Tube Challenge – all stations in one day

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    Alan White

    It seems I was wrong: GA weren’t ignoring me as I’ve just received a reply. Unfortunately it doesn’t say anything more than previously.

    GA: It’s valid everywhere in z1-9.
    TfL: It’s valid everywhere in z1-6 and some [unspecified] places in z7-9.

    GA: If it doesn’t work the gates that’s TfL’s problem [true, but unhelpful].
    TfL: It doesn’t work the gates at stations where it’s not valid.

    The one thing I asked GA to do – discuss and resolve the issue with TfL rather than leave the customer stuck in the middle – they clearly haven’t done and have no intention of doing.

    This is what happens when you have a fragmented railway and local control. None of the companies care because they can each blame the other, to the detriment of the customer.

    I confess to being bored now: I’m happy with the z1-6 element, and I’ll use Oyster for the rest.

    Jonathan Maddox

    It’s pretty clear that there isn’t a single, issue-free way of getting a totally flexible, Z1-9 day Travelcard on a Smartcard. Thanks to all for input and experimentation. I just wish that somebody knew how real-life tube challengers actually managed (not planned, not intended, not believed) their ticketing for their challenges. Looks like no joy on that front. I’m wondering now, for my own challenge, if the only way to get a Z1-9 on a Smartcard which will definitely work is to get a weekly one. Costs more, but I wouldn’t want hassle on the way round.

    Alan White

    Speaking as a real-life, recently successful, tube challenger :-), the answer is to use Oyster/contactless for the z7-9 bits and the GA smart/travelcard for the rest.

    This is perfect if ending at Amersham/Chesham because there’s plenty of time to touch in and out. If starting at Amersham/Chesham then continue on Oyster/contactless to the first intended exit point within z1-6, typically North Harrow or Northwick Park. Costs a little more that way, but much cheaper than a weekly TC on Oyster/smartcard (which I’ve also used for the challenge).

    In either case, just be aware of and keep an eye on, maximum jouney times; though a maximum fare would still be less than a weekly travelcard.


    Many thanks, Alan. I don’t blame you for being bored now. I’m still waiting for a reply from my email to GA. Depending on what that says, I may well take the matter to London Travelwatch next.

    Jonathan Maddox

    Having started this thread, an update, with special thanks to those who have done a lot of research and testing and, indeed, a real Full Network Challenge. I am going to do my own (first) FNC at some point over the next few weeks and am looking forward to it very much. I will start at Chesham (convenient to be dropped there at sparrow-crack) so it sounds very much like the way to ticket it will be contactless for all the Met travel down to Moor Park then z1-6 Travelcard (loaded onto a smart card) thereafter, so ensure no trouble with maximum journey times etc. Having something that definitely works has always been more important than ensuring that I get the cheapest ticketing solution. Obviously the entire network after (and including) Moor Park is z1-6. I now have a pile of smartcards from all the companies but I’m pretty sure they are all much the same, as Mike pointed out. As I will be starting in the Chiltern neck of the woods I will load up my Chiltern smart card. I am not remotely looking for a world record (difficult at my age at any rate) so I am just doing the challenge ‘because it is there’. I sailed around Great Britain last year for much the same reason. I will write back with a report after the event. Thanks again to everyone.

    Alan White

    Good luck with the challenge, Jonathan. Best get it done before the Day Travelcard is withdrawn 🙂

    Mike (admin)

    “Best get it done before the Day Travelcard is withdrawn ????”

    Will still be here until Jan 2024 at the earliest.

    Jonathan Maddox

    A final update – yesterday I completed the Tube Challenge (a ‘Full Network Challenge’, or ‘FNC’, of all current 272 stations). I will do a write-up at but will comment here on the ticketing for my trip.

    Before Alan White asks, my time was slightly slower than both of his but, as are his times, mine was rather faster than the only Guinness-validated world record for the new configuration of 272 stations.

    I followed Alan’s advice and used a combination of Day Travelcard (loaded onto a Smartcard) and contactless. I don’t live in London so all this was first-time for me hence, I suppose, the original question all those months ago.

    I started from Chesham so the original plan was to purchase a Day Travelcard from Amersham, which would allow travel throughout Z9-1. But from this thread, I had learned that although that would work from Amersham if travelling directly to London by the Met line, it would not work for the Chesham and Watford branches, even though it is advertised as being valid for Zones 7-9 also. In fact, although I can’t find it now, I did find a bit of small-print on Chiltern’s website which said something like “your Travelcard is also valid for Zones 7-9 but it will not operate the gates on the Chesham and Watford branches. This is for technical reasons and if you need to travel to those branches you should speak with a member of staff at the barrier there.”

    So, in the end, I realised that Alan’s approach is indeed the best one. I used contactless from Amersham to my first tap-out point, which was North Harrow. It cost £2.20. I bought a Day Travelcard, stating when purchasing that it was to ‘start’ from Harrow-on-the-Hill, that being the first station within Z1-6 for which it was possible to buy a Day Travelcard from Chiltern if travelling on my route. That cost £21.50. I bought it on my phone and uploaded it to my Chiltern Smartcard using my phone. I used it for the first time, with trepidation, not at HotH but on a bus from North Harrow, and it worked perfectly, as it did throughout the day at all Tube stations in Z1-6 where I needed to tap, on all buses, the London Overground and the Elizabeth Line.

    So £23.70 for the entire FNC and zero hassle. It will be a great shame if TfL do abandon the Day Travelcard, as has been suggested.

    My thanks again to everyone who helped and I hope that, along with previous comments, the above can be taken as a confirmed way to ticket an FNC.

    Si Hollett

    Congratulations – its a gruelling day and a competition is a massive achievement in and of itself.


    I’ll echo thanks and congratulations on completing the challenge. It’s good to know that the research paid off.

    Alan White

    Hi Jonathan,

    I received your post during a very nice reverse at Epping while on my own challenge, helping to knock half an hour off my personal best. I’ll comment on the other forum so just a short “congratulations” here with thanks to Mike for permitting this off-topic component.

    Back to the fares, yes, nice and easy with a travelcard on a smartcard. I use it for almost all my trips to London, challenge or otherwise. One small point: you don’t have to use any particular stations as the start and end, or even visit those stations. So long as you receive a z1-6 travelcard that’s all that’s required.

    The consensus (TfL being the sole dissenter) is that the z1-9 travelcard-on-a-smartcard is valid as described but if it doesn’t work the gates then it’s not useful for any purpose, never mind a challenge where speed is important. It’s all very well Chiltern saying “find a member of staff” but they’re pretty thin on the ground and in any case as they’re employed by TfL they may dispute the ticket’s validity.

    As for the future, the best suggestion I can come up with is much more expensive but it’s one I used before we discovered travelcards-on-a-smartcard. I have an Oyster so I put a z1-7* 7-day travelcard on that for one challenge attempt a while back. I was able to use it a couple of days either side of the challenge so it wasn’t too bad for me. It’s a question of convenience and reliability over cost.

    * The z1-7 rather than z1-6 was at Mike’s suggestion because otherwise the Watford branch could be an issue if there wasn’t time to touch out/in there.

    Jonathan Maddox

    Hello Alan,

    I’ll PM you later re your latest FNC … bit off-topic for this forum.

    Noted re the z1-6. I realised what you say, which is why I went for contactless to North Harrow and then a SmartCard Travelcard z1-6 “from” HotH after that. The “from” was understood as not being a departure point (in fact it wasn’t for me, Rayners Lane was) but I had to put in a HR station, not a tube station, when buying on the Chiltern Rail app.

    Thanks for the advice on the 7-day Oyster option … should it ever be needed.

    Well done on your latest success!

    Alan White

    Thanks, Jonathan. I don’t think there’s a PM function on here but there is on the other forum so feel free to contact me from there.

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