Same Station Exits
Sometimes it is necessary to touch out at a station without actually making a journey. The Oyster system reacts in one of three different ways depending on how much time has elapsed between touch in and touch out.
Between 0 and 2 minutes
This could happen if you immedately discover that there is disruption, or if the display on the gate says that you do not have enough credit to complete your intended journey and you decide to exit again to top-up. The maximum fare will remain deducted and this will not count towards the daily cap. However, if you re-enter (after topping up for instance) within 45 minutes the original maximum fare is refunded and a new journey is started. The new journey can be at the same station or at another one, but you cannot use a bus or tram to get between the stations. Using a different station is probably only useful in Central London.
If using a contactless card or device then no charge is made if you exit within two minutes.
Note that if using the same validator to enter and exit then 30 seconds must pass between the touches.
Between 2 and 30 minutes
In this instance the system will charge the cheapest single fare from that station at the time of touch in. Usually that will be a single zone fare, but it can be two or more zones if the station is the only one on it’s line in that zone. This charge will count towards the daily cap.
However, if you go to another nearby station and touch in using a validator (without using a bus between stations) within the maximum journey time from the first station, the system will class that as a journey between the two stations. This will mean that you are no longer validated for travel. TfL will adjust your journey history after the event, but it will thoroughly confuse RPIs. If possible, use a gate to enter the second station. Contactless will resolve the journeys automatically.
More than 30 minutes
Now the system assumes that you have made two incomplete journeys and charges you accordingly. Neither journey counts towards the daily cap.
These charges are levied to discourage fare evasion. If there is a genuine reason for making a same station exit then you will probably be eligible for a refund of the extra charges. If the station has full Oyster facilities (i.e. most Underground stations) then you may be able to get the credit immediately, otherwise call the helpdesk for assistance.
There are a number of stations where it isn’t always obvious whether you should touch out or not using platform validators. Usually these validators were intended to start or end Oyster journeys without leaving the station because the overall journey continued using paper tickets on National Rail. In order to avoid problems at the station gatelines and/or the deduction of maximum fares due to unresolved journeys, the validators at these stations are set to continuation exit. Note that this does not apply to readers attached to a gateline.
How it works
When you touch out at a standalone validator at one of these stations your fare is adjusted correctly as if you were leaving the Oyster system. Any further touches at that station within 15 minutes (including at a gateline) will replicate the exit with no further deduction. If you continue on from that station by a different mode then when you exit at your final destination the balance is readjusted for the new end point, as long as the new exit is within the maximum journey time from the station where you started your journey.
There are two drawbacks to be aware of. Firstly, if there are no gates at the station then you must touch out using a validator if that is the end of your journey. However, it is impossible to touch in until 15 minutes has elapsed. If you did not want to stay very long at one of these places then this could cause a problem.
Secondly there may be a problem with National Rail RPIs. The exit touch removes the maximum fare which is what the RPIs are looking for when they check the card using a hand-held reader. If they examine the recent journey history on the card it will appear as though you are out of the system and travelling without a validated Oyster card.
If at all possible you should only touch out and back in again at an interchange station if it is absolutely necessary, usually because one or both parts of the station are protected by gates.
These are the stations where standalone validators are set to continuation exit:
- Chalfont & Latimer
- Elmers End
- Finsbury Park LU
- Harrow & Wealdstone
- Highbury & Islington
- Kensington Olympia
- Kentish Town (disabled while the Underground station is closed)
- Old Street
- Seven Sisters
- South Ruislip
- Watford Junction
- West Croydon
- West Ham
- West Ruislip
- Woolwich Arsenal DLR
There are a small number of stations where it’s possible to need to touch in to open gates when you are already in the system. Rather than starting a new journey and leaving the old one incomplete the gates are set to allow you to enter again. There are no revenue implications here, just a small confusion if using an Oyster card.
How it works
When you first enter the system with an Oyster card your balance is displayed on the screen. The system then deducts the appropriate entry charge which can mean that your balance goes below zero. This isn’t a problem normally because it is adjusted when you touch out so you only see the proper balance. However, where you enter the system again using continuation entry the display will show your balance after the deduction of the earlier entry charge. This is nothing to worry about because it will all get rectified when you touch out, but can be a little confusing if you’re not expecting it. The other thing to note is that this touch will show on journey history as a pink validator.
These are the stations where gates are set to allow continuation entry:
- Canary Wharf LU (Western Entrance nearest to DLR)
- Finsbury Park NR
- Limehouse NR
- Shadwell NR (LO)
- Walthamstow Central NR (LO)
- Waterloo NR