11/11/2023 at 13:10 #5208BryanParticipant
I have recently made the following journey with a Railcard (all off-peak, no capping in play):
21:08 – 22:24 New Malden [National Rail] to Harrow on the Hill £3.75 £14.20
22:24 Touch out, Harrow on the Hill +£0.45 £14.20
22:18 Touch in, Northwick Park £2.25 £13.75
22:14 Touch out, Kenton +£2.25 £16.00
21:55 Touched pink card reader, Willesden Junction £0.00 £13.75
21:25 Touched pink card reader, Clapham Junction [National Rail] £0.00 £13.75
21:08 Touch in, New Malden [National Rail] £4.20 £13.75
The route avoids Zone 1, but I was charged the default fare of £3.75. I learned afterwards that the “Avoid Zone 1” fare of £2.15 only applies if one did their OSI between Brondesbury/Kilburn or West Hampstead LO/LU, but not Kenton/Northwick Park.
What makes it worse is that the default fare between New Malden and Kenton is £1.95. Had I taken a bus from Kenton (+£1.75) or done a hokey-cokey at Kenton to break the OSI (and hence +£1.25 between Northwick Park and Harrow-on-the-Hill), the total fare would have been less! In other words, some may get overcharged because this OSI exists but is not properly defined for some journeys.
My questions are:
1. I acknowledge it is a long shot, but what is the likelihood that the person on the TfL helpline is open to refunding the (perceived) fare difference?
2. Who / what email address should I write to petition for adding Kenton/Northwick Park as a valid OSI for “Avoiding Zone 1” fare purposes? It will be useful for many travelling to Harrow and beyond on the Metropolitan line.
P.S. Been a long-time lurker — deeply appreciate your work to provide the much-needed clarity on the fare system!12/11/2023 at 02:12 #5213MikeModerator
That’s an interesting journey. It uses an extra train, but cuts off quite a chunk of mileage by avoiding West Hampstead.
You may get lucky on one occasion and get them to allow a refund, but I wouldn’t repeat it until they decide, if they do, to add the alternative route.
To request the alternative routing you can use the help and contact facility on the TfL website. They may well have to consult with SWR and get agreement, so it won’t be a quick process. It would be beneficial to give them as much information as possible, including approximate journey times, to persuade them that it is worth considering.12/11/2023 at 21:24 #5217BryanParticipant
Thank you, Mike, for the helpful pointers! I believe both route uses the same number of trains — the route via West Hampstead involves a Jubilee and a Metropolitan line train, though you raised a very good point on train mileage.
I have done further research and put together a case that I’ve posted on the TfL help & contact page. I’ve included the text below if anyone else is interested — hopefully, that’s most of the hard work done from TfL’s perspective!
“I am writing to request adding an alternative route to the “Avoiding Zone 1” fare based on a recent journey of mine. The particular journey in question is between New Malden and Harrow-on-the-hill. However, this should apply to journeys starting/ending in every SWR station south of Wimbledon and ending/starting in every Metropolitan line station north of Harrow-on-the-Hill (both inclusive).
The current alternative route allows “Avoiding Zone 1 via Clapham Junction, Willesden Junction and West Hampstead (or Brondesbury/Kilburn).” This request concerns adding Kenton/Northwick Park as a valid alternative routing point alongside West Hampstead and Brondesbury/Kilburn. In other words, I would like to see the route New Malden – Clapham Junction – Willesden Junction – Kenton/Northwick Park – Harrow-on-the-Hill to qualify for the alternative fare (Adult peak £4.40 / off-peak £3.30) rather than the default fare (Adult peak £8.00 / off-peak £5.70).
I believe adding this alternative route has multiple benefits to TfL and Londoners:
1. It follows the spirit of zonal pricing.
Both routes via Kenton/Northwork Park and via West Hampstead avoid Zone 1 entirely, and thus making both routes qualify for a Zone 2-5 mixed-TfL/NR fare will ensure the pricing is consistent (and thus reduce customer confusion and subsequent customer service contacts).
2. It frees up capacity by reducing unnecessary train mileage.
The route via Kenton/Northwick Park passes through 15 stations, as opposed to 20 via West Hampstead. It also incurs a train mileage of ~28.7km, 6km less than that via West Hampstead. In addition, the TfL Journey Planner often suggests doubling back at Finchley Road to take advantage of the Metropolitan line not calling at any stations until Wembley Park. This adds even more train mileage.
By enabling customers to change at Kenton/Northwick Park (already a valid OSI), TfL can cut out the 17%+ mileage that is unnecessary to start with. This has the benefit of increasing capacity and reducing one’s environmental impact on travel.
3. It is no slower than existing “Avoid Zone 1” routes and is often the quickest alternative route that avoids Zone 1.
Both routes via Kenton/Northwick Park and West Hampstead generally take a similar time. The TfL Journey Planner gives a range of 1h20m-1h36m for the former and a range of 1h21m-1h32m across a weekday (see attached spreadsheet). Indeed, once a customer reaches Willesden Junction (where the routes diverge), the Journey Planner estimates it takes 36-37m to go via Kenton/Northwick Park (including initial transfer time) and 36-40m to go via West Hampstead (removing initial transfer time as they should already be on the train).
In addition, the route via Kenton/Northwick Park is often the fastest throughout the day. Of the 74 journeys suggested by the TfL Journey Planner that go via Clapham Junction and Willesden Junction on 20 Nov (Monday), 33 have the fastest routing via Kenton/Northwick Park (as opposed to 18 via West Hampstead LO/LU; see attached spreadsheet). The results are the same for other weekdays. I do note the Journey Planner suggests the fastest route via West Hampstead LU/LO for most journeys in the other direction.
4. It avoids penalising those who know the Kenton/Northwick Park OSI exists and those encouraged to walk between these two stations.
Kenton/Northwick Park has been a valid OSI for years, and its existence is being increasingly advertised on maps and signages under the TfL Walking Action Plan post-pandemic. By also including this OSI under the said journey (and hence not overcharging those who decided to walk), TfL can avoid being seen as putting up artificial barriers against, or worse, being hypocritical on their major initiatives.
5. It lowers safety risks due to perverse incentive-induced crowding.
Leaving the fare as is creates a perverse incentive: The default fare between New Malden and Kenton is the “Avoid Zone 1” fare (Adult peak £3.60 / off-peak £3.00), whereas that between Northwick Park and Harrow-on-the-Hill is the standard Zones 4-5 fare (Adult peak £2.10 / off-peak £1.90). This means there is a substantial incentive to intentionally break their OSI at Kenton, as the sum of the two segment’s fares is less than the default fare for New Malden – Harrow-on-the-Hill.
Given there are only three gates at Kenton, incentivising people to do a hokey-cokey around the gateline (a common way to break the OSI) to save money may create some crowding & safety issues. The current pricing may also incentivise people to get on a bus (Adult fare £1.75) along the very busy Kenton Road corridor, leading to the same issues. Adding Kenton/Northwick Park as an alternative routing point addresses these issues, which has a far higher cost than any “lost revenue”.
I understand that adding an alternative route is a lengthy process, which, in this case, may involve getting an agreement with other Train Operating Companies. I will be very grateful if you can update me with any progress. I am, of course, more than happy to provide any additional information required to reach a decision.”13/11/2023 at 03:23 #5221Mike (admin)Keymaster
That’s certainly a comprehensive submission. Well done.
I did actually realise after posting that West Hampstead involved a Jubilee train in addition to the Met, although the interchange at Wembley Park involves no more than crossing an island platform so it’s not onerous. All three interchanges (Kilburn/West Hampstead/Finchley Road) are treated identically which is why the JP will sometimes suggest cutting out the Jubilee by using Finchley Road.
My only hesitation would be mentioning the hokey-cokey. Whilst it does work in some cases, it can often have unintended consequences. In this particular case there are no fares defined for Kenton to Harrow-on-the-Hill so I’m not sure what would be charged for that leg. New Malden to Northwick Park defaults to via zone 1. If there is time it might be better just to amble slowly and let the OSI expire after 20 minutes. However, I don’t think that one thing in your otherwise excellent case will make a difference.
Please do update us when you hear back.
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