richmond
  • Stratford
  • Surrey Quays
  • West Brompton
  • Whitechapel
  • Willesden Junction
  • Wimbledon

Note: Some journeys have been defined as requiring travel via Zone 1 and will be charged accordingly, irrespective of the route taken.

Missing Route Validators

Notwithstanding the note above, we believe that there has been an oversight in not installing route validators at Peckham Rye and Denmark Hill on the ELLX.  The Bexleyheath line offers cheaper fares to many South London destinations because it has direct trains to Peckham Rye and Denmark Hill.  This gives users of that line an unfair advantage when making journeys that are more likely to be undertaken via London Bridge.  It also penalises users of the other lines serving Lewisham who could choose to avoid zone 1, but aren’t given the option.

The problem is that a concourse links all platforms at London Bridge so it is not possible to differentiate changing there from changing at Peckham Rye or Denmark Hill.

565 thoughts on “Route Validators (Pink Readers)”

  1. Do you know what happens if I do something odd, like Gloucester Rd to Highbury and Islington via Gunnesbury? (PAYG) Do I get charged Z1-4 single or only Z1-Z2?
    Similar example: Wembley Park to Holland Park via Rayners Lane and Ealing Bdy- Z1-4 or Z1-5?

  2. Hi B,

    I don’t know what happens if you touch on pink validators on a longer route. It may well charge you the higher fare. If you don’t touch the validators then you may well run the risk of exceeding the maximum journey time which will result in two unresolved journeys, each deducting a maximum fare.

    If you are making unusual journeys with a lot of riding around without touching out and in my advice would be to buy a paper travelcard.

  3. If TfL are going to make assumptions about the journey you must have taken from A to B, isn’t it reasonable to just assume you made the cheapest one, rather than having these new pink readers to prove that you did?

    Like for example, they assume you took a more expensive route going S to SE London via (zone 1) london bridge when its quicker and cheaper to change in zone 2. But if you’re travelling within zone 1, e.g. london bridge to victoria/Pimlico, they surely won’t assume you went via Stockwell in zone 2, and charge you extra? i.e. they don’t make you touch a pink reader at Green Park to prove you stayed in zone 1.

    So what’s the difference, and why don’t they assume cheapest route like I thought they always had done!? Unless I’m missing something, sounds like a bit of a scam for the unwary? (Thanks also while I’m at it, for a great and very infomative site!)

  4. Hi Greg,

    London Bridge to Victoria via Stockwell. That’s an interesting option. If you did that then you would only get charged a zone 1 fare so you’d be lucky.

    For every route they try to work out what the quickest way is. Usually that will involve zone 1. Certainly my experience of Crayford to Norwood Junction is that via London Bridge is always the quickest way. Next quickest is walking between New Cross and New Cross Gate followed by Overground via Surrey Quays. If my destination was somewhere like Sydenham then via London Bridge wouldn’t be quite so fast, but I’d still expect it to be the quickest.

    They don’t assume the cheapest route because they’d lose too much money as most people will go via zone 1.

    Thanks for the comment and I’m pleased you like the site.

  5. Well I returned to Woolwich Arsenal this afternoon and to my surprise the pink validator has gone, replaced by another entry/exit validator. I’m surprised mainly because I don’t think many people will be joining the DLR there who haven’t already been using Oyster on the SET journey. Anyway, page is edited to remove that entry.

  6. There seems to be a missing route validator on the newly re-opened platform 1 at Highbury and Islington. Alighting from the last car of the train from the East London line and heading for the tube/FCC platforms, there doesn’t seem to be one at all, unless you go down to platform 2/3. If there is one, surely it would be better located where passengers could actually see it. But then, on, say, a Shoreditch High Street – Palmers Green journey, does not touching a route validator mean I’ll be overcharged?

    • Hi Philip,

      As Shoreditch High Street is in zone 1, touching on a pink validator is unlikely to make any difference to the fare. Platform 1 is only used by ELL trains so there should be no confusion over which route has been taken. Unless I’m missing something, of course?

  7. I often travel West Ham to Canonbury via Stratford. I have seen these pink validators, but not used them. Now the East London Line is open, I could go via Whitechapel, but by the looks of things it would be via Zone 1 at Shoreditch. As far as I remember, I have always been charged £1.30, but does that now mean I have to touch on the pink thing as there is now an alternative route via zone 1?

    • Hi Elizabeth,

      The short answer is “yes”. If you use the single fare finder on the TfL website then it quotes the fare for that journey as £2.50/£2.90. If you click on the Alternative fares button it shows the via Stratford option as £1.30/£1.40 with the instruction that you must touch on the pink route validator at Stratford to get that fare.

      Hope that helps.

  8. hi

    I travel from brockley and often head out toward hampton court via clapham junction. i’m so confused about the best route and what I do regarding oyster. is there a via point reader at clapham?

    and what if I’m heading north say to camden, do I need to get out and validate to say I’m going via the east london train or will it assume that I went to london bridge?

    • Hi Ann,

      According to the single fare finder the default fare for Brockley to Hampton Court is avoiding zone 1 so you do not need to touch on any route validators. As for the other journey, because you are passing through Shoreditch High Street you will be charged via zone 1 anyway.

      Hope that helps.

  9. The cheapest way to travel from West Croydon to Elephant & Castle would be to change at Streatham or Tulse Hill. Yet when I enter this journey on it assumes I’d travel via Blackfriars, giving a more expensive fare.

    There’s no mention of pink validators at either Streatham or Tulse Hill, so am I right in thinking if I did this journey changing at either of those two stations, I’d still be charged as if I’d changed at Blackfriars?

    • Hi Mark,

      There are a number of issues with the way the National Rail site calculates Oyster fares. Fortunately it is not responsible for actually making the charges on your card. The TfL system gets it right on the single fare finder page. This uses the same calculation as the Oyster system itself.

  10. I did an experimental journey from Honor Oak Park to Watford Junction via Highbury and Willesden on Sunday, to see how it compared to ploughing through town. Couldn’t see any pink validators at either H&I (cross-platform change) or Willesden (high level to low level), so full journey was a touch in at Honor Oak and a touch out at Watford. Charged £2.30. Where are the validators at those stations?!

    • Hi Phil,

      Shhhhh! The system has charged you as though you went via Crystal Palace, Clapham Junction and Willesden Junction. The pink validators at H&I are near the exit ramps from the North London Line platforms where you go to change onto the Underground. I’m not sure where they are at Willesden Junction. I’m also not sure what it would charge you if you touched on either set as that route isn’t programmed into the system.

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  12. Very helpful site! My query relates to travelling from Riddlesdown (Z6) to Stratford. I have been making this trip PAYG, via Canada Water and the pink validators. I have now purchased a Z2-6 monthly oyster travel card.

    Do I still need to use the pink validator? Whilst what will happen if I decide to travel via London Bridge?

    • No, you don’t need to use the pink validators if you have a travelcard loaded on your Oyster. I’m not 100% sure what will happen if you go via London Bridge. When you touch out at the NR station it will deduct a zone 1 fare. When you touch back in at the LU station within 20 minutes it will continue the journey. When you touch out at Stratford it might effectively refund the earlier charge because it treats the whole journey as one. Where alternative routes are available for a PAYG journey, the cheapest one becomes the default where a travelcard is present on the Oyster. At least that is the experience of several people I know, including myself for one week in July. If you try it I’d be very interested to know the outcome.

  13. I tried it today. I travelled from Z6 to London Bridge. At London Bridge I was deducted £1.50 (off-peak Z1 single). Once at Stratford it informed me of the same deduction. Checking the history confirmed that the first deduction had been zero’d out and the second deduction stood.

    On the way back I went via Canada Water, avoided the pink validator and was charged nothing.

    • Thanks Adrian,

      Can I just clarify then, the overall charge on arrival at Stratford after travelling via London Bridge was £1.50? That’s quite interesting if it is. I’m hesitating to ask what the deduction would be the other way via London Bridge as I don’t want to incur you extra charges.

      Thanks for letting me know.

  14. Apologies for the delay, the overall charge was £1.90. The return journey via London Bridge was also £1.90.

    On a slightly different topic: my payg history never appears online, whilst for some reason the daily price caps don’t seem to work, I made a few journeys in Zone One this weekend and it took over £8 from me.

    • Thanks for letting us know. That’s very useful information indeed. On your other issues there sounds like a problem. If the journeys were starting and finishing in zone 1 then they should show on journey history. And as you have a travelcard for zones 2-6 your cap should have been £6.60. I’d contact the helpdesk and ask them to send you a statement (or request it online yourself – see the journey history page). You could also ask why it has overcharged you. My guess is that you either missed a touch out or touch in somehow which would result in a maximum fare being applied and that wouldn’t count towards the cap, or you fell foul of some OSI which joined two journeys together and caused you to exceed the maximum time allowed for a journey and would add two incomplete journey fares which again wouldn’t count towards the cap.

  15. i am travelling from caledonian overground to essex changing at stratford .do i need to use the pink validator at stratford ?i dont seem to see one on platform 1 or 10 where are them all?would it be helpful not to look for one while you are in a hurry or even have to change platform ! I PAYG till stratford and then i have my train ticket to essex.Not sure what to do on the way back .swipe pink reader or yellow?will it be cheaper and save time to get a return paper ticket to stratford ?

    • Hi Paola,

      I believe that the pink valiadtors are on the overground platform at Stratford. However, if you are changing between Oyster and paper tickets then you need to use the yellow readers to start or end your Oyster journey. You don’t say where in Essex you are going to, but I’ve checked a couple of places and in both cases it is cheaper to mix Oyster and paper tickets. You should only be charged £1.40 (peak) / £1.30 (off-peak) for the overground section each way, so as long as the return is more than £2.80 more expensive it is worthwhile.

      Hope that helps.

  16. I am travling for Hainault to Falconwood Rail Station. (Z4-Z4)

    The Single fare is £2.30 (P) or £1.70 (OP). (Via Z1)But this takes me via zone one. This can take me via London Bridge or London Cannon Street.

    The Alternative oyster single fares (AOSF)tells me £4.60 (P) or £3.50 (OP). So, now I am really confused! How can the AOSF be more that the first charge.

    I will go via Z1 anyway! So, what is it?

    • Hi Luke,

      The default fare is NOT via zone 1. Take the Central Line to Stratford, change onto the DLR to Lewisham then take NR to Falconwood. I would imagine that going via zone 1 will take longer in this case, as well as costing more. Alternatively, if you don’t want to take the DLR, change at Mile End onto the District Line then at Whitechapel onto the Overground and again at New Cross. Both routes utilise zones 2-4 which are the fares you quoted.

      Hope that helps.

  17. I am planning to make a journey from South Coulsdon to Stepney Green with a change from British Rail to Underground at Victoria. This involves travel through zones 1-6. Will I be charged twice? i.e How do I continue my through-journey at Victoria from overground to underground without already paying the oyster fare at that point? At London Bridge I presume you can continue the through-journey without punching out. Any suggestions or is it simply considered two journeys? i.e South Coulsdon to Victoria and then Victoria to Stepney Green.

    • Hi Shura,

      At both London Bridge and Victoria you need to touch out from National Rail and touch back in to the Underground. These are what are known as Out of Station Interchanges. Providing you complete the two touches within the time allowed, the Oyster system will combine the two journeys into one. See the linked page for full details of the time allowed for each such interchange.

  18. Thanks for the info. This is the most informative site I’ve seen on oyster. Brilliant! TFL is lame compared to this…None of this information is explained clearly at TFL whereas here its all layed out.

  19. Hi Mike-

    Thanks for the site, its great to get some independent information about the Oyster system, especially as I am always looking for new routes and fares.

    Ok, quick question; I’m going to travel from Homerton to Camberwell, as you maybe aware, camberwell has no stations anymore since the 60’s (?) I think. So instead of 2 buses, and instead of travelling through Zone 1, I was going to go Overground to Stratford, DLR to Lewisham, NR Lewisham to Denmark Hill : this is clearly a bit annoying with changes and train waits, but it all takes place in Zones 2 and 3.

    However, my problem is, will it recognise this journey if I use the RV at Stratford? If I use it there, will it charge me the Zone 1 approach to Denmark Hill? On the Single Fare Fainder it gives the Zone 2/3 option £1.50 fare, so, anyway, after writing all this, I’ll give it a go anyway and let you know…

    My main problem is there is no RV at Lewisham for the interchange there.

    • Hi PineWomble,

      There is only one fare for Homerton to Denmark Hill on the Single Fare Finder. You could reduce the cost slightly by making it two journeys, Homerton to Stratford and Stratford to Denmark Hill. To do that you would need to touch out and in again at Stratford. The Pink Validator will not help you. Also, there is no need for a pink validator at Lewisham because you need to touch out at the DLR and in again at the NR station. Your journey will be combined there unless you take longer than 20 minutes between touches because of the OSI.

      Hope that helps.

  20. Morning. Great site – so much more helpful than the TFL pages!
    I’m having trouble with touching-out at Richmond. Oyster keep telling me I need to do it at a yellow validator, but there are only pink ones there. D’you happen to know if there are any yellow validators? Otherwise I’m going to have to leave and re-enter the station everytime I’m making my journey home (from Ravenscourt Park and out to Berkshire on SWT) which is just daft.
    Any help gratefully received

    • Hi Caroline,

      I’m pretty sure that there aren’t yellow validators at Richmond, just the gatelines and the pink route validators (which are only for use in the middle of an Oyster journey). I haven’t been there recently, so I can’t be 100% certain.

      If you are using PAYG then you do need to touch out at the end of the Oyster journey. If your Oyster travel is on a travelcard season though, there is then no need to touch out if the whole journey (on Oyster) is within the zones covered. Also, have you considered moving the changeover point to Feltham? Depending on where you’re going to in Berkshire it may be possible to get off another train at Feltham and touch out there. If you sit in the right place on the train you may be able to nip out and back on the same train as there are exits on both platforms at Feltham. I’ve tested a couple of stations and the difference between the SWT fares to Feltham and Richmond is more than the difference between the Oyster fares from Feltham and Richmond to Ravenscourt Park.

  21. Hello, I need to go from Uxbridge to Royal Oak every week. If I take the piccadilly to hammersmith and then the “hammersmith and city” to royal oak I have to pay z2-6, but how can I prove it? There are no pink validator in hammersmith I think…

    • Hi Simone,

      There are two Hammersmith stations so you have to touch out from one and touch back in to the other. Providing you do this within the time allowed for the OSI it will treat both legs as one journey and know that you have gone that way.

  22. Hi Mike,
    I used my Oyster today to go from Leyton to Kentish Town west and back. As it was my first time using an overground train I didn’t realised I had to touch the pink readers in Stratford, so I got overcharged. Do you think I may be able to get a refund? Thanks

  23. What is the total peak-time fare for journey:
    “East Ham – (Blackfriars LU – London Blackfriars NR) – Beckenham Hill”?

    Single Fare Finder says £2.40, but, at the same time –

    “Alternative oyster single fares:
    Route 1: Via Zone 1 changing between London Underground and National Rail at Blackfriars[..] – £4.90”

    How can I get this route for £2.40?

    • Hi Alex,

      Basically you need to avoid zone 1. I think the simplest option is East Ham – Bow Road – Bow Church – Lewisham – Catford Bridge – Catford – Beckenham Hill. You could also take the Jubilee between West Ham and Canary Wharf and/or travel via Nunhead rather than the Catford stations.

      One of my big gripes with the single fare finder is that it doesn’t describe the default route where more than one exists, especially when the default route is the cheapest.

      Hope that helps.

    • I’m not quite sure what you’re asking. Bear in mind that Catford to Catford Bridge is a 2 minute walk and Bow Road to Bow Church is also a walking interchange. I’m also not suggesting that I would do that route, but that is the sort of route you’d have to take to get the cheaper fare.

  24. Hi mike,
    I had a question for the price which travel from Arnos Grove to Cutty Sark DLR pass through shadwell to avoid zone 1. I had already touch the pink vaildator in Highbury & Islington. However, it also claim for the full price of zone 1-4. why?

    the journey as below:
    Arons Grove(tube)- Highbury(overground)- Shadwell(change overground to DLR(less than 3 mins-osi))- cutty sark(DLR)

    thank you for your help.

    • Hi Cat,

      That’s a nice easy one. Shoreditch High Street is in zone 1. To avoid zone 1 you need to take the overground to Stratford from Highbury, touch the pink validator again, then the DLR to Cutty Sark.

      Hope that helps.

  25. Hi mike,

    This may appear a daft question but as I have had two strokes
    trying to get my head around all the oyster rules is not easy.

    I will be travelling to Highbury & Islington tube station and then going up the stairs to Highbury & Islington Overground and catching a train to Hampstead Heath.

    As I have already used my card at the barrier to enter Highbury & Islington Overground do I still need to use the pink-coloured reader as well ?

    I would suspect the answer will be no but its always wise to double check.

    thanks for your help in the past.

    • Hi Brian,

      I’m a little puzzled here. Are you saying that you will be arriving at Highbury & Islington on foot, entering via the underground station, then going on to the overground station once inside the barriers? If yes, then no you don’t need to use the pink validators. If you were arriving on the Underground itself then whether you need to use the pink validators depends on where you are going from and to. However, Hampstead Heath is sufficiently close to mean there’s only one way to get there from Highbury, so you wouldn’t need to touch pink.

      Finally, whether you need to use them or not, touching the pink validators won’t have a detrimental effect on your charge.

  26. sorry to try and keep it simple I had left out I had started my journey at Bush Hill Park Train station so it was train to Seven Sisters then the tube to Highbury & Islington where I caught the train to Hampstead Heath.

    I made the journey yesterday and while it may sound easy what confused me is it is possible to transfer from train to tube at Seven Sisters without going though a barrier and it is possible to transfer from tube to train at Highbury & Islington also without going though a barrier – just to really confuse people not used to that route there is yellow machine and its not clear if it requires a touch . { at Seven Sisters }

    There is no signs up advising who is supposed to use them .

    checking the Journey history the system did charge me the correct fare { £2.10 } but I would have been less worried if I had to walk though a barrier.

    If I had extended my journey to Clapham Junction I believe I have to use the pink scanner at Highbury & Islington – is this correct ?

    • Hi Brian,

      Now I completely understand the question. Both Seven Sisters and Highbury & Islington are one station, each serving both tube and national rail. So yes, it’s fine to interchange without touching. The yellow validators at Seven Sisters are for the benefit of people arriving from outside the Oyster area on a paper ticket wanting to start an Oyster journey from there. If you are already in the Oyster system then you shouldn’t touch them mid journey.

      As for the pink reader at Highbury, yes you would need to use it if going to Clapham Junction.

  27. Cheers Mike

    I was interesting to get it right as I am a volunteer at Music festivals and the Coaches always leave from the back car park of Clapham Junction and if I depart from South Tottenham railway station { the nearest London Overground station I can reach by bus } I can change at Gospel Oak onto a train that takes me to Clapham Junction so avoiding Victoria which was a a complete nightmare last year with all sorts of diversions to reach the main line station as the escalators were out { Not easy when I was shifting all my camping gear } – This year I want to avoid Victoria completely { even if they claim its back to normal at Victoria there is still stairs from the Victoria line to the escalator } hence why I was interested to see how easy it was from my local station but changing to the tube is more trouble than its worth .

    Thanks to your advice I now know I only need to touch in at South Tottenham and then touch the pink reader when I change at Gospel Oak and touch out at Clapham Junction and it even works out cheaper as well – but more than money I have cut down on climbing stairs.

    its a ultra cheap fare and its nice to see the Outside world for a change so I will be avoiding Zone 1 whenever possible.

    I would have been lost without your site.

    All the best brian

  28. Why are there no pink readers at Clapham Junction?

    As I understand it, travelling from Worcester Park to Greenford can be done in one of (at least) two ways.

    1 National rail to CJ, Overground to Shepherds Bush then Central Line to Greenford.

    2 National rail to Vauxhall, Victoria Line to Oxford Circus then Central to Greenford.

    Not knowing the stations well enough, I don’t understand how the system knows I changed at CJ and Shepherds Bush with no pink readers rather than travelling through Zone 1 (I have to do this in two weeks, hence the question).

    • Hi Mike,

      There are actually two stations at Shepherd’s Bush and you’ll have to touch out of one and into the other. As long as you complete both touches within 20 minutes the journeys will be joined together, plus the routeing will be noted so that you are charged the lower rate.

      Hope this helps.

  29. Ah! That way the fact I didn’t have! I guess the trip between stations works to identify the route quite effectively.

    I have a degree of respect for the poor guys who had to work all this out. It’s a complex system of interconnections and it must have taken quite a lot of effort. I’ve never seen the pink machines at Wimbledon, I’ll have to keep an eye out for them (simple curiosity) next time I stop there.

  30. Hello Mike. I’ve got a prepaid day return ticket for Clapham Junction to Brighton and I am wondering if it’s easy to use my oyster card for the journey to Clapham Junction from Feltham using South West Trains. I will be arriving on platform 4 at Clapham Junction and will be departing from platform 13 (4 minutes later) on the Brighton train. Do you know if there is an oyster ‘reader’ on every platform in Clapham Junction or is it best to get the traditional ‘paper’ ticket? Best regards….Danny

    • Hi Danny,

      Quick answer – use a paper ticket.

      Longer answer. 4 minutes is below the recommended connection time of 10 minutes for Clapham Junction. I would strongly recommend taking an earlier train from Feltham. If you allow at least the minimum time then you get more protection if your train from Feltham is delayed. If your tickets to Brighton are advance tickets (valid on booked train only) then adhering to the minimum connection time means that you will be allowed to take a later train if your first one is delayed.

      Having said all that, if you allow longer at Clapham Junction then using Oyster will be cheaper than using a paper ticket. You will have to go to the exit gates to touch out and then re-enter with your ticket to Brighton.

  31. Hi Mike

    How does ones Oyster Card know that they have avoided central London when travelling on a southern service from Clapham Junction to Wembley Central or Harrow and Wealdstone?


    • Hi Tim,

      Basically it’s because you haven’t touched out or in again along the route. If you go via Euston then you’d need to touch out of the Underground and back into the NR station.

  32. I was charged a zone 1 fare from colliers wood changing at balham to white city via clapham junction (rail) yet when I returned from White City on the same route when finishing my journey in Balham Rail I was charged the right fare avoiding zone 1, help?!

    • Hi John,

      They’ve decided that the extra change at Balham means that most people would go via Tottenham Court Road for that journey. Therefore it is always charged via zone 1. I suggest you email them and ask them to consider the alternative route.

  33. Hi, I’m trying to go Chesham – Wimbledon avoiding Z1.

    I’m about to try teh following route suggested on TFL’s farer/route finder.

    I plan to use Overground between West Hampstead to Clapham Junction. But don’t want to get off at West Brompton to change/use the Pink Validator. I’ve read there are no Pink Validators at Clapham Junction.

    Will I be charged as per below, or have I missed the point here ?

    I’d appreciate any help/suggestions you have.
    many thanks

    Route 3: Avoiding Zone 1 via West Brompton (or Clapham Junction), Willesden Junction and West Hampstead (or Brondesbury/Kilburn)
    Monday to Friday from 0630 to 0930 and from 1600 to 1900.

    At all other times including public holidays.

    To ensure you are charged the appropriate fare you must touch on the pink card reader on the Oyster route validator if interchanging at West Brompton

    • Hi Rich,

      That’s an interesting one. You could either change at West Brompton onto the District line or Clapham Junction. I’m not 100% sure, but I’d say that once you’ve changed at West Hampstead (or Kilburn/Brondesbury) the route will have been set. The route description doesn’t insist on going through West Brompton, so it should work. If it doesn’t charge the right amount of money then you’ve got a very good complaint which I’ll help follow through as well.

  34. Thanks Mike – I’ll give it a try and let you know how I get on.

    Can’t see how it knows if I’ve changed at West Hampstead though – maybe this would become apparent because I’d have to go through the gates at Waterloo or Vauxhall when changing on to South West Trains to get to Wimbledon.

  35. I took a trip with my son this afternoon (just so he could travel on an Overground train!) and changed to the tube at West Brompton.

    Oddly, the pink validators at platform level have big blue labels on them exhorting passengers to only touch the readers if they want to begin or end an Oyster journey and have paper tickets for the National Rail portion of their trip.

    Given the fact that the machines are pink and the big signs on poles clearly say ‘Route Validator’ it looks like someone’s screwed up the signage to me.

  36. Hi Mike,
    I’ve refined my route to Wimbledon.
    The route via West Hamp is a bit slow).

    I’m now going, from Chalfont & Latimer, Z8, normally via Chiltern Rail – Marylebone, then Tube via Bakerloo line , change at Oxford Circus to Victoria line to Vauxhall, then NR to Wimbledon.
    At Peak I get charged £6.40.

    However if I travel instead use a Met line train from Chalfont & Laitmer, to Baker St, change on to the Bakerloo and onwards via the same route I get charge £6.90.
    Any idea why its 50p more when I’ve used x1 less NR train ?

    • Hi Rich,

      That’s an anomaly. You are supposed to be charged the higher fare if you use South West Trains at all when the journey has gone via zone 1. For some reason the system is getting confused when you change at Marylebone and is charging you as if you used the District line to Wimbledon. I’m surprised that it does this, but I guess it’s a side effect of the complicated system that Oyster is.

  37. Hi, is it required to touch in on pink readers?
    If I travel from Sudbury Hill station to Kings Cross underground station via Rayners Lane taking the Met line rather than just the Piccadilly as the journey planner suggests, would I get charged I higher rate?
    Am I supposed to touch at Rayners Lane or not?
    Thanks in advance 🙂

    • Hi Rajesh,

      You will never be charged a higher fare by touching a pink validator. The one at Rayners Lane is intended for people travelling outside zones 1 and 2, e.g. Acton Town to Wembley Park. Although your journey involves an extra zone by going to Rayners Lane you will only be charged extra if the single fare finder says so. Because pink validators are supposed to indicate cheaper routes there is no compulsion to touch them. There should also be no effect if you touch one when you don’t need to.

  38. Hi there, I travel from Ickenham to Kingston via the Piccadilly line and then change at Earl’s court to catch the district line to Wimbledon (I avoid zone 1) but on early mornings I have to catch the Metropolitan line to Rayners lane and then change for the Piccadilly line… There is a pink validator at Rayners Lane.. And another one at Wimbledon… My question is which one should I touch on to get the cheapest fare? Please note: I do have my 16-25 railcard and oyster linked together. Thanks 🙂

    • Hi Diane,

      The answer is neither as you are using the default route. Rayners Lane is intended for people changing between the Metropolitan line eastwards and the Piccadilly line southwards. It won’t make a difference if you do touch either or both though.

  39. Hi,
    Where along my journey route between New Cross Gate and Putney, via East Croydon and Clapham Junction, should I touch for the cheapest fare, if I’ve already touched the pink validator at Canada Water when changing from the tube to the Overground? (I can’t go direct to CJ from Crystal Palace Overground due to engineering works on part of the Overground.) Thanks.

    • Hi Alistair,

      If you don’t touch anywhere else then it should give you the same fare as you would usually get, as per the single fare finder. You don’t say where you are starting from so I can’t check, but as long as you don’t exceed the maximum journey time for the zones the journey would usually go through then you shouldn’t be charged any more.

  40. Hi…I need a help…I m travelling from Blackhorse Road to Wandsworth Town – I change at Highbury and Islington or at Gospel Oak and then take overground towards Clapham Junction…then take overground towards Wandsworth Town…I buy 2-3 zone travel card…I touch pink reader at Gospel Oak or at Highbury and Islington…but still it takes £2 extra for each journey. Do I need to touch pink reader more than once ? Please guide…Many Thanks, M

    • Hi Mani,

      Unfortunately Blackhorse Road to Wandsworth Town is defined as going through zone 1, probably because the number of changes required to avoid zone 1 is deemed too many. However, what you need to do is touch out and back in again while changing trains at Clapham Junction. That will make two separate journeys both within zones 2-3 so you won’t be charged extra.

  41. Hi Mike,
    It will be my first time travelling to Putney. I’ve never changed at New Cross Gate before either. From Prince Regent (zone 3) at the start of my journey, I change onto the tube and then onto the Overground at Canada Water where I touch the pink validator. To get to Putney from there I was going to change at NXG for national rail to East Croydon, then jump on a train to Clapham Junction where I can get a connection to Putney. Single fare finder says it will cost £3.40 off peak but that sounds like a fare which includes travel in zone 1. Do you think the journey might take me too long to be recognised and if so is there possibly a way around it? I’m not even sure how many zones oyster will say I am crossing – does it only take into account the zone at the start and end of your journey? Also I think Putney is in zone 2 and 3. Thanks for you help.

    • Hi Alistair,

      Prince Regent to Putney is defined as via zone 1 because the alternative requires too many changes. You can save a little by splitting the journey in two at New Cross Gate. Just touch out and back in again while changing trains. The default route for New Cross Gate to Putney is via Crystal Palace and Clapham Junction, but if engineering work gets in the way you can still travel via East Croydon. Just make sure that the overall journey from New Cross Gate is completed in 110 minutes on a Sunday. It’s the same from Prince Regent to New Cross Gate.

  42. With the final part of the East London line opening in December, I hope Oyster will finally either add a route validator at Surrey Quays as it will become a more viable station to change for New Cross/New Cross Gate from the new stations on the extension in South London.

    • Hi Martin,

      I agree, though I’m not sure that they will. It’s only a problem if the default route involves going via London Bridge. In many circumstances I expect the default route to change, especialy where the whole journey is made using London Overground.

  43. Hi Mike

    Yesterday, I was traveling by bus from crystal palace to oxford circus and back. On our way into town we took the 432 Bus from Crystal Palace to Brixton and from there the Bus Nr 3 to Oxford Circus.

    On our way back we took the Bus Nr 3 all the way to Crystal Palace.

    But instead of being charged £4.05 my card was charged £5.40. It’s looks like that the Oyster-Mind-Computer thought I tried to cheat and I did charged my card with 4 Busfares (4x£1.35)

    • Hi Oliver,

      Can you check your journey history online? This should list all your fares for the day. I have to say that it is practically impossible to be charged £5.40 just on buses in one day because the bus daily cap kicks in at £4.20.

  44. Hi Mike,

    Yes, I have checked my journey history online and made a print screen, which I try to upload for you here. [link removed]

    My girlfriend did the same journey with me on Sunday, but she was charged the right amount.

    • Hi Oliver,

      Thanks for the screenprint. You have actually only been charged £4.05. If you check the running balance you’ll see that £1.35 has been deducted each time. There does appear to be a bug in the software though. I think it relates to the previous bus journey. Although that says it was early on Saturday morning, would I be right in thinking that it was actually early on Sunday morning? If yes then I think that the bus has allocated it to Saturday’s total, but because it was after 0430 the journey history software has also added it on to Sunday’s total. Would you be happy for me to pass your email address to the developers so they can look into it?

  45. Hello Mike,

    I have a zone 2-3 travelcard and travel from turnpike lane to shepherds bush via the overground to avoid zone 1. Reading the above article I see there are pink readers at Highbury and islington and willesden junction, both of which I go through. Do I need to touch the pink readers at both stations to avoid being charged the zone 1 fare or just one? Also, depending on when I travel the overground occasionally goes straight through to shepherds bush and I’m not required to change at willesden junction. Would this have any baring? Would I have to get off just to touch the pink reader or would the one at Highbury and islington have been sufficient. Thank you for this great site and all the help you are providing.

    • Hi Adam,

      The single fare finder only mentions using the pink validator at Highbury and Islington so you don’t need to worry about Willesden Junction. You are not supposed to need to use pink validators with a travelcard so you should be ok. I’d be interested to know if you encounter any problems.

  46. Thanks Mike, I have actually had to touch the pink validators otherwise I’m charged £2.00 even with the travelcard. I don’t mind too much as I have to walk right past it but it would be nice not to have to worry about it.

    • Hi Adam,

      That is very interesting. Signs on the pink validators say that they are for PAYG use only, so this seems to be a departure from previous experience. At least you know how to avoid the zone 1 charge now.

  47. Hi Mike,

    I was reading about pink oyster validators today; I was hoping that if i touched one at an interchange i could reduce the cost of my journey.

    At the moment i travel from Watford junction to Clapham Junction at off-peak times; a single fare costs me £1.70 using a pay and go oyster card combined with a 16-25 railcard.

    But what would happen if i were to stop half-way at Willesden Junction to validate my journey at the pink validator. Would this further reduce the cost of my journey?

    I just don’t understand how the system knows that i have skipped zone 1 otherwise.

    • Hi Megan,

      Touching a pink validator only has an effect if the fares table lists an alternative route involving that validator. In your case it will make no difference. £1.70 is the off-peak with railcard price for Watford Junction to Clapham Junction via Willesden Junction. It knows that you’ve avoided zone 1 because you haven’t touched out at Euston. I also have to say that £1.70 is a cracking value fare for a journey of that length.

      Hope this helps.

  48. Hi Mike
    I have a Zone 2-6 season ticket to go to Imperial Wharf from Lingfield. On occasion, I have to continue through to Victoria. I have an oyster, but is there a way to validate it without detraining at Clapahm. And where is the pink reader at Clapham if I have to detrain…

    • Hi Brian,

      Unfortunately if your season ticket is not on your Oyster then you will have to detrain to touch in. You’ll need the yellow validators which are on the gatelines at each side of Clapham Junction. The big downside is that you will be charged a 2-zone fare from Clapham Junction. If time isn’t critical then you can reduce this by travelling to Vauxhall on your season ticket then taking the Victoria line to Victoria. Vauxhall is dual zoned 1/2 so your season covers you and the tube is just a zone 1 journey.

  49. Dear Mike,
    My husband is travelling via Overground from Stratford to WIllesden and Willesden to Watford each day. He has been touching the pink card reader at Willesden to and fro during his journey. He seems to be charged £6.40 a day and on the online account it says ‘You have been charged for travelling through zones not covered by your oyster card’.
    My husband has a Annual Gold card for zones 2-3 and he just adds a top-up to cover him from zones 3-9. Not sure what he is doing wrong. We dont want to be spending £6.40 a day when TFL fares show £1.50 for a single fare.

    Please advise. Any help will be appreciated. Thank you !

    • Hi Fatima,

      This is actually an easy one. There is a special case when travelling wholly on the line from Euston to Watford Junction which says that travel in the contra peak direction is charged at off-peak rates. So Euston to Watford in the morning and Watford to Euston in the afternoon is all off-peak fares. As soon as the journey ventures off the Euston to Watford line the full peak at both morning and afternoon becomes payable in both directions. Your husband’s journey is Stratford to Watford so that is what it is charging even though the only part outside zones 2-3 is towards Watford.

      There is an easy way round this which is to split the journey in two. Instead of touching the pink validator at Willesden Junction your husband should touch out and back in again at the yellow validators or gateline. Then the journey from Willesden to Watford is only using the Euston to Watford line and will be charged at off-peak. As you say, the zone 4-W part will then cost £1.50 each way.

      I hope this helps,


  50. Hi Mike,

    Travelling from Bexleyheath to Beckenham Junction appears to be a Z4-5 fare. I think it is easier (and may be faster) to change at Victoria rather than at Nunhead and Shortlands. If changing at Victoria, do I need to touch out and in again, which would triple the cost?

    • Hi Jason,

      That’s a zone 3-5 fare where they expect you to change at Lewisham and Petts Wood. Technically you should pay for zone 2 if you change at Nunhead, but one of the beauties of Oyster is that you can’t be off route as long as you touch where you need to, and with just an island platform you won’t need to at Nunhead. Victoria is probably pushing it a bit though, especially if you need to go through barriers when changing trains. I’m not sure of the layout of the station, but if you did need to touch out and in again then you would be charged twice for fares including zone 1.

  51. Hi Mike,
    I travel from Forest Hill to Blackfriars every day, via Whitechapel. Thus far, I’ve been ignoring the pink scanners, as I didn’t know what they were for. Should I be scanning my card on them for every trip?

  52. I have been reading the various questions and comments about Route Validators and Travelcards. I have a Z23 Travelcard and rigorously use the pink validators where there is an alternative fare routed away from Z1 which requires the pink validator to be used. I am also rigorous about touching in and out even within the zones on my Travelcard even though there is a small inconsistency on this point between the various sets of Conditions of Carriage. I know the stickers on the validators are not terribly helpful but it is clear to me that TfL have tied together the routeing logic for PAYG with the Travelcard Zones. The lack of suitable routing options, especially via Clapham Junction, which would support the valid use of a non Z1 Travelcard is irksome in the extreme.

    TfL do actually cover the requirement to validate on pink validators if using an Oyster Travelcard in the Conditions of Carriage.

    See Clause 6.9 for the relevant entry about part PAYG use and also Travelcards not including Zone 1.

    I hope this helps even if it adds considerably to the burden of people having to check routes and fare options when using a supposed “ride at will” ticket. I have lost count of the times when I have had to check the fare finder while en route in order to work out where to split a journey to avoid being charged a default via Z1 fare. Your website is something of a “tour de force” on Oyster issues – well done for providing something so helpful.

    • Thanks PC,

      That is very interesting indeed. I’m wondering if that has changed recently. I might have to buy another weekly travelcard to check some things out again.

  53. I don’t think it has changed recently. I raked through the C of C documents much earlier this year to try to suss out this point. I left TfL earlier this year so lost my staff pass so had to learn the intracacies of public fares. Pink validator touches register in my online Oyster history and do affect whether I am charged or not. The TfL Staff Guide to 2012 Fares and Ticketing was released under a FOI request and it uses similar wording to the C of C about using pink validators.

    You may have spotted the FOI request (TfL Ref: FOI-1149-1213) but TfL have recently provided details about fare and alternative fare routes that change or are added as a result of the new ELLX Phase 2 service. It also says no pink validators for Surrey Quays. There is no sign that a pink validator will be provided at Clapham Junction either.

    • Hi PC,

      OK. I know that some journeys used to be charged differently with a travelcard loaded, and some pink readers have notices suggesting that they are only for PAYG use (eg Whitechapel last time I was there). I’ll have to take a further look into this, although it may not be until next year due to other pressures.

      Oh, and I made that FOI request, so yes I have seen it.

  54. Hi Mike,
    Interesting update to the recent posts – I noticed yesterday that the pink validators have had the signage updated to include reference to both PAYG and ‘non-zone 1 travelcards’, so clearly your campaign for clarity has has some effect! This was at Gunnersbury, though I imagine others have been changed too.

    • Hi Michael,

      It’s funny that you should notice that because I saw the same thing at Willesden Junction on Sunday. Whether it’s clarity or just a desire to stop defaulting to a cheap fare if a travelcard is present I’m not sure.

  55. Hi Mike,
    I have a question. If I want to go from West Brompton to Surrey Quays or Canada Whater how many times I need to touch my oyster card? Or where I can find this information?

  56. Hello
    This week I’ve had a go at using the new Overground service on my way into work. I board at Tooting Broadway and travel to Clapham North, make the interchange to Clapham High Street and then travel to Canary Wharf via Canada Water.

    I’ve made this journey 3 times this week and on all occasions have been charged the fare for entering Zone 1, even though I touch in on the purple validator at Canada Water (I have PAYG).

    I used to make this journey but in the reverse a few months ago to go home, so I used to get the DLR to Lewisham & get a train to Denmark Hill, change and get another service to Clapham High Street and then pick up the tube again from Clapham North.

    This journey meant that I was supposed to be paying £2.00 as it’s a tube-underground ‘throughfare’, although the system never got it correct and I had do request a refund every time.

    I know that Overground falls into the pricing remit of the tube system, including DLR but excluding National Rail, so am wondering why on the Single Fare Finder the new route is listed as “travelling via Balham and Canada Water” is £2.00, when it should be £1.50.

    Also, browsing through TfL’s site today, there used to be National Rail/Overground pricing map that showed which parts of the network where you paid the tube fare and where you paid the National Rail fare. I can’t find it.

    Have you come across this anomaly before as I’ve heard that taking multiple modes of transport to make a single journey often forces the system to pick the fastest/most direct route (with least changes) even though when you get statements sent to you the journey is correct but the fare is wrong.

    On a lighter note, I have managed to get back 1 refund out of the 3 journeys made so far.

  57. Hi Mike,

    Thanks for all the information, this website has been a great help! I’ve read through all the comments on this page but I still want to clarify something:

    1. If I have a monthly Z2-6 travel card added to my Oyster card with 16-25 railcard and I’m travelling from Whitechapel to Teddington via Clapham Junction, do I need to touch in and out at Clapham Junction to make sure I won’t be charged for z1 fares? As the journey planner gave me the default route of going through Waterloo instead, but the Single fare finder showed only £3.60, while the Fares table for 2013 showed £3.80…

    Thanks in advance!

    • Hi JZ,

      The journey planner takes no account of Oyster charges when suggesting routes, so I’d ignore that completely. If the default fare for your journey covers the correct zones then that is what will be charged. So no extra touches required.

  58. Unless there has been a change to the way we are supposed to use these, there seems to be a problem with them today (or at least the one on the northbound Overground platform at Canada Water). I touched in at Canary Wharf, and went one stop on the Jubilee Line to Canada Water. I changed to the Overground there, like I do every day, and touched the pink reader, like I do every day. Today it appeared to deduct the cost of the journey, which I haven’t seen it do before. I assumed that at Wapping it would realise I had just changed lines, and display the same final balance.

    But no. At Wapping a further £4.60 was deducted. I queried this, and was told that I had touched out on a yellow reader at Canada Water, and therefore had no “start” for my second journey, which ended at Wapping. (They couldn’t explain how I would have got back into Canada Water station had I actually touched out on a yellow reader).

    I said that I had been nowhere near a yellow reader at Canada Water. They said I was wrong. Then they asked why I had touched the pink reader anyway. I explained that I did it every day, because there were notices requiring PAYG users to touch it, and a £50 penalty for not doing so They said no, there weren’t, and it was totally unnecessary to touch the pink reader unless I was leaving the station (although surely that is what the yellow readers are for…).

    So keep an eye on your PAYG balances if you have travelled today, and particularly if you have used the pink readers at Canada Water.

    • Hi Susan,

      That sounds bad. I don’t think that the notices say you might get a £50 penalty because failure to touch them can end up with you being charged more. However, it doesn’t excuse their ignorance as to the difference between pink and yellow readers.

      For future reference you don’t need to touch the pink validator when making that journey because the default fare is already a single zone fare. But it shouldn’t matter if you do.

      Contact the helpdesk from tomorrow to arrange a refund. Hopefully they will understand what has happened. They certainly should be able to see which physical reader you touched and whether it has acted correctly or not.

  59. Hi Mike,

    I think I pressed “send” on my comment before adding that one of the staff did eventually agree to refund me the charge, so I want to add that for the sake of completeness.

    They printed out my travel history and said that the reader was an exit reader, which leads me to think there is a software problem of some sort, because it was definitely a pink reader, and it’s the same one I have used countless times with no problems at all.

  60. Hi Mike,
    Could you help me to know what would be the best way of travelling from Spring Gardens (Islington) to Perivale? The Tfl suggests me to go through zone 1 but I was wondering if it would be better (and cheaper!) to take the Overground from Canonbury (as this is my nearest overground station) to Shepherd’s Bush, and change to the Central Line to Perivale from there.

    I’ve also seen in your post that there is no pink readers at Sheperd’s Bush so I don’t know if it will be possible.

    Thanks in advance!

    • Hi Patricia,

      The TfL journey planner has little if any idea of cost, prefering to concentrate on the fastest/shortest options. Avoiding zone 1 will certainly save you money; better is too subjective to predict. There is no need for a pink validator at Shepherd’s Bush as there are two separate stations. Just don’t take longer than 20 minutes between touching out of one and in to the other.

  61. Hi Mike,

    I am planning to go to Heathrow Terminals 123 from Brockley via Surrey Quays, Clapham Junction, West Brompton and Earl’s Court. I believe it should be a zone 2-6 fare, while “single fare finder” shows me a 1-6 fare without cheaper alternatives. Does this mean I will surely be charged the latter fare regardless of the route chosen?
    Many Thanks!

    • Hi Cassie,

      Unfortunately yes. You will avoid the NR+TfL through fare which you would get if changing at a London terminal, but the default route is assumed to be via Canada Water and Green Park.

  62. Wasn’t sure if it’s been mentioned anywhere here, but the interchange between the Northern Line at Clapham North and the Clapham High Street on London Overground has had the fare costings corrected.

    So you will be able to interchange there, if your whole journey doesn’t include Zone 1, you will no longer get charged the cost of entering Zone 1 – as what was happening.

    They’ve also ‘fixed’ the Alternative fare finder. Route 1 is correct, but Route 2 still makes no sense.

    • Cheers Dave,

      Route 2 involves changing from Overground to Southern anywhere between New Cross Gate and Crystal Palace to get to Balham and then Northern Line from there. It’s slightly more expensive because you are charged the NR rate instead of the TfL rate.

  63. On Saturday i travelled from Walthamstow Queens Rd (London overground) to Denmark Hill via Highbury and Islington. I have a Zone 1-3 Oystercard but I was charged in both directions. I have already raised this with Oystercard and will get a refund. However I have been told that, for the purposes of this route, Walthamstow Queens Rd. has been reclassified as zone 4. Apparently i should have gone to Walthamstow Central and taken the tube to Highbury! Alternatively I could use the route validator at Highbury. However i have previously travelled to Stratford via this route with no problem. This makes no sense.

    • Hi Katherine,

      You’ve been misinformed. Walthamstow Queens Road is in zone 3 but the default route for a journey from there to Denmark Hill is via Barking (zone 4) and Whitechapel. This benefits PAYG users because a zone 2-4 journey is cheaper than a zone 1-3 journey, but you suffer because your travelcard covers the higher price journey but not zone 4.

      Walthamstow Central to Denmark Hill is charged as a zone 1-3 journey so would work. You could also split the journey in two by touching out and in again while changing trains, say at Blackhorse Road or Highbury & Islington. The pink validator at Highbury might work, but it might not.

  64. Hi Mike,
    I travel from EAST HAM to FULHAM BROADWAY daily.
    Just got to know about oyster validators.
    My question is do i need to tap in once at oyster validator or at both stations where i interchange?
    Like when i start my journey from East Ham do i need to validate at stratford or west brom , or at both?
    Incase i have to at west brom , then i can take district line direct to wimbledon come out at west brom , validate and use district line to next station i.e fulham broadway.
    I will just be charged almost half using the same route by just validating ?
    or i need to validate at stratford by East Ham -> West Ham -> Stratford -> West Ham and then to Fulham Broadway?
    and what will be my route back?

    Thanks in advance mate.

  65. Hi Mike,
    I travel from Lewisham DLR to Fulham Broadway.
    Please tell me the cheapest route.
    And on which station/s to validate my oyster card.
    Can i make a Zone 2-3 Pass?

  66. Hi,
    I have a query regarding a journey between Stratford to Hounslow.
    When i check in TFL, i get an alternate cheaper route via Canada Water (or Shadwell or Whitechapel) & Clapham Junction saying i change over at Canada Water (or Shadwell or Whitechapel).
    It also says, i have touch at the Pink reader in Canada Water.
    Will it be sufficient if i touch at the pink reader in Canada Water? Will i not have to touch in the pink reader in Clapham Junction.

    Can you kindly clarify?


    • Hi Karthick,

      There are no pink validators at Clapham Junction. If you touch the pink reader at Whitechapel or Canada Water, or switch between the two stations at Shadwell, then that is enough to prove you’ve avoided zone 1.

  67. Hi Mike

    First, thanks for the site. It lays out a lot of information that should be clearly explained by TFL on their own website!

    Many mornings, my journey to work is on the 0805 Leytonstone High Rd – Hamptead Heath LO service (yes it does exist – have a check on journey planner) before continuing from Hampstead Heath – Gunnersbury and then Gunnersbury – Ravenscourt Park on the District line. As this is all within Z 2-3, I should pay less than if I had travelled via Central London (£1.60 I believe). However, as there is no route validator at Hampstead Heath (I guess as this service is a peak time anomaly – normally the train would terminate at Gospel Oak instead.

    Oyster helpline are always willing to refund the difference between the fares (i.e between £3.20 and £1.60) but seem unwilling to acknowledge that it’s their problem and the default route on the system should change. I do touch the pink reader at Gunnersbury so I’m clearly not going via central London.

    What do you suggest as a solution?

    N.B. the Leytonstone High Rd – Hampstead Heath service I take does not stop at Gospel Oak. I want to take this service rather than the previous or following service as it gets me to work on perfect time and is also a lot quieter than other services at that time of morning. Taking the same train ca. 3 times a week means that this is a significant consideration and can make a big difference to ones well being!

    • Hi Tom,

      There are two problems. Firstly you are expected to change at Gospel Oak and touch the pink validator there. Secondly, they recognise the route via West Brompton and Earls Court, but not via Gunnersbury. Personally I would have thought that via Gunnersbury ought to be recognised and thus work. It would be unreasonable to install a pink validator at Hampstead Heath for just the one train. I’m not sure whether the route requires both pink validators to be touched, but you clearly can’t do the one at Gospel Oak on that train.

      If the helpline don’t seem to want to acknowledge the problem then I suggest that you involve London Travel Watch.

  68. I moved home… Help!!

    I was wondering if I can get away with a weekly pass Z2-Z3 if I travel from Lewisham(National Rail) to Newcross (overground) straight up to Highbury and Islington(Pink Oyster) and change to my last stop in Camden Road. I actually passed 2 pink oyster along the way (Whitechapel and Canada water)


    maybe its better to change @ Canadawater (pink oyster) then Jubilee line to stratford(another pink oyster) to Camden road (Overground)


    maybe its better to change @ Londonbridge (pink oyster) then Jubilee line to stratford(another pink oyster) to Camden road (Overground)

    or maybe just PAYG instead of travel card??

    • Hi Rich,

      Lewisham to Camden Road via New Cross and Shoreditch High Street requires a zone 1-2 travelcard. If you change at Canada Water and Stratford then you’ll only need a zone 2-3 travelcard as long as you touch the pink validator at Stratford. You could also take the DLR straight to Stratford from Lewisham if that’s easier. There is no harm, but also no need, to touch the pink reader at Canada Water. If you really want to go via London Bridge and Stratford you would need a zone 1-3 travelcard. There is no pink reader at London Bridge as you have to touch out and back in again when changing between NR and LU.

      If you only make 5 return journeys then PAYG will be cheaper unless you go via London Bridge.

      Lewisham NR to Camden Road via London Bridge is £3.90 peak, £3.30 off-peak single.
      Lewisham NR to Camden Road via Shoreditch HS should be £2.40/£1.90 but actually costs the same as via London Bridge.
      Lewisham NR to Camden Road via Stratford is £2.10/£1.70.
      Lewisham DLR to Camden Road via Stratford is £1.60/£1.50. This is my recommendation if using PAYG.

      Hope this helps.

  69. Hello

    I’m a bit new to this, didn’t realise quite how much brain power this takes.

    I’m travelling from Thames Ditton (NR) to Shepherds Bush (or from there change to Central and get off at White City if i’m feeling super lazy) – I’m choosing the ‘alternative route’ on the single fare finder (changing at Clapham Junction) which is almost half the price – when I go to the journey planner it suggests this route so also refers to my ‘alternative route’ as ‘Route 1’.

    What I’m now confused about is – do I need to touch out and back in again at Clapham Junction in order for the card to know I’ve avoided Zone 1?

    Currently I’m using pay and go and think it’s over charging me and I’m going to buy a travel card for zones 2-6, so my question is do I need to touch in and out at Clapham Junction using pay and go and/or a travel card?

    And, why are there not pink readers at Clapham Junction? That just seems silly to me…


    • Hi Penny,

      You don’t need to touch at Clapham Junction on either journey. If you can copy your journey history for an occasion where it has overcharged then I’ll try and work out what is going on. I believe that South West Trains are blocking any platform validators at CJ because they fear revenue loss.

  70. I recently travelled from Canning Town including interchanging from jubilee line onto the overground to get to Kensington Olympia avoiding zone 1. However even if you touch the pink validator at Canada water the system won’t recognise your route. The route has been available since December 2012 and is still charging users zone 1 prices regardless of touching appropriate validator. Users only option (if you notice the fault) is to pay for zone 1 route, and then call up for a refund.

    • Hi Alistair,

      It looks like you’ve stumbled across another inconsistency. There is an avoiding zone 1 route, but it means travelling via Stratford. I agree that either direction round the circle is logical from Canning Town, and it’s got to be a no-brainer from Canary Wharf which ridiculously also insists on travel via Stratford. It looks like this is another area that TfL need to consider.

  71. Hi
    I come in on Greater Anglia from Manningtree in Essex to Stratford then take the Overground to Canonbury. There is no yellow reader at the Stratford OG station so I touch the pink one and then touch out on a yellow at Canonbury. This works fine (£1.60 fare). On my return journey I touch in at Canonbury (yellow) and touch out on the pink at Stratford. This never seems to work and I get charged the maximum fare. Any ideas as how I fix this?

    • Hi Steve,

      Pink Route validators are not supposed to be used to start or end journeys. You need to visit the gateline at Stratford to touch out, unless there are still yellow readers in the corridor to the DLR Pudding Mill Lane branch. There is an unpublished oddity that if you are not touched in and use a pink validator then it will treat it as a touch in instead, but this doesn’t work (because it can’t) as a touch out.

  72. Hi Mike
    Please can you let me know what is the cost of a single journey from Turnpike Lane to Gunnesrbury, travelling through High & Islington and getting the overground from there. All in zone 2 & 3 and providing that I touch the Oyster card on the pink reader at H & I. Thanks.

  73. Thanks Mike

    Strange system, I think they call it user hostile… I will end up missing a train trying to find a reader! When you say gateline do you mean a barrier somewhere in the station?

    • Hi Steve,

      Any of the gatelines leading out of the station, or the standalone validators near the DLR to Pudding Mill Lane platforms. To be honest, I don’t think pink readers should record entry at all as it’s just confusing.

  74. Hi Mike

    Just came across the website, very informative.

    If I travel from East Croydon to Waterloo via Clapham Junction (only on a Sunday) should I use an Oyster Card? From what I can see there is no pink card reader at Clapham Junction? If that’s the case how does it work out. Or should I just buy a paper ticket? Many thanks.

  75. Hi Mike

    Thanks for answering the question, it’s most appreciated. I see what you mean now in how is the default route.

    Though one more thing, the national rail enq website it says that a return is £5.80, but how is this calculated? On the way there, I’ll scan out and money will be deducted. Though can’t the return trip be seen as a completely new journey in its own right, a “single” and a single fare will deducted from the card, how does it know that it’s a return trip?

    I only ever use oyster on trams and busses, never on the train as I hardly use the train, which is why I’m not getting it.

    As ever many thanks

    • Hi John,

      The off-peak single fare is £2.90 and NRES doubles it to get the return fare. It is however charged as two singles. NRES tries to work out whether a peak fare might be charged depending on what time trains appear, but it’s not a precise science.

  76. Hi Mike,
    while browsing the cheap way to travel on tube i came across this blog and i would like to ask if i can save some money while commuting from home to work. As i commute from Arnos grove to Hillingdon and have an interchange in zone1, and this is the only travel way tfl website shows. and fare rate is £10 per day on PAYG and around £55 on weekly pass.Could you help me in this regard. As i only pass through from zone-1 I pay more, Could you please tell me if i could ignore zone1 charges if i touch pink reader at Rayners lane station.

    • Hi Rizvi,

      Not Rayners Lane, no, but there is a way. It will add some time to your journey but will save you loads. From Arnos Grove change at Finsbury Park onto the Victoria Line (cross platform interchange). Then change at Highbury & Islington onto the North London Overground line. Take that to West Hampstead and change to the Jubilee line, then change onto the Met at Wembley Park (cross platform interchange).

      Is it worth it? Your £10 daily commute comes down to just £5.40. The only extra thing you must do is touch the pink validator on the Overground platforms at Highbury & Islington.

  77. Hi Mike,

    Thank you for the advice, I have started saving money now.
    One more question to ask if I go for zone 2-6 pass and for instance some morning go via zone 1 (my old route from Arnos grove to Hillingdon) how much the extra charge I have to pay one way, or topup my oyster excluding weekly pass


  78. yellow route validators at foot of starirs to c2c platforms (7 & 8) at West Ham are to be made pink. c2c staff have been there for a couple of nigts getting people to swipe them. I wonder if it will be necessary to swipe them and the L Overground ones at Stratford.

    BTW, what is the default route from Barking to Caledonian Road & Barnsbury? In other words,do I have to pink at Stratford? I’m using PAYG only.

    • Hi Colin,

      Thanks for the tip off, I’ll keep an eye on that one. The default route is via either Whitechapel or Moorgate and Highbury & Islington which both require zone 1. If you want the cheaper fare then you do need to do pink at Stratford.

  79. Do you have an example of a route which would require a pink validator touch at West Ham? I see there’s an Evening Standard Article today re. Pink validators:
    It says “West Ham to Crystal Palace costs £4.60 (peak) or £3.60 (off peak) via Zone 1, but just £1.60 (peak) or £1.50 (off peak) if a pink validator is used” I think that’s incorrect – journey planner says the default single fare is £1.60/£1.50, so no pink validator is required (I presume at Canada Water).
    Also in the same article the tfl spokesperson says “Pink Oyster validators are located in interchange stations to ensure passengers pay the lowest possible fare for their journey. We provide clear information in stations and on our website,”
    In fact they still don’t have information on their website regarding the need for travelcard holders to use the pink validators. It still refers to PAYG only

    • Hi Doug,

      What, are you expecting TfL to update their website? It took years after 2010 for them to add all the new NR stations into their help and contact section.

      I think the pink validator at West Ham is probably to say you’ve avoided zone 2 when travelling between C2C and DLR. It’s not in their list yet, so I don’t know when fares will make use of it. There is a regular update due at the beginning of September.

  80. There is a beta version of TfL’s new website available, which suggests that there may be at least some changes coming to the Oyster information held in the ‘tickets’ section.
    The default routes for fares between c2c and the DLR seem to already be on the cheaper (non-Zone 1) pricing structure, so, unless there are plans to change this, routeing validators would not be of much help in these cases.

    • Hi Matt,

      I know they are already avoiding zone 1, but they may want to avoid zone 2 as well. It’s possible that they’ll increase the default fare to include zone 2 and allow the cheapest fare when changing at West Ham.

  81. Fair comment Mike although, at least for the time being, all of the key journeys between c2c and DLR stations in Zone 3 are set on a non-Zone 2 basis. A number of journeys, via the DLR, to Southeastern territory (destinations such as Charlton, Erith and Slade Green) are also set at Zone 3-based prices.

  82. Hi Mike.
    I travel from Burgess Hill (NR – Southern) to Victoria (always after 9am). I usually buy a NR ticket to East Croydon, get off the train, exit using my NR paper ticket and then re-enter using oyster (payg) and continue to Victoria. (After that, I always make enough bus/tube/dlr journeys to reach the daily cap.
    My question regards returning on NR from Victoria. I touch in with Oyster and then again, get off the train at East Croydon, touch out and re-enter using my paper ticket to Burgess Hill. On the return journey, what would be the effect of not touching out and re-entering at East Croydon? Could I just stay on the train? My Oyster card is a tourist card (but I don’t think that makes any difference).


    • Hi Andrew,

      The tourist card doesn’t make any difference to what you’re doing, but staying on the train would. Take a read through the latest page to be added to this site – An Oyster Rail Journey and you’ll see that on touch in you get a maximum fare deducted. That is adjusted down to the correct fare when you touch out. If you have capped already then it deducts the maximum fare on touch in and refunds it all back on touch out.

  83. Hello all. I’m travelling from Surbiton to West Brompton, changing from over ground to tube at Wimbledon. Do I need to use the pink card reader with my oyster card, or do I just touch in at Surbiton and touch out at West Brompton? Thank you for help.

    • Hi Frances,

      That’s the default route for that journey so you don’t need to touch the route validator at Wimbledon. It won’t make a difference if you do though.

    • Hi Sharon,

      There is, but it’s only feasible with a travelcard. You’ll need to touch out and in again at both Tulse Hill and Wimbledon which will turn the journey into 3 separate journeys. There are two sensible routes; Norwood Junction to Tulse Hill to Wimbledon to East Putney (walk) Putney to Richmond which works with just zones 3 and 4; and Norwood Junction to East Croydon (tram) Wimbledon to East Putney (walk) Putney to Richmond which also requires zone 5. Unfortunately the whole route via Tulse Hill is not recognised when using PAYG and the tram would add more using that method as well.

  84. Hi

    Recently I took a journey from Surrey Quays to WImbledon during peak time and was charged £3.20. I made sure I avoided zone 1. According to a customer service rep at TFL and their website, one can still be charged as if they went through zone 1. How is this legal? If I bought some milk from my corner store, I wouldn’t be expected to be charged for eggs too?


    • It’s in the terms of use of the Oyster system. Unfortunately there is a big problem with journeys onto the ELL from Wimbledon because the option of District line to Whitechapel seems to over-ride the change at Clapham Junction option. Please do complain to TfL, because the more people do the more likely it is that they’ll change it.

  85. Hi Mike,
    I just wanted to check something. I need to get from Heathrow Underground to Surbiton (off-peak). Single fare finder says £2.40 (Z2-6). Does that mean the default route is Heathrow – Earls Court – Wimbledon – Surbiton? So I don’t need to touch the route validator at Wimbledon, but it won’t make a difference if I do?
    Great site, by the way. Puts the TfL site to shame.

  86. It is worth pointing out that the two pink readers at Rayners Lane are in fact yellow. The signage is for a pink reader, the LCD display indicates they are route validators and they operated as a pink reader, however the pad itself is yellow.

    • That’s brilliant! Thanks for the info. How do they expect people to know how to use the system when they can’t get simple things like this right?

  87. Hi Mike,

    My daily commute is from West Ham to Imperial Wharf via Canada Water and Clapham Junction. The only way to avoid overcharging is to touch pink reader at Canada Water and touch out/in at Clapham Junction. Touching pink reader at Canada Water is not enough – tested. It is fine if I am using Zone 2-3 weekly travel card. But recently I am commuting less regularly, so I am using PAYG and there is a problem – if I touch only pink reader at Canada Water – I will be charged like using Zone 1. If I touch out/in at Clapham Junction – I will be charged for Zone 2-3 but twice – one journey from West Ham to Clapham and another from Clapham to Imperial Wharf.

    Could you please advise??

    Thank you

    • Hi Piotr,

      The Oyster system doesn’t think you’d go that way, at the moment. You can go round the other way changing at Stratford and touching the pink validator there. Alternatively there is due to be a pink validator installed at Clapham Junction and I would imagine that this is the sort of fare which might be included once that happens.

  88. Can anyone tell me which zone monthly pass I will have to buy if I travel from Stratford (3) to Eastcote (5)?

    I will take overground upto West Hampstead, then jubilee upto Wembley Park and finally metropolitan to eastcote.

  89. Hi Mike. i was told by one of the officers at shepherd bush that a pink validator has been installed at Clapham junction but i am yet to see one. do you by any chance know if this has been installed and where because i commute from west drayton to south quays regularly and i only get overcharged at the point of touching out at shepherd bush on my way back despite using the validator at Canada water. although i have complained about this, i was refunded for one and the other is yet to be refunded.

    moreover, i was thinking if touching out and touching in at clapham Junction would rectify this anomaly so to speak if there was no pink validator at Clapham junction.

    • Hi Ayo,

      Yes, there will be pink validators at Clapham Junction, but they weren’t there on Sunday when I visited. Whether they will solve your problem or not depends on them defining a route via the south. At present the avoiding zone 1 route involves changing at Ealing Broadway, Shepherds Bush, Willesden Junction and Straford.

  90. I have a zone 1-3 gold card and regularly use the interchange between London overground and LU at Blackhorse rd. today I was stopped and told that I had to touch on the route validator. I replied that I did not need to as I had a gold card not a pay as you go. I showed him the card but he still said I had to . I ignored him and continued and he did not try to stop me.

    • Hi Katherine,

      Interesting. If your season doesn’t include zone 1 then there is benefit to touching a pink reader as it might save you a zone 1 fare. However, touching a pink reader is never required because it only ever saves you money.

  91. I travelled from theobalds grove (nr) zone 7 to Bermondsey zone 2 via Highbury & Islington and Stratford and I tapped my oyster on the validator at highbury but was charged £7.80 rather than £3.90 ( 1-7 single peak fare) could you tell y this is pls becsuse im trying to get it refunded

    • Hi Colin,

      Firstly the zone 1-7 peak fare is £5.70, not £3.90 which is the off-peak fare. Secondly there is only one fare between Theobalds Grove and Bermondsey, so it doesn’t matter which way you go or how many pink readers you touch. £7.80 is the fare for mixing NR and TfL fares over that route which you have to do as Theobalds Grove is NR while Bermondsey is TfL. So I’m afraid that no refund is due.

      However, for future reference you can reduce the fare by touching out and in again at Stratford. Theobalds Grove to Stratford via Highbury & Islington is £4.10 peak, then Stratford to Bermondsey is £1.60 peak, total £5.70.

  92. Hi Mike,

    I am just about to start a job which comes with a TFL Oyster card for free travel on all Oyster routes. I live in Ifield in Sussex, and have determined that I have to get to South Coulsden to join the Oyster zone. Do I really have to get of the train and swipe in? It just doesn’t make sense givens that at Ifield there is a Southern trains swipe card system. What is the best way to solve this?



    • Hi Paul,

      I’m assuming that your Oyster card comes loaded with a travelcard if it gives free travel. It may or may not include all routes as some go outside the standard zones 1-6. If that is the case then the good news is that there is no penalty for not touching in within the zones covered. The problem might be if you also have a season ticket for Ifield to Coulsdon South. If that is the case then the train will need to call at Coulsdon South for the combination to be valid. You may get more flexibility with a season from Ifield to East Croydon where pretty much all trains call.

      Southern’s “The Key” and TfL’s “Oyster” are separate systems. You can’t use Oyster outside of it’s area, while The Key will only work at selected stations within the London area.

  93. Hi Mike,

    Sorry if this has been covered already but I currently have a zones 2-3 travelcard on my Oyster card.

    Yesterday I began my journey at Shadwell Overground station, taking the OG via Peckham etc to Clapham Junction where I changed to the OG service to Stratford, getting off at Shepherd’s Bush.

    Now I assumed as I had avoided zone 1 (which was the whole reason I went that route) that I wouldn’t be charged any extra, however I was charged as if I’d been through zone 1.

    As there are no route validators at Clapham Junction, how was I supposed to tell the system that I hadn’t been through zone 1? Is there something I was doing wrong? Or is there a case to be made to TfL to put RVs at Clapham?

    • Hi Alex,

      Unfortunately there is no fare for that journey avoiding zone 1 at the moment. As you are using a season ticket you can trick the system by touching out and back in again at the gateline near the overground platforms at Clapham Junction. That should make the journey appear as two separate journeys where neither goes into zone 1. It’s not ideal, but is a workaround at the moment.

      The good news is that route validators are being installed at both Clapham Junction and Surrey Quays. All that will need to be added is a fare in the database avoiding zone 1 and then you will be fine. You could certainly contact the helpdesk and ask whether such a fare will be introduced along with the new validators.

  94. Hi Mike,

    I have recently started travelling from Oval to Canada Water. When searched on the single fare finder, the default route via zone 1 comes up.

    I clicked on alternative fares available, and found a cheaper route available with a change at Clapham North onto the overground. How can I ensure that tfl charges me for the cheaper alternative, as there doesn’t seem to be pink validators at Clapham North?

    Thanks so much!

    • Hi Cheryl,

      You don’t need pink validators because the system knows you’ve gone that way because you have to touch out and backwards in again.

  95. I usually go from Willesden Junction to Teddington via Richmond on a z3-6 Oyster season. If, however, I go via Clapham Junction, that should cost more as I’m going out of zones. However, given that the stated purpose of the validators is to reduce your fair by showing you went the cheaper route, could I be challenged for not touching one at Clapham Junction and therefore not paying the extra ?

    • Hi John,

      As long as you follow the rule of touching in at the start and out at the end of your journey you should not be challenged. In your case it is possible that TfL will increase the default fare to include zone 2 at some stage which would mean that you’d have to touch the pink validator at Richmond to avoid the increase. While they haven’t done that, touching the pink validator at Clapham Junction will have no effect as it is not logged as a significant via point on your journey. Note though that if you don’t touch in at the start of your journey you will get charged after touching the pink validator at Clapham Junction as that counts as a touch in if not already in the system. You may also be challenged if checked within zone 2 before Clapham Junction.

  96. Interesting, thanks. I used to always validate at Richmond when I was on PAYG, as that did default to assuming zone 2. When I went to season, it seemed to then assume I’d not gone via zone 2, and I often didn’t validate.
    I was once challenged by an inspector at Willesden Junction who said I’d come via Clapham, despite the fact that I’d just got off the Richmond train! All other times, though, the inspectors have not had a problem, and I usually validate anyway just to avoid the argument!

    • Ah yes, I remember your case before. A while ago you used to be able to get more lenient treatment when you had a travelcard, but that isn’t normally the case now. It may be that they have concentrated on the avoiding zone 1 loopholes, but I wouldn’t rule out yours changing in the future.

  97. Do you know what happens in the following case?

    The single fare finder for Upminster to Kensington Olympia gives default fares using zone 1. There are two alternative routes that avoid zone 1. Route 1 is via Stratford, and mentions the pink validators at Stratford. Route 2 is via Barking, Gospel Oak, and Willesden Junction but does not mention pink validators; I would have expected that Gospel Oak would be mentioned.

    How can the system know that Route 2 was used, rather than a route through zone 1 without an OSI? Anyway, if Route 2 does not require a validator, then neither would Route 1.

    • Hi David,

      I agree, that is confusing. I’m sure that you will have to touch at least one validator to get the route 2 fare, with either Gospel Oak or Willesden Junction being my favourites.

  98. After submitting my question about Upminster to Olympia, I tried each of the stations from Willesden Junction to Clapham Junction. Apart from WJ, which does mention validating at Gospel Oak, they all exhibit the same problem. I tried a few of the stations from WJ to Richmond; they mention validating at Gospel Oak.

    By the way, WJ is not the place to validate. The validators are at the top of the stairs to the Bakerloo/Watford DC platforms, and are intended for passengers transferring from one of those lines to the NLL or vice versa. Passengers for the Clapham Junction branch of the NLL reaching WJ on a Richmond train merely need to wait on the same platform and need not go near the validators.

    • It doesn’t surprise me particularly. Stations usually are grouped together in the fares table. In fact it would have surprised me if Kensington Olympia had been isolated.

      Agreed about Willesden Junction.

  99. Hi Mike,
    Incorrectly charged via Zone1 fare for Gants Hill – Leytonston – walk – Leytonstone High Road – Gospel Oak (route validator touched) – West Hampstead (overground).
    I usually go via Stratford (had engineering work Stratford-Hackney Wick yesterday) which provided I touch Stratford route validator is charged avoiding Zone1.
    Is a torturous route to go via Zone1 to come out of West Hampstead Overground and I think unreasonable to charge via Zone1 even if not route validated.

    This may be the same problem as Tom 18/2/13 although I did validate route at Gospel Oak.
    PS. Gants Hill – Leytonston – walk – Leytonstone High Road – Upper Holloway is correct fare.

    • Hi Tony,

      I agree with your assesment, though compared to the normal route via Stratford, the route you took could be considered tortuous. However, I’m sure a simple call to the helpdesk will resolve the matter. You could leave it a couple of days in case an automatic refund is forthcoming, but it will be sorted one way or another.

  100. I am travelling from Canada Water > Wimbledon via the overland and getting charged 3.20, there is no option to authenticate my journey at clapham where I change, to say I am not travelling through zone 1. Anyone got any suggestions?

  101. Hello Mike. Im going to be going to work in camberwell soon and I live in wood green. Im going to go from wood green (zone 3) to finsbury park (zone 2) to highbury and islington (zone 2) and finally to denmark hill (zone 2) Im going to buy a yearly pass on my oyster. Will I be able to get away in just getting a zone 2-3 pass or will i need to get a 1,2,3 pass? Your help is much appreciated, thanks.

  102. I often make a journey from palmers green station to highbury and islington then take the overground to shadwell and from there take the dlr to cutty sark. Though I touch in on the pink reader at highbury and islington, I have checked online and noticed for whatever reason I am not getting a discount and I am being charged the same as if I was going through zone 1. Anyone know why it does that?

    • Hi Kat,

      It does that because your journey goes through Shoreditch High Street which is in zone 1. If you want to avoid zone 1 you’ll need to go via Stratford instead of Shadwell.

  103. Another quick question. If i was to go from wood green to kings cross to london bridge to lewisham this would be zones 1,2,3 aswell right? Thanks

  104. Ive got a quick question on setting up my oyster card..

    i bought it at a ticket office and have set it up online at home and put some money on it, it says the registration will be complete when i scan it at a nominated station. i selected stratford as that is where i will be changing from overground to underground. my question is, as i change at stratford will the pink card readers register my top up and activate my card? or do i have to come out of the station with my overground ticket that i have already purchased to then scan my oyster card to register it for the first time?

    • Hi Nick,

      As long as you are effectively touching in you will get your top-up at the pink reader. However, the pink readers are on the London Overground platform which is a long way from the Underground platforms. There is a yellow validator on the Jubilee concourse, or if you are using the Central line you are probably better off using a gateline.

  105. Hi Mike,

    This is a really excellent website and well played for helping so many people!

    I’m moving to London this week and trying to get my head around it all! In terms of these pink readers, I noticed there is one at Highbury & Islington. I’ll be traveling to Brockley and one option is to go via Canada Water – will I need to touch the pink readers at a) Highbury & Islington, b) Canada Water, c) both stations or d) neither?????

    Thanks in advance!

    • Hi Matt,

      You don’t say where you are travelling from, but the likelihood is that you don’t need to touch any pink readers. Between Highbury & Islington and Canada Water the line dips into zone 1, so there is no benefit to get from touching a pink reader.

  106. Hello Mike, Hopefully you can advise on an issue with using Oyster on the London Overground. There are direct trains from Highbury and Islington to Clapham Junction both via Gospel Oak and also via Shoreditch High Street – the route via Gospel Oak avoids zone 1 but the route via Shoreditch High Street does go through zone 1. How would the system know which route you took, since if you’re on a direct train there would be no opportunity to touch a pink reader anywhere? Thanks.

    • Hi Marcus,

      The system can’t tell. From Highbury and Islington, Canonbury and possibly Dalston Junction, it gives you the benefit of the doubt and says you’ve avoided zone 1 even if you haven’t.

  107. Hi Mike,

    I currently travel from Streatham Hill (Zone 3) to Richmond (Zone 4) via Clapham Junction and have a travelcard Zone 3 – 4. Would using the pink oyster card bypass paying for Zone 2 or would i need to include Zone 2 on my travel card? Thank you

    • Hi Terry,

      If you travel through a zone then you need to pay for it. The pink reader at Richmond only bypasses zone 2 for journeys in West London which actually do avoid zone 2.

  108. Hi Mike

    Firstly thank you for this fantastic website, it’s so helpful!

    I am commenting in response to Marcus’ comment above – I just travelled from finsbury park to clapham junction, changing at highbury & taking the overground via gospel oak, not Canada water. I have a zone 2-3 travelcard but was charged £2.30 for the journey – is the only way around this to get off along the route & touch one of the pink readers…?



    • Hi Nikki,

      Did you touch the pink validators at Highbury and Islington before getting on the Overground train? If you did then you should have been charged the cheaper fare. If not then it seems to assume you’ve gone through the middle.

  109. Hi Mike

    I’m wondering if you can help. I’m very new to London and a bit confused by these pink validators. I start my journey at New Cross and end up at Piccadilly Circus. Do I have to use the pink validators at Canada Water? (Overground > Canada Water, Jubilee > Waterloo, Bakerloo > Piccadilly Circus).

    Thanks in advance for your help,

    • Hi Chloe,

      The single fare finder treats that route as the default, so you don’t have to touch the pink reader. It won’t make any difference if you do though.

  110. Hi
    My name is khusy
    And m travelling daily from sutton to wembley central .and i take southern to clapham n than clapham to willesden by over ground n than finnally wembley . So do i need to touch pink reader? N does they charge me more? Or what is the best option for trvell my two end points?

    • Hi Khusy,

      Your route is the default route for that fare so there is no need to touch pink validators. It won’t make any difference if you do, however.

  111. I used the outer card for the first time yesterday. Used it whenever I needed to. It had charged me 2 penalty fares & one day journey around London costed £15.60 compared to a dy travel card around £9. I didn’t know that te journeys weren’t all linked, maybe should’ve got out and in on every station I had to change which isn’t easy in the underground.

    I don’t feel oyster is a card for infrequent use as I’m not a Londoner. There’s a lot of complex procedures and not getting everything right, leaves you ripped off.

    • Hi Martin,

      Sorry to hear your experiences. If you contact the Oyster helpline they will probably arrange a refund for you, and if you aren’t often in London then that can be made direct to a bank account. If you look at my page When not to use Oyster you’ll see that I don’t recommend using it to rove around London for the very reasons you mention. However, I definitely do recommend it to infrequent visitors who want to make a few specific journeys with a purpose between each one.

  112. Hi
    I am going to be making regular journeys from North Greenwich to Seven Sisters. If I avoid zone 1 and go via Stratford and Highbury and Islington I see that it is a cheaper fair. In terms of the pink oyster validator there is one at Stratford and one at Highbury, would I need to touch in on both of them or would it just need to be the once at Stratford which is the first one I would come across?

  113. Hi,

    Commuting from West Ham to Imperial Wharf via Canada Water and Clapham Junction – the most logic choice for me (total journey about 45 minutes). Official route avoiding Zone 1 via Stratford is about one hour. Using pink readers on Canada Water and Clapham Junction is fine with my 7 days travel card. When I am on PAYG I am charged as traveling via Zone1. Really don’t get it :/

    • Hi Piotr,

      I don’t get that either. I know that there are sometimes different routes defined for travelcard holders, but I thought most (if not all) of those had been eliminated once people started taking advantage of them. I’d be inclined to write/email the helpdesk and ask the fares people to consider adding the southern route to the PAYG tables.

  114. Hi,

    I’m considering getting a year travel card for University, I will be travelling from Finsbury park (zone2) to New cross or New cross gate (both zone 2).

    On a student Oyster card a zone 2 only card is significantly cheaper than zone 1-2 . Would I be able to get a zone 2 only card on this route if I touch the pink reader at Highbury & Islington?

    • Hi Kay,

      Sadly not. You will pass through Shoreditch High Street which is in zone 1. The zone 2 only travelcard is actually zones 2-3 and would be valid if you touch pink validators at both Highbury and Stratford.

  115. I travel from Cuffley (One stop outside the Oyster scheme) on First Capital Connect to Lambeth or Tower Hill. At the moment I have to buy a return ticket to Finsbury Park, change onto the underground, and use my Oyster for that part of the journey. This entails walking out onto the street, and into another entrance. If I were to pay my train fare to Highbury and Islington, where I just step across the platform in order to get the tube, could I swipe my card on the pink reader and the Oyster scheme recognise that I had started my underground journey from there? It’s not practical to buy a train ticket just the one stop to Crews Hill, where the Oyster starts, from Cuffley as this would entail me getting off of the train to swipe the Oyster, and then waiting for the next train.

    • Hi Dave,

      You don’t want to use the pink readers because they are on the Stratford to Richmond platforms which would be an even more tortuous route than at Finsbury Park. There are however yellow readers between the GN and Vic platforms at Highbury. If they still work* then they would do what you want. Otherwise it’s not going to help. On the way back you can’t end a journey at a pink reader, so you’d have to touch out properly anyway.

      * Last time I was there the platform validators were switched to “out of use” but that could be because it was a weekend and the GN service to Moorgate wasn’t running.

    • Hi Angus,

      As that’s the most obvious route for that journey there is no need to touch the pink validator, but it won’t make any difference if you do. The sort of journey that validator is designed for is Wembley Park to Acton Town where you could reasonably go via zones 1 and 2, or not if you use Rayners Lane.

  116. Hi Mike
    i am confused about the cost of my trip today. It was from Wimbledon to Waterloo by train and then to Goodge Street by overground. Since the interchange access was closed, i touched out in waterloo railway station and touched in tube station. The whole trip cost me 3.8pound. I wonder how it is calculated and if you don’t mind please offer an optimal route between wimbledon and goodge st. by using train and underground. Thank you~

    • Hi Li,

      That is a mixed NR+TfL through fare and includes the premium for mixing when the journey includes zone 1. You still need to touch out and in again if you use the peak-hour access to the tube. The only way to make that journey cheaper is to take the District Line from Wimbledon and change to the Northern Line at somewhere like Embankment/Charing Cross. That truly is a no touch required route and is charged as a TfL only fare of £2.70 off-peak.

  117. Thank you for your reply.And I’d like to know if I purchase a zone1-3 travelcard, will my trip(wimbledon-train-waterloo-tube-goodge st.) be covered or should I pay for premium? And what is the difference in everyday cap between mixed NR+TfL and only tube?
    Many thanks~

    • Hi Li,

      A zone 1-3 travelcard covers any travel within those zones (except St Pancras Intl – Stratford Intl). Likewise the daily caps apply to all travel. The premium is only applied to single fares and thus makes the cap/travelcard more attractive.

  118. London Overground – Canonbury to South Hampstead is a Zone 1-2 journey unless you touch a pink reader at Willesden Junction (according to the single fare finder).

    However, there was a direct service this weekend from Camden Road to South Hampstead and on to Willesden Junction due to engineering. I got charged £2.20 for Canonbury to South Hampstead instead of £1.50. I imagine a lot of people were overcharged if they got off before Willesden Junction. Had there been no engineering I’d have gone to Finchley Road & Frognal.

    • Hi Doug,

      I would expect this case to be automatically refunded in the next day or so. If it isn’t (ie you don’t get an email) then I’m sure that the helpdesk will sort it out.

  119. Hi Mike,

    I will be making a trip soon from Oxfordshire Banbury to Wimbledon and I looked at the Single Fare Finder on TFL and it said that if I go through Shepherd’s Bush and West Brompton it’ll be cheaper. But I was wondering where exactly are the pink validators located in West Brompton?

  120. Hi Mike,

    If I get the overground from Highbury & Islington to Denmark Hill will my zone 2-7 travelcard be valid?

    Will it know that I’ve gone via Shoreditch HS (Zone 1) it’s quite annoying that it’s the only stop on the overground in zone 1!

  121. @Sam, you could always go via Stratford, touch pink validator there, change to Central Line, change to District/H&C at Mile End, change back to Overground at Whitechapel.

    Am I correct in thinking, as the Single Fare Finder gives this as an alternative cheaper route, Sam would not run into any problems?

    • Hi Alun,

      Yes, you are correct. I did think of mentioning this yesterday but I was on a smartphone and struggling to type at the time. The key is being prepared to extend the journey time to get the cheaper fare.

  122. Hi Mike

    I didn’t get an automatic refund. I phoned tfl Oyster refunds line, explained my situation and was told that they can’t give refunds in the case of planner engineering works!! I said that was ridiculous and repeated that I hadn’t gone via Zone 1, and after some debate they agreed to refund me…

    • Well I’m glad they refunded you. I’m tempted to try a similar journey this weekend as the same work seems to be taking place again. I certainly won’t put up with being fobbed off.

  123. Hi, I need to travel from Hillingdon to Cutty Sark. I know that the cheapest fare needs to use the pink card readers but can you please tell me the route I need to take as well as where I can touch on the pink reader to get the cheapest fare. Thank you.

    • Hi Amy,

      You need to change at Finchley Road and walk to Finchley Road and Frognall* then touch the pink validator at Stratford. You can then take either DLR or Jubilee line to Canary Wharf where you need to change most of the time onto a Lewisham DLR.

      * You can also change at West Hampstead where the stations are a bit closer together, but the Met doesn’t stop there.

  124. I recently traveled from Hackney central to Wandsworth Town on the Overground touching the pink validator at Clapham Junction and was charged £3.50 with a code of 5576.. I was told by TFL that there is no default fare for this journey without going via zone 1.What is the pink validator for at Clapham Junction and why was i charged £3.50.Cheers.

    • Hi Nick,

      The pink validator at Clapham Junction does indicate avoiding zone 1 on lots of routes. Unfortunately in your case it doesn’t work. I think this is a mistake because clearly a direct train to Clapham Junction plus one stop on SWT is a reasonable route. Indeed you can buy paper returns for three routes: Any Permitted, via Surrey Quays and via Kensington Olympia (where the prices reflect the zones and modes used). I would email the helpdesk and ask them to pass on a request to the fare setting people. I’ll do this as well because it is an obvious omission.

      I don’t know whether they would be prepared to refund you, probably not, but you can always ask.

  125. Hi Mike,

    just to say what an amazing site! your comments are brilliant and helpful! however i have one quick query..

    I am from Milton Keynes so i get the train once every fortnight to see my girlfriend in London. I always put £10 on my oyster card which lasts me the whole day. However i have just realised i can attach my 16-25 railcard to my oyster, so what would be the new cap for all day travel? would i still need to put £10 every time i top up for all day travel? and if i have the money left over which is sufficient for all day travel, could i just get away with not topping up?

    hope you can help


    • Hi Bando,

      The railcard affects the off-peak caps which become: Z1-2 £4.60 (£7.00), Z1-4 £5.10 (£7.70), Z1-6 £5.60 (£8.50). The undiscounted amount is in brackets.

  126. Hi Mike,

    I travel daily between Gunnersbury & Aldgate East – I thought that by changing my route & taking the overground from Gunnersbury to Highbury & Islington, then on to Whitechapel (getting off at zone 2) that I would be avoiding zone 1 and be charged the zone 2-3 fare rather than zone 1-3. Do I have that right?

    • Hi Reuben,

      Not if you travel through Shoreditch High Street, which is in zone 1. If you carry on to Stratford, touch the pink reader, then take the Central Line to Mile End and the District to Whitechapel you will then avoid zone 1.

  127. Hi Mike,

    I need to travel daily for work from Stratford in Zone 3 to Wembley Park in Zone 4. Can I use a Zone 3-4 travel card for this journey. If this is possible, the how should I plan it. Thanks for any help.

    • Hi Anubhav,

      You’ll need zone 2-4 and you use Overground from Stratford to West Hampstead then Jubilee to Wembley Park. You can also change between Finchley Road and Frognal and Finchley Road to make use of the fast Met trains.

    • Hi kewlsilence,

      This is a definite case of cost or time. The cheapest, but very slow way is to use the 81 bus to Hounslow West, then the Piccadilly, District and Central lines via Acton Town and Ealing Broadway. All you would need is a zone 2-5 travelcard season. The fastest way is much faster but costs more too. FGW train from Slough to Ealing Broadway and then Central line.

  128. Hi Mike,
    I have to travel from Chadwell Heath on the national rail into Stratford and then overground to Highbury&Islington using the pink validators. Is this the most cost effective route?

  129. Hi Mike,
    I wanted to avoid zone1.
    I need to travel from barking to brentford, could you please suggest which is possible route for that?
    Barking to Canadawater — i can go via westham so that zone 1 is not required

    from there to claphanjunction and then to brentford is there any way by avoiding waterloo i,e zone 1?


  130. Hi Mike,

    I have a question about the pink validators. I would be travelling to Clapham Junction via Highbury and Islington and then Surbition. Before I start my journey I know I have to touch the pink validator at H&I so that I avoid zone 1, however I was wondering if I have to touch the pink validator again when I arrive at Clapham junction and then take the train to surbiton ? if so when I go back to H&I there is no pink validator at the platform that the train stops at, do i need to go to the platform that has it and then go to the underground ? sorry for any inconvenience caused and many thanks

    • Hi Abby,

      The answer depends on where you start your journey on the Underground. It might be slightly more complicated. Also, are you going via Willesden Junction or Surrey Quays on the way to Clapham Junction?

    • Hi Abby,

      Would you believe that you’re the second site visitor today trying to do Seven Sisters to Surbiton avoiding zone 1?

      Things to note. Shoreditch High Street is in zone 1, but, the system gives you the benefit of the doubt if you travel from Clapham Junction to Highbury & Islington because it can’t tell which way you go. If your train arrives in the platform without pink validators then you will have to go over to touch one of them before getting the Underground. Likewise the other way if your train is due to leave from that platform. If you go the other way then there are pink validators on both platforms because you genuinely do avoid zone 1 via Willesden Junction.

      Now the extra complication. TfL don’t believe that anyone travelling from Seven Sisters to Surbiton would avoid zone 1 so there is no fare set. If you are using PAYG then that is a real pain, but if you have a travelcard there is an easy workaround. Basically you have to touch out at Clapham Junction and touch back in again. This makes it two journeys: Seven Sisters to Clapham Junction via Highbury & Islington and Clapham Junction to Surbiton. You can do that on a zone 2-6 travelcard. If you don’t touch out and in again at Clapham Junction then it will charge you £2.20 extra each way as it thinks you’ve gone via zone 1. There is still a saving if you use PAYG, but it’s not as much as it should be. You pay £3.90 peak each way for the SWT bit and £1.60 peak each way for the Overground/Underground bit. If it was programmed as a valid alternative route it would only be £3.90, but at least it’s better than the £7.50 via zone 1 peak fare.

  131. After you saying that I actually checked and he/she is trying to do the same thing as me 🙂

    I am so sorry for keep on asking questions and bothering you I just want to be sure. taking the other way (Willesden) would be harder for me as I guess i will have to go seven sisters to highbury then willesden then clapham and then surbition

    So if I take the overground at highbury and islington all the way to clapham juncation exit and go back in, it would be ok ? or because I am going through Shoreditch High st it would automatically charge even though I touch the pink validator

    Once again very sorry and thank you

    • No problems. As long as you don’t touch between Highbury and Clapham Junction it assumes you’ve avoided zone 1 because it can’t tell. There are some direct trains via Willesden Junction and I believe it takes a similar time either way.

  132. With the recently publicised (localy at least) arrival of Oyster at Epsom next September (part of the new TSGN franchise agreement apparently) I’m wondering if Epsom will also get a pink reader?

    I’ve always thought of them as ‘avoiding zone 1’ indicatiors but surely there must be some savings to be made from avoiding zone 2 (i.e. Clapham) and changing between SWT and Southern services at Epsom? I guess I’ll go and look at some fare tables 🙂

    • There is at least one validator further out than zone 2 (Rayners Lane), but I’m not sure how much you might save by saying you’ve gone via Epsom. You might get a small saving going from Ewell East to West, but most sane people would walk or get the bus.

  133. Here’s an interesting one (I think).

    My son went out around London with the scouts yesterday and, against my better judgement, used his zip card to do it. On the way back, they came via the W&C to Waterloo but didn’t bother to touch out before heading for the SWT gate line.

    When I did that a year or two ago I got a maximum charge and had to top up to get home, this time, however, he was allowed through and his journey history simply records a touch on the ‘pink card reader, Waterloo (platforms 1-11)’.

    He clearly didn’t touch a non-existent pink reader so do you know if they have reprogrammed the Waterloo gate line to handle missed W&C touches? Whatever the answer is, we correctly paid £1.50 for the day and I’m quite happy.

    • To be honest I’m not surprised that they’ve done something. That interchange is probably the most troublesome on the network. It’s similar to the arrangement at Finsbury Park where you can still enter the gates to the NR station if you haven’t touched out on the validators from the LU station. It’s possible that calling it a pink validator is the result of allowing the intermediate touch, the reverse if you like of allowing pink validators to start a journey if you aren’t already touched in.

  134. If forced to use a more expensive route because of issues on the overground, is one entitled to somehow claim the difference back from TFL? In my case I probably wasn’t delayed (overall) by 30 minutes or more, but my journey cost twice the amount as I was forced to travel via zone 1.

  135. Just read this blog and found some excellent info on route validators. Just a quick question. I have a Zone 2-5 travel card and if I wish to travel from Bermondsey or Elephant&Castle to Harrow on the hill, can I use the route validator at rayner’s lane (i.e. go all the way to rayner’s lane, get validated and return back to harrow) to save zone 1 expense

  136. Hi,

    I am travelling between Brixton and Woolwich off peak.
    Tube brixton – Clapham North
    interchanged to Clapham High street
    Overground to Canada Water. touch pink card reader
    Jubilee- Canada water to Canning town
    Dlr- Canning town to Woolwich
    It cost me £2.70 when it should have cost me £1.50.
    Why wont it recognise that I avoided zone 1?

    • Hi Michael,

      Unfortunately that is considered too complicated a journey. The shame is that there is no really uncomplicated journey. You are at least avoiding the mixed mode surcharge which you would be charged if you used NR between London Bridge and Woolwich Arsenal. You could ask them to consider adding the route, but until they do the system won’t charge the lower fare.

  137. Hi, which route from Cheshunt to West Brompton would br the cheapest using an oyster card? via Stratford on the over ground….or via Liverpool Street on the underground.

  138. Hi, reading this blog, its a great source really helpful advice so thank you! I wanted to ask about travelling from Canons Park (Jubilee) to Stratford..

    Single Fair Finder gives the option of taking Jubliee to West Hampstead and changing to Overground to Stratford for £1.50 off peak, but I can’t tell how I can get this fair. The text at the bottom says:
    “When you pay as you go, you must touch your Oyster or contactless payment card on a yellow card reader at the start and end of your journey. If you do not, you may be charged a maximum fare.

    Some journeys are charged via Zone 1 irrespective of the route taken.”

    Its only one change and since their website lists it as an alternative route, I thought I should be able pay for a journey without zone 1, but it doen’t mention any pink validators so how would they know which route I’ve taken? I’m not familiar with the overground side of things at West Hampstead or Stratford.. would I have to touch in&out twice or something?


  139. Hello,

    I came into Clapham Junction by SouthWest Train and immediately went to platform 1 for a train to denmark hill. Touched in at validator at bottom of stairs on platform 1 and touched again on my way out at Denmark Hill but was charged £5.00. This has happened twice.
    Not sure what to make of this. Is that the usual charge and if not can I get a refund?
    I’m an international student and I thought overground charge was £1.50.

    • Hi Mayo,

      Are you using Oyster to get to Clapham Junction? If not then you should be touching in at the gateline below platform 1 (use the subway to get there rather than the bridge). If you are using Oyster on both legs of the journey, please describe everywhere you touch.

  140. Hi Mike,

    Thanks for your reply! That makes much more sense now. So if I touch out and in at West Hampstead, would I be able to get the £1.50 fare for the total journey from Canons Park-West Hampstead-Stratford or would I have to pay twice?


    • Hi Saj,

      As long as you don’t exceed the interchange time specified on the map page you will be charged one fare, which is £1.50 off-peak.

  141. Hello,

    I’ve been using a PAYG oyster and traveling between Dalston Kingsland and Warren St. I’ve been doing this of quite a while with out touching the pink interchange at Highbury and Islington. Will this have increased the cost of the journey?


  142. I always travel from woodside park to stonebridge park in peak time, but not sure which way is cheaper? Change at Eustom for overground or change at charing cross for Bakerloo. If I want to buy 7 days pass for this, should it cover from zone 3 – 4?

    • Hi Pejic,

      Both those routes involve zone 1 so they cost the same. You would need a zone 1-4 weekly travelcard. Travelling via Euston will be much quicker. If you really want to save money then you’ll need to walk a short way. You can either walk between Camden Town and Camden Road or between Kentish Town and Kentish Town West, then change again at Willesden Junction in either case. Or for a slightly shorter walk change at Kentish Town onto a Thameslink train to West Hampstead and then walk to West Hampstead overground. I’ve linked each pair to a map showing the walk. In all three cases you would only need a zone 2-4 travelcard.

  143. If I got the train from feltham to staines on a zip oyster (since I’m 13 I don’t have an adult oyster) how much will it cost for me?

  144. I usually take a journey from Ilford to Greenford by changing at Stratford for the central line. Is it cheaper to use the pink reader with an 18+ student card.

  145. Hello,

    I will be travelling via the overground from Hampstead Heath and change at Highbury and Islington and then to my destination at Denmark hill.

    Online TFL says there are pink readers at H&I. Wondering if I will be charged £1.70 for a single fare, if I clock myself on a pink reader.

    • Hi Maria,

      You won’t get the avoiding zone 1 fare by touching the pink reader at Highbury and Islington because you travel via Shoreditch which is in zone 1. To avoid zone 1 you need to travel via and touch the pink reader at Stratford.

  146. Hi Mike,

    Thanks for your reply.

    I visited the single fare finder and oddly it gave me an oyster fare of £1.70 for a journey from Hampstead Heath to Clapham High Street. (18+ Student)

    My destination is Denmark Hill which is the next station.

    Would you suggest going via Clapham Junction and touching in and out on the yellow reader at platform 1 and changing trains onto Denmark Hill?

    Just trying to find a way to reduce daily fare 🙂

    (not sure where pink validator is at Clapham Junction or if it will validate the journey)

    • Hi Maria,

      It looks like between Clapham High Street and Denmark Hill is the halfway point round the circle, which is a shame for you. There is a single fare of £1.70 between Hampstead Heath and Denmark Hill but you have to go via Stratford. If you touch out and in again at Clapham Junction then you’ll be charged two singles which won’t help. The pink reader is on platform 1 but that won’t do anything on a Hampstead Heath to Denmark Hill journey. If you are travelling 5 days a week you could get a zone 2-3 travelcard which is £16.80/week with your 18+ discount. You could then either go via Stratford and touch the pink reader or via Clapham Junction and touch out and in again. You’d also get any other travel in zones 2-3 covered, plus buses throughout London.

      Hope that helps.

  147. Hi Mike
    I just touched in at Walthamstow Central for my (new daily return) journey to Liverpool street and was charged £7.80. Surely this is incorrect as I travelled this route before Christmas and it was £2.30 one way!
    Many thanks

    • Hi Joanna,

      Did you check the balance before finishing the journey? If yes then it will be adjusted when you touch out. Otherwise it looks like your touch in didn’t work.

  148. Hi, I travelled on underground today and have been overcharged. Boarded the victoria line tube from Victoria at 9pm and changed to Northern at Stockwell to alight at Tooting Bec. It’s Jan 10th – Saturday so a weekend. I was charged £3.6 instead of £2.6. What shall I do?

    • Hi Jini,

      I’m confused. The adult single from Victoria to Tooting Bec is £2.80. Peak would be £3.30 but wouldn’t be charged today. Can you explain where you are getting your figures from?

  149. Hi Mike,
    I travel payg from Brockley to baker Street to and fro at peak, not using pink reader is actually paying more? I connect bus as well but don’t get daily cap. This journey isn’t often anyway. How do you advise? Thanks

    • Hi Vine,

      The single fare finder for that journey doesn’t mention touching a pink validator so it isn’t necessary. You do need to avoid the south London terminals to get the cheaper fare though; travel via Canada Water. Also, while that rail journey alone wouldn’t trigger the cap, adding one bus journey certainly should.

  150. Hi Mike I really need your help. I have a student 18+ oyster and I buy a weekly travelcard to zones 2-6.. I travel from seven sisters to highbury and Islington (touch the pink validator) and then go clapham junction. I exit and enter back in then take the train to surbition. Before it was fine but now its starting to charge me. I dont understand the reason. Can you please help. Do you think it would be better if I buy the paper ticket.

    • Hi Monika,

      Can you copy your journey history for a day when it charged? Seven Sisters to Clapham Junction via Highbury & Islington is still an avoiding zone 1 fare and Clapham Junction to Surbiton definitely is, so the only thing I can think of is that an EOSI has been set at Clapham Junction for some reason. If this is the case then I believe you need to exit and enter twice which would invoke the same station exit procedure and start a new journey.

      A paper ticket would avoid having to do the hokey-cokey at Clapham Junction, but it would make it harder to travel into zone 1 using the Oyster card, particularly from North London where you haven’t got a zone 1/2 station like Vauxhall.

  151. Monika and Mike,

    When I read Monika’s post, I was struck by the fact that you can go either way round the LO from H&I to Clapham Junction. The Single Fare Finder mentions going via H&I and Willesden Junction for the cheaper fare, and also mentions the validator at H&I, but how does the system know whether or not you go via Shoreditch High Street?

  152. Hi Mike,

    I love what you do here! You are helping so many people including myself. Thank you….

    My question is as follows:

    I have recently moved to Redhill (Surrey) and my new job is in Stratford (London). Can you please tell me the most cost effective way to get there? ( I have an oyster although I know Redhill is out of the zones)

    (I was literally introduced to the pink oyster validator today when travelling from a friends house in Blackhorse rd to Clapham Junction via Highbury & Islington. I was pleasantly surprised at the price I was charged; £1.50!!! Thanks to the lovely ticket office lady at Blkhorse rd that I originally thought was a nutter, I am aware that oyster at times doesn’t have to be extortionate.
    Would be great if I could feel the same about my new commute from Redhill to Stratford.

    All guidance and help welcomed.

    Thanks again. xXx

    • Hi Lilz,

      I think a Redhill to zones 2-6 travelcard is your best bet. Travel to New Cross Gate from Redhill (possibly changing at East Croydon) then take the Overground to Canada Water and the Jubilee to Stratford. Oyster will be extended to Redhill at some point in the next few years, but there are some big changes to make to the system before that can happen. The plan is to take it down to Gatwick.

      Redhill to London Bridge then Jubilee to Stratford might be quicker, but you’d need zone 1 so it will cost quite a bit more.

  153. Hi Mike,

    Thank you so much for getting back to me! I really appreciate all your help.

    Your suggested route is definitely something that I’m going to try out. For some strange reason, I can’t seem to find a price online for how much it will cost for a Redhill to zones 2 – 6 travelcard.

    Would you be able to tell me where I can find that out please?

    Lilly 🙂

    • Hi Lilly,

      If you go to the season ticket calculator on National Rail Enquiries and put Redhill as the origin and any zone 2 station, eg New Cross Gate, as the destination, you’ll get several options. One is the point to point season, then the travelcard including zones 2-6, then the travelcard including zones 1-6. There are also some options for also being able to use the train from Caterham.

  154. Hello Mike

    I regularly travel from Wood Green to Clapham High Street. I have a 2-4 travel card and get the tube down to Highbury & Islington then jump on the overground to Clapham Junction and overground again from there to Clapham High Street. I always use the pink route validator on the overground platform at Highbury & Islington but always get charged £2.30 regardless. I then have to claim that back from TFL as I do not pass through zone 1. What am i not doing that would cause this? Thanks, Amanda

    • Hi Amanda,

      This is a tricky one. Travel round the overground circle is assumed to go the shortest way, which in your case means via Shoreditch High Street which is in zone 1. There is an avoiding zone 1 route defined for your journey, but you go the other way to Stratford, then Jubilee to Canada Water and pick the Overground up again from there. You need to touch the pink validator at Stratford as well as Highbury & Islington.

      If you really want to go the other way then you need to touch out and back in again at Clapham Junction to make it two separate journeys. Fortunately there is a gateline under the Overground platform at CJ so it’s not too far to walk. The pink validator at Clapham Junction will not work in this instance.

  155. Hi Mike,

    I would have to travel regularly from Canning town to Shepherd’s bush, I would like to get a 2-4 travel card. Which would be the most optimal route? Would traveling through stratford and touching on the pink reader in the Stratford help in avoiding zone 1 charges?


    • Hi Vivian,

      You only need zones 2-3 to make that journey. And yes, travel via Stratford and touch the pink validator to avoid the zone 1 charge. Sometimes you will need to change again at Willesden Junction, other times it will run through to Shepherd’s Bush.

  156. Hi Mike
    Great site, I use it more than I might think I need it – thanks for all the hard work. Only in the UK would we need someone like you running a site like this to try and help make sense of our own transport system!
    I want to travel from Snaresbrook to various Zone 2 stations in West London, and am happy to take a bit longer for the fare discount avoiding zone 1 with London Overground, changing at Stratford and Shepherd’s Bush or West Brompton. I can get a £1.50 off peak fare to stations such as Notting Hill Gate and central line stations west of here, Earls Court and District/Piccadilly stations west of there, but not, it seems, Hammersmith & City / Circle line stations north of Hammersmith, up to Royal Oak, even though these are in zone 2 and it is possible to connect to this end of this line without going through zone 1.
    The SFF has a disclaimer saying “Some journeys are charged via Zone 1 irrespective of the route taken” so presumably this may be the explanation, but it seems rather unfair to allow the discount to some areas and not others. Is this a conscious decision do you think or maybe an oversight? Some other reason? Any ideas? Thanks

    • Hi Jon,

      I think the reason is that the number of changes make the detour so unattractive that very few people would do it. After the second change at Shepherd’s Bush you’d then need a further change between Wood Lane and White City.

  157. Hi Mike, Thanks for your ongoing efforts. I find your site very helpful.

    I am currently planning a trip from Cheam to Hackney Central. I was planning to travel to Clapham Junction, then touch the pink card reader on Platform 1, and travel to Hackney Central on the Stratford train, which bypasses Zone 1.

    However, checking with the Single Fare Finder, the suggestion seems to be that I might have to go via Stratford, touch the pink card reader there, and double back to Hackney Central to avoid a Zone 1 and Tube surcharge.

    Can that be right, or am I missing something?

    • Hi Steve,

      I think the intended route is via West Croydon, Canada Water and Stratford. Your route is a bit longer even though it has fewer changes.

  158. Hi Mike,

    Here’s an oddity. It wasn’t a problem for me yesterday but could be depending on what one does next so I mention it for information. (While drafting this I noticed Feathers’ post from 19 October 2014 describing the same thing.)

    Tuesday, 10 March 2015 £5.15 daily total
    15:49 – 16:32 St Paul’s to Feltham [National Rail] £3.45 £21.85
    16:32 Touch out, Feltham [National Rail] £0.00 £21.85
    16:02 Touched pink card reader, Waterloo (platforms 12-19) [National Rail] £0.00 £21.85
    15:56 Touch in, Bank £1.95 £21.85
    15:54 Touch out, Bank +£1.95 £23.80
    15:49 Touch in, St Paul’s £3.45 £21.85

    The journey history above is:
    Central line St Paul’s to Bank
    Waterloo & City line Bank to Waterloo
    SWT Waterloo to Feltham

    The odd thing is the pink card reader at Waterloo, because there aren’t any and I didn’t touch one. The touch refers to the main NR gateline at platforms 12-19 which I’ve used many times before and they’ve not claimed to be pink.

    I think I can see what’s happened. The touch-in at Bank refers to the W&C gateline at the bottom of the slope right by the platforms. I haven’t used the W&C for quite a while and on leaving the train I followed the crowd and the signs for NR. I then found myself in a queue for a gateline, but I noticed another sign for NR up some stairs so I went that way and found myself in the main concourse of Waterloo NR without having passed through a gateline.

    Thus there is no touch-out from the W&C and no touch-out until Feltham so the NR gateline at Waterloo describes itself as a pink reader as a sort of fudge to get round the fact that it’s possible to exit W&C without touching out. I presume this is because there’s very little room in the passageways at W&C and it isn’t possible to move the gateline to cover both the escalators and stairs.

    A possible problem with the pragmatic approach of pretending the NR gateline is a pink reader, of course, is that if I’d left Waterloo without taking another train then I’d have an incomplete journey, would I not? Because the maximum fare has already been taken then there wouldn’t be a charging issue at that time but might it affect capping later?

    • Hi Alan,

      The W&C interchange at Waterloo is a big problem for a number of reasons. I think the way they are trying to minimise overcharges is the best they can do. If someone just leaves the system at Waterloo without touching out then they’ve broken the fundamental principle of using Oyster which is to touch in at the start and out at the end of every journey. In practice the helpdesk will probably sort it out.

  159. Hi everyone, I have a problem with my oyster overcharging me and I think it’s to do with all this going through Zone 1 nonsense so I need some help.

    So I have this monthly ticket zones 2-6 loaded onto my Oyster. I travel to work in the day from Chelsfield (Zone 6) to New Cross (Zone 2) then walk from New Cross to New Cross Gate (Zone 2) and take the overground to Forest Hill (Zone 3), I can technically avoid Zone 2 altogether by going through Penge but this is the route which gets me to my office at the best times (as what TFL suggests). However upon tapout of Forest Hill I notice that I am being charged on my PAYG because it seems to think I’ve gone through Zone 1. Having done some research I believe these pink readers would help me but the TFL website doesn’t say they exist at New Cross Gate.

    What can I do to avoid phoning TFL every so often to get a refund?

    • Hi Chen,

      The fact you touch out at New Cross and touch in at New Cross Gate does exactly the same as a pink reader. The problem is that your route isn’t defined for some reason, so it defaults to via London. I agree that it should be defined and will raise a query about it.

      In the meantime there is something you can do. At the touch in station simply touch in, out again and in again, going through gates each time. This will cause the system to start a new journey rather than continue your existing one. The other alternative is to touch on a bus between the stations and get straight back off again. This may well be better when returning if there is a danger that the ticket office will be closed at New Cross. The hokey-cokey move doesn’t work if you have to use validators rather than gates.

  160. Hi Mike

    Thanks for the help Mike. It’s fine in the evenings as I go via a different route, it’s just that timings in the mornings mean going through New Cross should be the best option.

    It sounds like the only thing I can do now is to tap on a bus because there are no gates at Chelsfield. I’m assuming you mean tapping on a bus between New Cross and New Croos Gate?

    • Hi Chen,

      No, Chelsfield is fine. New Cross Gate is where you need to do the hokey-cokey, or touch on a bus while walking from New Cross. The idea is to turn your one journey into two: Chelsfield to New Cross and New Cross Gate to Forest Hill.

  161. I quite frequently change from London overground to the Victoria Line at Blackhorse Rd. more recently there have been staff members checking whether passengers touch in on the pink validator. I don’t need to because I have a gold card for zones 1-3 so I usually just ignore them and walk past. Today i was stopped and they insisted that i had to use the validator. I told them otherwise and showed my gold record card. They refused to accept that and said that i had to validate. Has anyone else had this response?

    • Hi Katherine,

      If you have a zone 1-3 travelcard loaded then there is no effect when touching the pink reader. I wonder if they are reacting to people who have complained about not getting the cheaper fare when due. In your case I’d just touch it an carry on.

  162. Hi Mike

    Yes but I showed them that I didn’t need to touch and they still blocked my way and stuck to their abrupt manner. There is frequently a queue of people changing to the tube during peak periods. If they insist on everyone touching on the single validator, it slows down the passage to the tube quite a lot.

  163. Hi Mike
    I will be travelling from Sutton NR to Watford Junction for the next 4 weeks, peak times. Changing at Clapham Junction would avoid Z1 but does not show on single fare finder is there a reason for this? Any better suggestions for me? I see Balham could be an option on the way home but not in the AM.

  164. Hi Mike,

    Quick Q.
    If I am traveling on Met & Jubliee line from Northwick Park (Zone 4) to Canary Wharf (Zone 2), then should I purchase a zone 1-4 OR 2-4 travelcard? If tap out ay Canary Wharf with a 2-4 travelcard then will I get charged for a passing through zone 1?
    – Dilip

  165. Hello Mike,
    I find your advices very useful, especially for people visiting London for the first time, like myself.
    I think that you deserve not only financial, but also heavenly reward.
    Since this is my first visit to London, and I plan to utilize the public transport, I went through the TfL official site and other non-official ones to see how this network operates. I would like to ask you about changing services (between DLR, London Overground and London Underground) and station gates and barriers, especially via Stratford.
    So my first route is London City Airport DLR to Stratford, changing to LO to Highbury & Islington, and LU Victoria line to Finsbury Park.
    My next route is LU Victoria line at Finsbury Park to Highbury & Islington, changing to LO to Stratford and DLR to Prince Regent (via Canning Town). Can you tell me do I have to get out from any station when changing the service and are there gates or barriers. Also can you tell me where to find pink validators at Stratford and Highbury&Islington (when entering or leaving DLR or LO). I apologize for my ignorance if you have been asked for this by someone else.

    • Hi Kastriot,

      No worries. In both cases the pink validators are on the London Overground platforms. There is no need to leave any station on those routes.

  166. Hi Mike,

    This is so great, love how you know…well everything haha. I have just arrived, (and already been ripped off by unwittingly following tfl’s trip planner, to get from zone 6 to 1…by going out to 7 (does that exist?) meaning I had to pay more on top of my travel card that I’d already purchased! Gah)
    Anyhoo – I was hoping you could advise… I am planning to move to Clapham North area, but I work in Hampton Wick… it seems the fastest route is to take the Northern one stop to stockwell, swap to Victoria for one stop to Vauxhall and then go south again to Hampton Wick… but Vauxhall is on the cusp of zones 1&2 and I can’t find the information, which tells me if I have to pay for a zone 1-6 travel card or if 2-6 will suffice. Will one of those pink card readers help? It’s one of those grey areas where I can’t seem to find a straight answer. Can you advise? Or if you have any other brilliant commute ideas, I am all ears!!
    thanking you in advance

    • Hi Roxanne,

      Yes, zone 7 does exist in a few places to the north of London. I’d be curious to know what the advice was, though the TfL journey planner does seem to favour time over potential cost.

      In your case you wouldn’t need zone 1 as you are not venturing that side of either Vauxhall station. However, I’d travel from Clapham High Street to Clapham Junction instead.

  167. I will be travelling from East Croydon to Surbiton via Clapham Junction using PAYG Oyster. Is it just a case of tapping in at ECR and out again at SUR or am I supposed to touch in (pink reader?) at Clapham Junction please?

    • Hi Colin,

      No need to touch at Clapham Junction on that journey, although it wouldn’t affect the fare if you did. The pink readers are on the other side of the station and only need to be used for some journeys using London Overground.

  168. Hi Mike,
    I have recently come across your website. I have always believed Oyster cards are generally a rip off. I have often had trouble trying to find out how much a journey should cost and have rung the tfl/ oyster helpline to enquire. I have never got a straight answer and when I have been told a price it usually costs more when I make the actual journey. I have never been told about pink readers and I now realise my older daughter was ripped off for a whole year travelling from Forest Gate to Highbury and Islington via Stratford. I have also made this journey on occasion and have never seen any notice about pink readers. In fact I don’ t think I have ever see a pink reader at Stratford.
    I recently rang tfl to enquire about the same journey for my younger daughter – should she go from Wanstead Park to Highbury and Islington via Blackhorse Road or from Forest Gate via Stratford. The person I spoke to at tfl didn’t mention anything about a pink reader. She said for my 16 year old daughter the journey price would be the same either way but for an adult the Wanstead Park route would be more expensive because it was using 2 types of travel, overground and tube. I don’t think she was correct and said nothing about a pink reader for either route. I hate receiving mis information especially when paying for a telephone call.
    Could you advise about these 2 routes and also is there any effective way to complain about oyster/ tfl and their appalling service? Also is there anything I can do to get money back for the whole year my older daughter was overcharged?

    • Hi Fiona,

      I’m sorry to hear about the troubles you have been having. You can complain to TfL about the advice given (or not) by the Oyster helpline, although to be effective it probably needs to be done soon afterwards. Sadly there is little they can do about historic refunds. Oyster journey history is only held against the customer records for 8 weeks before being retained anonymously for statistical purposes. Even with journeys in the last 8 weeks they will say that without the pink reader touch they don’t know that you didn’t go via zone 1. Now the facts about the journey.

      As you now know there are pink readers at Stratford. They are located on the platforms used by trains to Hackney and Highbury & Islington. There are signs pointing them out, though I will admit that if you don’t know you need to use them it would be possible to miss them. The best place to go for advice on how much a journey will cost is the single fare finder. For the journey via Stratford it shows two routes and explains the need to touch the pink reader at Stratford on the way if avoiding zone 1. For the journey via Blackhorse Road there is only one fare. This completely contradicts the advice given by the helpline. The child fare (with 11-15 zip) is the same off-peak due to the flat fare in operation throughout London. With a 16+ zip it is half the adult fare.

      I hope this clarifies the situation going forward.

  169. Hi

    A very good site.

    I want to go from Euston to Bushey. It is sometimes quicker to go to Watford junction on the fast train and then come back 2 stops (especially at night when there is only a train every half hour). Will I just be charged from Euston to Bushey. What happens if I have to touch out and back in at the barriers at Watford Junction if I need to change platforms. Will the system just ignore the fact I came via watford and jsut charge me from Euston-Bushey

    So put another way, on PAYG Oyster, can I get chrged MORE than the default fare if I go on a circuitous route?

    Thanks very much


    • Hi David,

      In a word, no. As long as you stay within the Oyster area and don’t exceed the maximum journey time between your origin and destination you can pretty much do as you please. You do have to avoid touching out and in again outside the zones you want to be charged for, but that isn’t usually a problem where fast train double-backs are concerned. It’s certainly not a problem at Watford.

  170. Hi Mike! First of all thank you very much for such a useful website. I live in Hornchurch (Z6) and work in Richmond (Z4) and travel via Stratford or Gospel Oak avoiding zone 1, off peak in the morning and peak in the evening, paying £4.30 everyday using contactless, adding up to £21.50 a week. Would I be better off with a travelcard, and if so, which one? Can I go through central London (without getting off) with a Zone 4-6 card? Can I still validate a paper travelcard on the pink reader?
    Thank you very much!

    • Hi Osita,

      No, you wouldn’t be better off with a travelcard. Although you avoid zone 1, you still need to be covered for zones 2-6. That weekly travelcard costs £40.10. A zone 4-6 travelcard would not be valid at all. On Oyster you’d be charged a zone 2-3 single from your PAYG balance as long as you touched the pink readers. On paper you would be liable for a penalty fare or prosecution if checked.

  171. Hello Mike

    I am travelling from Hammersmith to Northwick Park station. Do I have to get a zone 2-5 monthly pass or can I get a zone 2-4 if I touch the pink trader at Rayners Lane?

    • Hi Jackie,

      Hammersmith to Northwick Park will either be charged as a zone 1-4 journey if you don’t touch at Rayners Lane, or a zone 2-5 journey if you do. The latter is cheaper because it avoids zone 1. If you want to use just zones 2-4 you’ll need to travel to nearby Kenton instead, see the alternative fares on this single fare finder page.

    • Hi Peter,

      Interesting. I’m not that familiar with Whitechapel, plus it’s undergoing quite a bit of change for Crossrail, so I wonder if that’s an oversight. I’ll have to take a look next time I’m there.

  172. > The pink readers at Whitechapel are only on the northbound platform of the Overground

    If I recall correctly, they’re actually in the passageways which connect from the District/H&C to the Overground. These passageways emerge on the northbound Overground platform and the only way to get to the southbound Overground is via the bridge between the n/b and s/b platforms.

    Therefore if changing between Underground and Overground – the only reason for touching a pink reader at Whitechapel – then one must pass a pink reader.

  173. Actually, what Alan White states isn’t quite true. If you arrive at the westbound District/H&C platform and go over the bridge to the ticket office, then down the stairs to southbound Overground platform I don’t think you pass a pink reader. They are tucked away by the entrance to passageway on northbound Overground platform. If you don’t go down that passageway wouldn’t see I think.

  174. Hi Mike,

    I travel from Watford junction to Canary Wharf for work.
    When I try Single Fare finder, it mentions to find the fare as 6.40 (Off-peak) / 9.20 (Peak) for both these options:

    Watford to Euston
    Watford to Canary Wharf

    I am curious – because anyways I will need to change at Euston to Tube for CW – so is that part already being paid for?

    Please advise


    • Hi Tushar,

      The fares from Watford Junction to Euston NR are actually cheaper (£5.00/£8.10) because of the special rate applied to just that line. If you specify Euston LU then it assumes changing at Willesden Junction onto the Underground and then charges the normal zone 1-W fares. Once you have travelled from W to 1 you can actually continue on Underground or DLR all the way onwards to zone 6 without further charge.

  175. Many Thanks Mike. This is most helpful.

    Small clarification reqd. – What does W to 1 stand for?

    Please can you help me with the exact route you are suggesting … from Watford Jn. till Canary wharf – along with the changes

    Sorry for my ignorance.

    Thanks a lot

    • Hi Tushar,

      W to 1 means Watford to zone 1. The exact route doesn’t really matter unless you want to avoid zone 1. A suggested route might be Watford Junction to Euston NR then Northern line to Waterloo and Jubilee line to Canary Wharf. If you want to avoid zone 1 then you’ll need to get the slow trains from Watford and change at Willesden Junction, then London Overground to Stratford and Jubilee to Canary Wharf. As you walk between trains at both Willesden Junction and Stratford you need to touch the pink validators.

  176. Hi Mike,
    Thanks for your clarifications.

    Out of curiousity I wanted to check:
    If a journey starts at 6:45 pm and ends at 7:20 pm – will it be charged peak or non-peak fare ?

    Thanks a lot

  177. I will be travelling from Richmond to London Excel – Is there are way to get the cheaper option avoiding zone 1? If so how would you recommend I do this.

  178. Hi Mike,

    I will be travelling using Oyster PAYG from Orpington (Zone 6) to Mile End, via Southeastern. Will be changing at New Cross to the Overground, and then changing at Whitechapel to the District Line to Mile End, thus avoiding zone 1 completely. My questions are:
    1. I will touch in at Orpington. Do I need to touch out for Southeastern, and touch in for the Overground at New Cross? Or should I just get off the one train and board another?
    2. Similarly, at Whitechapel, do I need to touch out for the Overground, and touch in for the tube? If so, do I need to use the pink reader?

    I will obviously need to touch out at Mile end to complete my journey and exit the tube station.

    Sorry for the basic questions, but appreciate your response. Please advise the reverse steps for the return journey as well.

    Many thanks.

  179. Hi Mike

    Thank you for this lovely site. If I am going from romford(zone 6) to Kensington Olympia via Stratford overground. Do I purchase a monthly 1-6 or 2-6

    Many thanks

  180. There are still problems with journeys via Canada Water and Clapham Junction on the Overground. I travelled Canary Wharf->Canada Water->Clapham Junction->Kensington Olympia yesterday. It only took 50 minutes end to end and seems to me the easiest route. I was charged £2.30, not £1.50. TfL single fare finder still has journeys on this route as Zone 1 unless you go via Stratford. Canary Wharf to Imperial Wharf has an Avoiding Zone 1 fare via Canada Water/Clapham Junction, and Canada Water to KO has Avoiding Zone 1 via Clapham Junction, but if you go Canary Wharf to West Brompton and further north you are expected to go via Stratford…

  181. Hi Mike

    The woman I spoke to at TfL gave me a refund of the overcharge “as a goodwill gesture” and said she’d pass on my comments. I’ll contact TfL with my comments, too.

    Also, twice when I’ve called recently to get a refund for such circumstances I’ve been told first of all that “you were capped anyway for that day” (even if I’ve still been overcharged). I think that’s part of their script now.. as if you’re going to say “oh well, that’s OK then”!

  182. Hi Mike

    Sorry if it’s been covered before. I did a few searches and failed to find an answer.

    Can the pink readers end a journey. For example I arrived by train at Paddington (via paper ticket) and also had a paper ticket for Milton Keynes (using the southern hourly service via the west london line joining wcml). I used oyster from Paddington to West Brompton, but there were only pink validators on the NR platforms. To be safe I exited the station with oyster and re-entered with paper ticket but this seems a waste of time; surely I can’t be unique in doing this journey. Could I have just touched the pink and continued on my way?

    Likewise in the other direction, would a pink touch start a journey ?

    • Hi Alan,

      No, pink readers definitely cannot end a journey. They will start a journey if you are not already logged into the system, although this is a side effect that I sometimes wish they didn’t have.

      Also, would a through ticket from wherever to Milton Keynes not have been cheaper? That ticket would have allowed travel on the Underground from Paddington, either to Euston or West Brompton.

  183. Thanks for the reply Mike. Yes it might have been but I’d already got an advance ticket to London and nothing else planned, so decided to try out that route and a 377 on AC!

  184. If I take overground from Hampstead heath before 1900 but reach highbury and Islington after 1900 and continue my journey on underground to Cockfosters after touching pink reader at highbury and Islington, will I get off peak charged for travel on underground? What if I exit at highbury and Islington instead of touching pink reader and start my underground journey from the same point as a fresh journey, will it affect the way I am charged?

    • Hi Pranav,

      The whole journey will be charged at peak rate, even if you touch the pink reader. You could touch out and in again at Highbury, but the two journeys (£1.70 and £1.50) would cost more than the overall peak fare (£2.80).

  185. Hi, I’m going to Harry Potter studio tomorrow so initially I’m thinking about going from Shadwell overground via Bank (northern line ) to Euston and through there to Watford Junctin. However, as I’m concerned about the disruption happening at the Northern line, I’m thinking about changing my route. I’ve considered going via Shadwell overground to Hghbury & Islington and Willesden Junction to reach Watford junction. I’m skeptical about my route because this is my first time using an overground. I’m trying to avod the most expensive fare which is at £9.20 single fare so I’m thinking about going out after 9:30am but my Harry potter ticket is timed at 12:30pm. That’s why time is of the essence to me. I would like to reach the place earlier so that I could spend more quality time there. I don’t really know about the pink reader so where should I tap them and how many times do I need to do it as there are two station that has it, Highbury & Islington and also Willesden Junction. Please help me out. Your help is very much appreciated. Thanks in advance.

    Best regards,

    • Hi Suzy,

      Because your route doesn’t avoid zone 1 you don’t have to touch any pink readers. However, there is a way of leaving early and saving money. The peak fare from Shadwell to Willesden Junction is £2.90. Between Willesden Junction and Watford Junction you only pay peak in the afternoon as long as you stay on that line, so touch out and back in again at Willesden Junction (using gates with yellow readers, NOT the pink validators) and the rest of the journey is just £1.70. So that’s £4.60 total – half price!

      For the way home the same applies, especially if you touch in at Watford Junction between 1600-1900. That’s generally peak fares, but not if you stick to the Watford Junction to Euston line, so touch out and in again at Willesden Junction to curb the charge. It’s still worth splitting even if the whole journey would be off-peak.

      Finally, there is an even cheaper off-peak fare of £2.80 for the whole journey. You need to go South from Shadwell to Clapham Junction and then up to Willesden Junction and on to Watford Junction. You also need to touch the pink reader at Clapham Junction, but NOT Willesden Junction. This avoids zone 1 hence it’s cheapness.

      Hope that helps.

  186. Hi, so I need to travel for work each weekday off peak from East Putney to walthamstow central. There are various fares tfl has quoted on their single fare finder page.

    My question is what is the journey taken if I touch the pink reader from highbury and I? Do I have to take overground? Or can I hop back on the Victoria line (which goes through zone 1!) really appreciate your help here. Tough making ends meet here! Brilliant website by the way.

    • Hi Hussein,

      To get the zone 2-3 fare you need to touch pink readers at both West Brompton and Highbury & Islington. At the latter station they are a long way from the Victoria line. If you try to make that detour every day you may well arouse suspicion from station staff. It is not a strategy that I would recommend. If finances are tough then I’d allow a little extra time to take the Overground and do it properly.

  187. If you travel between Streatham Hill and Canary Wharf without tapping the pink reader at Canada Water, TfL will charge you for a route via Zone 1 despite the fact it is impossible to go via Zone 1 without passing through barriers with Oyster readers. As such, TfL knows you have not travelled via Zone 1 but charges you anyway.

    Is this legal?

    • Yes it is. It is possible to get between the two via zone 1 without touching readers – via Farringdon. Granted it’s unlikely, but they do state that some routes are defined as travelling via zone 1 regardless.

    • Hi Cassy,

      Yes if you use the District line the whole way. No if you use Overground to Stratford, touch the pink reader, then Jubilee to West Ham.

  188. Thanks Mike, I’ve just been back over the year’s contactless account and confirmed that. It appears that for the journey in question I wasn’t technically overcharged but did get a refund and an extra £5 for having been given an incorrect answer the first time. I graciously accepted. 🙂

  189. I’m travelling from Southgate to Canary Wharf, I get charged nearly £800 more as I go through Zone 1. Is there another route or any advise you can give me?

    • Hi Shana,

      Yes, you can avoid zone 1 by changing at Finsbury Park, Highbury & Islington and Stratford. You must touch the pink validators at Highbury & Islington to confirm that you’ve avoided zone 1.

  190. Hey Mike,

    Just wanting some advice … I’ll recently be moving to Palmers Green and will need to travel into Central London each day for work. So I will be catching the overground from Palmers Green and changing at Finsbury Park to catch the Victoria line to Oxford Street. What would you say is the best way to deal with this in terms of payments and saving money? I still have a rail card for under 25. Thank you!

    • Hi Demi,

      The railcard won’t save any money on peak fares or season tickets, unfortnately. The good news is that the daily cap for zones 1-4 is less than the price of two peak singles, so you will save a bit there. If you can travel off-peak at all then the railcard will discount those fares.

      If you just travel 5 days a week then there is no difference between 5x the daily cap or a weekly travelcard. If you ever travel at weekends then a weekly ticket will save money, and if you can afford to pay more a monthly or longer period ticket will save further as long as you make at least 19 return journeys in a month.

      Finally, trains from Palmers Green go to Moorgate so you’re better off changing at Highbury & Islington where the National Rail and Victoria line platforms are side by side.

  191. Hi Mike,

    I wonder if you can help me with this one please?

    I used to journey from Finsbury Park to Vauxhall on the Victoria line – simple enough as I would usually have a zone 1-2 oyster. I now use contactless which seems to work fine.

    However I now get on the overground at Stoke Newington and travel to Seven Sisters where I switch to the Victoria line to Vauxhall. There are no interchange route validators on my way through only a couple of freestanding yellow validators which no on seems to use. I’ve asked the staff there if I should be touching and they say no but as I only have a zone 1-2 card how does it know which route I have taken from Stoke Newington to Vauxhall seeing as seven sisters is in zone 3.

    Hope that makes sense. Thanks a lot!

    • Hi Daniel,

      I don’t understand how you have a travelcard and are using contactless, unless you mean Monday to Sunday capping which is at the same rate as a weekly travelcard but isn’t technically a travelcard.

      However, to answer your question, don’t touch at Seven Sisters. The Oyster system charges a zone 1-2 single for that journey regardless of whether you go via Seven Sisters or Hackney Downs/Central and Highbury & Islington. As long as you touch in at the start of the journey and out at the end then you are doing nothing wrong.

  192. Hi Mike,

    I noticed that the journey from Clapham Common to Kingsbury on the single fare finder shows a fare of £1.85 (with railcard discount) and no alternative routes avoiding zone 1.

    But I found a way to travel avoiding zone 1 and checked to see if I would be charged less. My journey details are Clapham Common (In) -> Clapham North (out) -> Clapham High Street (In) -> Clapham Junction (Pink reader) -> West Hempstead OG (Out) -> West Hempstead UG (In) -> Kingsbury (Out).

    I was charged £1.85 even though my journey was not via zone 1. Did I do something wrong or is it one of those journeys were you are charged via zone 1 irrespective of the route taken?


    • Hi Vinodh,

      If the single fare finder doesn’t show the route/fare as an option then the Oyster system won’t charge a cheaper fare either. That journey is one of those charged via zone 1 irrespective of the route taken.

  193. Further to earlier comments from September 2015, Whitechapel still has no pink readers on the southbound Overground platform. When travelling between the eastbound Hammersmith & City line and the southbound Overground it is necessary to walk to the northbound Overground platform, tap the pink reader there, and then go back the way you came and round to the southbound platform. The bridge between the southbound and northbound platform has been removed, so the old route past the pink reader and over the bridge is no longer possible. I’ve spoken to staff twice, once in September and once today, no one knows when the pink readers will be fitted. I travel from Brockley to Liverpool Street, should I just stop touching the pink reader?

    • Hi John,

      The fare finder suggests that your route is the default so no pink reader needs to be touched in your case. Obviously Whitechapel is undergoing major changes at the moment, but it is bad that they haven’t maintained reasonable positioning for pink readers.

  194. I don’t quite understand John PG above. There is another bridge, over the tracks, at the other (northern) end of Whitechapel Overground station. Hence, if changing from the H&C, one would walk through the tunnels to Overground, tap on the pink reader at the end, and turn left and proceed over the bridge I’ve mentioned.

    The trouble used to be that it was possible previously to walk over the bridge from eastern end of District/H&C platforms towards the gates and ticket office, descend a set of stairs to southbound overground, without ever going anywhere near a pink reader.

    The main problem with Whitechapel now is since they’ve closed
    the old entrance, and opened a temporary one just off Durward St., it is one heck of a trek involving stairs, going through a passageway, and over a bridge to get to southbound Overground platform.

  195. Ah! Understand now having been there today. It is the very bridge I refer to above that has been removed. A new walkway from the westbound District/H&C platforms to the southern end of southbound Overground has been introduced, but there is no direct access to it from the northern platform.
    Speaking to a member of staff, and on a sign by the entrance, there are plans to provide pink validators on the walkway and in the interim passengers will be provide with an automatic refund within 7 days. Quite how they will know you changed at Whitechapel I do not know.

    • Oh brilliant! Pink validators become even more of a farce. I guess if you make a return journey and touch the pink reader on the way that it’s possible they’ll refund you the other way, but it’s hardly ideal.

  196. Mike,
    Went to the o2 last Thursday and stayed overnight in Canning Town. Richmond – Canning Town via Stratford (pink reader) and DLR. Then later a return to N Greenwich on Jubilee. Contactless cost £4.70. Next day took DLR for bit of sightseeing. Went south to Lewisham via Canary W(didn’t touch out). Back on same train to Stratford via Canary W. Had my card validated both ways on DLR. Pink reader at Stratford back to Richmond. Cost £6.80. Was this cos of time taken or having card validated

    • Hi Steve,

      How long did you take between touch in at Canning Town and touching the pink reader at Stratford? Could it have been over 90 minutes? It looks like it’s charged you an incomplete journey from Canning Town (£5.30) plus a Stratford to Richmond journey (£1.50). If you call the helpdesk and explain that you forgot to touch out and in again at Lewisham they might reduce your fares down to £3.00 total.

  197. Thanks. It could have been more than 90 mins because I had a coffee within Stratford Station before going up to the Overground platform, where the only pink reader is, and jumping on my train back to Richmond. I didn’t think I had to touch out at Lewisham because I just sat on the same train and waited for it to go back. My card was validated at East India on the way down and shortly after leaving Lewisham on the way back. Is it the validation on the way back which you think has skewed the system. I’ll phone the Helpdesk as you suggest. Many thanks.

    • Hi Steve,

      No, the RPI validation has nothing to do with the maximum charge. It will purely be down to you taking longer than 90 minutes to make the journey from Canning Town to Stratford. It could have been worse, if you’d touched out at the Stratford gateline you’d have been hit by another maximum charge.

      As you’ve discovered, the Oyster system is designed for straight-forward journeys. Roving around while touched in is not really recomended as you can easily fall foul of the maximum journey times.

  198. Just travelled Stratford to Camden road and back. Arrived and departed Stratford on AGA. Touched in on pink validator, at Stratford and out at Camden Road. Touched in at Camden Road and touched pink validator at Stratford, (display showed “Entering INterchange”, then caught the AGA to Billericay holding a paper ticket. Will Oyster recognise that I terminated my Oyster journey at Stratford?

    • Hi John,

      No it won’t. Pink validators will start a journey (although I wish they wouldn’t) but they never end one. You needed to go to the gateline to touch out before joining your AGA train.

  199. Hi Mike,

    I regularly travel from Watford Junction to St Margarets (London) via Clapham Junction, should I be using the pink card readers to get a cheaper fare? And if so do you know where in the station the pink card reader is as I haven’t found it yet?

    Alternatively I travel via Willesden Junction and Richmond, both have pink card readers, should I be touching my Oyster at both or just one?

    • Hi Shelby,

      If you use my Oyster fare finder you’ll see that the Clapham Junction route appears to be the default as it isn’t mentioned in any of the other alternative route descriptions. Therefore no pink readers required that way. Via Willesden Junction and Richmond however requires a touch at both pink readers to confirm that you’ve avoided zone 2.

  200. Hi Mike,
    Went to Wembley yesterday, using Southern from East Croydon to Clapham Junction and then Overground, changing at Wilsden Junction and touching the pink reader (using contactless by the way). No problems on the outward journey but on the return the readers at Wembley Central were down and I could not touch in. My first touch was therefore the pink reader at Wilsden Junction and I then touched out at Croydon. Was expecting problems but my statement shows a fare of £2.50. I thought you couldn’t start or end a journey on a pink reader? (And indeed the sign at Wilsden says “Do not touch in or out on this reader”). Any observations?

    • Hi Phil,

      Pink readers will touch in if you aren’t already in, but they won’t touch out. I wish they wouldn’t because it muddies the message, but they do. You may find that the touch in at Wembley gets retrospectively added in a day or so, though it won’t change your charge.

  201. Hi just wanna ask I travel from eastham to sevensisters without going to zone 1 but still they charge me £2.40 something.
    The route I choose is eastham to westham and then Stredford to Highbury & Islington and then vitoria line to sevensister.
    I travel zone three to zone three but do tfl charge me extra when I already have zone 2 and 3 pass

    • Hi Sam,

      Sorry for the delay, something went wrong with my reply originally. If you make that journey then you need to touch the pink validators at both Stratford and Highbury & Islington. In both cases they are situated on the platforms served by trains between the two stations.

  202. Hi Mike,

    Thank you for your help and concise answers above. I just have a question that might have been answered but still wanted to check it – if I were to travel from Forest Hill (either Overground or NR) and then change to Jubilee line (I would be travelling to Baker Street) at Canada Water or London Bridge would I be charged double (for NR/Overground and Underground) at any point or would it be same Zone 3-1 price in both cases and the journey would combine in one charge. Thank you for your help!

    • Hi Jernej,

      You won’t be charged double, but it will be more expensive to travel via London Bridge. Use my Oyster fare finder and you’ll see the two options. Via Canada Water is the default fare so no need to touch the pink reader there.

  203. Dear Mike,

    I travel from Goodmayes to Tooting Broadway and I wanted to know which route I should take to get the cheapest fare! Im not sure which pink card reader I should use. Thank you

    • Hi Onyi,

      You need to change at Stratford, either Whitechapel or Canada Water, the Clapham High Street for a very short walk to Clapham North. You need to touch the pink reader at whichever of Whitechapel or Canada Water you use to join the London Overground service.

  204. Hi, an issue surrounding overground to underground changes in North London. Going from Brimsdown to Tottenham Hale via overground, I have to tap out before switching to the underground line before making my way to Heathrow via Finsbury Park on Victoria/Picadilly Lines. There is no pink reader at Tottenham Hale, so will the system recognise me having avoided zone 1 and treat it as a one continuous journey (as will exit the barriers then reenter to change lines at Tottenham)? Many thanks

    • Hi Ken,

      The system will recognise it as one journey, yes. However, it is a journey which DOES NOT avoid zone 1. The Piccadilly line between Kings Cross and Earls Court is all in zone 1. If you want to avoid zone 1 you need to change at Highbury & Islington, Gunnersbury and Turnham Green or Highbury & Islington, Willesden Junction, West Brompton and Earls Court.

  205. Whitechapel. There is now finally a route validator (pink reader) on the walkway/bridge at the eastern end of the District/H&C platforms and the southbound Overground platform.

  206. Hi Mike,
    First of all, apologies if I’m repeating a question, but I have looked and not seen this one.
    I have been mapping the extent of the network that I can access from Morden LU using my PAYG Oyster and found a surprisngly wide coverage, including Heathrow, West Ruislip, Hatch End, Epping & Upminster…all avoiding Z1(obviously).
    My question relates to the parts of the TfL network that, using single fare finder, appear to incur >£1.50 fares. The lines seem to be those lying to the North of Z1, directly opposite Morden; I presume that the system assumes I’d go through Z1 to reach the Metropolitan, (N) Jubilee, (N) Northern, (N) Piccadilly & (N) Victoria.
    What I can’t tell from the TfL map or website is whether or not a second ‘Pink’ touch-in from the N. Overland would open up these lines at £1.50. I’m aware that maximum journey times may be a limiting factor, but i wondered if you had any information/experience of such double ‘pinking’?

    • Hi Jan,

      There are some journeys where the system assumes you will go through zone 1 anyway. If the single fare finder doesn’t offer any alternatives then it isn’t possible to do in one journey.

      There are some journeys where you are expected to touch more than one pink validator, but this only works if the journey is defined.

  207. Hi again Mike, firstly your information on here is outstanding so thanks again!!.

    A few months ago, I asked you about the offpeak journey I take regularly from Upminster to Ravenscourt Park (not via Zone 1). I touch in on the pinks at stratford and gunnersbury but it still charges £3.10. The only way to complete this journey for £1.50 is via West Brompton / Kensingon Olympia. The annoying thing this that if you go from Stratford to Ravenscourt Park and touch in on the pink at Gunnersbury then it is fine ie £1.50. On your last advise I have written to TFL and they have not helped at all. I have raised it twice but got no joy. The route via Gunnersbury suits my timetable and is less changes, so I’m annoyed but thought I would just check with you as it makes no sense at all bearing in mind from Stratford it is allowed. I have copied below one of TFL’s reply. On the odd occasion when I still have to go via Gunnersbury I ring up and get a refund but I guess I have no right to this??. I asked for a compromise where I would go via gunnersbury and ask for a refund each week but they said basically if it is not on the fare finder then technically it is not valid. Any thoughts on the point of principle?. Cheers. Andy
    “For now, linked to the way that the route validators at the two separate stations (Stratford and Gunnersbury) work together, our systems do not allow us to confirm Zone 1 avoidance for the journey described. The fare is therefore charged as via Zone 1, in this case as though the most direct route were taken.

    We are planning system enhancements within the next two years that will improve our ability to match fares to zones actually used. Until then the fare charged is correct and as advertised on Single Fare Finder. An advertised Zone 1-exclusive fare is available for travel via Willesden Junction and West Brompton.”

    • Hi Andy,

      Sadly they are correct. There are serious limitations where a route requires more than one pink validator, but these will be able to be resolved with the next version of the Oyster software. This is in development at the moment. For the time being, only routes defined in the single fare finder are valid alternatives to the default fare, which in this case assumes travel via zone 1.

  208. A friend of mine who lives near South Woodford station now makes a slight detour to use the pink readers on the Overground platforms rather than the yellow ones on the same platforms, because he says he was charged for zone 1 when he used the yellow one.

    Try as I might I can’t think how the system could justify this. It mus know he swiped at Stratford (unless there was a fault or a failed swipe).

    When I changed onto the Lea Valley Line having got to Stratford from Barking by Underground, there was only a yellow reader to use, so I used it, and the system got it right.

    What is the essential difference between the pinks and the yellows?

    • Right, yellow readers will start or end a journey. In some places, including Stratford, an end (exit) is a soft one (continuation exit) which allows you to continue your journey. The default fare for Barking to (say) Tottenham Hale is via Stratford so there is no need to touch any readers while interchanging there. It doesn’t matter if you touch either a pink or a yellow reader because they are both ignored.

      Pink Readers indicate the route taken, usually signifying that you’ve avoided zone 1. If you are not actually in a journey at the time you touch a pink reader then it will act as a yellow one and start a journey. A pink reader will NEVER end a journey.

      You don’t say what your friend’s journey is so I can’t comment on why a yellow reader at Stratford would make the fare via zone 1, but if you fill in the details I’ll try and work it out. It’s likely that the yellow touch is being ignored (as a continuation exit) and that the journey requires the pink touch to indicate avoidance of zone 1.

  209. Mike,

    I never understood how the yellow readers on Central Line platforms at Stratford worked when I touched it when I did not have to as I had already touched my Oyster card at start of my journey. I had interesting experience with these back in 2005 when I repeatedly touch it and every second touch it kept deducting fare even though I had reached the cap earlier. In those days an off-peak Z1-4 cost less than £5 but on that day around £20 was deducted from my card and I even had to ask the staff at ticket gates at exit station to let me through by showing him the journey history and deductions. He smiled at me as those were early days of oyster adoption and he must have had countless travellers who had run out of credit due to maximum fare being deducted due to not properly touching in and out. After that experience I used paper travel cards for a while especially when I had to use a mix of NR and TFL as in those days oyster was not an option on NR.

  210. Hi Mike
    I’m not sure if this is the right place to post this but I came across an interesting one the other day when using the Waterloo and City Line for the first time. When changing from the Central Line I had to go out through the gatelines and back in to the W&C but that was seen as a normal OSI. On arrival at Waterloo LU there was no gateline and by the time I saw the standalone validators I was already past them but wasn’t concerned because I have a Travelcard with Zone 1. I then touched in at the NR station to continue my journey. On checking my journey history purely out of interest it showed me as having touched a pink validator at the NR station but the validator was clearly yellow and at a gateline! Is this something you are aware of and does it happen elsewhere?

    • Hi Nick,

      Yes, it happens in a few places, like Finsbury Park for example. If you enter via a gate (such that the system knows you are entering) when you are already in the system it is treated as a pink validator so you continue your journey. It happens where there is a strong possibility that you’ve walked past a validator without realising it, and avoids creating incomplete journeys which will involve hassle for both TfL and the customer to correct.

  211. Hi Mike, I will be travelling from Hillingdon to North Greenwich but to get the cheaper fare I will be going via West Hempstead and Stratford. Please could you tell me when I come off the overground at Stratford where I could find the pink card reader? I have done this journey before and I had issues locating the reader so being in a rush I left it and got charged as if I went through zone 1. Thank you!

    • Hi Amy,

      They are on the platform that the overground trains from West Hampstead arrive on. There are signs above them with the pink Oyster symbol on.

  212. Hi Mike,
    I want to buy a monthly Travelcard on Oyster from Amersham to Barkingside – a zone 4-9 one is currently £199.70. But to be able to use it at this price, and not be charged zone 1-9, does it mean I need to touch on the pink Oyster card reader in Stratford – or if you have a travelcard you don’t need to bother? Yesterday I tried to find the pink readers in Stratford station but couldn’t see them. The Eastbound train arrives at platform 6 and the Westbound one at platform 3. Do you know at all where the pink readers are currently located at that station? Thank you, Daniela

    • Hi Daniela,

      A zone 4 to 9 travelcard is not valid to travel in any of zones 1-3 unless you use PAYG credit for the bit in the middle. Your cheapest option is to buy a zone 2-9 travelcard and change at Finchley Road, walk to Finchley Road and Frognal, take the Overground to Stratford, touch the pink readers on the platform that the train from Finchley arrives on and then continue to Barkingside.

  213. Hi Mike, I found the other day that during engineering work when the London Overground line to Stratford was a replacement bus instead of a train, the LO platforms at Stratford were closed, denying access to people needing to use the pink readers, therefore giving them no choice but to be overcharged for the route taken. I assume passengers can contact TFL and request an adjustment, but surely they should not have to faff around doing this on top of the inconvenience of the engineering works, and I imagine that for every one who does this, another 10 or maybe 100 are unaware / don’t bother. Has this sort of issue arisen before / have TFL been asked to provide a better solution such as temporary readers or a temporary adjustment in the fares automatically charged? It seems the default otherwise is to overcharge and wait for passengers to contact them, which isn’t really cricket.

    • Hi Jon,

      As that’s a TfL route I would expect adjustments to be made. Can you explain exactly what the journey was and where you touched en route?

  214. Hi Mike,
    Wow, that is a shock… so it does not matter you are touching in at zone 9 and coming out at zone 4… thank you for clarifying!

    • They do exist if you buy them from a National Rail station, but they’re not valid out of zones. If an inspector checks your ticket whilst outside the zones covered then you may be liable to a penalty fare or even prosecution.

  215. Hi Mike,

    Firstly, thank you for all the work you’ve done over the Oyster system, I’ve learned a lot on here.

    I was wondering whether there is a list for all “boundary stations” where there is a yellow card reader on the platform.

    I have a 16-25 Railcard enabled Oyster card and I often make trips from zone 2 to outside the Oyster area (for example, Canada Water – Southend Central). Due to the off-peak railcard discount there is usually a saving if it were to use my Oyster to the boundary (in this example, Upminster), then continue the journey from Upminster to Southend with a paper ticket.

    The obvious downside to this is that I must leave the train, get to the concourse level, touch-out, enter again with paper tickets and (often) try to make the same train again.

    I think Upminster has a card reader on the platform which solves this problem. I don’t see one in Dartford. Do we have any knowledge as to where there is one and where there isn’t?

    I appreciate that the difference in price (breaking the journey v. paper ticket all the way) is sometimes minimal, but as a tube-learning exercise, I wonder whether you’d have more information! Justin.

    • Hi Justin,

      It’s a long term aim to document this, but no timescale at present. In terms of Dartford there definitely are no readers anywhere near the platforms. The three end of zone 6 stations at Barnehurst, Crayford and Slade Green all have readers on each platform.

  216. Does Ealing Broadway warrant a Pink Reader? I’m specifically thinking of some journeys like Earl’s Court – North Acton or Notting Hill Gate – Acton Town where the avoiding zone 1 fare requires two OSI changes at Hammersmith & White City, which seems a little clunky.

  217. I have just found out that for the journey from Rectory Rd (and presumably other Lea Valley Lines stations) to Barking via the NLL it is necessary to touch pink at BOTH Hackney Central AND Stratford. I can’t think why the system would require this. Do you know or can you work it out?

    • Hi Colin,

      You pass pink readers at both stations so they want you to touch them both. It is possible that only one will trigger the correct route, but if it didn’t then you’d have no comeback. You don’t have to go out of your way to touch either pink reader.

  218. Hi! I traveled from Goodmayes to Neasden yesterday, and the fare finder said: “Avoiding Zone 1 via Stratford and West Hampstead” and “To ensure you are charged the appropriate fare you must touch on the pink card reader if interchanging at Stratford”. Am I supposed to do anything at West Hampstead? Touched in on the pink reader at Stratford but was still charged full price for the journey. What did I do wrong?

    • Hi Alyssa,

      At West Hampstead you are changing between two stations so the system knows you’ve done that as you need to touch out and back in again. Can you copy your journey history for that trip here and I’ll see if I can work out the problem.

  219. Hi,

    Bit of a weird one… I travelled from Watford Jct to Elephant & Castle, via Euston, using the main line rail service (London Midland).

    On arriving at Euston Station, I noticed the barriers were open and so I didn’t touch out, since I would be touching into the underground soon.

    Weirdly, this has registered as ‘Touched pink card reader’ (at Euston), and charged me an extra 20p compared to what the single fare finder quotes!

    I’m guessing I should have touched out at the Euston railway barriers and don’t intend to complain as it was probably my fault… but very interested to know if you can explain the fare (I don’t think it’s just down to the autumn fare changes, unless the Single Fare Finder is wrong!)

    Journey History:

    22:00 – 23:19 Watford Junction to Elephant & Castle [London Underground] £6.70 £22.40

    23:19 Touch out, Elephant & Castle [London Underground] £0.80 £22.40
    22:59 Touched pink card reader, Euston [London Underground] £0.00 £23.20
    22:00 Touch in, Watford Junction £5.90 £23.20

    • Hi Chris,

      The fare has gone up 20p as per my post about the autumn fare changes. I don’t know why the single fare finder hasn’t been updated yet, but I have no control over that data (I just add in the zonal information from a separate source also provided by TfL).

      The pink reader entry is a standard one where gates are set up to ignore a missed touch at a NR/LU interchange.

  220. Thanks, that makes sense – I was confused by the equivalent outbound fare being ‘correct’, but then realised the peak fare hadn’t changed.

    A tiny bit surprised that the fare finder tool doesn’t pull from the same database that is used to process the fares, but obviously not since it is indeed incorrect!

    Pink reader is a curious anomaly though – glad to hear it’s a known issue though!

  221. I was surprised to be charged a fare based on a default assumption I had travelled via Zone 1 for a journey from Camden Road to Wanstead, when TFL’s journey planner confirms the quickest and most direct route is via Stratford, avoiding zone 1, as it’s default answer.
    The Single Fare Finder says I need to use the route validator to get this fare, but I can’t see any logical reason why people would take a longer route with more changes via Zone 1, so would be interested to know why the default fare is not the cheaper, non zone 1 option.
    I reckon they must be overcharging a lot of people who assume the default fare matches the journey planner result. Any thoughts / found any similar examples?

    • Hi Jon,

      There are a number of things to bear in mind here. The journey planner does not take any account of fares when deciding what options to offer. The Oyster default route is not necessarily the most direct, or the most obvious route. There are thousands of examples where this is the case. If a route avoids zone 1 and passes a pink validator then it’s always a good idea to touch it.

      That being said, I agree that the alternatives for Camden Road to Wanstead do seem unusually complex. You could change at Highbury & Islington, Whitechapel and Mile End, which goes into zone 1 at Shoreditch High Street. You can also do that without leaving the network, so they wouldn’t know.

  222. Hi mike, I’m traveling from bexleyheath to Wembley Central, I was wondering what the best route to take in the pink readers. I’ve never done this journey before.

    • Hi Phil,

      My Oyster Fare Finder says you need to travel via Peckham Rye and Clapham Junction touching the pink reader at Clapham Junction. You might find it easier to change at Denmark Hill rather than Peckham Rye as the trains use the same platform there.

  223. Hi,

    I commute part-time between Theobalds Grove and Liverpool St on Oyster. There are 2 routes I can take, either the Overground all the way (zones 7 to 1), or Overground to Cheshunt (Zone 8) where I cross the bridge and take the Greater Anglia service to Liverpool St.

    However whichever one I do I am only charged £5.60 the fare for a Zone 7 to 1 journey. Sometimes I walk to Cheshunt and in that circumstance I am charged £6.20.

    Am I running the risk of being fined for having been in Zone 8 without paying for it? Or to put it another way, is it allowed to go back away from your destination on one oyster journey or should I be doing something differently if I go back one stop and get the fast train, such as tap out and tap in again?

    • Hi John,

      You’re fine. As long as you touch in at the start of your journey and out at the end and don’t leave the Oyster area or exceed the maximum journey time for the origin to destination journey (7 to 1 in your case), you can’t be off route. There are lots of places where this sort of journey works and it’s all fine.

  224. Hi Mike –

    Thanks for all the information on this site. It’s pretty handy to know one’s way around the transport system in London! (And great that there’s a real guru to turn to when it doesn’t seem to be making sense)

    I live near West Hampstead and I was looking at different ways to get to Epping Forest for a day out. I decided that the simplest and cheapest way to get there would either be by Overground to Chingford changing between Hackney Central and Hackney Downs, or by Overground to Stratford, then Central Line to Buckhurst Hill. (or maybe a few stops further but that shouldn’t actually make any difference to the fare so ignore that bit)

    Now I haven’t yet tried either of these routes but I checked the fares using the single fare finder. According to that, both routes have the same on-peak fare, but whilst the route to Buckhurst Hill via Stratford is quoted as £1.50 off-peak, the route to Chingford via Hackney is quoted as £2.40 off-peak. Why is this and is it correct?

    Both routes start in zone 2 and end up in zone 5, and neither of them go through zone 1. Additionally, because West Hampstead Overground station is separate from the Underground, and since both Hackney and Stratford have pink validators, there doesn’t seem to be any obvious way to accidentally miscalculate the fare. Am I missing something about the way that these fares are supposed to be calculated? Why should one be cheaper than the other?


    • Hi Tom,

      It’s the difference between the TfL-LU rate for the Underground and the TfL-Ang rate for the former GA lines out of Liverpool Street. TfL are not allowed to reduce fares any further as per their agreement with the DfT. They can’t even freeze them, unlike most other TfL fares.

  225. Hi Mike – many thanks for the very helpful website!

    I am looking to travel from Chessington South to Finsbury park, off peak. Doing Chessington South -> Clapham Junction -> Highbury & Islington is £2.9 with the pink reader, where as Chessington South -> Clapham Junction -> Highbury & Islington -> Finsbury park is £5.5 and pink readers would have no effect – is that correct?

    So I would be better of getting out at H&I and back in for the tube?

    Many thanks

  226. To put another way, my question is – even if the TFL single fare finder does not suggest a £2.9 fare when I search Chessington South to Finsbury Park, does that £2.9 fare still apply anyway if I touch the pink readers diligently at Clapham Junction and Highbury & Islington? Thanks!

    • Hi James,

      No, there is only one defined fare for Chessington to Finsbury Park. The fare setters believe that the number of changes required to travel via Clapham Junction and Highbury & Islington is too many.

      However, in your case you can reduce the fare slightly by splitting at Highbury. Just exit through the gates and re-enter when changing trains and it will be charged as two journeys.

  227. Hi Mike,
    Thanks for all the great information on the site. I had a question about passing through a non-Z1 zone but still getting charged for the additional zone.

    I made a journey from Kew Gardens (Zone 3/4) > Queenstown Road Battersea (Zone 2) on the District + National Rail. My daily fare cap was then raised from the Zone 1-3 fare to the Zone 1-4 fare, which I believe is because the system knows I changed trains at Richmond (Zone 4)

    When checking the single fare finder, it says that the alternative and cheaper fare would have been to take the District up to Earl’s Court, then change to an Overground/NR to West Brompton, before changing again at Clapham Junction, whilst tapping the pink reader at Clapham.

    I noticed that my National Rail train did pass through Clapham Junction; in that case, if I had gotten out at Clapham Junction, tapped the pink reader than pop back onto the train, would the system then think I had travelled through the Earl’s Court route, hence leaving my daily fare cap within the Zone 1-3 band?

  228. Hello Mike

    I will be travelling from Kenton station to East croydon everyday. What will be the best way. Will a zone 2 to 5 travelcard cover the journey

    • Hi Khilna,

      Best is a very subjective term. If it means cheapest then the zone 2-5 travelcard will suffice travelling via Willesden Junction and Clapham Junction. There may be times when you want to travel via zone 1 (Euston, Victoria). If these are rare then just use PAYG on top of your travelcard.

  229. Hi Mike,
    What’s the best way to transfer from District to National Rail at Richmond? There is a pink reader to tap on and that seems to “auto complete” the journey according to the TFL app. Only charged me standard fare. But it warns me to touch out properly. Does it really expect me to exit at the barriers on Oyster then reenter on my mainline ticket?

    • Hi James,

      Pink validators are not supposed to end journeys. You are indeed supposed to exit via a gate or touch on a yellow validator, but you are correct that there are no yellow validators at Richmond. I’d be interested to see exactly what it says on the app, and more importantly what it says on journey history the next day.

  230. I’d also be interested to hear what James found. I’m soon going to have a paper ticket that will get me to Clapham Junction. From there I want to Oyster to Shepherds Bush (and back the other way later) but I would rather not have to leave the station.
    Can I use the pink readers to start (and later end) an Oyster journey?
    I believe they will at least let you start a journey – but I’m not sure that’s an intended behaviour!

    • Hi Robert,

      James didn’t come back to us sadly. If you get a Southern train from Shepherd’s Bush then I believe that there are yellow validators on the platform that it arrives on. If it’s an Overground train then you’ll need to go to the exit under the platforms that Overground use.

  231. Hi Mike,

    I am potentially looking at moving to near Gants Hill soon but I sometimes need to travel to Colchester for work purposes. If I require a bus to Gants Hill station and back, what is the best way of making this journey and what ticket would I need? As the company I work for pay for the journey it has to be purely by paper ticket rather than using an Oyster card or Contactless.


    • Hi James,

      There is no easy solution. London buses only accept Oyster/contactless or travelcards. You’d therefore need a zones 1-6 travelcard for the London end of the journey and a boundary zone 6 to Colchester return for the rest. (If you were commuting daily you could use a Colchester to London zones season ticket).

      As a side issue, Ilford is just down the road from Gants Hill and is on the line to Colchester, although no direct trains run. You’d need to change at Shenfield.

  232. Hi Mike,

    I travelled from Surbiton z6 to Finsbury Park z2 via National Rail changing at Wimbledon and Blackfriars in the off peak. I should be charged for 6 zones which is £4.00 but was charged £5.50. I think the system still assumes a change onto the tube which with the introduction of new Thameslink services is not always the quickest. Have raised the issue with TFL but they follow the single fare finder which provides a figure of £5.50. Should I
    use a pink reader in future to ensure the lower fare is charged ?

    • Hi Bendy,

      There is only one fare defined for Surbiton to Finsbury Park so that is what you will be charged. It’s a difficult one because there is no easy way to prove which way a passenger has travelled.

  233. Hi Mike,
    I’m travelling from Clapham Junction to Shepherds Bush but arriving at Clapham Junction via a national rail service (not overground). I have a paper ticket for the national rail service but it only goes as far as Clapham Junction so I was planning on using oyster from Clapham to Shepherds Bush. I know there are pink validators on the overground platforms so my question is whether the pink validators also act as a “touch in” point that I could use to start my journey or do I need to exit through the ticket barriers and then touch in at the proper yellow card readers?

    • Hi Miles,

      Pink readers shouldn’t be used to start journeys, but they do work in that fashion at the moment. They will not end a journey under any circumstances.

  234. Hi Mike,
    I think I know the disappointing answer to this already, but just in case: if an ‘avoiding zone 1’ route has been made unavailable due to unplanned delays, does one have to pay the zone 1 fare? For example, going from Queensbury to Kew Gardens cannot be done cheaply if the North London Line/Overground is suspended due to a signal fault. Instead, one has to change within zone 1 at greater expense. How does “tickets will be accepted on London Underground and local buses via any reasonable route” apply when one is using an Oyster or contactless card?

    On a similar note, what happens if an Oyster user is making a long journey that is cut short mid-way due to an unplanned line suspension, *after they have started*? For example, at Kilburn/Brondesbury in my example above. Do they have to pay for two separate fares or will TfL apply a refund when asked?
    Many thanks!

  235. Jake / Mike:
    When the DLR was suspended due to a signal failure last week I had to travel via zone 1 on southeastern and the Jubilee line to get from Lewisham to Stratford instead of going direct on the DLR which stays in zone 2. I used contactless and was charged the higher fare. I contacted the TfL helpdesk and they refunded the extra amount with an apology for the inconvenience.

  236. Hi Mike, with regard to Andy’s comment on the 22 September 2016, I note TFL said within two years they would have fixed route validator issues.

    This has still not happened. The recent SWT strike meant I had to alter my regular journey from West London to Lewisham, via Clapham.

    A Z23 journey should be £1.70 at peak, but apparently the way I did it ‘does not exist’ and I got charged via Z1!

    Here’s the route …

    Gunnersbury – Earls Court – West Brompton (touched pink reader) – ClaphamJ (touched pink reader) – Surrey Quays (touched pink reader) – New Cross.

    The oyster history validates the the entire route, but the ticket system is oblivious. The unhelpline told me the cheaper route is ‘Via Richmond’. (Apart from the fact the trains were on strike!)

  237. Hi Rob,

    Not that I’m defending TfL, but the enhancements mentioned two years ago have been delayed. They include changes which will be necessary to enable Oyster to be extended to Reading amongst other things.

    As to your situation, the fare setters have obviously decided that one change at Richmond using faster Overground trains is preferable to two changes (Earls Court, West Brompton) using slower Underground trains. I think I’d agree with this, unless there is a strike. As the other route is not in the system it can’t charge a fare based on it, hence it defers to the default route.

    Have you tried claiming compensation from SWR for the extra charge because their services were on strike?

  238. Hi Mike,
    My route is from Sutton NR, terminating either at Shepherd’s Bush rail, or (if it’s raining!) changing to the Central Line at Shepherd’s Bush and continuing to White City. Either way, I change at Clapham Junction and generally use the Overground (occasionally NR if it comes in first). The default fare from Sutton to Shepherd’s Bush is the cheapest (avoiding Zone 1). The default fare from Sutton to White City is more expensive, since there are other routes via Zone 1 stations (like Victoria) and LU. But since I will always have to touch out at Shepherd’s Bush rail when I go via Clapham Junction, can I assume it makes no difference whether or not I use the pink validator on the Overground platform at Clapham Junction, and I’ll still get the cheapest fare for either version of my journey?

    • Hi Richard,

      Sorry for the delay. The fare finder does not mention touching a pink reader so it will make no difference. As you say, you have to touch between the two stations at Shepherd’s Bush so that is how they decide you’ve avoided zone 1.

    • Hi Amber,

      Greenford is an awkward place for avoiding zone 1. There are no options for that specific journey. If the journey is a regular commute then I may be able to offer suggestions to split it so that a travelcard can avoid zone 1, but it won’t be a quick journey compared to Central line on a direct train.

  239. hi
    I am worried and hope you can help, i travel from barking to imperial wharf using district line, changing at west brompton. I usually get a zone 2-4 travelcard and always have pay as you go credit. I recently noticed that they dont charge me for zone 1 even though i touch pink card reader at west brompton. Am i doing something incorrect? I sometimes use different route i.e. overground or c2c via fenchurch street(charged for this from PAYG).
    I hope to hear back from you soon.

  240. Hi Mike,

    Was wondering if you would have an explanation for this

    South Ealing to Stratford can be done (avoiding zone 1) via Turnham Green and Gunnersbury. South Ealing to Whitechapel can be done similarly via Turnham Green, Gunnersbury and Stratford.

    However, South Ealing to Mile End (Or Stepney Green) doesn’t have an avoiding-zone-1 route, which doesn’t make sense because SE -> WC requires a change at the former and passes through the latter.

    Any reason why? Changing the starting point to Acton Town does show an “avoiding” route…

    • Hi Axo,

      Sorry, I’ve no idea. South Ealing to Whitechapel via Stratford seems a very roundabout route just to save a few pennies. You could try asking them, using the contact form or emailing rather than phone.

  241. I have just had the same situation as James that he commented on on the 15 June transfering from underground/overground to National Rail at Richmond. I accrued 10 incomplete journeys before I realised. Spent ages hanging on the phone before I was able to talk to someone but then it was sorted quickly (I hope). The website showed touching in at Gunnersbury on a yellow, touching a pink reader at Richmond then an incomplete journey.

    • Hi Russell,

      As suggested before, touching the pink reader is not going to end the journey. You need to touch out on the gates and come back in with your paper ticket.

  242. I’ll have to do that next time I travel. I can start a journey on a pink reader though??
    Re the refunds, I’ve had 6 journeys refunded but still have 4 outstanding – I guess I have hit the maximum number of refunds per month limit. So I’