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Not so integrated London: 1

Thursday 12th March 2020

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London’s so called ‘integrated transport system’ with its much lauded ‘seamless ticketing’ didn’t work for me on Monday.

TfL’s ticket machines at stations on the Metropolitan Line also served by Chiltern Railways (ie Harrow-on-the-Hill, Rickmansworth, Chorleywood, Chalfont & Latimer and Amersham) are unable to sell tickets with a Senior Railcard discount.

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My travel plans for Monday (including making various journeys on both Underground and National Rail trains within London and ending up at Amersham) necessitated buyng a Day Travelcard from Hassocks, my local station in Sussex. These are only available for zones 1-6 whereas stations from Rickmansworth northwards to Amersham fall outside zone 6, with the latter in zone 9. You can’t buy an equivalent zones 1-9 Day Travelcard from Hassocks (or from any other National Rail station outside London).

Within TfL controlled London you can either use Oyster (or Contactless) to tap in and out as you travel around with a daily off-peak cap of £13.20 for zones 1-6 and, for just 10p more, a cap of £13.30 for zones 1-9. An off-peak Day Travelcard covering zones 1-6 is slightly more expensive at £13.50 and 80p more for zones 1-9 at £14.30. These prices are reduced by 30% if using an Oyster enabled with a Railcard discount.

Thinking I’d be travelling to Winchmore Hill, Buckinghamshire via Amersham and probably returning from High Wycombe (due to bus stop arrangements on routes 1/1A as described in my last blogpost) I decided the best option would be to buy a zones 1-6 Day Travelcard ticket from Hassocks and at the same time buy a single ticket extension from the zone 6 boundary to Amersham (in zone 9) which cost £3.25 extra even though if I’d been able to tap in at the boundary station (Moor Park) and tap out at Amersham using a Railcard enabled Oyster it would have only cost £1.05 for that journey.

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But that would have meant forgoing my nice Amersham bound train at Moor Park, wander down to the ticket barrier to tap in, then back to the platform and wait half an hour for the next train. Not particularly ‘seamless’.

And why, when TfL only add a nominal 10p on to the price of the off-peak ‘Pay-As-You-Go’ daily cap for zone 1-9 users compared to zone 1-6 users does it cost so much extra to make that single journey (£4.90) if paying full price adult fares?

In the end I didn’t return via High Wycombe, thanks to discovering route 73, and ended up back at Amersham only to discover the ticket machine was unable to sell me a Railcard enabled discount ticket to the zone 6 boundary. A TfL member of staff in an adjacent office behind a glass screen agreed it wasn’t possible to buy such a ticket so opened the barrier to let me travel without paying for that part of the journey, which was kind of her, but it doesn’t say much for a supposed integrated ticketing system that can’t sell tickets.

She suggested next time I might be better buying a return zone 6 to zone 9 ticket extension, but I wasn’t expecting to return via Amersham, and if I hadn’t, that wouldn’t have worked from High Wycombe and I’d have bought a return ticket (for £6.45) and not needed it.

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In the event, the next departure from Amersham was a Chiltern Railways train which doesn’t stop at Moor Park, so I regret to say Chiltern missed out on my fare due to TfL’s lack of integrated travel.

The solution seems to be for TfL to install ticket machines which are able to sell any National Rail ticket from any station to any destination including Railcard discounts as they have at Overground stations. Or might it not be a good idea for National Rail stations to sell Travelcards that include zones 1 to 9? Bearing in mind TfL are happy to charge just 10p more for Pay-As-You-Go passengers using zones 1-9 compared to zones 1-6 in the off-peak, it would be even more simple if the zones 1-6 Travelcard changed to zones 1-9 validity. Problem solved.

Roger French

BusAndTrainUser View All

I used to run a bus company but in retirement am a full time passenger travelling all over Britain enjoying its splendid scenic delights by bus and train. Currently social distancing at home.

8 thoughts on “Not so integrated London: 1 Leave a comment

  1. Hi Roger
    The problem is not the machines but the proprietary restricted software – we have similar machine at all rural stations and you can’t buy rangers or weekly season or flat fare child ticket. When we queried this with both GN and GA we told that the cost to update the software was prohibitive and could not be justified. So yet again the TOC’s look after themselves while the customer gets ripped off -we advise regular travellers’ to buy the tickets on the train as this way the TOC loses as they have to pay commission to the guards – I’d rather deal with a human than a machine anyday!

    Liked by 1 person

  2. Nobody thought that one out when they were busy abolishing TfL ticket offices! Whilst TfL trains and buses now reach far beyond zone 6, I find it irritating that those living way beyond the Greater London boundary have to fall into the “cashless regime”/zonal fare system without question or complaint. Think Potters Bar, Brentwood, Darenth (Bluewater), Swanley, Westerham, Epsom, Dorking, Slough and the Met . Thank our lucky stars the Met doesn’t still go to Brill and beyond! Thankfully, Shenfield and all points to Reading still have ordinary TOC ticket offices. Even active and retired staff from both systems have problems, and I suppose it does make a case for TfL to take over everything where they operate (more or less the “old” entire London Transport Central and Country area) and at least have one “seamless” fares system, although I fear the calibre of current managerial TfL staff would make this a retrograde step.

    Liked by 1 person

    • Yes I’ve had the same problem with travelling outside of zone 6 but being a bit of a cheapskate I went outside the station and tapped in again with my Senior Railcard discounted Oyster.
      Interestingly if the Senior Rail Card linked to the Oyster card expires then the link to obtaining the 1/3rd discount on the Oyster Card also expires and has to be reloaded with the new Senior Railcard by a TFL member of staff on the underground ticket machine.

      Liked by 1 person

  3. Try buying a senior railcard ticket from Gatwick to Sheringham on the 07.25. It is easy to do. The machines and staff won’t let you on the train.

    Liked by 1 person

  4. You can’t buy a ticket from Underground Zone 1 to Guildford with a railcard discount from either the LUL or EMR machines at St Pancras, but you can buy one on line (I usually do it before I leave Brussels) and collect it from an EMR machine.

    The system is not a true zonal one because buses are treated separately. The cheapest route from Thames Ditton (Zone 6) to my office involves changing to the District Line at Wimbledon and getting off at Temple. Going all the way to Waterloo and getting a bus is much quicker but carries a £1.50 supplement.

    Liked by 1 person

  5. Would it sell the ticket without a Senior Railcard discount? I dimly remember Boundary Zone X tickets only being available as an origin, not a destination. Perhaps that has changed or perhaps it was never the case.

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  6. I positively hanker for a return to Zones 1-6 only and everything else just as it is anywhere else. Difficult to say “not so integrated London” and then talk about Rickmansworth and Amersham and a whole load of other places that are not London.

    London is London. Everywhere else is not London.

    Liked by 1 person

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