Via the new TfL 2010 fare finder, which has all the NR PAYG fares on, coupled with Darryl’s useful pre- and post-2010 line map, a few thoughts:

Different Fare Scales For Different Lines

This seems to be fairly arbitrary, but boils down to this.  Most NR lines are on the NR farescale all the way from Zone 6 in, priced £4.90/£3.20:

  • Feltham – Waterloo (and I’m assuming the other SoL TOCs to their main terminus)
  • St. Mary Cray – London Bridge/City Thameslink/Farringdon/Blackfriars
  • Elstree & Borehamwood – St. Pancras
  • Hadley Wood – Kings Cross/Moorgate
  • Romford – Liverpool St.

These are either wholly new to PAYG or were partially on it already, at the inner end.

Some are on TfL farescale from Zone 6 in, priced £4.20/£2.40:

  • West Drayton – Paddington
  • West Ruislip – Marylebone
  • Rainham – Fenchurch St.

These were wholly signed up to PAYG already.

One is on a bizarre farescale of its own, which I’ve called ‘NLS’, cheaply priced at £3.90/£2.40

  • Hatch End – Euston (NR platforms)

While switching to the Bakerloo to get to the same destination on the same line gets you back on the TfL farescale, priced £4.20/£2.40:

  • Hatch End – Euston (LU)

So that’s three different fare scales for the relatively simple ‘my local Z6 station to the Z1 terminus at peak times’ question.

The Farringdon Question:

Farringdon is the only station I can see that is a London Z1 station reached from both north and south London TOCs which also has an LU station within the same barriers, so it’s a special case.  Let’s use our Z6 starting points and see what we get:

  • Feltham – NR/TfL
  • St. Mary Cray – NR
  • Elstree & Borehamwood – NR
  • Hadley Wood – NR/TfL
  • Romford – NR/TfL
  • West Drayton – TfL
  • West Ruislip – TfL
  • Rainham – TfL
  • Hatch End – TfL
  • Purley – NR

Whew.  Same station, same starting zone, three different fares ranging from £4.20 through £4.90 to £6.00.  So what’s the logic?  Essentially:

  • Fenchurch St., Paddington, Euston and Marylebone lines are basically TfL fares, due to what we discovered above.
  • Other routes you can change onto Thameslink easily (basically all of the Southern TOCs except the Windsor Lines plus the Midland Main Line) are NR, because you’re assumed to take NR the whole way
  • The Windsor Lines, Liverpool St. and Kings Cross lines are NR/TfL fares with a Z1 premium, because you can’t easily change onto Thameslink and are therefore punished for using the Underground.


The West London Line Question

The West London Line, despite being shared between Overground and Southern TOC services, is clearly all TfL farescale – the Southern services from  Croydon to Milton Keynes therefore start as NR, change to TfL, then change to having Oyster not valid at all, which is possibly a unique characteristic, along with travelling through Z2 to Z9 without entering Z1.

The rub, however, comes if you’re at Clapham wanting to get into town – it’ll save you cash to take the WLL and change to the tube at West Brompton, as this will be TfL fares all the way.  The same applies to starting from Wimbledon, although I can’t envisage how they could tell the difference between Wimbledon – Clapham – West Brompton – Z1 and Wimbledon-Z1 direct, or indeed why you’d want to muck about like that.

A related case would be Richmond – Shepherd’s Bush which is the same price going via Clapham as via Willesden, although it helpfully reminds you to touch the pink validator at Willesden, which will save you a princely 0p.  Then there’s a confusing example of Richmond -> zone 1 tube stations, where the fare finder doesn’t mention that the stated fare of £3.10 is by the non-obvious route of NLL to Willesden followed by Bakerloo, or NLL/WLL/Central or NLL/WLL/District and I can’t imagine they’d be able to stop you doing Richmond/Clapham/WLL/District either since you’d have a valid ticket.  Take the first train to Waterloo, however, and you’ll be stung £4.20 instead.

The Romford Question

I’d have expected various journeys from Romford to Z1 to cost less than the full £6.00 Z6-Z1 NR/TfL fare, but there don’t seem to be any.  This is despite Stratford (Z3) being a big interchange and the two lines either side (Central and Fenchurch St.) being on TfL fares throughout for, say, changing onto the Jubilee Line to reach Southwark.  This appears to be a bit of a poor show.  Paging Roger Evans, who presumably travels regularly from Romford to Southwark.  This is all the more odd when you consider the final case of ‘spot the fare anomaly':

Joker Fares via Vauxhall and Elephant & Castle

There’s a final joker in the pack here – the Alternative Fares button on the fare finder shows that changing onto London Underground short of your destination sometimes saves cash.  For instance:

  • Feltham – Vauxhall – Oxford Circus = £5.00
  • Feltham – Waterloo – Oxford Circus = £6.00

There’s no £5.00 fare anywhere in the tables – the fare is actually £3.20 NR farescale Z6-Z2 plus £1.80 TfL farescale Z1-Z1, though, so this acts as something like an easement to reward you for not using NR too much (note that Vauxhall is a Z2/Z1 border station, so you’re actually rewarded for walking across the border instead of going by train – the same would happen at any walkable pair of stations where the NR one is in Z2 and the LU one is in Z1).  Rather bizarre, but impressive that TfL’s fare finder copes with it.

Other examples:

  • Purley – Elephant & Castle – Oxford Circus = £5.00
  • Purley – Victoria – Oxford Circus = £6.00

Same principle, Z2/Z1 border station, change to Underground.  It does seem to be just those two border stations, however, which happen to be the only Z2/Z1 NR border stations with LU interchange – as a challenge for the reader, find other walkable examples of NR Z2/LU Z1 pairs.

All this does give me the following options for an evening in the West End though:

  • Walk to Gunnersbury and tube/Overground it (£2.70/£2.40)
  • Bus to Turnham Green and tube it (£3.50/£3.00)
  • Walk to Chiswick and train it changing to tube at Vauxhall (£3.60/£3.10)
  • Walk to Chiswick and train it changing to tube at Waterloo (£3.70/£3.10)

It does seem to be a mark of the system that it’s incapable of easily deciding the cheapest option between multiple choices for many trips.  Quite how the public are supposed to work out the cheapest fare is beyond me.

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