Starting/ending on a Pink Validator

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    Miles Thomas

    Dusting off an topic that was on the old website, but worth a refresh I think for a specific situation. (Ideally this would be cross posted to Contactless section as well, as it is the same for contactless too.)

    The old version of this website clearly notes that you can’t start/end a journey using a pink validator (at least not since 2017, there was a specific case where it worked but was not advertised). Google search found that easily, but maybe needs resurfacing on the header portion if the new website to make it more obvious.

    The TFL website doesn’t explain this very well, certainly not as simply as above.

    One specific (and annoying) situation that could be a “gotcha” for the unwary is Stratford station, if you are transiting from Overground (platforms 1-2) to Greater Anglia on platforms 9-12 (e.g. Tottenham Hale for Stansted or other services such as Great Eastern Main line) and vice versa.

    There are a number of routes between those platforms where you pass pink validators but not yellow ones, and you have to play “hunt the yellow validator” if your rail ticket starts/ends at Stratford (e.g. travelling beyond travelcard zone) and using Oyster PAYG/contactless for inward/onward journey on the Overground.

    Hunting the yellow validator may not be easy if you have heavy luggage, and I wonder if the yellow validators are inaccessible if you need to use lifts (for whatever reason). Certainly there doesn’t seem to be any signage on the platforms to help you find the nearest yellow validator. There may be other stations which are similarly afflicted, but Stratford is certainly the most complex structurally.

    Yes it is possible to buy through rail tickets which include the overground portion (a quirk of the overground) which avoids the problem and is more convenient, but this isn’t likely to be the cheapest option (compared to PAYG/contactless), nor are one day travelcards (if your ultimate destination includes a tube leg as one journey, which can’t be included directly in a single rail ticket, only as an add on or one day travelcard).

    Recently experienced this first hand so thought it was worth posting.

    I wonder if the selected Stratford pink validators could be made into a combination validator i.e. works as a yellow to start/end if there isn’t a journey already started or a journey needing completion but also as a pink. This probably would need a “post hoc” overnight automatic adjustment in some cases, though, as the system might not be able to handle a completion (yellow) versus a waypoint (pink) in real time–may need to assume if the last touch was selected pink validators at Stratford then convert it to a completion, and ditto a first touch for contactless if otherwise it would not be clear.


    Pink Validators are my biggest annoyance. The official line is that you can’t start or end a journey using one. The reality is that if you touch one and you aren’t in the system then it will start a journey at that point. There is absolutely no way that a pink validator can end a journey though.

    What I will say is that there is a yellow validator on platforms 9/10 at Stratford near the London end.

    PS. Your favourite topic has recently resurfaced in respect of Kennington and I may just be about to document it.


    “The official line is that you can’t start or end a journey using one.”

    Actually This Isnt True, Apart From The Afore Mentioned Trip Start,Using A National Rail Smartcard With A Travel Card Loaded Onto It Will Start And End Your Journey.

    For Example If I Change At Canda Water My Trip Will Show As Whereever I Started > Canada Water Unstarted Journey > Wherever I Finnished.


    Hi Y’ossi,

    Can you expand on this, please. Are you effectively using a travelcard stored on a National Rail smart card? I’d be interested to see actual journey history if possible.


    Yes, A Travelcard ( Lets Say, “Brighton” To London Z 1 – 6 ) On A Southern And Thameslink Key Smartcard.

    I Dont Have The Journey History To Hand Right Now As Southern And Thameslink Clear It After 8 Weeks And It Was Quite Some Time Ago, But If I Have Some Free Time In The Area Ill Try And Replicate It To Show You When I Have A Free Day Over The Summmer.

    Kerry S

    Maybe I’m being dim, but if you have a Travelcard on a Key Smartcard, how can that display in your Oyster journey history? Does the system know which Oyster card holder bought the Travelcard, and hence know that the Key Smartcard is the same person as your Oyster card?


    No, The Key Smartcard Has Its Own History With Data Fed Back To Them By TFL, It’s Not That Acurate, Only Shows About 50% Of What You Actually Did And Isnt In Order, But Its Something IG, Touching With These Pink Validators Will Display “Enter” Or “Exit” On The Screen And On The History It Shows As The Start / End Point For A Jounrey

    Sadly TFL Refuse To Give Out ITSO Smartcard History, Even Tho They Have A Record Of It.

    Below Is An Example Of What It Looks like

    ( )


    Right, that’s interesting.

    Firstly, Kerry: National Rail smartcards which contain a travelcard allow travel within the zones without a separate Oyster card. I didn’t realise that they also provided journey history, which is good to know. The GTR version of the Key also allows PAYG travel on GTR services AFAIK, though I’m not sure how that is worked. If they rely on a data feed from TfL there might be issues.

    Y’ossi: Given that you have a travelcard covering all of zones 1-6 I think touching pink readers is a little superfluous. If you truly were ending a journey at a station with one you’d need to exit via a gate. The issue we usually get is where a person has a ticket from say Brighton to Clapham Junction and wants to go onwards using Oyster PAYG without leaving the station. I have never seen a pink reader display Exit so I’m slightly skeptical that one would. Usually they display valid for interchange if using Oyster and touched in, or Enter if not touched in. With contactless they just say card accepted. I will follow this up though, so thank you for bringing it to my attention.


    [video removed for technical reasons]

    See Here, You Can See It Says “Exit” When I Tap Off, I Try To Tap In And Out Again But It Only Said Exit Once, After It Said “Enter” Each Time Until I Went To Another Station Tapped Out & In There. It Only Says Exit The First Time You Touch. On My History Via The GTR Website It Shows An Entry At Canada Water And Then The 2 Touch Ins

    • This reply was modified 7 months, 4 weeks ago by Mike (admin).

    Thanks Y’ossi,

    That’s very interesting indeed. It’s clearly something to do with TOC smartcards because an Oyster or contactless bank card will never show exit.

    • This reply was modified 2 years, 11 months ago by Mike.
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