Reducing commute cost by avoiding zone 1

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    Hi there,

    I currently commute every day from North London zone 3 (Crouch End area) to my office in the Aldgate area. I use an oyster card with 16-25 railcard discount applied.

    For this journey, I either use Great Northern between Hornsey and Moorgate, or bus to Finsbury Park then tube to Aldgate. If I use Great Northern both there and back, my daily commute cost is £8 – if I use tube/bus, I pretty much always cap out at £7.70 (although other days recently my daily cap has been both £5.10 and £9.40, for reasons I’m assuming are to do with peak/off peak usage). I am, therefore, paying between £38 – £40 for my weekly travel.

    However, both Shadwell and Whitechapel stations are within walking distance of my office – and I’ve realised I could save a decent amount by using these stations to avoid zone 1. If I were to use Crouch Hill to take the GOBLIN to Wanstead Park, then OSI to Forest Gate and take the Elizabeth line to Whitechapel, I could reduce my daily commute cost to £4 return (or £3.15 if I were to return off peak and trigger the 16-25 railcard discount). This would then save me in the region of £60 – £78 a month.

    I know that the route via Wanstead Park and Forest Gate would work well for the purpose of this, but there’s another route I’m intrigued/confused about – getting on the DLR at Shadwell, going 1 stop eastbound to Limehouse then taking C2C to Barking and GOBLIN to Crouch Hill. When I look on Oyster single fare finders, it’s saying that I would have to go ‘Avoiding Zone 1 via Leytonstone/Leytonstone High Road or via Forest Gate/Wanstead Park’ in order to pay the non zone-1 fare. My guess is that this is because there’s no pink reader at Barking – although you do cross a gate line at Limehouse changing from DLR to C2C, there’s no way of the system knowing that you haven’t just taken a C2C train back towards Fenchurch Street as opposed to out of London.

    There must surely be a case for putting a pink reader at Barking – I often use London City Airport for work trips and use the route: DLR from LCY to West Ham, C2C to Barking, GOBLIN to Crouch Hill, and it’s annoying that you seem to have to use the Forest Gate – Wanstead Park OSI to be charged the cheapest fair.

    To cut to the chase – is there any way of doing my daily journey avoiding zone 1 but without using the OSI? Not the end of the world, but just wondering if there’s a way of approaching this that I’m missing… There’s no point, I guess, doing tube from Turnpike Lane -> Higbury & Islington (touch pink reader) then Overground -> Stratford and Elizabeth line -> Whitechapel, as the lack of crossing any barrier at Stratford would make the system think I’d just done Overground from H&I to Whitechapel, I assume?

    Mike (admin)


    There’s lots of issues in this thread so I’ll try and cover them as they arise.

    First caps. Zone 1-2 with railcard is £7.70 all day and £5.10 if all travel is after 0930. Zone 1-3 is £9.00 all day and £5.95 if all travel is after 0930. I’m not sure how you can get £9.40, but if you copy all the journey history for that day I should be able to explain. Hornsey is in zone 3 whereas Finsbury Park is in zone 2 and it doesn’t matter where you use buses.

    Barking is in zone 4 so if alternative routes use that station they would charge more. This is why City Airport to Crouch Hill is higher because the default route is via Barking (zones 3-4) whereas the other routes are only zone 3. The fare finder on this site displays the zones covered by each fare for just this reason.

    So, you can’t use via Barking on your Crouch Hill to Whitechapel journey, but you can use via Highbury & Islington and Stratford if you start from Turnpike Lane (or indeed Hornsey). You need to touch pink readers at both change points.

    Hope this helps.

    • This reply was modified 1 year, 6 months ago by Mike (admin).

    Thanks, Mike. That’s really. helpful.

    Here’s the travel from the day costing £9.40 – having read your comments I’m now assuming that it’s because I used Barking when travelling from Crouch Hill to Fenchurch Street. I should have specified that!

    18:33 Bus journey, route W7 £0.00
    18:12 – 18:32 Farringdon to Finsbury Park [London Underground/National Rail] £2.60
    17:45 – 17:54 Aldgate to Farringdon £2.50
    08:05 – 09:05 Crouch Hill to Fenchurch Street [National Rail] £4.30

    I didn’t realise Stratford had a pink reader, but come to think of it that makes sense. Assuming it’s by the overground platforms?


    Ah yes. The all day cap for zones 1-4 is £11.00 so you didn’t actually reach it that day.

    And yes, the pink readers at Stratford are on the platforms served by trains from Hackney. I think that’s 1 and 2. Annoyingly a small number of trains use platform 11 instead so you’d need to go back to touch the pink reader if that’s important for your fare.

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