There are many journeys in London that are cheaper when avoiding zone 1, avoiding national rail and using buses for some or all of the journey.

Is there a good manual method of finding such routes or a general purpose route planner that optimises for price? I appreciate most people want to optimise for speed, walking time or number of transfers, however the alternate routes would not exist if there was no demand for them.

For example, Cockfosters to Upminster off-peak is £1.50 if avoiding zone 1, but £3.10 when taking the fastest route through zone 1. TFL Journey planner, Citymapper and Google Maps only suggested the £3.10 routes. Potters Bar to Upminster is only £1.50 extra (adding a bus journey to Cockfosters), but would be £7.70 or £11.80 with a train ticket.

1 Answer 1


The first thing to do is check whether there's actually an avoiding-zone-1 fare defined, otherwise you'd be going out of your way for no reason (*). You can do this at the TfL Single Fare Finder, which for your example tells us that the defined fares for Cockfosters to Upminster are:

  • the default fare (via zone 1) at £5.10/£3.10

  • "Avoiding Zone 1 via Finsbury Park, Blackhorse Road and Barking or via Finsbury Park, Tottenham Hale and Stratford" at £2.80/£1.50

  • "Avoiding Zone 1 via Highbury & Islington and Stratford" at £2.80/£1.50

(peak / off peak prices depending on when your journey starts. Note that where the single finder says 'via X and Y', you typically must validate at X and Y in order to receive this cheaper fare)

These options can then be fed into your favourite journey planner as 'via' points. For this particular journey, at the time of writing there is no service on the London Overground on the Barking line, so the first alternative route is right out.

So you'd have to go either

  • Cockfosters to Finsbury Park to Highbury & Islington to Stratford


  • Cockfosters to Finsbury Park to Tottenham Hale to Stratford

and then either via Romford or West Ham to get to Upminster.

* for example, for Sidcup to Tufnell Park you can come up with an avoiding-zone-1 route via Lewisham, Stratford, Camden; but there's no fare defined so you'd still pay the full using-zone-1 fare. As the Single Fare Finder warns, "Some journeys are charged via Zone 1 irrespective of the route taken."

  • I believe you also have to tap in your oyster/credit card when you change stations.
    – JonathanReez
    Oct 12, 2017 at 15:46
  • Thanks for the info! The via options are probably as good as it gets, so I've marked it as the best answer. It won't help so much where there are multiple tube and train stations to choose from, unfortunately.
    – drspa44
    Oct 13, 2017 at 18:47
  • 2
    Specifically you need to tap a pink reader at the specified stations. Aug 14, 2018 at 1:44
  • 1
    As I understand it, some alternative routes are indicated by pink readers, others are indicated by making specific out of station interchanges. In the OP's case the Blackhorse Road route and the Highbury and Islington route require use of pink readers. The Tottenham hale route is presumably picked up by the out of station interchange at Tottenham hale, which has seperate ticket barriers for the LU and NR parts of the station. Mar 18 at 22:29

You must log in to answer this question.

Not the answer you're looking for? Browse other questions tagged .