Oyster card (pay as you go) on National Rail

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The acceptance of Oyster card pay as you go (PAYG) on National Rail in London, England, was limited to a restricted number of National Rail services[1] at the introduction of the stored-value product on London Underground in January 2004.[2] In response to an offer from Transport for London of funding to the train operating companies that have services within Greater London, plans were made to expand its acceptance across the rail network in London,[3] and it was expected that by February 2009 TFL would announce plans for all suburban trains to accept the card.[4] In May 2009 London TravelWatch indicated it had discovered that the works were unlikely to be completed until 2010.[5] On 23 November 2009 the GLA announced that from 2 January 2010 the vast majority of rail services in Greater London would accept Oyster PAYG.[6]


The Oyster card was launched in 2003 with the facility to hold season-ticket Travelcards, accepted on both London Underground and National Rail services. In January 2004, a PAYG product was launched for use on London Underground and DLR, but only a limited number of National Rail operators accepted the product on parts of their routes, usually because their tickets were interchangeable with London Underground ticketing under long-standing agreements. Transport for London (TfL) and National Rail publish lists and maps of routes and stations where PAYG is valid.[1][7]

In May 2006 TfL and the Department for Transport agreed a £20 million funding package for train operators to install the equipment necessary to accept PAYG at all London stations.[8] The package was not taken up by any train operating companies and in September 2006, the South West Trains franchise was renewed by the Department for Transport with the condition that smartcard ticketing must be in place by 2009.[9] In November 2007 the metro routes operated by Silverlink were brought under the control of TfL and operated under the brand name London Overground, accepting Oyster PAYG.[10]

A necessary precursor of the acceptance of Oyster PAYG was the introduction of zonal single fares on the National Rail network in London; this was implemented in January 2007.[11] Also in January, the then Mayor of London Ken Livingstone announced that he required operators to sign up by 31 January 2007 in order to receive the funding package offer.[12] c2c and Chiltern Railways accepted the deal and on 31 January 2007, a commitment was made by ATOC, in principle, that all other operators would eventually accept the PAYG product.[3] According to ATOC, roll-out plans were subject to the installation of suitable ticket gates and back office equipment at all 330 stations. A 2009 date was set out for this to be finished by.[13]

Current acceptance and future schedule[edit]

The acceptance of Oyster PAYG on National Rail has now been implemented across the Travelcard area (Zones 1-9), and at additional stations including Watford Junction, some Abellio Greater Anglia stations and c2c stations at Purfleet, Ockendon, Chafford Hundred and Grays. Oyster PAYG is not valid on Heathrow Connect between Hayes and Harlington and Heathrow Airport, Heathrow Express. Oyster PAYG is now available on Southeastern highspeed between St Pancras International and Stratford International stations only.

TfL and BAA studied acceptance of Oyster PAYG on BAA's Gatwick Express and Heathrow Express in 2006, but BAA decided not to go ahead.[14] However, since then Oyster PAYG has been introduced between Gatwick and central London.

In October 2007, it was agreed by all National Rail Operators who operate services in London to implement the scheme by 2009 at the latest, as a result of both pressure from passengers and TfL. An agreement was reached with TfL to accept Oyster PAYG at all National Rail stations in Greater London. As a result of this implementation, ticket barriers with readers have been installed at some National Rail stations to prevent fare evasion, for example, London Waterloo from 2008.[15]

It was announced in late 2009 that all London National Rail services would accept Oyster PAYG from 2 January 2010, although fares may not be the same as for a comparable Tube journey.[16]

In the Chancellor's Autumn Statement in November 2011, expansion of the Oyster system was reported covering towns such as Guildford.[17] This appears to have been mistaken reporting, the Chancellor only referred explicitly to 'smart ticketing' being introduced, presumably the ITSO scheme being driven by DfT.

The current arrangement and planned implementation schedule is as follows:

Operator 2004 implementation[2] Expansion implemented[1] Zones 1—6 completed Expansion planned
Abellio Greater Anglia Liverpool Street to Walthamstow Central, Seven Sisters and Tottenham Hale (not at intermediate stations)
Liverpool Street to Stratford
2006: Stratford to Tottenham Hale and Seven Sisters
Jan 2008: intermediate stations[18]
2 January 2010: all remaining stations
2 January 2013: Turkey Street and Enfield Lock to Broxbourne; Harold Wood to Shenfield
19 October 2015 Rye House, St. Margarets, Ware and Hertford East[19]
c2c Fenchurch Street to Upminster
Liverpool Street to Barking via Stratford (not at Forest Gate or Maryland)
Jan 2008: Barking to Rainham[20]
2 January 2010: Upminster/Rainham to Grays
YesY None.[21]
Chiltern Railways Marylebone to Amersham
Marylebone to West Ruislip (South Ruislip only intermediately)
Jan 2008: intermediate stations [22][23]
April 2008: London Paddington to South Ruislip[24]
Great Western Railway Jan 2008: Ealing Broadway to Greenford (not at intermediate stations)
April 2008: London Paddington to Ealing Broadway (not at Acton Main Line)
Sept 2008: remaining stations[25]
YesY TBC: Heathrow Connect services between Hayes & Harlington and Heathrow [26]
2018: West Drayton to Reading [27]
London Midland Euston to Harrow & Wealdstone 2007: Watford Junction to Harrow & Wealdstone[28] YesY
London Overground Euston to Harrow & Wealdstone
(not at Kilburn High Road or South Hampstead)
Gunnersbury to Richmond
Stratford to Canning Town (closed 2006)[1]
2007: all remaining stations
YesY Any future lines that become part of London Overground.
Southeastern Elephant & Castle to City Thameslink [29] 2 January 2010: all remaining stations
31 July 2015: St Pancras International to Stratford International on HS1.[30]
6 September 2015: Dartford.[31]
9 March 2016: Swanley
Southern 2007: Clapham Junction to Watford Junction
November 2009: London Victoria to Balham [32]
2 January 2010: all remaining stations
11 January 2016: Horley, Salfords, Earlswood, Redhill and Merstham[33]
YesY TBC: Reigate
South West Trains 2 January 2010: all stations YesY TBC: Hampton to Shepperton [27] According to SWT, rollout is on hold for unknown reasons.
Thameslink and Great Northern Kentish Town to London Bridge, Elephant & Castle or Moorgate
Finsbury Park to Moorgate or King's Cross
2007: Kentish Town to West Hampstead Thameslink[34]
2 January 2010: all remaining stations
11 January 2016: Horley, Salfords, Earlswood, Redhill and Merstham[33]
YesY By 2018: Elstree & Borehamwood to Luton Airport; Crews Hill to Hertford North and Hadley Wood to Welwyn Garden City[35]
TfL Rail 31 May 2015: all stations YesY

See also[edit]


  1. ^ a b c d "Oyster Pay As You Go (PAYG) on National Rail" (PDF). Association of Train Operating Companies. 24 September 2009. Archived from the original (PDF) on 22 November 2009. Retrieved 5 November 2009. 
  2. ^ a b Transport for London, Your Guide to Oyster, (2004)
  3. ^ a b "Train operators' Oyster acceptance welcomed". Transport for London. 31 January 2007. Archived from the original on 18 May 2008. Retrieved 16 July 2008. 
  4. ^ "Oyster cards to be rolled out to every London line". The Evening Standard. 27 January 2009. Retrieved 28 January 2009. 
  5. ^ Jo deBank (May 2009). "Watchdog fury at Oyster delay". London TravelWatch. 
  6. ^ "One ticket for London as Oysterisation of rail and river confirmed". The Greater London Authority. 23 November 2009. Retrieved 16 December 2011. 
  7. ^ "Oyster on National Rail". Transport for London. Archived from the original on 4 July 2008. Retrieved 16 July 2008. 
  8. ^ "Transport Secretary and Mayor of London Announce New Deal for Rail Passengers". Department for Transport. 10 May 2006. Retrieved 16 July 2008. 
  9. ^ "Department for Transport Announces Winner of South Western Franchise". Department for Transport. 22 September 2006. Archived from the original on 21 April 2012. Retrieved 30 November 2011. 
  10. ^ "Introducing London Overground - a new era for London Rail". Transport for London. 5 September 2006. Retrieved 10 June 2011. 
  11. ^ "Smart Rail Ticketing in London a Step Closer with New Zonal Fare Structures". Publictechnology.net. 23 October 2006. Retrieved 16 July 2008. 
  12. ^ "Rail Firms Urged to Accept Oyster". BBC News. 9 January 2007. Retrieved 16 July 2008. 
  13. ^ "ATOC’S position on Oyster pay-as-you-go and the offer by Transport for London". Association of Train Operating Companies. 31 January 2007. Retrieved 16 December 2011. 
  14. ^ "Oyster Pay As You Go on Heathrow Connect - a Freedom of Information request to Transport for London - WhatDoTheyKnow:". Whatdotheyknow.com. 11 January 2012. Retrieved 12 January 2012. 
  15. ^ "Oyster Cards Launched on Rail". BBC News. 1 October 2007. Retrieved 16 July 2008. 
  16. ^ "Overland trains to accept Oyster". BBC News. 23 November 2009. Retrieved 3 January 2010. 
  17. ^ "Better roads, rail travel and new river crossings in spending boost for London". Evening Standard. 29 November 2011. Retrieved 30 November 2011. 
  18. ^ "National Express to Extend Availability of Oyster Pay As You Go". National Express East Anglia. 22 February 2008. Retrieved 30 November 2011. 
  19. ^ "Hertford East Extension". Abellio Greater Anglia. Retrieved 16 November 2015. 
  20. ^ "c2c Storms Ahead with Introduction of Oyster". c2c. 17 January 2007. Archived from the original on 2 March 2008. Retrieved 16 July 2008. 
  21. ^ (PDF). DfT. 19 April 2010 http://www2.dft.gov.uk/consultations/archive/2010/2010-09/consultation.pdf. Retrieved 10 July 2011.  Missing or empty |title= (help)
  22. ^ Kobie, Nicole (1 February 2007). "London Railways to use Oyster Prepay". ITPro. Retrieved 16 July 2008. 
  23. ^ "Mayor Welcomes Oyster Deal with Chiltern Railways". Transport for London. 23 January 2007. Retrieved 11 June 2011. 
  24. ^ "Oyster pay as You Go (PAYG) on National Rail" (PDF). Transport for London. 20 April 2008. Archived from the original (PDF) on 13 September 2008. Retrieved 16 July 2008. 
  25. ^ "Oyster pay as you go now accepted at all First Great Western stations in London". Transport for London. 25 September 2008. Retrieved 30 November 2011. 
  26. ^ "Commissioners Report" (PDF). TfL. November 2008. Retrieved 7 November 2008. 
  27. ^ a b "Item 8 - Oyster on National Rail - Progress Update" (PDF). Transport for London. 8 February 2011. Retrieved 10 June 2011. 
  28. ^ "Oyster Agreement". Watford Observer. 16 November 2007. Retrieved 16 July 2008. 
  29. ^ "Oyster Card and National Rail". National Rail. Retrieved 16 July 2008. 
  30. ^ "Oyster extended to Stratford on our high speed services". Southeastern Railway. Retrieved 25 August 2015. 
  31. ^ "Contactless payments and Oyster extended to Dartford". TfL. Retrieved 7 September 2015. 
  32. ^ "Using Oyster Pay as you go from Clapham Junction". Southern Railway. Retrieved 16 July 2008. [dead link]
  33. ^ a b ""Pay as you go to get to Gatwick"". Tfl. 11 January 2016. Retrieved 27 January 2016. 
  34. ^ "Meet the Directors". First Capital Connect. Archived from the original on 27 September 2007. Retrieved 16 July 2008. 
  35. ^ "GTR (Govia Thameslink Railway)" (PDF). July 2014. Retrieved 2014-07-14.