Warning! Redhill via Gatwick Airport

Note: Some of the details below will change on March 5th. Redhill will no longer be included, and caps will no longer apply if using the Express service to get to Horley, Salfords or Earlswood.

Last September I posted about a change to fares between Victoria and Redhill, Earlswood, Salfords and Horley when travelling via Gatwick Airport. The Oyster system has always allowed travel via stations further out, as long as you don’t leave the PAYG area, and because your journey is from A to B that is what you are charged even if C is in a more expensive zone. [Note: you must still adhere to maximum journey times]

When Oyster was extended to include the Gatwick Express they created a mini station within Victoria for platforms 13 and 14.  If you touch in or out on those platforms and travel to or from Gatwick Airport you are charged the higher Gatwick Express fare and it doesn’t count towards any capping.  If a Southern service uses those platforms then the system charged the normal fare as long as the destination wasn’t the airport. Futhermore, the staff are supposed to ensure that Southern customers use the gates on platform 12 to ensure that they get charged the correct fare and can benefit from continuing via the Underground as one journey.

Over time the number of services from Victoria direct to the four stations (Redhill to Horley) has diminished such that it is often quicker to travel via Gatwick Airport. And quite often the most appropriate service to use is the Gatwick Express. So new fares were added last September to charge the Gatwick Express fare if using platforms 13/14 with a final destination between Horley and Redhill inclusive. The one concession that was made is that capping does apply, so if the journey was both ways and included Underground in London then the charge wouldn’t be as bad as it might have been.

I described this change at the time as sneaky and underhand, largely because there was no publicity.  Because there was no publicity it wasn’t made clear that capping would still apply at the four stations.  Now I have the full picture I do accept that it is kind of reasonable, especially as with paper tickets you’d actually need an additional ticket for the bit back from Gatwick.  So, that being said, why am I posting this as a warning? What could possibly go wrong?

Actually quite a bit. Although there are signs on both sides of the gates to platforms 13 and 14 directing Southern customers to platform 12, if you are in a hurry it is quite easy to miss them and just use the normal gates. But the problem gets worse when you realise that several Southern trains to the four stations are actually scheduled to depart from either platforms 13 or 14. They are the 1638, 1738 and 1808 services to Reigate and Gatwick Airport and the 2335 service to Three Bridges. Plus during the day the services to Reigate are often switched to these platforms.  If you use the wrong gateline and one of these trains to Redhill you are significantly overcharged for a very unexpress service.  In the reverse direction there is one service from Reigate and Gatwick Airport which arrives at 1019 and is scheduled to use the Express platforms, but at least when trains arrive at Victoria it’s easier for staff to try and direct customers to the right gates.

So, if you get caught out and are overcharged make sure to ring the Oyster helpline and ask for a refund. If you’re using contactless then make sure you regularly check your journey history.

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