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'Yay, Transport for London have put up their fares again.' Said no one. Ever.

Having lived in London for the past seven years, I think I'm finally starting to understand the overly complex nature by which one is charged for use of the transportation system here. Below, I've included some tips for using transport in London. These will be useful whether you've just arrived in the big smoke or you've been living here for some time already. Wish I'd known about these when I arrived!

Young Person's Railcard:

If you're aged between 16-25, buy a 16-25 railcard. This gives you discounts of up to 1/3 on many train journeys up and down the country and 1/3 off off-peak travel when using the Tube or the London Overground. In other words, you'll save on most off-peak journeys you take.

Cards currently cost £2.50 a month and you can purchase these online 16-25railcard.co.uk or from some Overground train stations. Once you receive the physical card you will need to present it along with your Oyster card at any London Underground tube station to be 'electronically attached'. You will then be able to take discounted Tube and Overground journeys.

It is worth noting that you can even apply for a three-year card prior to turning 24. If you are over 25 and are in full time study, you may also qualify.

Off-Peak vs Peak:

Depending on the time you start your journey, this will make a huge difference to the cost. Whether you travel during 'peak' times or 'off peak' times, the system calculates the fare according to the time you 'touch in' (the action required to open the ticket gate at your first station). Peak times for individual journeys are 6.30am - 9.30am and 4pm - 7pm.

All other times, 24/7 on the weekend and Public / Bank holidays are classed as 'off peak'. If you travel on the Tube from outside Zone 1 into Zone 1 during the afternoon peak period of 4pm - 7pm you will actually only be charged for an off peak journey (odd, I know).

Overground:

The London Overground is a fantastic service. Not to be confused with National Rail, the London Overground is the above-ground train service owned by Transport for London (the same company who own the Tube and London buses). It's the orange line on the Tube map. The trains are generally pretty clean and have heating and air conditioning.

In addition, the fares are usually cheaper than using the Tube. The main reason for this is when using the service you generally always avoid travelling into or through Zone 1. Travelling into or through (i.e.you don't even leave the train) Zone 1 will be considerably more expensive than if you avoid it.

Avoiding it will depend obviously on where you leave from and intend to travel to, however, as an example, from Willesden Green Overground station you can reach both Westfield shopping malls (Stratford and Shepherd's Bush), Heathrow and Clapham Junction all without crossing through Zone 1. The exception to the rule is Shoreditch High Street station, which is the only station on the Overground Network in Zone 1.

 


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