Home › Forums › Fare and Capping Queries › Avoiding zone 1 via Primrose Hill
- This topic has 15 replies, 5 voices, and was last updated 4 months ago by Mike.
04/09/2022 at 19:36 #4132
I’m planning to travel between Kilburn High Road and Upminster next weekend, when North London Line trains are diverted via South Hampstead using Primrose Hill curve to Camden Road.
According to the fare finder, I need to touch at Willesden Junction and Stratford to avoid zone 1. However, it is obviously not possible to touch at Willesden Junction by taking a direct train from Kilburn High Road to Stratford.
Will I be overcharged?04/09/2022 at 19:51 #4134Mike (admin)Keymaster
I’m not sure. If there was just one pink reader involved then I’d say yes you would be. But there are two and they are both sited in the same zone (2/3). However, if you want to be certain to be charged the correct fare then travel the wrong way first and touch the pink reader at Willesden Junction before returning.
This is classed as a temporary or limited service route so changes to the normal fare tables are unlikely to be arranged.11/09/2022 at 14:54 #4156
I made the journey today and the non-zone 1 fare was charged.11/09/2022 at 18:10 #4157
Thanks for letting us know.30/12/2022 at 16:36 #4482
I made an off-peak journey using my Railcard Oyster from Kilburn High Road to Hackney Central on a direct train. It charged me £1.70 at touching out. The fare finder showed that it is a zone 1-2 fare which is clearly wrong as the Overground train only runs within zone 2.
I’ll wait for a few days and see if there is a refund. If not I’ll contact TfL saying that the fare is wrong.30/12/2022 at 17:00 #4483
Unfortunately the route you used is not a usual route. I therefore doubt that you’ll get a refund.
Updating the fare tables is a very complex operation which is generally only done 3 times a year. There is no way that changes would be made just for engineering works.30/12/2022 at 20:40 #4485
Surely the most likely route between Kilburn High Road or South Hampstead to other North London Line stations is a direct train, right? The only way via zone 1 while dodging all barriers is to go back to Queen’s Park, change at Oxford Circus then Highbury & Islington. Even for Queen’s Park or Kensal Green, the assumption that the passenger will take a direct train should take precedence over a change in zone 1 for the default route.
Direct trains have run on this route for years already, so there is no excuse for TfL not to set up the fare table to charge correctly on this route.30/12/2022 at 23:07 #4486
Please can you tell me the times of direct trains tomorrow (31st Dec)?
I know that engineering work often sends trains this way, but it is NOT a regular service pattern. If the fare finder offered zone 2 only fares by default then people would be asking how to make the journey without being charged extra when there are no direct trains (ie most of the time).
If the line via Primrose Hill ever becomes a normal 7-day a week service then I would expect fares to be created. There is nothing to stop you contacting TfL and asking them to consider adding direct fares, but in my opinion this is unlikely to be done in the current setup.31/12/2022 at 15:46 #4487etr221Participant
I think this is one of those journeys coverered by the “Some journeys are charged via Zone 1 irrespective of the route taken” statement on the TfL Single fare finder… 🙁01/01/2023 at 16:03 #4489FeathersParticipant
I don’t think it can be argued that the charge is ‘wrong’ in any meaningful way.
TfL publish two fares for travel between these stations and define the circumstances under which they’ll each be charged. Your journey matched one of those two sets of criteria so you were charged the fare that applies to that journey.
The fact that they also supply some textual commentary as to what the zonal assumptions behind the fares are is neither here nor there. A fare between A and B was quoted and that fare was charged.
To my knowledge National Rail fares don’t change based on diversionary routes, so why would TfLs?17/01/2023 at 18:11 #4512
I have called the helpline, citing that the existence of a direct train and they have processed a refund for me.
I hope that the fare table will be fixed such that whenever such trains run again I can be charged the correct fare.18/01/2023 at 00:19 #4513Mike (admin)Keymaster
Thanks for coming back to us. I’m pleased that they considered a refund in your case. I do not share your optimism that they will correct the fare tables for services which may only run on a handful of days a year.30/01/2023 at 15:38 #4581
On the past weekend I made 3 journeys on the line and got charged £1.70 (National Railcard) again each as a result, between Kilburn High Road and Dalston Kingsland / Hackney Central.
I believe there is a large number of passengers overcharged as a result. I have sent an FOI request to TfL asking for the number of passengers travelling between Kensal Green – South Hampstead and Highbury & Islington – Stratford using PAYG or a non-zone 1 Travelcard, on
– days when the direct train runs
– other days, counting separately the passengers who touch and doesn’t touch the pink reader at Willesden Juinction.30/01/2023 at 21:30 #4582FeathersParticipant
I still don’t see how being charged the advertised fare can qualify as being overcharged but you clearly have your own opinion.
The pink validators are a different issue and I’d love a better solution but I’ve yet to come up with one. The oyster system really wasn’t designed for the complexity it’s now having to deal with on a daily basis.30/01/2023 at 21:59 #4583
The advertised default fare is labelled as “zones 1-2” in the fare finder, which is clearly wrong.
If you use a zones 2-3 Travelcard on Oyster without any PAYG balance on this route, your Oyster card will be blocked after the first use because your PAYG balance will end up negative, similar to the widely-reported problem when Oyster PAYG first went live about two decades ago that many Oyster Travelcards stopped working and negative PAYG balance was found out after investigation.31/01/2023 at 02:28 #4584
I can understand your frustration, I really can. It’s good that you’ve raised an FOI request because that will either prove or disprove that lots of people are ‘overcharged’. If it turns out to be a potential problem then that may influence what happens next.
I think one of the issues is your understanding of the default route. It is a difficult concept because two very different criteria are at play. In the vast majority of cases the default route is the one most people are likely to use on any given day with normal services running. It also describes what will be charged however you travel if you don’t leave the system via a gateline (and don’t exceed the maximum journey time). The problem occurs when there is a potential route which doesn’t involve leaving the system which charges less than the most obvious route. An example of this might be Clapham Junction to Lewisham NR. Most people would choose to travel via Waterloo because there are plenty of trains on both legs, but you can change at Denmark Hill and stay in zone 2 if you don’t mind chancing the half hourly Victoria to Dartford service. Because that is cheaper and a significant minority of people use it, that has to be the default route. The more common route is detected by the gates between Waterloo and Waterloo East. I have had several people ask why they are overcharged when making the popular journey, especially in the days when the single fare finder didn’t display the alternate routes without you pressing another button.
The other things to note are that some journeys are charged via zone 1 regardless of the route taken. That is a fact regardless of how fair or otherwise it may seem. And when engineering work forces you to use a different (usually more expensive) route you are charged for what you do, rather than what you might have done without the diversion.
It is very rare that an engineering diversion using only trains will take you over a route which ought to be cheaper. In fact I can’t readily think of an example apart from the one you are talking about in this thread. As I’ve mentioned before, this is an unusual situation because trains travel over tracks which aren’t normally used for passenger services. The problem for TfL is that if they make the default route the one used on, say, 20 days in a year they will end up getting complaints from people who think they’ve been overcharged on the other 345 days.
Now, as I said at the start, if your FOI request shows that lots (hundreds per day) of people are making journeys which ought to be cheaper then it is just possible that TfL might consider changing the default route. However, hundreds per day is still only a very small percentage compared to the many thousands who will make journeys via zone 1 when the diversion isn’t in place. Therefore my considered opinion is that they are unlikely to make a change.
When you get the results of your FOI request back, I would recommend that you write to London Travelwatch if the figures suggest a big problem. They have in the past persuaded TfL to make adjustments where a cheaper route cannot be detected by the system. I must stress though that it is unlikely to be a quick fix even if LTW do manage to have a positive influence. The March faretables are already locked down and being tested, so a new permanent fare won’t appear until September at the earliest.
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