Coming from the north I have a train ticket that tells me its to London underground zone 1-2.

The directions when I booked said Old Street was my final destination.

I am wondering however. With the destination of this ticket can it be used to go anywhere within zones 1 and 2 or must I go to Old Street as directed? Why wasn't this mentioned on the ticket?

  • Which company is your train ticket purchased from?
    – Mark Mayo
    Commented Aug 6, 2019 at 4:25
  • And are you coming from another zone (eg 3-6) or a different city?
    – Mark Mayo
    Commented Aug 6, 2019 at 4:26
  • It's from the north of the UK. Purchased from.... LNER I think. Commented Aug 6, 2019 at 4:49

2 Answers 2


You can finish your journey at any Underground station in Zone 1 or 2.

You entered Old Street in the booking engine, but the national ticketing system can't sell tickets to a specific Underground station, so it sold you a (more flexible) alternative.

Bear in mind that once you've left the Underground, the ticket isn't valid for any further journeys, unlike a Travelcard.

  • 1
    Old Street (OLD) is a National Rail station (on the Northern City line, before the terminus at Moorgate), a member of the London Group for routeing purposes, and is considered a "London Terminal" when coming from the north, despite not being a terminal. I think the booking engine got this wrong, but only the people on RailForums.co.uk will know the true answer.
    – Calchas
    Commented Aug 6, 2019 at 19:42
  • @calchas that's a good catch - I'd forgotten the Northern City Line was National Rail. I think you're right, this is a real edge case for the ticketing logic.
    – Joe Malt
    Commented Aug 7, 2019 at 1:04
  • Old Street has both national rail and london underground services. AIUI the "london terminals" ticket would only be appropriate if the traveler was arriving at old street on a national rail service avoiding any tube travel. If the traveler arrives at moorgate on a london underground service then the underground zone ticket would be the appropriate ticket. Commented Aug 7, 2019 at 4:10
  • 1
    @Peter Green The quote in the other answer implies that it's fine to use the Underground, as it mentions a "direct journey from King's Cross St Pancras to... Old Street", which is definitely a tube journey.
    – Joe Malt
    Commented Aug 7, 2019 at 4:26
  • 1
    Ah missed that bit, presumablly it's a hangover from when thameslink services to moorgate were withdrawn. Commented Aug 7, 2019 at 15:53

After arriving at the mainline terminal station from your origin, you will be able to use your ticket for a single journey to a London Underground station anywhere in zones 1 or 2. This includes Old Street (which is in zone 1).

After exiting a London Underground station, your ticket will no longer be valid (and the barriers will mark it electronically to indicate this).

Tickets to London Underground destinations from outside of London are grouped together into "zonal" destinations, as you've found. This reduces the number of different fares that the ticketing system needs to accommodate, and also offers some added flexibility to the traveler. (Travelling back out of London, it may be more convenient to start your journey at another station in the same zone such as Barbican or Angel rather than walk to Old Street, or pay an extra fare.)

Ticket prices for travel to a zonal destination in London are calculated by starting with the fare from your origin station to "London Terminals", and adding on a fixed rate according to the zone (£3 each way for Zone 1-2 as of 2019).

In the case of Old Street and Moorgate, because they are considered to be London Terminals for travel from the North, and they have had a mixture of Underground and National Rail / British Rail services over the years, there is a historical entitlement to travel by National Rail to King's Cross, then continue by London Underground to one of those stations. This rule is not well documented in publicly available material, but here is the description given in Railforums UK's Ticketing Guide:

7.3.3 National Rail tickets valid on Underground/DLR


7.3.4 Validity to Moorgate and Old Street

If a National Rail ticket, with a destination/origin of London Terminals is valid into/out of King's Cross, then it is also valid for travel for a direct journey between King's Cross St. Pancras and either Old Street or Moorgate only. Break of journey is not permitted.

On this basis, if King's Cross station is a valid terminal for your journey (which is likely as you're travelling from the "north of the UK"), a ticket to London Terminals would be sufficient, as you technically don't need the £3 supplement for travel to a Zone 1-2 station. The journey planners used by online ticket retailers tend not to include these inter-available routes in their calculations (see discussion on Railforums here), so they will add on the Zone 1-2 supplement anyway.

  • 1
    Also note that the Underground ticket barriers at both KGX and OLD often fail to recognise the journey as legitimate, so one often has to ask a member of TFL staff to let one through the barrier. The staff are very good, though, and I've not yet met one who doesn't know about the validity of the journey (which I make often).
    – MadHatter
    Commented Jun 5, 2023 at 2:03

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