Tube Challenge – all stations in one day

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  • #4589
    Simon
    Participant

    “TfL also continues to consider a separate proposal to generate additional income by withdrawing from the Travelcard Agreement.”

    Could someone please set out what this means; is it a round about way of saying that TFL are considering abolishing travel cards?

    • This reply was modified 1 year, 3 months ago by Simon.
    • This reply was modified 1 year, 3 months ago by Simon.
    #4592
    Chris Hein
    Participant

    I believe that the Travelcard agreement is where the revenue from Travelcards is split between the train operating companies and TfL. By withdrawing from the agreement it would mean that Travelcards won’t be valid on TfL services but it opens up the opportunity to introduce a new zonal ticket valid exclusively on TfL services but not national rail which means that TfL would get all the profit from selling that ticket instead of sharing it with the TOCs.

    In the 80s there were two tickets, The Travelcard which was valid on just London Transport services and the Capitalcard which had similar validity to today’s Travelcard. Eventually the two were merged and the Capitalcard is no more.

    In other parts of the country for example Birmingham have differing tickets depending on which of the three modes of transport you want to use and this is what London may well revert back to.

    #4593
    Simon
    Participant

    I’m old enough to remember Travelcards and Capitalcards. So, should it happen, this new TfL only Travelcard would not be available to a substantial proportion of SW, S and SE London (for example) who don’t have TfL services?

    Frankly I don’t see the prospect of the fragmentation of ticketing into different modes as a step forward and in fact could be the thin end of the wedge towards total separation again.

    #4667
    Alan White
    Participant

    An addendum…

    I’ve used the technique described further up the thread (One Day Travelcard on a Greater Anglia ITSO smartcard) successfully many times since my first trial last month. I’ve usually used Feltham-Waterloo and this gives me the required z1-6 Travelcard though I don’t go to either station.

    Today I decided to start at Amersham or Chesham so purchased an Off-peak Day Travelcard with Amersham as the origin and Marylebone as the destination. The cost, as expected, was £10.10 (I have a Senior Railcard), and during the purchase process on GA’s app it says “Also valid for travel in London Fare Zones 7-9”. So this seemed to me to be effectively a z1-9 TC. Except it isn’t.

    Only after purchase and loading to GA’s smartcard did I notice that the destination was London Zones 1-6 (0035). Ah, I thought, this isn’t a z1-9 TC; it’s a ticket from/to Amersham to the z6 boundary then it’s a z1-6 TC. The same result is obtained if you choose Brentwood as the origin.

    To test this out, I started not at Amersham but Chesham. Sure enough, the POMs and the gateline refused to recognise the smartcard. I used my Oyster to travel from Chesham to Harrow-on-the-Hill where I had business anyway. I checked the smartcard at a POM at Harrow and the origin is given as AMSHAM, destination R1256, and route R40232. I then continued on my journeys around z1-6 using the GA smartcard with its z1-6 TC successfully.

    I had hoped to do further tests on the way back to Amersham but a curious absence of Met trains to Amersham made that tricky so I had to settle for the hourly Chiltern train from Harrow to Amersham. All I was able to confirm was that the smartcard happily opened the gate at Amersham.

    So the ticket is the same cost as a paper z1-9 TC and GA says the ticket is valid for travel in z7-9. This is true but, it seems to me, only on the direct route to Amersham. It’s no good for the diversions to Watford Met and Chesham and therefore may not be useful for the Tube Challenge.

    Mike: thoughts?

    #4668
    Jonathan Maddox
    Participant

    Thanks for that, Alan. Disappointing news as I thought that the question of ticketing for the TC was solved. I wonder if there is anyone out there who has done the TC recently who might have something to add? Now that the weather is better I’m hoping to do my first attempt before too long.

    Best, Jonathan

    #4669
    Mike (admin)
    Keymaster

    Hi Alan,

    Do you know what route R40232 says?

    When the travelcard is issued on paper it is shown as Amersham to zones 1-6 and the route description is AAA zones 7-9. I’m not aware of anywhere where a ticket says zones 1-9. They are, however, supposed to work throughout zones 1-9.

    In terms of your failed travel I would be asking TfL to refund the PAYG charged for Chesham to Harrow on the Hill and ask them whether there was a problem at Chesham that day. You clearly had a valid ticket on your smartcard.

    #4670
    Alan White
    Participant

    Thanks, Mike. No, no idea what R40232 means. Much of the data on a smartcard seems not to be intended for human understanding. It’s interesting that you believe the ticket was valid: that’s why I wanted to test at other stations but trains were against me today.

    I won’t be asking TfL for my £1.40 back – not worth the trouble. I might, however, ask GA what they think the validity of the ticket is.

    Jonathan: don’t be disheartened. The GA smartcard method solves 99% of the problem (of having to feed cardboard through a slot at multiple locations*); it’s only the bits north of Moor Park that are a problem, and the best solution for that depends on your route and the timings of the trains. At Amersham, Chesham, Chalfont, and Moor Park – trains being as frequent as they aren’t – you’ll almost certainly have time to touch in/out with Oyster or contactless. Reversing at Watford may be a bit tricky because going up to the gateline might cause you to miss a train.

    Another option might be to have two TCs, one on smartcard, one on paper. That’s not as expensive as it sounds because you’ll be able to save a bit by buying only what you need for the route. If starting inside z6 and finishing at Amersham/Chesham then you’d need an Anytime z1-6 on smartcard and an Off-peak z1-9 on paper. Shame there isn’t a z6-9 TC.

    * a gate at South Wimbledon once wiped a paper z1-9 Anytime TC of mine, a fact I didn’t discover until arriving at Victoria in the rush hour 🙁

    #4674
    Alan White
    Participant

    I’ve mailed Greater Anglia; I’ll report back.

    #4675
    Jonathan Maddox
    Participant

    Alan – great idea about having two TCs (one paper, one not). I’m not too concerned about the cost – within reason of course – and am not going for a world record, but I don’t want to be felled by ticketing and your response has made me feel a bit more positive!

    #4683
    Alan White
    Participant

    I had a reply from Greater Anglia and they say ” the Travelcard you purchased is valid throughout London Zones 1-9″ and suggested I contact TfL to learn why the card didn’t work the gate at Chesham.

    Before I did that, I wanted to do some more research so today I bought the same ticket again (naturally at the increased price of £10.60) and visited all the LU stations north of Moor Park.

    The smartcard & ticket worked the gates and POMs at most stations, the exceptions being Chesham, Croxley, & Watford. That is, those stations which aren’t on the direct route from Amersham to zone 6.

    Not being one to leave a job half done, rather than bother with Carpenders Park and its neighbours, I went to Brentwood which placed me firmly in Greater Anglia territory though the station is managed by TfL. The GA smartcard & ticket wasn’t recognised by the gateline there. Clearly, this ticket is not “valid throughout London Zones 1-9”.

    I may now contact TfL about the original issue at Chesham but I remain of the belief that this ticket is not, as GA asserts, a z1-9 Travelcard. It’s an Amersham to z6 boundary ticket then it’s a z1-6 TC.

    The fact that the ticket works on the direct route can be explained by it permitting break of journey.

    I’m sure I recall reading on another forum – which I’m not a member of – that TOCs outside London are only permitted to sell z1-6 Travelcards, and then only in conjunction with a return ticket from/to a station outside the zones.

    Whatever, I suggest that the solution to Jonathan’s requirement is as I said earlier: either a second Travelcard on paper or Oyster/contactless for the northern reaches of the Met. Which is better/least expensive depends on the route and times.

    One last point: when I’ve bought tickets in GA’s app and transferred them to the smartcard, I’ve been able to do so immediately though GA say leave it five minutes. This morning it took much longer – about fifteen minutes. Something to be aware of.

    #4684
    Mike
    Moderator

    Hi Alan,

    Greater Anglia are right that it should be valid throughout zones 1-9. I suspect that there is something wrong with the coding on the ticket. This may be down to GA or might be a problem for TfL/Cubic. Can you keep pushing this one?

    I’ll draw this thread to the attention of my contact at TfL as well.

    As a last resort trading standards may be interested if you can show them screenshot of the purchase process and video of it failing at other zone 7-9 stations.

    There is no such instruction that TOCs can’t sell travelcards from outside the zones to include zones 7-9. Examples include Shenfield, Cheshunt, Broxbourne and Watford Junction.

    #4685
    Alan White
    Participant

    Hi Mike,

    I agree it would be good to get this sorted, though I think it’s unlikely I’ll have the enthusiasm to go much further than seeing what TfL say. Although I have some interest in trains and the Underground in particular, my interest in the complex world of ticketing extends only so far as minimising cost while maximising convenience.

    I should have said earlier that there are three possible causes:
    1. the ticket itself is not valid for unlimited travel in z1-9
    2. the ticket is not being coded correctly on the smartcard
    3. the gates and POMs are not programmed correctly

    I’ve concluded that the cause is no.1 because I can’t find any evidence to the contrary; that is, where it’s described as being for unlimited travel in z1-9 or as a z1-9 Travelcard. Even GA’s reply to my enquiry can be interpreted in various ways as it’s obvious that a ticket from Amersham to London must in some way be “valid for travel in London Fare Zones 7-9”.

    https://www.brfares.com/!fares?orig=AMR&dest=MYB&rlc=SRN says only “Valid for unlimited travel in London Zones 1–6”

    NRE uses the same wording as GA’s app: “Also valid for travel in London Fare Zones 7-9”, and explains code ODT as “…unlimited travel throughout London on National Rail, London Underground, DLR, London Trams and London Bus services within Zones 1-6.” (Poorly worded, as it’s valid on TfL buses no matter where they are, and it fails to mention the HEx & HS1 exclusions.)

    https://www.greateranglia.co.uk/travelcards is more comprehensive, even saying “They are issued to cover Zones 1-6 only” and “One Day Travelcards are valid for one return journey from the station of origin to London fare zones 1-6, and for unlimited travel within the zones.”

    Clear as mud, then. I’ll report back when TfL reply.

    #4690
    Mike (admin)
    Keymaster

    Hi Alan,

    Comments above are noted.

    I understand where you are coming from, but a ticket with a route of AAA Zones 7-9 is definitely valid at any station in those zones, not just the stations one might travel through from the origin.

    Giving this validity is very much a kludge in the ticketing system, which is why the vast majority of the conditions only mention zones 1-6. Therefore, the problem is either GA coding the ticket incorrectly or Cubic not recognising the coding correctly.

    However, my interest and determination are sufficiently piqued now that I’ve set up a GA account and downloaded the app. I’m about to order a smartcard and intend to test it out myself. Fortunately for me, I have a 60+ Oyster, so if it is refused, i can still travel at no extra cost. I’m determined to get to the bottom of this.

    #4691
    Alan White
    Participant

    Thanks for your interest and perseverance, Mike.

    It seems like the key might be in this mysterious routing on the smartcard, R40232. That only appears on the Amersham record on the card; the expired records for a z1-6 have that field empty but are otherwise identical apart from the dates. So if the gate is reading only the destination R1256 then one can see why it would reject. I’ve only just realised that at no time did I look at the gate reject code: the red light on the reader was all I was focussed on.

    I look forward to learning what you discover, and I’ll post TfL’s reply.

    #4692
    Mike (admin)
    Keymaster

    Well that’s good service. Ordered smartcard online about 10pm on 7th March. Landed on doormat about 10am today (9th March).

    #4693
    Alan White
    Participant

    Mine took a few days but there was a postal strike at the time. I’ve been very impressed with GA since we discovered the smartcard and the ability to load travelcards to it via the phone. The app is good and their customer service response was also timely, polite, and professional. If we can just get it to work in z9… 🙂

    #4694
    Mike (admin)
    Keymaster

    I’m testing it this evening. First port of call this afternoon was Dartford (8) and the gates rejected it with code 57. Will be trying a few other places later, including Waltham Cross (7) which I believe is still a Greater Anglia station.

    #4695
    Alan White
    Participant

    I received a reply from TfL. It said, in toto aside from the waffle: “The travel card you purchased is valid from zone 1 to 6.”. Naturally I won’t accept such an offhand response so I’ve mailed them again.

    Mike: I’ve seen the other thread. Interesting.

    #4698
    Chris Hein
    Participant

    I got my GA smartcard today and I was having a look at the various fares on the app regarding the AAA zones 7,8,9 issue.

    I put in Amersham (zone 9) as starting station and Slade Green (zone 6) as destination and it offered me an off peak day Travelcard for £16.20
    This ticket shows it’s also available for travel in zones 7,8 and 9

    However, If I change the destination to Dartford (zone 8), it no longer offers a Travelcard at all (just offers a £26.20 off peak day return instead) despite the fact that the first ticket from Amersham to Z1-6 AAA7-9 at £16.20 should be valid but I suspect will not work the gates at Dartford…

    #4702
    Alan White
    Participant

    Futher reply from TfL: “Unfortunately all Great [sic] Anglia travel cards are valid for zone -6 and only a select few stations up to zone 9. I t seems the stations you mentioned are not covered within this travel card which is why it was not accepted by the reader. This information can be found on the Great Anglia Website.” (I assume the “zone -6” is a typo and should be read as “zone 1-6”.)

    So back to GA. I’ve suggested to GA that they liaise directly with TfL and let me know the result. I shan’t hold my breath…

    #4705
    Mike
    Moderator

    Thanks for your perseverance Alan. You’ve just reminded me that I need to compose an email to GA myself. It’s been a busy few days.

    #4708
    Alan White
    Participant

    Had a reply from GA but nothing helpful, just the pantomine “Yes it is” to counter TfL’s “No it isn’t”.

    I’m not sure where we go from here.

    #4725
    Mike
    Moderator

    Well I’m having fun again today. Bought a travelcard from Brentwood including zones 7-9. Worked fine at Amersham and Chalfont & Latimer. Didn’t work at Chesham or Watford Met, code 77. At Watford High Street the small ticket machine told me it had an ITSO card on it with a travelcard, but the gates failed with code 57. Heading back into London now.

    • This reply was modified 1 year, 1 month ago by Mike.
    #4736
    Mike
    Moderator

    An update. I’ve now used two zones 1-9 travelcards and putting together results from Alan and myself it seems that the situation is this:

    The card will work at Met Line stations from Amersham to Moor Park, but not at Chesham, Croxley, or Watford Met. The error code at those 3 stations is 77, which means that ITSO is not recognised. I’ve alerted a Chiltern member of staff who is going to try and get LU to look at that. He thinks it’s a configuration setting because all LU gates were supposed to have been upgraded to cater for ITSO cards.

    The card will not work at any NR station in zones 7-9 unless it is the origin. One of my tickets started at Brentwood and worked the gates there. The error code at NR stations is 57, which says the ticket isn’t valid there.

    I’ve written a lengthy email to Greater Anglia outlining these results and also copied it to my contact at TfL. I’ll update when I get any responses.

    In terms of the tube challenge I now think getting two travelcards is probably overkill. Depending on how you plan the challenge you can probably use contactless for a Chesham to Watford journey which can take up to 90 minutes and a Watford to wherever else you need to change. You don’t actually need to visit any NR stations.

    #4737
    Alan White
    Participant

    Thanks for your input, Mike. Hopefully the more of us who complain to GA the more likely it is that the problem will be resolved. I think they’re ignoring me now.

    That said, I agree with your assessment that two travelcards aren’t necessary. I’d go further and suggest that a tube challenger should buy just a z1-6 travelcard and use contactless/Oyster for the zone 7-9 bits. This may also be cheaper than buying a z1-9 anytime travelcard.

    In fact, I did just that on a successful challenge a couple of days ago. I bought a GA z1-6 anytime on their smartcard and started at Heathrow T4 with the intention of finishing at Amersham/Chesham. The smartcard worked fine all day and when I arrived at Moor Park on a Chesham train I had plenty of time to trek to the gateline and touch out with the smartcard before in again with Oyster. Had I left North Harrow on a Watford train I’d have switched to Oyster at North Harrow.

    Having missed a quick reverse at Watford I then touched out there for a cost of £1.15 (senior railcard). Back in again for a touch out at Amersham 1h26 later, well within the 1h40 MJT allowed at that time of day, for a cost of £1.30.

    £21.50 for the Anytime z1-6 travelcard plus £1.15 and £1.30 gives a total for the day of £23.95, £3.25 less than an Anytime z1-9 travelcard. That’s a very good price for visiting 272 stations and travelling who knows how many track miles. Perhaps I’ll calculate the cost per mile…

    Even without a railcard the total cost for that particular usage is still £1.90 less than the travelcard. Of course, the exact cost will depend on the chosen route and where and when there’s time to switch to/from Oyster. Even if the z1-9 smartcard problems are sorted I encourage others to consider buying only a z1-6 and contactless/Oyster for the rest.

    This has been an interesting and educational discussion. Thanks very much to Jonathan for asking the question and to all those who’ve contributed to the solution.

    Good luck to all Tube Challengers.

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