Maximum journey times

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    Alan White

    Hi Mike,

    In preparation for the likely demise of the Day Travelcard I’m trying to better my understanding of fares and maximum journey times.

    On the latter, do you know what determines the 19:00 extension? Is it purely the time of touch-in or does the MJT extend dynamically?

    Say I touch in at a z1 station at 18:00, intending to exit at another z1 station. Do I have to touch out by 19:30 or 19:40?

    The same question, and presumably the same answer, arises if one were on the Night Tube and Saturday became Sunday.

    Mike (admin)

    Hi Alan,

    I haven’t got a definitive answer, but I’d be amazed if the decision wasn’t made at time of touch in in both cases. Indeed the night tube probably inherits maximum journey time from the previous evening unless you touch in after 0430.

    Alan White

    Thanks, Mike.

    I must say the more I look at MJTs the less I see the logic behind some of TfL’s numbers.

    It seems like the longer the journey is, the less time you’re allowed to complete it, particularly when taken as a proportion of the likely real journey time.. And you get longer in z1 where trains are frequent and options varied, than in z5 etc where services are less frequent and usually on a single line.

    I thought I’d understood things but then I came across diamondgeezer’s post on the subject from a few years back ( He says ” If your journey’s only in Zone 3 you’re allowed 70 minutes.” That’s not my interpretation: I think this is covered by “Travelling within Zones 1-4… In Zones 1-3” [TfL] and therefore is 110 minutes, as is a journey wholly within z4. Am I wrong?

    [I know this is all rather esoteric and in practice mainly affects a few enthusiasts but, my, how did we get such a complex and illogical system? Long live Travelcards :-)]

    Alan White

    I thought I should update the forum on where I am with TfL on the subject of MJTs.

    I asked TfL, via their contact form and subsequent emails, to explain the MJTs further than that given at as I consider that, although the basic premise seems clear, some sections are certainly not.

    I received four replies from TfL customer service: two of them thought I was requesting a refund and couldn’t help because my contactless payment card wasn’t registered, neither of which I’d mentioned; one merely referred me to the link above which I’d quoted to them in my request; and the fourth pointed me to the journey planner and single fares guide. Clearly, TFL customer service wasn’t going to help.

    So I submitted a FOI request asking for the MJT from every station to every other station or, if that was too onerous, for certain sample journeys which would explain the unclear sections of the web page.

    The first response was simply, once again, to point me at the MJT web page which I’d already said was lacking clarity. So I repeated the request.

    The second FOI response was, at last, complete, considered, and helpful but declined to provide the information, exercising the commercial confidentiality exemption. The full response can be seen at

    A worrying aspect of the response – beyond the refusal to supply the information – is that TfL describe their MJT web page as “indicative” and “a rough guide”. In other words, one can’t even be sure that the information given there is accurate and complete.

    I must now consider how to proceed. There are three things which concern me about TfL’s stance on the request. Firstly, TfL is imposing a condition on travel without fully explaining to the customer what that condition is for the circumstance of the particular journey being undertaken. Secondly, TfL has concluded that the public interest test of the exemption falls in TfL’s favour. I don’t agree: I believe that the public interest lies in the public being informed about the conditions of their travel. Thirdly, given TfL’s involvement in the rollout of contactless PAYG travel to the south-east and possibly the whole country, I think it’s important that the flaws in TfL’s system (MJT, OSI – also unpublished except by FOI, and errors at gatelines) are not propagated to the national system.

    The best thing that can be said at the moment is that the continuance of the One Day Travelcard means that the need to understand MJTs is less than it would have been had the Travelcard been withdrawn.


    Hi Alan,

    Just catching up here. I hit a similar brick wall when I asked for the MJT multiplier for each potential journey along with the zonal coverage that they supply at each fare change. As I understand it, TOCs have requested that details are no longer quoted outside the zonal area to avoid people gaming the system. The TfL Web page has subsequently been cut back to show duration across 11 zones whereas it used to go up to around 20 zones.

    I did have some success in that I managed to get their website amended so that it no longer said that no refunds would be given if the maximum time was exceeded.

    I’m currently chasing a query about contactless extension fares which I fully intend to take to London Travelwatch if I don’t get appropriate transparency.

    Please do let me have any updates to your correspondence.

    Miles Thomas
    Participant seems to have at least one copy of the “old” 20 zone page–link below is their oldest capture of that URL (2019)

    I haven’t flicked through the other captures from 2019 to now to see if the maximum times for the “missing” zones were updated before the information for crossing more than 11 zones was removed.

    There may be older versions under a different URL but would need some browsing/special search to find the URL, starting from the archived versions of home page (with the websites own search not working and not having an obvious site map URL)

    That data (historical to current) might be worth capturing as an article here (referencing back to source on, with a “health warning” that this history can’t be relied on to be correct, use as a guide etc. I’m willing to believe the data hasn’t changed that much but times may have been shortened to get the balance between accepting legitimate journeys, accepting a few claims case by case, but not creating too much of a widespread concern. Verifying current times by empirical testing (actually trying to exceed the times for varying number of zones and seeing when a fine was added, working backwards from last published time) would be a lengthy labour.

    Mike (admin)

    Hi Miles,

    Thanks for that link. I’m 99.99% certain that the general times per zone used hasn’t changed since the feature was introduced back in 2010 (IIRC). Initially some values which the formula says should be a multiple of odd minutes were rounded incorrectly, but that was fixed ages ago. The other change was the allowance for journeys in zones 1-4, but this is catered for by using a different multiplier on the journeys involved. There are indeed some specific journeys that have a higher multiplier than the zones crossed would indicate because customers have complained that it wasn’t posssible to make valid on-time journeys without falling foul of the limit.

    I also believe that where two or more routes exist for a journey the same multiplier is used based on the most number of zones. Thus Heathrow to Upminster on the District line is always classed as 11 zones, even if zone 1 is avoided. This makes sense in that the avoiding zone 1 route will usually take longer. Also, if the end station is dual zoned I understand that the reverse to fare charging takes place and the extra zone is added in to the multiplier. Thus Hatton Cross to Upminster is still 11 zones. I haven’t had official confirmation of this, but both measures make sense.

    I can also understand the TOCs concerns about longer distance journeys. The ‘rules’ suggest that Gatwick to zone 1 ought to be 14 zones which means over 3 hours would be allowed. I’d have no problem with that figure being reduced as it’s clearly nonsensical. If it hasn’t been reduced I can equally understand why it would be deemed desirable to keep the data hidden. There has been no public statement as to how contactless PAYG maximum journey times are calculated, but by their nature this is done in the back-office so there could be a completely different set of rules.

    The big problem that I have with the current situation is that when MJTs are exceeded for reasons outside the control of the passenger, they are hit with a financial penalty which then needs to be reversed. Because of this I believe that greater transparency is required.

    Alan White

    Well, it’s taken eight months and an appeal to the Information Commissioner but TfL has now published the MJTs from every station to every other station as I requested. No doubt it will soon appear at

    I’ve not had time to analyse it yet but a quick glance suggests that the data was worth the effort as certainly doesn’t tell the whole story. For example, a journey entirely within z1 should be 90mins but Barbican to Shoreditch HS is 100mins (all Shoreditch’s seem to be uplifted by 10mins, reflecting that it’s only in z1 for charging).

    I now have a lot of work to do to convert it to a format which is useful for me, especially when out and about. I suggested to TfL that the MJT be included on the Single Fare Finder; I’ll repeat that request when I reply. However, as I’d be surprised if that happened maybe it’s something Mike could add to his fare finder. Mike, if you’d like me to mail it to you just ask. The CSV is 450,000 lines and 23Mb though it compresses to 4Mb.

    Mike (admin)

    That’s fantastic, Alan.

    Yes, please send over the csv file and I’ll take a look. Adding it to the fare finder was one of the things I wanted to do before TfL refused the request.

    Alan White

    Mike points out that, except from Hoxton, any journey to Shoreditch must go through z2 hence the uplift.


    @Alan White Unless I’m missing it, there still isn’t anything relevant at – the last one mentioning MJTs, as far as I can see, is your unsuccessful one back in November – and the page about MJTs in general still doesn’t have full specifics. Did they email you directly with the full data?

    Alan White

    Yes, they did. I passed it on to Mike who then included it in his fare finder which gives a convenient way of looking up the MJT for specific journeys.

    If you’d like the raw CSV then I can email it to you but I’m not available much over the next week or so and then there’ll be the question of how to exchange addresses.

    Mike: are you able to help?


    No need for that, I was just wondering.

    Mike (admin)

    @akm: I’m not sure that there’s a method to update an FOI on the TfL webiste if it comes back from the ICO. There will soon be a new FOI request which should be responded to immediately now that there is a precedent, unless they just say that nothing has changed.

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