Oyster PAYG on Victoria-Balham Services: easier but more expensive

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Author: Cyril Richert
Nearly 2 weeks after Oyster Pay-as-you-go was introduce on Southern for trains going between Balham and Victoria (oh yes I forgot to say), I decided to give a try to go to Tower Hill.
Instead of the usual off-peak Travel Card 1 day zone 1&2 from Clapham Junction (£5.60), I used my Oyster card all along :

  • Clapham Junction-Victoria: 6.32pm = £2.10
  • Tube (Victoria-Tower Hill) = £1.10 (due to the fact that Train+Tube , i.e. CJ-TH cost £3.20 overall according to alternative price in the TfL calculator)
  • Tube (Tower Hill-Victoria) = £1.10
  • Victoria – Clapham Junction (11pm) = £1.70 (overall price tube+train = £2.80)
  • TOTAL = £6.00 (capping is £5.60 for off-peak but this is a mix peak-time/off-pick)

What does it tell me?

Train off peak starts after 6.30pm [actually for London terminal I was told that there is no peak hour in the afternoon at all]. Oyster off-peak starts after 7pm. If you do Clapham Junction-Victoria Terminal return between 6.30pm and 7pm it will cost £4.20 on Oyster and £3.50 with a train ticket.
Therefore, if using a £5.60 train travel card (off-peak)  I could have gone from 6.30pm (or even earlier!) and save £0.40. If I wanted to use Oyster I should have waited 30 minutes more 7pm at Clapham Junction and then I will have paid only… £2.80×2=£5.60 [1]

In comparison, using Clapham Common (also zone 2) to go to Waterloo (or even Tower Hill) and return cost £3.20 with Oyster. We can assume that as similar fares apply on all London Underground, with the East London Line implementation it will be the same price to go from Clapham Junction to Canada Water, Shorditch or Highbury and Islington… or Tower Hill. Therefore, you can consider that train companies with Oyster are still charging an extra £2.40 or 75% more than TfL!
Sadiq Kahn, minister for Transport and Tooting MP, said:

I have been campaigning for since I was elected in 2005. It should mean shorter queues for tickets in the morning, cheaper journeys and greater convenience all-round.

It’s not true… and it looks like as reluctant as the train companies were when forced to implement Oyster, nothing was done to improve the clarity of the ticket fares between train and tube. Not DfT’s fault… but something to look in for future franchise.
We need to have the same fares in all travels for the same zone, whatever you use: tube, train, cross-rail or overground!

[1] In how many countries buying a simple return ticket from A to B is the same as buying a full 1 day pass on all the network (same zones)?

UPDATE: 25/11/2009
I am reading in the Wandsworth Guardian:

“From January, travel between zones 1 and 6 will be easier – but as train operators will still dictate overground prices, most similar journeys underground will still be cheaper.

Cllr Guy Senior, executive member for planning and transportation at Wandsworth Council, said:

Passengers will no longer have to deal with frustrating inconsistencies between payment systems“.

… if only it was true!

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CJAG News editor and Clapham Junction Action Group co-founder and coordinator since 2008, Cyril has lived in Clapham Junction since 2001.
He is also funder and CEO of Habilis-Digital Ltd, a digital agency creating and managing websites and Internet solutions.

3 Comments

  1. Sam> And you can consider that train companies are still charging an extra £2.40 more than TfL with Oyster for a similar distance (zone 2 journeys)!

  2. My journey to work costs £6.20 if I buy a train ticket and a whooping £8.90 if I’m daft enough to use my Oyster.
    Oyster goes in the bin!

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