Oyster, the Olympics and HS1

Wow, have the authorities managed to screw things up over the headline Javelin services to Stratford International.  Ordinarily the HS1 line between St Pancras and Gravesend or Ashford via Stratford and Ebbsfleet is a premium service.  As such, travelcards and Oyster cards are not valid on the services and there are no Oyster readers on the gatelines.  But London 2012 is the public transport games and needs to be as simple as possible.  So, all event ticket holders are given a free travelcard covering everything in London, including St Pancras to Stratford International.  These special travelcards are only valid with an appropriate event ticket, so ordinary travelcard holders still cannot use HS1.  Nor can any normal Oyster cards be used.

But, herein lies a big problem.  All the volunteers staffing the games have been issued special pink Oyster cards which can only be used with their 2012 accreditation card.  Initially it was not planned to allow these cards on HS1 until someone pointed out the ridiculous situation where visitors could use a service but not the staff running it.  Several high level meetings later on and it has been decided that Olympic Volunteers CAN use HS1 between St Pancras and Stratford International ONLY.

This concession is only available when using a special pink Olympic Oyster card with the appropriate accreditation card to validate it.  You have to go to the disabled gate at both stations where the staff member will let you through.  It doesn’t matter whether the Oyster card has a travelcard or PAYG balance on it because the card itself is not being read.  This is a major kludge to fix a massive oversight in the plans between LOCOG, TfL and Southeastern.

Please note that this concession is only applicable between St Pancras and Stratford International.  It is NOT valid between Stratford and Ebbsfleet/Ashford/Gravesend.

17 thoughts on “Oyster, the Olympics and HS1”

  1. I am undertaking 15 10-hour shifts as a volunteer driver over a 4 week period involving over an hour of travel both ways. With early starts (5am) and late finishes (3am), it seems incredible that our oyster cards cannot be valid from Ebbsfleet to Startford. Many of us are coming from outside the M25 and for anyone living in the South East this service is perfect for parking and extended train times.

  2. I am working in Tilbury Docks for G4S securing London Olympic Games. I living in Dagenham (East London), My Pink Oyster not working in Tilbury. What do you suggest me to do?

    • Hi,

      If you believe that you should have free travel to Tilbury (as that is your work location) then I’d contact either G4S or LOCOG. If you don’t get completely free tracel then you will need a return ticket between Grays and Tilbury. As long as your Oyster contains a travelcard you do not need to get off at Grays to touch out.

  3. I have volunteer Oyster card for zones 1-6, I live and commute with own Oyster card from Rickmansworth in zone 7. Moor Park zone 6 is 1 stop away.
    To use my existing Oyster Card would i need to swipe in at Rickmansworth, get off train swipe out at Moor Park with my own card then swipe back in the olympic card.
    And then the same for a home journey?

    • Hi Nick,

      Is there a travelcard on your existing Oyster card covering zone 7? If there is then touch in with your existing card and touch out with the GM version. If there isn’t then you can actually put PAYG credit on the GM card. You are told not to by LOCOG, but the reason for that is that you can’t get refunds of any credit on a GM card because some of them will be supplied with free PAYG rather than a travelcard. However, you can put credit on and it will simply deduct a zone 7 journey each way as long as you touch in at the start and touch out at the end. If you only add the credit as you need it then you shouldn’t lose out.

  4. Can travellers to the Olympics (not volunteers) use the free travelcard on the the journey from Ebbsfleet to Stratford?

  5. Hi Mike,
    I am a Gamesmaker and as such have been issued with an Oyster Card. My problem is That I need to travel daily from and to Billericay. Which is the nearest station within the permitted travel zone (1 – 6 ) to Billericay? Sorry if this is a repeat question, I have only just found this forum.

    • Hi Mazza,

      Harold Wood is the nearest station on that line in zone 6. If your GM Oyster card has a travelcard on it (which it probably will) then you must get daily tickets to Harold Wood unless the train is going to stop there. Two seasons are only valid if the train calls at the station where the tickets changeover.

  6. Hi Mike,

    Really hoping you can help me out, I don’t seem to be able to find the info I need on the London 2012 website and seem to be getting conflicting advice on other sites.

    Last night I managed to get tickets to the athletics on Tuesday, so happy! 🙂 I’ll arrive into Kings Cross by train, so when looking at how to get to the Olympic Park I’m advised to take the Javelin train from St Pancras to Stratford International. However, as I have opted for print at home tickets I don’t have a games travelcard. I believe I can pick this up from the box office, but this is at the Olympic Park so doesn’t really help me on my journey there!

    Do you know if I can still use the Javelin train, and what ticket I need? I have a pay as you go Oyster card which I usually use when visiting London, but not sure if I can use this?!

    We only have two hours to get from Kings Cross to the stadium so want to make sure we know what we’re doing when we get there.


    • Hi Becky,

      As I understand it, where tickets are being picked up from the Olympic Park, confirmation that you have tickets is accepted for travel. In your case you have the ticket but not the travelcard, which seems a better situation. As long as you can show that the tickets were print at home then I’d hope you won’t have any problems. It might be an idea to call Southeastern customer services to confirm this.

  7. From experience with travelling on the Javelin service during the games, no checks were being made on tickets at either end of the trip. Gates are open at the barriers. Loading to platform 1 at Stratford International did not even pass a barrier

    Don’t know what will happen before and during the paralympics.

  8. Hi Mike
    Can I use oyster in gravesend i.e. touching in/out Crayford as I know Gravesend is non oyster zone.


    • Hi Sam,

      Not sure what you are asking. You can’t use Oyster at Gravesend. You can use a paper ticket to Crayford and touch in there, but it may not save you any money.

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