PAYG in the Thames Valley

Contactless Pay-As-You-Go is being extended to the branchlines off the Great Western mainline between Reading and Paddington. Starting on Monday 28th March you can use PAYG from Windsor and Eton Central, Wargrave, Shiplake and Henley-on-Thames. The Bourne End and Marlow branch will follow later this year.

The fares and caps follow the same pattern as on the mainline so peak single fares apply in the morning 0630-0930 and in the afternoon (1600-1900) for journeys away from London. Caps are set at the anytime travelcard rate before 0930 and the off-peak travelcard rate afterwards.

There are two big differences between day travelcards and the PAYG caps. Day travelcards only allow one return journey between the outboundary station and zones 1-6 but the caps allow unlimited journeys. And if starting in London and making a journey outside the zones you need to buy a boundary zone 6 to your destination ticket to go with the day travelcard, but with PAYG it just works. Plus there is no need to know in advance if a travelcard is worthwhile because the system will only apply the cap if you reach it.

Finally it’s worth noting that Twyford and the Henley branch all have higher fares and travelcards that allow travel via Reading and a fast train to London. With PAYG you will not pay the higher fares as long as you don’t leave the paid area at Reading.

11 thoughts on “PAYG in the Thames Valley”

  1. Thanks, Mike. Good news – especially for us doing single journeys (otherwise we get a paper return ticket, Two Together discount, and maybe some cashback).

    Your last paragraph is very interesting. Is this allowed, or a loophole? What happens if your contactless card is scanned between Reading and Paddington on a fast train, if you touched in at Twyford?

    • Yes, it is allowed. It’s the way the system is designed. All a revenue check will do is say that your card was checked at a particular time. As long as the back office gets touch data to say you were in the system at that time you are fine.

      One of the reasons for the higher charge on a paper ticket is because you can break your journey part way through. That would seriously undercut the fare for Reading itself. But if you do that on contactless you’ll pay the Reading fare anyway.

      • That’s interesting Mike.

        Don’t the mobile Oyster/Contactless readers have a real-time connection back to the database? I thought the revenue protection people on the busses and trains were able to tell whether the card you show them is already in the system.

        • Hi Graham,

          No, there is no connection to the back office. On buses the reader downloads all cards touched in on that journey from the bus computer. On trains/trams the reader can tell whether an Oyster is touched in, but not a contactless card/device because the system cannot write anything to them.

    • Sadly not. The TOCs are not happy for TfL to publish exact maximum journey times as they believe it may encourage fare evasion. I’ve been assured that (more than) enough time is allowed for any journey. If you are ever charged two maximum fares when making a journey as fast as you can then this can be raised with the helpdesk. They do adjust MJTs when specific circumstances (ie number of changes) make a journey difficult to complete in time.

  2. On your fare finder, it shows Forest Hill to Windsor & Eton Central as being £9 single off-peak, yet BR Fares are showing it as £8.80.

    Incidentally it appears by looking at the CDR paper return still works out cheaper slightly and even more so on weekday evening peaks.

  3. Hi guys,

    Brfares is NOT reliable for Oyster or contactless fares. The data is maintained by RDG separately to the TfL database. Always trust this site (though ltfares uses the same data if you absolutely must 😉 )

    Having said that, there does seem to be a pricing anomaly which is probably down to GWR. I’ll investigate further.

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