How do peak/off peak times work on the TfL network with the Oyster card?

  • The section on TfL's website dealing with peak and off-peak times specifies the times but it doesn't specify if those are considered when card holders touch in or when they touch out.

    Say, I board a train at 18:45 from Euston and arrive at Watford Junction at 19:07. The journey started during the peak time but ended during the off-peak time. What fare will I be charged - the peak or the off-peak?

    I believe that it is when you touch in, but I am not completely certain.

    Probably, as it otherwise might be an incentive for people to travel extra long times just so they can touch in at a peak time and touch out at an off-peak time. But I couldn't find this explicitly clarified on TfL's website.

    @Nobilis: That's probably not a relevant consideration. The ticketing system assumes that _most_ people are just interested in getting from point A to point B and have no particular wish to ride around in peak-hour trains just for the fun of it. Someone who is okay with arriving at point B late would have more of an incentive to do something interesting at point A instead and then take a later train, than to take an earlier, fuller, train from A and then hang around waiting on the platform at B, even if both options would cost him the same.

  • I phoned TfL to find the answer to this. It's simple and straightforward:

    The rate depends on when you touch in.

    Peak fares apply from 06:30 to 09:29 and from 16:00 to 18:59 Monday to Friday (excluding public holidays). Off-peak fares apply at all other times. That is, if you touch in during those two three-hour periods, you will be charged the peak fare.

    If your journey starts in off-peak time but strays into the peak period, it's still an off-peak fare.

    Right, I guess that's as good as it gets, it would be nice if they were to put it up on their website.

    So it is the same as trains with reductions on the OV-chipcard in the Netherlands, but NS puts it loud and clear on the website. Check in after 8:55 and your journey is classed as after 9:00AM and goes as reduction, (so off peak.)

    Note that the specific journey mentioned, Euston to Watford Junction, benefits from contraflow off peak pricing. As shown in the Single Fare Finder, making this journey (in this direction) in the morning counts as *off* peak (because you are going against the flow)

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Content dated before 7/24/2021 11:53 AM