I didnt think I’d be writing about Crossrail soon soon after the last post I did, however this is being done because it seems there are some small myths being perpetuated about what the fares structure actually entails on the 15th December and then from the 2nd January 2020.
By large those reporting the new line’s services and fares seem to have got things considerably right with the exception of some small detail that could well be costly for those who are not aware of the differences. It will be seen the publicity surrounding the Crossrail fares to Reading isn’t all what it seems to be.
For example (as the tweet below shows) GWR had operated a special discount for people from Burnham and Taplow who worked at Slough Trading Estate. It wont be available under the TfL regime thus these people’s fares are going up.
Special discounts being withdrawn for when TfL Rail comes on stream from the 15th.
There is also confusion over the Oyster cards/paper tickets/contactless methods, however I wont be dwelling on this (with the brief exception of Oyster) as it has been covered in great depth on various forums, blogs and in the media.
What I will be doing is looking at the stuff that hasn’t been said.
One of the things that has puzzled me is the way things have been presented as if TfL Rail is undertaking a completely different operation west of London compared to those services it operates to the east of London. However TfL’s operations out of Paddington are not a different kind of service at all. They share the same fares structures as GWR (with some slight exceptions for Heathrow) because both east and west services are in fact part of the national rail network. The quirks are in the smaller detail.
The legislation says that TfL has to operate its services out of Paddington with the same fares structure as GWR – with the latter largely setting the fares. That alone means there will be some interchangeability allowed between the two sets of services – depending of course on certain conditions. The full set of conditions are yet not known (eg fares capping for example) as these haven’t been set out in their entirety yet and that probably wont be till February or even March 2020.
What we shall be discussing here will for example be the news that children under eleven will be allowed free travel between Paddington and Reading. Its excellent news – but it will only apply to TfL’s services.
This is applicable in all situations including those living in Berkshire who will purchase tickets to London thinking the rule applies across the board – eg on both GWR and TfL services. It doesn’t. To benefit the concession of free under elevens travel its clear families must use TfL’s services. The maximum number of children by the way will be four per adult. Any higher and one will have to buy tickets anyway.
This is confusing especially when its being said rail fares between the two points will be interchangeable between both GWR and TfL. This interchangeability between the two different service operators is set out in TfL’s legal documentation – so we know the fares will be the same for either GWR or TfL services from Reading to Paddington.
But what it means is if one buys a ticket that uses GWR (because it the same price as TFL’s but on a faster service) the free under elevens concession wont be in place. It means one will have to get half price fares for their children! And if they do not have these then there is the likelihood of penalties.
It means one’s arrival at Reading and seeing a semi-fast GWR train to Paddington is on the display boards (better than a slow TfL service obviously) – and one then gets an adult ticket and takes their children on the GWR service thinking its a valid journey… except it wont be.
In short if one wants to gain the full benefits of the concessions one should attempt to stick to the TfL services only.
Its been made widely known that Oyster cards will not be made available to Reading. TfL sets out many reasons why this is. Its a complex situation – its not just what many assume – eg that Oyster is 15 years old and out of date. I leave this by way of an explanation from TfL’s own documentation why it simply will not be implementing Oyster beyond West Drayton…
TfL’s detailed explanation why it wont have the Oyster scheme extended to Reading.
Other issues revolve around the free concessions (such as the Freedom Pass.) These will be valid only after 9.30am and all times at weekends if for example one travelled on a GWR train from Paddington to West Drayton. It means if one took a GWR train instead of a TfL train outside these permitted hours there would be the risk of a penalty.
Even taking a GWR service within the Greater London area means every likelihood restrictions will apply to Freedom Passes.
Again, like the under elevens free concession, Freedom Pass users will do best to stick to the TfL services. First its because passes are not valid beyond West Drayton anyway. And secondly because of the need to avoid GWR’s services before 09.30am Mondays to Fridays.
A big question many wonder upon is why on earth are TfL doing Freedom Passes to Reading. Berkshire isnt even in London! The reason is simple. Its the legislation and its the same for the provision of services to Cheshunt and Shenfield. There are also restrictions on these routes (as there are on parts of the Chiltern routes) thus TfL cant legally practise an entirely different structure for the services west of London.
The London Councils have an agreement Freedom Passes can be funded as far as Slough (generally because it can be accessed via London bus services anyway.) In that respect the London councils are prepared to make up the difference in costs incurred for rail travel to Slough. The costs for the extension onwards from Slough to Reading however has to come out of TfL’s own pockets. Further the concession to Reading has to be implemented because of the legislation TfL is bound by. This means it cant operate a section of route with a totally different fares policy such as that beyond Slough.
A list of other concessions (Veterans, Armed Forces etc) which are also valid to Reading.
Its well known TfL sets capping on its fares and this is in fact in operation on the existing part of the TfL services from Paddington to Hayes and Harlington/Heathrow. It wont be implemented immediately for the services to Reading however.
What this means is there will be fare adjustments made necessary depending on what TfL has determined from the 2nd of January when its second stage of fares tariffs come in.
The Mayor of London’s legal authorisation for TfL to set the fares from 2nd January 2020.
That means even though contactless payments will be permitted there will be no capping to begin with. This is expected to take place sometime during early 2020 which means fares will be adjusted once again to allow for this capping – and means anyone who has paid more than they should have between the 2nd January and the date this capping is introduced will get back any excess that has been paid.
Anyone interested in the full documentation on TfL’s fares policies and the actual fares that will be charged from 2nd January 2020 will be advised to read TFL’s lengthy document – extracts of which which I have used in this post.