Friday, December 04, 2015

Free travel on national rail for under 11s - beware the small print!

Back in November, the mayor Boris Johnson announced something that a lot of us with young children living in South East London have been waiting for a long time - free travel on national rail for under 11s, bringing them into line with the tube and other services. This was widely reported and welcomed.

But beware the small print that the reporters missed! Unlike our counterparts in north London, parents of children south of the river will need to obtain a 5-10 Oyster Zip card in order to benefit from this, otherwise we will be charged the child paper ticket fare (currently £1.45 for a single from zone 3). The cost of this is £10 per child.

We already have them because they were worth having to reduce the cost of a single journey on national rail to 75p, but I suspect many other parents won't. It's likely many will just have heard the general announcement, maybe seen it in the paper and will assume their child can travel freely with them as they do on buses, DLR etc now. This could lead to many being hit with a penalty fare without realising they were doing anything wrong! I certainly hadn't realised we would still need the Oyster Zip cards in the new year until I received an email from TfL yesterday.

So while the change is welcomed, we are still being penalised for living south of the river, as if we weren't penalised enough by having to use Southeastern, Southern and Thameslink!

If you're a parent of a 5-10 year old, or you know someone else who is, do let them know about this change! Forewarned is forearmed and all that.


Daniel Hewitt said...

Looks like a card is only needed if the child is travelling without an adult or looks over 10:

Clare said...

That's misleading, it only applies to NR services that currently allow free travel for children. On the new NR services (like southeastern, southern, SW trains, bits of Thameslink, some north London big railways) a zip card is always required. See: