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This Weeks Walks

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Train Travel

Summary for travel on Weekends and Public Holidays

  • For 1 or 2 people, buy a Network Rail Card (£30, 1/3 off fares for up to 4 people, children £1).
  • For 3+ people, ask for a Groupsave ticket (1/3 off).
  • If you already have a London Zone season ticket, its straight forward, buy a train ticket from (say) "Boundary Zone 3" to your destination.
  • If you don't, and live near a train station, buy a ticket from your local train station direct to your destination (which includes discounted cross London travel by tube if necessary).
  • If you don't, and live near a tube station, buy a paper 1-Day Travelcard with a Network card discount. Its £7.90 (£8.40 for Zones 1-9 for Chilterns walks), available from the ticket office only, which open later on weekends...). It covers your tube fare into Central London, and by trains out to Zone 6. At a train station buy a second ticket from "Boundary Zone 6" to your destination.
    • Some train station ticket machines (eg. Southern) sell "Boundary Zone x" tickets. If there's a "Buy a ticket from another station" button, select it and type in a station name of BOU to bring up the "Boundary Zone x" options.

Current News / Special Offers

Railcards

  • Don't pay full fare! Check the terms and conditions on the Railcard website and buy whichever card will get you discounted train fares (generally 1/3 off)
  • Network Railcard: All the book walks, and most of the SWC walks are in the area covered by the Network Railcard, so buy this if you are not eligible for any of the other cards; it costs £30 for a year and the discount applies to up to four people travelling together, but…
  • Annual season ticket holders : A Gold Card gets equivalent discounts with fewer restrictions without needing to buy a separate Railcard; they can also buy a Network Railcard for a partner or friend for £1
  • Other railcards are: Senior (60+), Young Persons (under 26 and students), Family (travel with 1+ children)

Ticket Types

  • Buy Off-peak day return tickets wherever possible - this is what you'll usually be offered. See separate advice below for Weekday Walks. If the walk returns from a different station, check the advice in the walk document and/or ask at your local station
  • Super Off Peak day return tickets: Some rail companies offer special fares, eg. at the time of writing there is a 'FCC trains only' fare for travel to stations between Three Bridges and Brighton. The best way to find out about these is to search for the journey (starting from London - all stations) on the Network Rail timetable website, and then click fares
  • Advance tickets: Be wary, as they are inflexible - you have to specify both the outward and return trains when you book, and you may not be permitted to break your journey at an intermediate station

Long term special offers

  • Groupsave tickets: (1/3 off for 3+ people) are worth considering if you are travelling with friends and particularly if none of you has a Railcard, but you have to travel together for both the outward and return journeys
  • "FCC only" (was Thameslink) tickets from St Pancras/London Bridge south towards Brighton are ~ 50% cheaper on weekends than "normal" (any company) tickets.
  • Southern Train's 1-day off-peak passes: DaySave (£14, or £28 for 4 people) and Downlander (includes some buses - online only)

Season Ticket Holders

  • If you have a season ticket covering (say) Zones 1-3, buy a ticket from "Boundary Zone 3" to the destination; these aren't available from most ticket machines but you can buy them from any National Rail station to avoid queueing at a busy London terminus
  • If your season ticket is loaded on an Oyster card and the destination is within the Oyster area, buy an Oyster Extension Permit before you start your journey

If you don't have a Season Ticket...

  • If your route involves a journey across London, consider buying a Zones 1-6 Travelcard plus a ticket from "Boundary Zone 6" to the destination; this is more flexible than a return ticket and can be cheaper
  • If you live near a train station, consider starting your journey from there. It is usually much cheaper to buy a ticket from there (which includes tube travel between London train terminus if necessary) with the railcard discount, rather than than tube tickets to/from the London terminus and the train ticket from there as well.

Weekday Travel (Monday to Friday excluding Public Holidays)

  • Cheaper "off peak day return" tickets (usually half price compared to rush hour prices) are not vaild before 9:30
  • Railcard discounts vary with each type of card, eg. Network Railcards have a minimum discounted fare of £13, and can't be used before 10:00
  • If you need to buy a ticket from your local station to central London or a connecting station (eg. East Croydon) and need to set off before 10am, consider these options:
    • Buy an off-peak day return (valid after 9.30am) from your local National Rail station to the destination
    • Use an Oyster card for your initial journey and then a discounted return ticket to the destination.

Daily Travelcards - the Gory Details

As of 2015, there are 2 types of daily 'travelcard'. Peak travel is cheaper, but off-peak is much more expensive!

Oyster Daily Price Cap

  • Oyster Card daily price cap is valid 1) at any time, and 2) on tubes, trams, buses, 'overground' trains, and and trains from Paddington, Marylebone, Euston and Fenchurch Street.
  • It is not valid on trains from Waterloo, Victoria, London Bridge, Kings Cross, Liverpool Street, St Pancras or City Thameslink. See this map
  • Costs vary per zone, e.g. Zone 1-3 is £7.50, Zone 1-6 is £11.70.
  • There is a 1/3 off-peak discount (weekends, after 9:30 weekdays) for Young Persons, Family, and Senior Railcards, i.e. not Network railcards
  • You must 'load' the 'price cap' onto your Oyster card in advance, as you will not be able to "touch out" at the Zone 6 Boundary on your train to the walk.

Paper 1-Day Travelcards

  • A paper only off-peak Zone 1-6 Travelcard is £12 (£7.90 with a Network railcard at weekends and public holidays). It is valid on all services (tubes, trains, trams and buses)
  • Tube stations only also sell a Zone 1-9 Travelcard (for Chilterns walks) for £13 (£8.40 railcard)
  • At tube stations, the discounted ticket is only available from Ticket Offices (which open later at weekends), i.e. not from machines. I can get mine from a newsagent next to the tube station that sells TFL tickets

General

  • Load the 'price cap' (for TFL fare train routes) or buy the Travelcard (for all train routes) at the start of your journey.
  • No travelcards or price capping is valid on the Heathrow Express or St Pancras High Speed Trains

Tourists and Visitors to London

  • If there are 3+ of you, it's easy - use Groupsave
  • Train tickets for these walks cost around £10 to £20, and a Network Card (which gives 1/3 off for up to 4 people) costs £30. It pays for itself after 4 trips or so.

Ticket Splitting

  • Ticket splitting can be useful way to save money if you are travelling a long distance by train. Split your journey into smaller chunks and pay less than an anytime or off peak return fare. There are several ticket splitting calculators on the web e.g. TicketySplit

General Advice

  • For destinations in the Amersham/Chesham area, a Zones 1-9 Travelcard is usually best; you can buy these at Underground stations (with the Network Railcard discount) and other TfL outlets but not at National Rail stations
  • Note the restrictions which apply to premium services like the Gatwick Express and Southeastern's High Speed Train; the fares are higher and "Boundary Zone x" tickets are not valid

11 comments:

Peter C said...

If you live in zone three or further out, note that with a Network Card you can apparently get a day travelcard covering ALL London Transport zones (1-6, plus A-D)for £4.80 at weekends: this is available, I am told, from tube ticket offices, but not from ticket machines. If used to get a reduction from the boundary of the outer LT Zone (6 or D as appropriate) this could save several pounds on train fares.

David C said...

Yes the £4.80 All zone travelcard can be bought at weekends from any tube station ticket office. Somebody told me about this a few weeks ago and I've made use of my network card to get this discount a couple of times. Still cost effective even if you are making a fairly short journey from a zone 1 tube station to a mainline railway station to then purchase a return rail ticket from boundary Zone 6 to whereever.

Anonymous said...

you can also buy these from the new ticket machines at Charing X, London Bridge and other southeastern trains railway stations

Tony Cantlay said...

Can anyone give further info on the '4 travel for the price of 2' offer mentioned ? I can't find it on any rail-related site.

Cheers (tony_cantlay@hotmail.com)

Sean said...

The "4-for-2" offer is called GroupSave (3 or 4 travel for the price of 2 at off-peak times). It may not be a national offer, and it may be withdrawn at any time. South of London I've used it recently on Southern and South-West trains, but I don't know if it's available on South Eastern. You're supposed to travel as a group but you actually get individual tickets with GRP-3 or GRP-4 printed on them.

Southern also promote DaySave, where if you book online 7 days in advance a group of up to 4 people can go anywhere for a day on Southern's network for £20 (just £5 each). If those who schedule extra walks on the South Coast in summer could give at least 10 days' notice, it would be possible to take advantage of this offer. But of course if it pours with rain on the day you lose out...

Andrew K said...

From the end of July 2006 There are also two types of 'Downlander' ticket offering combined Southern Rail and Bus travel for max £12.50. Might be useful for exploring the more remote parts of Sussex me thinks. See
Downlander
Visit South Downs dot com is also a useful site for linking transport anyway.

Wellfedmanwalking said...

Looks like Southern have someting going for May
http://www.southernrailway.com/offers/birthday-ticket-fiesta/

Anonymous said...

WATCH OUT ! If you are travelling with First Great Western - don't caught out with a PENALTY FARE..

More info here:
http://www.firstgreatwestern.co.uk/~/media/PDF/Buy%20before%20you%20Board.ashx

Buy a TICKET or Permit to Travel BEFORE you board the train.
FGW are hot on this.

Sean said...

National Rail stations don't appear to offer a One-Day Travelcard for Zones 1-9 (Amersham, Chesham, etc) but there's a clever way to get this. You have to ask for a One-Day Travelcard from Amersham to London Zones 1-6. This is labelled "Route: Zones 7-9" and is the same price as TfL's Zones 1-9 card, so it's effectively the same thing.

You can get this ticket online and from those ticket machines (eg. Southern's) which allow you to buy tickets from another station, although they do their best to hide the routeing information when you're choosing the ticket. Note that if you simply ask for a ticket from your local National Rail station to Amersham, you'll only be offered a standard cheap day return (less flexible and usually more expensive).

If your walk involves a station further out than Amersham (eg. Great Missenden), note that a Travelcard from GM to London Zones 1-6 is labelled "Route: via Chalfont & Latimer" and so would not be valid at Chesham. So, for the Chesham to GM walk, buy the Zones 1-9 Travelcard as above and a single from GM to Amersham for the return journey. Similarly, for the GM to Amersham walk, buy an extra single from A to GM on the way out.

Buying a ticket from a destination station outside the TfL boundary to London Zones 1-6 is normally about the same price as a standard Zones 1-6 Travelcard plus a day return from Boundary Zone 6 to the outlying station, so this trick is most useful when you can't easily buy a standard Zones 1-9 card.

Walker said...

See 15 January 2016 onwards in the FORUM comments above for interesting info about fares to Brighton.

Note also:

Be careful when buying Network Card tickets at ticket machines on bank holidays. On 28 December and 1 January, both weekdays but also bank holidays, the machines at several stations were still imposing the £13 Network Card minimum, which does not apply on bank holidays.

You selected Network Card and a new screen of fares popped up but you had to be sharp eyed to notice they were the same as the non-discounted fare.

When I pointed this out to ticket office staff they smirked, which shows they were aware of this. I am betting lots and lots and lots of Network Card holders simply paid 30% extra for their tickets on this day without noticing. Scandalous!

Anonymous said...

Hi,

Is this part of the website still up to date? For example, can you still buy TFL tickets from newsagents? Brilliantly organised SWC site, by the way. Cheers.