Season Ticket Help From London Commuters Please

(Ben Green) #1

It’s looking very likely that I’ll be getting a job in London very soon. Three strong possibilities, one is in Shoreditch, one Whitechapel and the other near Great Portland Street.

I’m currently living in Kent (Ashford) and wondering what’s the cheapest and most effective travelcard.

If I get a TFL travelcard from National Rail it looks considerably cheaper than buying the Oyster and National Rail season tickets separately, but I think it might come as part of the printed paper ticket so would have to rely on the magstripe. My experience is the magstripe tends to fail before a full days use.

Could I get the TFL part of my season ticket on an Oyster card; OR even better, can the Southeastern Key card work as an Oyster card as well?

Also, can it automatically renew rather than me having to buy a new one before the end of every season?

(Hugh Wells) #2

I copy them :slight_smile:

Not sure :thinking: I don’t think so!

I believe that’s correct - is that the same Key card as Great Northern/Thameslink/Southern?

(Ben Green) #3

How you do this? :eyes:

Not sure, I’ve only ever seen Southern and Southeastern, but I’m inclined to say I think so.


There was a project to allow National Rail smartcards (on the ITSO standard) to operate on the tube (it was called ITSO on Prestige, Prestige being, I think, a name for the old technical underpinnings of Oyster). I’ve not heard anything for years on it - presumably it’s either working very well and very quietly, or was binned / paused in favour of contactless…

(Hugh Wells) #5

HiCo Magstripe reader/writer :wink:

Ditto. The Key was meant to be expanded up to Peterborough but I haven’t heard anything on that. I suspect it is because PBO has some non-standard ticket gates :roll_eyes:


So yes, The Key does support Oyster cards :+1:

(Ben Green) #6

Aha! Bit more digging, which I should’ve done initially :man_facepalming:

The Key can hold tickets between any two Southeastern stations. Tickets from Southeastern stations outside of the London travelcard area can also include a travelcard for you to use on the following:

  • London Underground services
  • Tram services
  • London DLR
  • London Bus routes – Some London buses are experiencing issues with their tapping in system however, please advise the driver of the ticket you hold when boarding.

It’s not any cheaper than the regular tickets from National Rail but so much easier!


My experience is the magstripe tends to fail before a full days use.

That’s not been my experience. I used weekly mag stripe season tickets and they’ve never failed me - was there something magnetic in your wallet/bag that could damage the cards?

(Ben Green) #8

I realised that’s the likely cause pretty soon. I was putting them in the phone case, so they would’ve been close to the debit cards and the case itself uses a magnetic clasp.

Last time I tried I kept the case and the ticket separate and it worked for a few journeys more than previous tickets but still not a full day.


was there something magnetic in your wallet/bag that could damage the cards?

I remember back when BlackBerries were popular, lots of people wiped their tickets by putting the ticket in the little pouch case the phone comes with. The case used a magnet to turn the phone on/off, which lined up perfectly with the magstripe on the ticket.

HiCo Magstripe reader/writer :wink:

Where do you get the stock with the magstripe in the middle? everywhere I’ve found has it on the edge (ISO 7813). I wondered about using plastic cards, but was worried about jamming a barrier with them…


Just to say that I found the Key to be unreliable: I once had it open the barriers for me at origin, but when I arrived at my destination it wouldn’t open the barrier. Apparently it hadn’t actually recorded the journey start, so had to pay a penalty fare (I appealed, appeal was refused, then appealed the appeal, or whatever, and was finally given my money back. But soooo much time lost…)

As such I’m not really comfortable with it anymore.

For the mag stripe: My paper ticket used to last anything from a few weeks up to several months, but I usually exchanged it about 2-3 time a year (I think the longest I ever kept a ticket was 10 months: by that time it was so faded that I thought if it did fail afterwards, noone can read it anymore, and I’d be in trouble.)

You can exchange your paper ticket at any time at any ticket office when the mag stripe stops working. Usually takes about 30 seconds.


Plastic cards would definitely not work, the mag stripe isn’t even in the right place and due to its thickness it could definitely jam in the barrier’s reader, though I expect them to have done their homework and planned for idiots to accidentally/maliciously stick a standard plastic smart card in, but I wouldn’t try it anyway.

(Hugh Wells) #12

Old tickets or some blanks I have.

Didn’t know that was possible - interesting :slight_smile:


Hm. If you travel with a copy of a ticket you are most likely not travelling with a valid ticket. Even if it has a mag stripe!

I’d imagine if you ever got caught, you’d be in a lot of trouble, because the ticket inspector would initially believe you are being a fraud!

I think going to the ticket office and exchanging it every now and then is probably not much more work, but much less risk.

(Hugh Wells) #14

Oh indeed :slight_smile:
However, for the purposes of going through a ticket barrier you can have have copies, for showing the ticket inspector you should present the actual ticket


Fair enough!


I still think the best solution would be a national Oyster card scheme, with full PAYG, season ticket, and travelcard support.

(Ben Green) #17

I’d just ask them to get the outbound station to check their CCTV.

From what I’ve seen pretty much every station has them around the gates now and the Ashford Int’ Station certainly does. Whatsmore, the ticket inspector and station staff tend to be very understanding when they fail. It used to happen a few times a month on my old route between two smaller stations, with two more in the middle and none of them had any gates installed.


I think this used to be limited to one replacement a year (though I might be misremembering)…


It’s one a year if you loose it. I have never had a problem replacing a failed ticket, as long as I still had the ticket to show.


Just to back this up:

We’ll replace faded or damaged Season Tickets free of charge. If it’s valid on Southeastern services, just bring it to any staffed Southeastern ticket office.

Source under heading “What can I do if my Season Ticket is lost, stolen or damaged?”

Edit: Better, less ambiguous source:

National Rail Conditions of Carriage, Page 16:

If a Season Ticket is damaged, or can no longer be read easily, or no longer works in
automatic ticket gates, it will be replaced by the Ticket Seller that sold the original ticket,
provided that it is still valid. You will not have to pay an administrative charge.

(Also, note that a “replacement ticket” is not the same as a “duplicate ticket”: The former is in case the ticket is no longer working, the latter is in case your ticket was lost or stolen. Understandably there are loads of conditions attached to the duplicate ticket process.)