New Improved Oyster Fare Finder

I am delighted to announce the arrival of a new version of our Oyster Fare Finder.  There have been some cosmetic tweaks to make the adult fares stand out more, plus a major new addition.

Alongside each route description is a statement describing the zonal coverage of that route.  This may help when deciding what route is used by the default fare.  It also clarifies which route is assumed when there are two completely different routes using different zone combinations.  It can also help decide whether a travelcard will cover a journey, or which cap may be applied as a result of making the journey.

As an explanation of the above, consider two sample journeys.

Abbey Wood (4) to Mottingham (4).  Both stations are in zone 4, but to travel between them you either need to pass through zone 6 or change at Lewisham in zone 3.  The fare finder confirms that the journey covers zones 4-6 because that way you can use direct trains.  If you had a zone 3-4 travelcard you may want to travel via Lewisham to avoid using your PAYG balance.  You can do that, but you’ll need to touch out, touch on a bus and touch back in again at Lewisham to force the journey to be split.

Finsbury Park (2) to Hackney Central (2).  This one surprised me when it was pointed out.  The obvious route, to me, is via Highbury & Islington and involves zone 2 only.  But the default route covers zones 2-3.  This takes you via Seven Sisters and the link bridge between Hackney Downs and Central. Therefore, if you have a zone 1-2 travelcard you must touch the pink reader at Highbury & Islington if you go that way to avoid being charged for zone 3.


17 thoughts on “New Improved Oyster Fare Finder”

  1. Hi-hope I am posting in the right place…
    I will be in London for a couple of days in September and will be staying near Heathrow. I was going to use a contactless card to use capped zone 1-6 rates around London. I do need to go from Heathrow to Gravesend one of those days. What is the best/cheapest way to achieve that.

    • Hi,

      I hate the word best because it is so subjective. The high speed line between St Pancras and Gravesend would definitely be quickest, but also very expensive.

      As long as you don’t need to travel before 0930 on that day then I would buy and off-peak zones 1-6 travelcard and supplement that with a boundary zone 6 to Gravesend return. You can buy the latter at Charing Cross (or any other NR station) before you get the train to Gravesend. This avoids the need to know which line you’ll use to get to Dartford (and then Gravesend) and means you won’t have to get off the train to touch out your contactless card. The off-peak travelcard is only a little more than the zones 1-6 cap.

  2. Hi Mike

    I was wondering if Planned Engineering Works ever affect Default Routes?

    The reason I’m asking is because last Saturday (April 1) there were planned Overground works between West Croydon and New Cross Gate which would, as I understand it, invalidate the TfL-LU Z2-5 £1.50 fare for a single Default Route trip to North Greenwich.

    To give you the full background, the TfL Journey Planner cited Southern: West Croydon – Norwood Junction – New Cross Gate and then the usual Overground to Canada Water and on to North Greenwich. However, en-route, my companion and I were informed by platform staff at Norwood Junction that there were infact no trains at all going to New Cross Gate and suggested either using a Replacement Bus Service, or to re-embark the same train and change at Balham.

    We decided to get back on the same train, but (being ignorant of OSIs at the time) I then decided to not change at Balham but to take a punt by going on to Clapham Junction as I knew there would be no touching required to get on to the Overground towards CW.

    From there it was plain sailing, but we (again, being ignorant of Default Routes at the time) touched on the Pink Validator at CW, as we would do if taking the Overground direct from West Croydon, and were duly charged the usual £1.50.

    I suppose that raises a few questions (some relevant to this page, some not), but the main two that immediately spring to mind are:

    What would we have been charged if not validating at CW?

    And, what would the charge have been changing at Balham, and then presumably London Bridge? And for that one, what about getting off at CW and touching the Pink Validator and getting back on again?

    As an aside, do we know if Southern were still running to New Cross Gate last weekend, or could that have been a TfL Journey Planner ‘anomaly’?


    • Hi Dar,

      You’ve put quite a lot of thought into this. To answer the initial question, no, engineering works will not change default routes. You may find an automatic refund is processed if you are forced to go a different way, though that is usually only if the usual route is run by TfL. For example if you travel from West Croydon to Bermondsey and trains were not running between Surrey Quays and Canada Water they may well auto refund you if you travel via London Bridge.

      Next you can look at my Oyster Fare Finder for your trip from West Croydon to North Greenwich. There are two routes available, the default one and via zone 1 London Terminals. The default route is the one charged if you don’t touch anywhere in between. You never need to touch a pink reader on a default route, but it almost certainly won’t hurt if you do. So both your usual route and the one via Clapham Junction are fine, as indeed would changing at Peckham Rye have been.

      At Balham you have the complication of exiting one station and entering another. Here it will depend on what method you use. If it’s contactless then you will be charged the normal default fare because you haven’t touched at one of the London Terminals. Changing tube lines at London Bridge doesn’t count. If it’s Oyster then you need to be aware that on exit at Balham you will be charged the fare at that point (£2.30). Once charged, that fare will never be adjusted downwards, so on exit at North Greenwich it would still be the same.

      Finally, there were no services south from New Cross Gate last Saturday.

  3. Thanks, Mike.

    Yes, having spent a lot of the past week reading everyone else’s posts I thought it was best to be as clear as possible. Although, I think that the fact that the Default Route never changes answers most of the questions at the outset, anyway.

    Didn’t appreciate beforehand the difference between Oyster & Contactless in respect of what you describe at Balham, so that’s definitely something for Oyster Card users to bear in mind on days of disruption.

    The only point I wasn’t sure of is using the tube through Zone 1 not counting as Z1 because I wouldn’t be touching out on the way, which seems at odds to the advice I see regarding Shoreditch High Street on your other pages – I know they’re two quite different cases, but very interesting indeed, all the same 🙂

    I also take it that choosing not to leave Norwood Junction for a bus and to rejoin at New Cross Gate was also the right decision fare-wise, too?

  4. …I guess it would count as 2 separate journeys, unless Emergency OSIs were in play at the time 😉

    • It would be two journeys, but as it’s TfL they’d probably refund the difference. The thing about going through zone 1 is that you wouldn’t normally even consider it. You might go via London Bridge NR, but that’s covered. If via Balham was considered to be a realistic choice then they’d set a fare for it.

  5. Hi Mike
    Just wanted to know what API / data etc. you needed to make Single Fare Calculator (specifically interested in how it calculates what zones the journey would cover)?

    • Hi Tom,

      The fare data comes from the TfL Open Data API. Sadly this doesn’t include the zonal coverage so I sent an FOI request to TfL and received a spreadsheet with all the information.

  6. Mike,
    Sorry to bother you with what will seem a trivial matter. Bear with me. My family and I will visit London in early July. We’ll stay in Twickenham. The visitor oyster card site says we can travel on “most national rail services in London.” Can we use visitor oyster cards to travel South West trains between Twickenham and Waterloo Station during our stay?
    Thanks in advance, Dave Mills, Jackson, Wyoming, USA

    • Hi Dave,

      SWT services are all fine. The only bits that you can’t use Oyster on are Heathrow Express/Connect at the Airport end and the High Speed line beyond Stratford. Between St Pancras and Stratford the High Speed line has special fares which don’t contribute to capping.

  7. Thanks, Mike, for the prompt reply. And thanks for an amazing web site. I’d certainly bookmark your site if I were lucky enough to live in London. Thanks again.

  8. Hello,
    when you look for a journey from Norwood Junction (zone 4) to Harrow-on-the-Hill (zone 5) you get with the single fare finder a peak fare of ­£4.70. There are also four alternative fares: Three of them are with £6.70 (peak) more expensive. But there is one fare “Avoiding Zone 1 via Clapham Junction, Willesden Junction and West Hampstead (or Brondesbury/Kilburn)” which is cheaper (only £3.60/peak). Although there are pink readers at Clapham Junction and Willesden Junction the system do not say to use them on the cheaper way. I wonder how I can tell the system, that I have avoided zone 1 with the Overground and get the cheaper fare (£3.60 instead of £4.70). Is there any way or have I pay £4.70 anyway?

    Thanks in Advance.

    • Hi UlfM,

      At both West Hampstead and Brondesbury/Kilburn you are exiting one station and entering another and this is enough to validate the route.

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