TfL admit ELLX overcharging

I’ve been informed by a site visitor that changes are on the way for people who travel between the Morden end of the Northern line and stations east of Clapham High Street on the Overground extension.  He enlisted the help of his London Assembly member and received the following response:

Some customers travelling south to/from the East via the southern end of the Northern line are wrongly being charged as if they had travelled via Zone 1. Please pass our apologies to ******** for this anomaly.

We are working to rectify this issue as quickly as possible and it will be resolved by mid January. In the meantime, an automatic refund process is being put in place for customers who we have been overcharged, which means that they do not need to contact us in relation to this issue. Refunds for customers affected will be available to collect on the following day when they touch in or out at the station they use most often and they will be backdated.

This is a good result and both I and the visitor will be keeping an eye on how this works out.  I will also be trying to find out whether any of the other anomalies (like Wimbledon to Whitechapel) also get fixed.

22 thoughts on “TfL admit ELLX overcharging”

  1. The anomaly between the southern end of the Northern Line and say Whitechapel seems to have been fixed. Single Fare Finder gives £1.50 off-peak between South Wimbledon and Whitechapel via the Claphams. However no change in the fares from Wimbledon, no acceptance of the route via ELLX from there!

    • Hi Alun,

      Yes, I believe that the fix went live at the weekend. We’ll have to try harder with Wimbledon.

  2. I’d noticed the Morden line fix too.

    If it is assumed that Wimbledon to Whitechapel via Z1 remains as the default fare (which I’m guessing it would have to) then it occurred to me that the alternative via the ELLX might require the provision of a pink validator at Clapham Junction. Maybe the absence of such a validator is the problem?

    • Hi Simon,

      Maybe it is, but they’re going to have to do something about it. Does anyone know how long it takes using each line? It wouldn’t surprise me if ELLX was faster as well as meant to be cheaper.

  3. It depends on how long you have to wait at Clapham Jn for the 15 min interval ELLX train but the average is roughly the same in the 45-50 minute ball park

  4. Any idea why I was charged a via Z1 through fare for Vauxhall-Clapham N – Clapham High St – Whitechapel (touch pink reader) – Gants Hill?

    Starting at Elephant & Castle seems to avoid via Z1 fare.

    • Hi Tony,

      Because the only valid route suggests changing at Oxford Circus. I’ve got to admit that 99% of people would probably choose that way. Starting at Elephant and avoiding zone 1 is one less change of train so is probably deemed possible.

  5. Hi.

    Wasn’t sure what topic to post under as there seem to be a few covering this but this one seems relevant and recent…

    I was guided to this site from District Dave’s forums. I made a post there re. some anomalies with interchanges from DLR (also Central Line) to Overground at Stratford. Almost all such journeys are now giving Zone 1 via ELLX as the default route. So I get a Zone 1 fare charged on top of my Zone 2-3 travelcard unless I use the pink validator. E.g. Leyton/Stratford High Street/Stratford International to any point west of Dalston Kingsland as far as Clapham Junction. I contacted TfL customer servcies about this and got a “talk to the hand” response, which I was quite taken aback by!

    • Hi Doug,

      You’ll always need to use a pink validator if one exists and there is a similar no touches required route that does involve zone 1.

  6. Thanks, but the problem is that the Zone 1 route is via Shadwell, which is not a “no touch” route as you have to touch in/out at the Shadwell Overground barriers. This, TfL have informed me, is route that you’ll be assumed to have taken if you interchange between Overground and DLR and haven’t touched at Stratford. Journeys via Shadwell take up to twice as long, so why anyone would want to go that way I’m not sure. It’s certainly not a “similar route” to go from Camden Road to Stratford International via Shadwell and Canning Town (3 changes – 66 mins), compared to the straightforward (but not default) one train to Stratford and one DLR stop further (36 mins). But that’s the route Oyster charge you for.

    Needless to say I’ll be using the pink validator for any interchange at Stratford from now on…

    • Hmmm, they do shoot themselves in the foot sometimes! The no-touch route is actually Camden Road – Highbury – Whitechapel – Mile End – Stratford. I agree that it’s still not likely in this case, but I wonder if other options are being assumed due to clustering. Anyway, as you say, the answer is to use the pink validator at Stratford. At least there is a way to get the system to charge you correctly for this route, unlike others such as Wimbledon to Whitechapel via Clapham Junction.

  7. Thanks for the clarification Mike.

    Are the default “no touch” routes, and the “no touch” rule itself actually stated anywhere official by TfL?

    I can see various routes where there are valid “no touch” Zone 1 alternatives which are not charged as Zone 1. If you take away the final DLR journey on my Camden Road example, and get off at Stratford itself, the “we have no way of knowing you didn’t go via Zone 1 so we must charge you” rule could equally be applied, but Camden Rd – Stratford is always charged as Zone 2-3.

    Ditto the following routes, all Zone 2-3
    Stratford – Richmond (no touch out Zone 1 route via Mile End)
    Stratford – Highbury and Islington (no touch out Zone 1 route via Oxfor Circus)
    Stratford – Willesden Junction (no touch out Zone 1 route via Oxford Circus)

    I imagine the reason is that these journeys mostly involve one train only for the Zone 2-3 route. But even for someone who, for example, gets a Clapham Junction train from Stratford and then changes at Willesden Junction for the Richmond train, they’re not required to touch the pink validator at Willesden Junction.

    • Hi Doug,

      As you rightly point out there are some routes where it is possible to go multiple ways without touching. In these cases TfL will weigh up the likelihood of each route being used. Number of changes, frequency of trains and length of journey are all taken into consideration when deciding what routes people will use. In the main, if there are direct trains (or a pair of two trains) via more than one combinations of zones then they assume you will take the cheaper way. It isn’t always the case though, especially where new journey opportunities have been added in recent years.

      TfL don’t publish how much each factor contributes to the ‘score’, but it seems reasonably clear that a through train (or a very frequent cross platform interchange like at Mile End) will trump more complex jourmeys.

      If you believe that a particular flow is priced incorrectly then you can always write or email to the helpdesk and ask the fares people to consider the situation. I have had success reducing the price of some journeys via the East London Line where I proved that National Rail sell NR only paper tickets for a journey that Oyster assumed included Underground as well.

  8. Hi Mike

    So you, in the capacity of ordinary member of the public, got TfL to change the fares for some journeys? Wow! If I could have contact details of who you dealt with at TfL that would be most helpful. As for for your advice re. writing or emailing the helpdesk, I tried that already (on the advice of the Oyster Refund team). The response I got appeared to be that TfL wouldn’t even entertain a conversation on the issue, never mind consider amending the fares. The final response I got was “if we’ve written to you and given you an answer you’re unhappy with, you’ll have to write to London Travelwatch.” Which I’ve done, but it seems a shame that I couldn’t find anyone at TfL who would engage with the issue.

    • Hi Doug,

      Yes, I did manage it. It took several email exchanges too get the point across, the clincher being the fact that NR offered a Not Underground fare yet Oyster insisted on charging a NR+TfL through journey. The change had to be approved by ATOC as well, but eventually it was done. All my contact was made via a clerk on the helpdesk who I asked to pass the request on to the fare setting department.

      London Travelwatch may well take the matter up with TfL on your behalf, so don’t despair just yet.

  9. Thanks Mike!

    Yes, I’ll wait to hear back from Travelwatch before I contact TfL again. I wasn’t aware there was a “fare setting” department. I guess I should ask for my queries to be put to them.

    Out of interest, what were the anomalous routes for which TfL agreed to change fare (i.e. the one mentioned on the 3rd January post that another site visitor had got changed, and the NR fare that you mention)?

    • This years change was various fares between the southern end of the Northern Line and stations between Clapham High Street and Whitechapel on the East London Line. My change was fares between Southeastern stations up to New Cross and FCC stations north of Highbury & Islington travelling via the Overground. Previously the only NR-only fare involved changing between St Pancras International and Kings Cross.

  10. Hi Mike

    I was thinking about what you said about the “no-touch-out” Zone 1 route from Camden Road to Stratford International via Whitechapel & Mile End.

    I was wondering about this one:
    Hackney Wick to Poplar: Zone 2-3 is default. No Zone 1 fare.
    Hackney Wick to Westferry: Zone 1 is default; Zone 2-3 requires pink validator at Stratford.

    So following the Camden Rd-Stratford Int. example, the default “no touch out” route for Hackney Wick to Westferry is Hackney Wick->Canonbury->Whitechapel->Mile End->Stratford->Poplar-Westferry. 6 trains!!

    • Hi Doug,

      This is the sort of journey where there is no clear out and out fastest route. I think that the default may be Hackney Wick->Highbury & Islington->Moorgate->Bank->Westferry which is only four trains. It’s probably the most extreme example of cluster to cluster pricing where an identical fare might exist for Caledonian Road and Barnsbury to Limehouse. It has to be said though that the existance of pink validators at Stratford makes it easy to say that you’ve gone that way.

  11. Now that’s convoluted!!! And it wouldn’t work at weekends.

    Interestingly, Hackney Wick/Homerton/Hackney Central/Dalston Kingsland -> West India Quay (one stop futher than Westferry) is NOT Zone 1-3 – its Zone 2/3 with no pink validator requirement.

    I still think that the route that TfL are charging for as default is the Shadwell interchange, but they’re not taking into account the fact this is a “touch out” route.

    I have passed on my comments to TravelWatch, so will see how they respond.

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