If I had a season ticket from the last station where Oyster/contactless cards are valid to a couple of stops further out and wanted to go back from London to the final stop covered by the ticket, I think the official answer is that I should:

  • Touch in in London (pay as you go).
  • Get off the train at the last Oyster stop, go to the station entrance and touch out.
  • Go back and take the next train 20-30min later to go the last bit.


  • Get a paper ticket for the TfL zone part at a higher price.

That is obviously not ideal - to put it mildly - to me the logical thing seems to be to use Oyster/contactless pay as you go and stay on the train. I am not sure why that really needs to be a problem for the Oyster/contactless ticketing, but I am happy to be educated.

My belief is that if I stay on the train and do not touch out, the highest fare may be charged (fair enough if it is for that route), but that this will not count towards the daily cap.

(I don't quite see why the latter point would be fair as only in the best case would you not be penalised even if the journey would count towards the cap. Perhaps my mindset is just missing the possible exploits.)

If all that is correct, is there any way to get around this, basically, can I set up the Oyster/contactless card to close the journey for the last station in the Oyster area for a regular trip (I have heard of automatic completion)?

Or would I repeatedly have to ask staff to close the journey?

  • 1
    I'm confused — how can you travel from London if your ticket is only valid from the last Oyster stop (which is presumably at the outskirts of London)?
    – gerrit
    Apr 28, 2016 at 17:41
  • 1
    You need to buy paper tickets if you want your tickets to be valid without validating them on the platform, unfortunately. Practically, you can just not touch out and correct the journey online later at tfl.gov.uk. Don't forget if you have an annual season ticket you are entitled to a one-third discount on your Oyster travel.
    – Calchas
    Apr 28, 2016 at 18:11
  • @gerrit - I would like to use the Oyster or contactless card paying as I go, which would be legal/valid, except you would appear to get charged a lot extra by TfL for not touching out.. for no particularly good/obvious reason that I can see.
    – nsandersen
    Apr 28, 2016 at 18:17
  • @nsandersen The reason is that there would be no record of your journey that proves you stuck to the route you paid for.
    – Calchas
    Apr 29, 2016 at 8:22
  • @Calchas (on first comment: The problem is not being able to touch out). On second comment: But I get charged for the longest possible journey, so if I "stuck" to a shorter/different journey, I would have cheated myself rather than the train operator. The journey is valid/paid for until the Oyster/contactless "terminal" station and paid for the rest of the way too. And in addition there is a time limit after which I would have to touch in again if I was trying to do multiple trips on the same "touch in"/ticket.
    – nsandersen
    Apr 29, 2016 at 8:44

1 Answer 1


The answer to your question is no. Practically, your option is to tolerate the maximum fare [in breach of the TfL conditions of carriage] and claim a refund, which will be granted unless you make a habit out of it.

6.8.5 [...] If you do not touch in at the start and touch out at the end of your journey, you may be charged a maximum fare and this journey will not be included in any daily capping. You may also be liable to a penalty fare or you may be prosecuted.

[My emphasis]

One reason for the policy, is that if you don't tap out, you cannot prove that you didn't travel out of the fare zonal system altogether on (for instance) a national rail service. In the past others have exploited this loophole to avoid paying National Rail fares. There are many open interchanges between local Transport for London services and long distance National Rail, in some cases they use the same platforms [for instance at Imperial Wharf station] and in other cases a train can hold both Oyster and regular customers until it leaves London and then it continues with non-Oyster customers only.

The "auto journey completion" happens at TfL's discretion when they decide to open alternative exits or entrances which don't have barriers. For example at Fulham Broadway, during a Chelsea football game, they close the main exit and open the fire exits to handle the large number of people coming through. In that case it is difficult to tap out [there are a few validators but the crowd will push you past them quickly], so TfL will guess who exited there and "auto complete" their journeys.

  • No or no option is a valid answer - thank you. But I am not trying to prove that I "didn't travel out of the fare zonal system". In fact I am openly admitting to wanting to do that! I just wondered whether I could then be charged fairly (compared to others) for doing so if I held a valid ticket for the rest of the journey (also). BTW, those conditions also say: "If you enter at one station and do not touch out at another, we may charge you a fare up to a maximum fare.", which is actually what I want.
    – nsandersen
    Apr 29, 2016 at 11:25
  • @nsandersen My apologies, it was not my intention to asperse you. You asked for the justification for the strict tap-out policy---I was giving a reasoning for that policy.
    – Calchas
    Apr 29, 2016 at 11:42
  • @nsandersen: The point of the anecdote is that the "maximum fare" you can be charged for a broken journey is not necessarily the same as the most expensive PAYG fare for a completely registered journey that could possibly start at the point where you tap in. (Also, consider that the Oyster system doesn't know which train you're on, only which gateline you entered through - there may be many different possible "highest fares" for trains going in different directions from there, including ungated interchanges on the way). Apr 29, 2016 at 11:46
  • @Calchas - That's fine - discussing things helps get to the answer, which appears to be "not possible to do what I want". I could probably have phrased things more clearly also!
    – nsandersen
    Apr 29, 2016 at 11:59
  • @Henning Makholm: OK, I guess TfL can reserve the right to be obtuse about which maximum fares they might charge and I can see why it might be complicated in general now that we have 6 zones in some directions, 9 in others and Oyster/contactless fares outside the zones in other places again.. In my case there is a logical place to calculate a maximum fare to after you have touched in to the National Rail part of the station (that would be the station furthest out on this line where you can touch in with Oyster/contactless), so I didn't consider it that complicated.
    – nsandersen
    Apr 29, 2016 at 12:06

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