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Mazey Feb 25th, 2013 05:18 AM

England help- National Rail, Travelcards and Oyster
I have been trying to figure out the least expensive way to get around while I am in London in April. Most travel guides lay out what works best for people when traveling in London only, and I have an extra leg that seems to be complicating things. After using trusty old Google and getting more confused, I realize I need help from real people!

I will be taking the train from Chichester to London/Victoria on a Sunday. Monday through Friday I will be mainly in zones 1-2 in London like most tourists, but may want to venture out further (haven't set the itinerary just yet). On Saturday, I will take the tube from London to Heathrow (zone 6) to depart. After looking at the National Rail website for the Chichester to London leg, it says they accept Travelcards. If I buy a 7 day Travelcard for all zones, will that cover me from Sunday in Chichester all the way through Saturday heading out to Heathrow? Is it better to buy my Chichester to London ticket separately, then use the Oyster card after that?

I thank you all in advance, I seem to be spinning my wheels on the logistics!

jamikins Feb 25th, 2013 05:27 AM

First - are you only 1 person? If you are two or more the answer might differ.

Travelcards for London are only valid on the zones you purchase in the Greater London area, so are not valid to Chichester.

I would buy teh Chichester to London ticket separately from or at the station when you get there - not sure if there is any benefit or reduction in fare for purchasing in advance on that route - then get a 7 day (they dont offer 5 day) zone 1-2 travelcard and if you are only one person put it on the oyster with a bit of cash - say £5. Then use the oyster when going to Heathrow on Sat and the bit of cash will cover the difference from zone 2 - 6 where Heathrow is located. Then take the Oyster to the underground manned station and request your deposit refund along with anything left on the card.

If you are 2+ people you can get into 2for1 deals etc that complicate this so let us know.

janisj Feb 25th, 2013 10:00 AM

>>After looking at the National Rail website for the Chichester to London leg, it says they accept Travelcards<<

I <i>think</i> that means things like Senior travel cards, Family tc's etc. Basically pre-purchased 'passes' that let one buy train tickets at a discount. Nothing to do w/ London travelcards.

jamikins has clearly explained what you should do re an Oyster/London travelcard. And if it is still a bit confusing - just go to the ticket window in the Victoria <u>tube</u> station and throw yourself on the mercy of the ticket agent :) If you explain your travel plans s/he will sell you the right combination.

Mazey Feb 25th, 2013 11:17 AM

Thank you both for your responses. I think confusion set in because of the National Rail website mentioning Travelcards. The National Rail website says, "Travelcards can be issued in a range of zonal combinations and subject to the zones purchased, you can use your Travelcard on: tube, Docklands Light Railway (DLR) and National Rail services (but not Heathrow Express or Heathrow Connect services between Hayes & Harlington and Heathrow)." I assumed "National Rail services" would include the Chichester to Victoria run.

So, more details: there will be 3 adults traveling. There does seem to be a discount on National Rail if we buy ahead of time, so it appears the Chichester to Victoria leg is indeed a separate transaction from the rest of our touring time in London.

jamikins Feb 25th, 2013 11:40 AM

Yes, it will be separate.

When you arrive in London at Victoria go to the train ticket office (not the underground one for the tubes) and get three 7 day zone 1-2 for two of you. These are the same as the one you put on the Oyster card but are paper and will give you access to 2for1 deals listed here Oyster cards are not eligible for these deals. The tube ticket office cannot sell these, they only sell travel cards on oyster.

To get to heathrow just take your 7 day travel card to the counter and ask for ticket from zone 3-6 to heathrow and show them your paper travel cards.

jamikins Feb 25th, 2013 12:24 PM

Forgot to add if you go with the paper travel card you will all need passport photos.

flanneruk Feb 25th, 2013 02:07 PM

The word "Travelcard" has two meanings.

It refers to a paper ticket, sold within the Transport For London (TfL) area at railway stations, which offer prepaid access to various kinds of "all you can eat" travel plans within London. Additionally, through a series of complicated decisions, it now also offers foreign tourists cheap access to many tourist sites it wasn't designed to offer but no-one can be bothered stopping.

But the term is also used to describe a specific kind of railway ticket, sold throughout railway stations within ~100 miles of London, that offer a journey to London PLUS, for that day only, more or less unlimited TfL travel. I've never been able to get the National Rail website to give a price for this.

In my experience this second sort of Travelcard is available only as a return ticket (usually trivially more expensive that a single). If you're travelling into London, then intending to stay in London or move on to somewhere other than where you started, it's a red herring.

Just buy the best value single into town, then get the best value TfL ticket for your time in London when you're there.

Ticket machines in stations aren't good (to put it mildly) at helping you work your way round the ticket options. But in a substantial town like Chichester, the ticket office will be open and the seller will explain. On a Sunday, she or he'll have the time to do this as well.

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