New Northern Extensions

There’s been a bit of excitement since the publication under FOI of an internal staff magazine by TfL. One of the topics covered was upcoming extensions on Thameslink and Great Northern. Sadly the original publication date was quite a while ago (early May) and there was also a shocking geographical error mixing up the positions of Brookmans Park and Potters Bar stations. The article and other sources suggested that extensions to Radlett and Potters Bar would be live imminently. A more cautious approach was being suggested on the Thameslink and Great Northern websites, so I sought clarification from both TfL and Govia Thameslink Railway.

A GTR spokesperson provided the following quote:

Pay as you go with Contactless and Oyster is expected to launch at Radlett and Potters Bar this summer, subject to completion of the installation and testing with Transport for London. Pay as you go with Contactless will be extended to Brookmans Park at a later date.

The TfL staff magazine also mentioned contactless only extensions to St Albans, Luton Airport Parkway and Welwyn Garden City, including intermediate stations, from later this Autumn. Clearly Brookmans Park is part of this later extension and has only been mentioned now because of the confusion caused by TfL.

At present there are no details of single fares from either Radlett or Potters Bar. All that’s been said is that the daily and weekly caps will be the same as other zone B(11) stations (Broxbourne, Hertford East/North etc). The Anytime cap compares resonably well with the Anytime day travelcard, but the off-peak cap looks like it will be quite a bit more than either off-peak day travelcards or super off-peak day travelcards. I’ll do some more in depth analysis once the single fares have been announced officially and the caps have been confirmed. Watch this space!

The mismatch between caps and travelcard prices on all the recent extensions is sadly the result of the government insisting that certain extensions happen as part of franchise commitments, without understanding the constraints of the Oyster system. It was all very easy in zones 1-6 where fares had been synchronised in anticipation of the acceptance of Oyster. When TfL designed the Oyster system it was intended to work on a purely zonal basis with each zone extending further from Central London in rings. The problem is that beyond zone 6 the prices of travelcards do not follow any organised pattern. I hope that the recent consultation on pay-as-you-go in the wider South East England area results in some smoothing of the anomalies.

33 thoughts on “New Northern Extensions”

  1. I m so suprised about Potterrs Bar. In terms of distance from Central Londonit should be in zone 7 maybe 8 but not same as Hertford much further to the north.

    • Hi Adam,

      I’m inclined to agree. There needs to be a rethink on the fares charged from stations just outside the M25.

  2. Putting aside the zonal issues the original announcements from both DfT and TfL was that BOTH Oyster and Contactless would be extended to WGC and Luton Apt Parkway. And this is certainly the impression that MP Grant Shapps was given and announced in his various Tweets earlier this year.

    • Hi Graham,

      I’m sure that the original intention was to extend Oyster all the way, although by the beginning of this year it must have been pretty clear that this wouldn’t happen. Oyster can only cope with 15 zones for capping purposes until the back-office software is introduced. Zones 1-14 have already been allocated and I’m assuming that 15 will be for Reading once TfL Rail take over in readiness for the Elizabeth Line opening.

  3. Hi thanks for the information, but Radlett is inside the M25 and a short distance from Borehamwood (zone 6), but is allocated to zone 11- how and why?

    • Hi Russell,

      As I typed that comment I realised it would cause issues. What I should have said was outside the Greater London boundary. The M25 follows that most of the way, but does creep further away around Watford.

  4. Rather unhelpful, I travel to/from New Barnet to Welham Green and currently have to use Paper tickets. As my Oystercard has a gold card discount on it I don’t want to switch to contactless, Ill have to stick with paper.

  5. Hi Mike. Yes Zone 15 will come live in December probably when TfL Rail begin serving Reading. I have been told that TfL are working on the creation of up to 3 more zones. However, distance wise WGC and Luton Apt Parkway could be included in Zones 14 or 15.

    • Hi Adam,

      Thanks for that article. I can tell you that contactless acceptance will be part of the overall TfL back office system.

  6. Would using different fare scales be a way around the NR Oyster beyond zone 6 issue? Dartford and Swanley are Z8 with a bespoke fare scale. Likewise Epsom and Cuffley in Z9 each with their own bespoke scale. Each line with Oyster extending can have it’s own scale. Or have they run out of these too?

    At the very least, they could do vague rings A-F rather than have blotches (B and D the most notable, especially B) that are linear and give GA a scale, and GTR another – which seems within existing limits. That’s probably easier than the current odd structure where there’s special station-station fares for recent expansions that aren’t zonal.

  7. Hi Mike

    Oyster and contactless starting being accepted at Radlett last Thursday/Friday (but officially launches on 27 August according to the ticket office at the station). Do you have any firm confirmation on the zone Radlett is in? There are no details yet on single fares or caps on the TfL website.


    • Hi Marc,

      I believe that it is going to be zone B/11, the same as Broxbourne to Hertford East and Bayford to Hertford North. I hope to have more details shortly, but thanks for tipping me off that the launch is imminent.

  8. At least some of the Potters Bar Oyster pads are now operational. I just successfully tapped through with an Oyster card.

    • Hi David (and Marc),

      I have checked with GTR and they have confirmed that testing is taking place for both Radlett and Potters Bar. They won’t commit to a start date, but say it will be announced as soon as testing is complete and will start almost immediately. At this stage I’d be reluctant to use Oyster at either station, particularly if arriving at the new stations, just in case there is a problem and it’s all turned off.

  9. Hi Mike

    It’s so frustrating as you get different responses from different people. I spoke to TfL customer services yesterday and they gave me the price caps and then confirmed after my questioning that Radlett is in Zone 11 (B). They also gave me some single fare examples to London Terminals (London Thameslink) £8.40 peak, £4.90 off-peak, and Underground Z1 £10.80 peak, £7.30 off-peak.

  10. My oyster pay as you go fares today

    potters bar to Kings x peak £7.50

    Moorgate to pb off peak £4.90

  11. I can also confirm that the Oyster readers were operational at Brookman’s Park. There weren’t any trains running, so I couldn’t make a journey.

  12. A notice at Potters Bar station says that oyster will go live on 29 August. The ticket inspectors didn’t know what zone PB will be in, but thought it was “16”. I don’t think so but we’ll see.

  13. I didn’t see any signs yesterday mentioning Oyster/contactless at all at Brookmans Park. Just the pedestals with the Oyster branding on them.

    • Jake: Thanks for that, let’s hope some posters/stickers will appear before it officially goes live.
      Ian: It will be zone B/11. 16 doesn’t actually exist.

  14. Radlett oyster (and I assume contactless) went live this morning. Lots of officials in suits officially marking the occasion.

    • Thanks Tania,

      Yes, Radlett and Potters Bar went live for Oyster and contactless today, and Brookmans Park for contactless only. I’ve been wading through loads of information and making some pretty significant changes to my fare finder to cope properly with Brookmans Park.

  15. I had interesting conversation with GTR staff at Kings X. According to their sources Oyster will be accepted at Brookmans Park and other new stations from next year, together with daily and weekly capping when new back office system will be up and running so zone limits wont exist anymore.

    • Hi Adam,

      Thanks for this. It’s pretty much as I expected. Capping on contactless only may come first, depending on the progress of the back office for Oyster.

  16. Hi Mike, Do you have any idea when the Oyster fares will be announced for the TfL rail service for stations Iver to Reading inclusive? I believe that the takeover is sometime in mid December, although I cannot tell whether Oyster will be valid then, or when the fares go up in January?!

    • Hi David,

      Nothing has been announced yet. If Oyster isn’t accepted it will be the first TfL service where that is the case. I have heard suggestions that it will only be valid on TfL services beyond zone 6, which if true is going to be a nightmare at Reading particularly. Adding together odd bits of information gleaned over the last year I predict that Oyster will be accepted normally as far as Taplow, but I don’t know for certain. I’d be surprised if the January fares revision had any effect beyond raising the fares.

      Cancel all that. There will be a full post later today on the site.

  17. A Thameslink employee told me two days ago that Oyster is NOT coming to St Albans. olfolf
    Only contact less cards payments will be accepted. This is a reversal of the announcement made in Nov 2018.

    • Hi Zolf,

      Last years announcement was made before negotiations on how to actually achieve the extension were finalised. It turned out not to be technically possible. It may change in the future, but for now it is contactless only.

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