Today I travelled from Orpington to London Charing Cross. Both are National Railway stations and I bought an Anytime Day Return from a ticket machine at Orpington for £14.60.

It was only after I returned that I noticed I could have swiped in and out with an Oyster Card or contactless credit/debit card.

If I had paid using the latter method, would it have cost me the same amount?

  • The lack of an Off-Peak Day Return fare for this relation must be because a zone 1-6 off-peak day travelcard -- which would cover the entire journey -- is only £13.10, which is more of an anomaly. The ticket machines really ought to offer those as alternatives while buying a return. (But the PAYG off-peak cap for Z1-6 is only £12.80, so card wins even there). Jun 25 '19 at 20:39

The Pay-As-You-Go fares you pay with Oyster or contactless are consistently cheapter than paper tickets.

According to the TfL single fare finder, the PAYG fare between Orpington and Charing Cross is £6.60 in the peak period, and £4.10 off-peak.

So you would most likely have saved around £4. If your return journey was was between 1600 and 1900, it would be less, but still a savings.

  • What a ridiculous lack of joined up thinking. I know that is rife across the National Railway network so it shouldn’t surprise me. Thanks.
    – Darren
    Jun 25 '19 at 20:15
  • And actually it was all off-peak so I’d have saved £6.
    – Darren
    Jun 25 '19 at 20:16
  • 3
    @Darren: The cheaper PAYG fares are not due to "lack of joined-up thinking" but a deliberate attempt to get people away from paper tickets. Jun 25 '19 at 20:19
  • Oh I know they do that for TFL fares. PAYG being cheaper than a travel pass for example. But this seems different by virtue of being two different systems, two different networks (National and TFL), two different pricing structures and yet the same journey.
    – Darren
    Jun 25 '19 at 20:26
  • @Darren: Actually PAYG fares also are on different scales according to whether you use National Rail or tube/overground, with a positively byzantine set of rules for pricing journeys that combine them. (See this and weep). But the £6.60/£4.10 here is purely a NR1 fare. Jun 25 '19 at 20:31

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