Alan White

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  • in reply to: Price Cap Vs Travelcard #5097
    Alan White

    Travelcards are much simpler and more flexible than Oyster/CPC caps. For example:
    – you don’t have to keep track of touches so you can check you’ve been charged correctly
    – you don’t have to worry about the time* you touch in or the multiple caps you might or might not reach
    – you don’t have to touch in/out (except to open gates and on buses)
    – you aren’t subject to maximum journey times
    – in the event of disruption, you can work round it any way you like without extra charge
    – Off-peak Day Travelcards don’t have evening peaks

    Travelcards are wonderful and their convenience is well worth the small extra cost.

    * Except with an off-peak travelcard obviously.

    in reply to: Tube Challenge – all stations in one day #5081
    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.

    in reply to: Tube Challenge – all stations in one day #5079
    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.

    in reply to: Maximum journey times #5045
    Alan White

    Thanks, Mike.

    I must say the more I look at MJTs the less I see the logic behind some of TfL’s numbers.

    It seems like the longer the journey is, the less time you’re allowed to complete it, particularly when taken as a proportion of the likely real journey time.. And you get longer in z1 where trains are frequent and options varied, than in z5 etc where services are less frequent and usually on a single line.

    I thought I’d understood things but then I came across diamondgeezer’s post on the subject from a few years back ( He says ” If your journey’s only in Zone 3 you’re allowed 70 minutes.” That’s not my interpretation: I think this is covered by “Travelling within Zones 1-4… In Zones 1-3” [TfL] and therefore is 110 minutes, as is a journey wholly within z4. Am I wrong?

    [I know this is all rather esoteric and in practice mainly affects a few enthusiasts but, my, how did we get such a complex and illogical system? Long live Travelcards :-)]

    in reply to: Tube Challenge – all stations in one day #5039
    Alan White

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 Best get it done before the Day Travelcard is withdrawn 🙂

    in reply to: Tube Challenge – all stations in one day #4768
    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.

    in reply to: Tube Challenge – all stations in one day #4766
    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.

    in reply to: Tube Challenge – all stations in one day #4737
    Alan White

    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.

    in reply to: Tube Challenge – all stations in one day #4708
    Alan White

    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.

    in reply to: Tube Challenge – all stations in one day #4702
    Alan White

    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…

    in reply to: Tube Challenge – all stations in one day #4695
    Alan White

    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.

    in reply to: Tube Challenge – all stations in one day #4693
    Alan White

    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… 🙂

    in reply to: Tube Challenge – all stations in one day #4691
    Alan White

    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.

    in reply to: Tube Challenge – all stations in one day #4685
    Alan White

    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”.!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.) 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.

    in reply to: Tube Challenge – all stations in one day #4683
    Alan White

    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.

    in reply to: Tube Challenge – all stations in one day #4674
    Alan White

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

    in reply to: Tube Challenge – all stations in one day #4670
    Alan White

    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 🙁

    in reply to: Tube Challenge – all stations in one day #4667
    Alan White

    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?

    in reply to: Hatton Cross #4552
    Alan White

    But before you leave the platform, check the DMI for the next train to your desired terminal. I’ve waited > 15 minutes for a train to T4 🙁

    in reply to: Tube Challenge – all stations in one day #4519
    Alan White

    Coincidentally, I’ve just seen this on IanVisits:
    “TfL also continues to consider a separate proposal to generate additional income by withdrawing from the Travelcard Agreement. This would require the support of the Government and the Train Operating Companies due to the impact on Travelcard usage in London, especially for customers travelling from outside London where PAYG is not available.”

    Transport for London fares to rise by 5.9% from March

    If Travelcards go then something like the Tube Challenge becomes either impossible or very expensive.

    in reply to: Tube Challenge – all stations in one day #4518
    Alan White

    Jonathan: I agree; some time ago I asked TfL why they didn’t offer a one day travelcard on Oyster but they didn’t answer (they replied to other points in the same email, just not that one). I think we have to accept that some journeys, such as the Tube Challenge, don’t fit into “normal” journey patterns. Good luck with the Challenge.

    Mike: Thanks, done.

    in reply to: Tube Challenge – all stations in one day #4515
    Alan White

    Mike, my previous post had another paragraph which others may find helpful but the site won’t allow me to post though I haven’t been able to determine why. Can I send it to you (I can’t see a direct message function here)?

    in reply to: Tube Challenge – all stations in one day #4514
    Alan White

    As promised…

    I put Greater Anglia’s app on my phone – quite a slick app as railway apps go – and ordered a GA smartcard which arrived a week later.

    I then used the app to purchase an off-peak one day travelcard z1-6. I chose Harold Wood to Liverpool Street though any z6 NR to the appropriate London NR terminus will work (Brentwood or Amersham for z1-9). The default fare offered may not be the Travelcard but there’s a selection to choose one. I then used GA’s app and my NFC-enabled phone to load the ticket to the GA smartcard.

    Yesterday I boarded a TfL bus near Feltham and with some trepidation and my Oyster card handy I touched the smartcard on the reader. It beeped and the light turned green! I then travelled around London on bus/tube/DLR/NR and the smartcard worked fine all day.

    It was such a relief to be able to travel around without worrying about maximum journey times, when/where I needed to touch out, OSIs, or the nonsense at Wimbledon. The only disadvantage I can see is cost: Travelcards, especially anytime ones, cost more than the daily cap. For me, the convenience is worth the premium.

    So there’s the solution for anyone like me who’s long had a requirement for a one day Travelcard on something other than paper. Hopefully this will help anyone else with a similar need. Thanks to Jonathan Maddox for asking the question and to Alan (28481k) for the solution.

    in reply to: Tube Challenge – all stations in one day #4507
    Alan White

    Thanks, Jonathan. I’ll give it a test, say with an off-peak day travelcard, the next time I need one after I’ve got the smartcard. It’ll be worth £9.50 to see if/how it works.

    As well as it being a surprise that only one TOC seems to offer this, I’m also surprised that TfL’s gatelines accept other companies’ smartcards. TfL only advertises Oyster and contactless, but I guess that’s to be expected.

    I’ll post the results on here.

    in reply to: Tube Challenge – all stations in one day #4505
    Alan White

    I’m very interested to have come across this thread as I’ve often bemoaned the absence of a Day Travelcard on Oyster. Oyster is great but the maximum journey times can be a real problem for some activities, including the Tube Challenge.

    I’ve looked at Greater Anglia’s website and it certainly does seem to be possible to load all the usual TCs onto a GA smartcard. GA is the only train company I’ve seen which seems to sell these. The question then is: has anyone actually achieved it in practice, Jonathan perhaps?

    What I’d like to do is to buy the Travelcard on GA’s app and load it onto GA’s smartcard using NFC on my phone. Can anyone comment on that?

Viewing 25 posts - 1 through 25 (of 26 total)