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Calm me down - cancelling paper travelcards?

Hello all,
We are in London July 11-18, 2024. We have our itinerary and planned to take advantage of the National Rail's 2-4-1 deals for several sites. We've done the maths, and the 7day travelcard was best. I understand we'd have to get the paper travelcard from the National Rail stations after arriving.

I just saw several posts that the 7 day travelcard is only available via (digital) oyster card as of Jan. 1st, 2024?
Can anyone with recent experience confirm if the paper travel card (7 day) is still available at the stations?

Slightly undone at the idea we'll have to rethink our planning...thanks.

Posted by
7012 posts

Sorry, but it has changed and the 7 day railcard is now only available on Oyster cards. Is there some reason you don't want to use an Oyster card? They are very handy and efficient, and you can buy them at Heathrow once you make your way to the Underground.

7 Day Travelcards
If you want to buy a 7 Day Travelcard, this ticket is only available on an Oyster card, not as a paper ticket. This means you will need to buy an Oyster card and get a 7 Day Travelcard loaded onto it.

If you live in the UK, you can buy an Oyster card before you arrive in London. If you do not live in the UK, you can only buy an Oyster card when you arrive in London.

https://www.visitlondon.com/traveller-information/getting-around-london/oyster

Posted by
1175 posts

They want the paper ticket because if you buy it from a national rail station it can be used for the 241 offers.

This is controversial on here but you could just buy return train tickets covering the period you are there that you aren’t intending to use. This can be done on any of several ticketing apps and won’t cost a lot. These will then be valid for the offers.

Posted by
5382 posts

Paper 7 day travelcard went off sale in June 2022.

In theory you can load them onto the various smart cards issued by national rail companies rather than the TfL Oyster but the difficulty for a visitor is getting hold of these as many are only issued by post. GWR Touch card is sold in stations though. Be an interesting test case ...

Posted by
6696 posts

Both the Elizabeth line and Heathrow Express are National Rail services.

The easy solution, and this will seem quaint on here, is to buy paper tickets on either at Heathrow (or on Heathrow Express in advance to get the Advance Rates and opt to collect at station so you get paper tickets).

Then do the capping merely on Oyster or contactless merely on Zone 1/2 while there.

The overall difference on cost is going to be fairly marginal. Especially compared to the 241 savings, and is the honest way to do it.

Posted by
5382 posts

Heathrow Express tickets are specifically excluded under the terms and conditions.

Not sure how you could get a qualifying paper ticket for the Elizabeth line either. Ones bought at Heathrow would be TfL branded.

Posted by
1175 posts

You don’t need to change your plans. There is way to do this but it will just cost a little more money.

Either you buy dummy train tickets, or you just pay the full entrance fees. If these are places you really want to see then it will honestly be worth the added expense.

Posted by
7626 posts

How many are you? We two just returned from England, and had great success with the Two Together Railcard we purchased before leaving the USA. The savings more than paid for the £30 pass. You just have to be traveling together, on the same train, and not during morning rush-hour.

The discount even applied to our Heathrow Express round trip tickets. We had a QR code on an iPhone, not an actual card. A great deal, if there’s an even number of you!

Posted by
18 posts

Thank you -
We are 6 persons - so the 2-4-1 deal was significant for our planning and savings. It allowed us to visit a few more spots and extend our budget (from simply paying listed price x 6).
Unfortunately, the railcard alone doesn't qualify (you also need the train tickets on the correct dates/returns).
Appreciate all the thoughts -
Jenn

Posted by
16874 posts

No need for the paper Travelcard to claim the 2-4-1 offers. You can use your train tickets into and out of London to qualify for the offer on all days between your arrival and departure.

If you are flying in to Heathrow, you can take the Elizabeth Line from the airport terminals into London to reach your hotel. The Elizabeth Line tickets qualify for the offer (Heathrow Express tickets do not). You can just buy them from the machines on arrival, and be sure to hold on to them. Note that the rail station platforms and the Tube platforms are in different locations within the terminal.

If you are flying into Gatwick, the Gatwick Express into London does qualify. And if you are departing London by train to York, Bath, etc., instead of flying, your train tickets qualify. But those ahead of time to get the good Advance fares.

Here is a more complete guide to what tickets qualify:

https://www.nationalrail.co.uk/days-out-guide/train-fares-discounts-and-ticket-validity/?_gl=1*ce6hta*_up*MQ..*_ga*MzQ0MTg2MzY3LjE3MTQ2NTk3NjI.*_ga_W9ZQD1SJP5*MTcxNDY1OTc2MS4xLjEuMTcxNDY2MDA5MS4wLjAuMA..

Note that the 2-4-1 offer often has restrictions, and not all attractions offer it. With some, you cannot buy timed tickets in advance; you have to show up and wait in line to purchase in person. And many offer the 2-4-1 pricing only with full price adult tickets (no discount for children).

For example, The Tower of London and Hampton Court Palace both have a single price for the 2-4-1 tickets, the regular adult price. Ad both say “Offer only valid with entry tickets purchased at entry”. So you go and wait in line.

Tower Bridge, on the other hand, requires you to purchase in advance, and does offer child pricing and family package pricing with the 2-4-1.

The London Eye does not offer 2-4-1 but instead “1/3 off”. You can purchase iin advance to get a time slot, and the child tickets are slightly less expensive than the adults for this offer.

You can see all the possibilities on this and other pages of the Days Out website. And you can download your vouchers (and purchase advance tickets where possible).

https://www.nationalrail.co.uk/days-out-guide/train-fares-discounts-and-ticket-validity/?_gl=1*ce6hta*_up*MQ..*_ga*MzQ0MTg2MzY3LjE3MTQ2NTk3NjI.*_ga_W9ZQD1SJP5*MTcxNDY1OTc2MS4xLjEuMTcxNDY2MDA5MS4wLjAuMA..

Posted by
7626 posts

Jenn, just throwing out a couple more things. I wasn’t aware of the 2-4-1 (Two for the price of one???) program, but with the Two Together pass, we often got train tickets on the spot at the station, right before departing - no need to prebook or have dates and times prearranged. We were able to apply the discount using a ticket vending machine at stations, but sometimes had a very friendly staffer help us with the machine, and a couple of times (when there was actually somebody at the window, which wasn’t always), bought them at the ticket window.

Also, for deals on attractions, we had a London Pass from Go City. We were there for more than 10 days, so were able to buy a 10-Day London Pass, which offered the best value. A pass for 1, 2, or 3 days is more expensive per day, and it would work best if you want to see lots of sights in a short time. Once activated, the Pass has to be used on consecutive days, and there were some attractions of absolutely no interest, but many that were. You choose what you want to see, from their App. Not every major sight in London and surrounding area is included, but we more than got our money’s worth, and ran out of time before we ran out of covered sights.

Posted by
3203 posts

There is something fishy about the London Pass website—-it is deceptive in the prices it states. For example, they say the price for the London Eye is £45 per person “normally”. Yet on the London Eye official website, it says the walk-up price is £42, and only £30 if you book early online. That matches with the 2-4-1 offer with Days Out, which as Lola mentioned is one-third off for this attraction, not 2-4-1. On that website you get the voucher snd buy the London Eye timed ticket for £20.

Does this mean the London Pass is charging 45 pass credits to see the London Eye? When you can get it for £20 with the Days Out offer? Not a good deal and not honest. Maybe this is the only attraction they do that with, but I still think it is deceptive.

Plus you would have to be a marathon runner to pack in all the attractions they suggest doing in one day, to show how much you can save with the pass. For example , on Day 1 they have you doing a HOHO bus tour, Westminster Abbey, Tower of London, and London Eye! When do you have time to eat lunch, or stroll through a park, or visit one of the wonderful FREE museums?

Posted by
16874 posts

Jenn, what is the age makeup of your group—-all adults? Or some children? And what are the major things you want to see and do in London?

Posted by
6696 posts

The deceptive pricing is common amongst City Passes, including the Seattle City Pass. I've looked at that one before and have just been doing so again on the back of this thread. Honestly I thought my maths was good, but I don't see where they get their comparator prices from. My brain is just in overdrive.
For the Space Needle they give an on the day price (which I don't agree with) but say you have to pre book with the pass, which presumably is cheaper.
The pass doesn't have a senior rate. Booked on your own the Needle, Chihuly and Argosy at least do, maybe other places.
Last time I looked I left with the feeling the Seattle pass doesn't work, at least for me. Presumably for some people it does.

Posted by
18 posts

@Lola -
We are 6 family members:
DH and me (50ish ;)
4 adult-ish kids (20-24)
and our 'little' one is 16yrs.
We're in London because the youngest one is playing futbol in a London suburb (without us). We've got a week to tour London when he's done. We'd like to hit the main sites (Westminster, St. Pauls, Tower/jewels) and the kids would like to try London eye. We're walking most places and staying near the Tower bridge. We'll supplement the paid attractions with some free ones (Sky garden, museums). We'll also be watching a bit of futbol/soccer (hopefully). If we had time, we'd like to tour one of the Premier League stadiums (depending on time/availability and cost).
Again - thanks for the help all,
Jenn

Posted by
6696 posts

And therein just might lie your answer.

Lola and I both believe that an Elizabeth Line ticket bought at Heathrow does have the National Rail symbol.

But the other option may be, that does the suburb where your youngest is playing football have a National Rail station?

If so you should be able to buy a groupsave return for all 6 or 7 of you from that suburb to its London Terminal station (and back). Groupsave gives a 1/3 discount over buying 6 or 7 individual tickets.

That may be a good way to get your two for one discounts. I have just done sample pricing from West Ham (on c2c) and Wimbledon (on South western) as examples.

Whether you all go to meet youngest doesn't matter. You might have done, so this is an above board (almost) purchase.

Posted by
7626 posts

The London Pass definitely needs to be evaluated before just buying it outright. And Websites for sights (which their App has links to) can help - actually, are essential - for figuring out the everyday admission prices, hours, and closed days of sights. The Shard view, which I’d never pay £30+ to do on its own, was included in the Pass, so it was already paid for, and was a very nice view. The ridiculous photos they took of us, with the option to purchase memories with a bogus background, was more amusing than offensive.

Other things on the Pass, many which we didn’t visit, were three football/futbol/soccer stadiums - one had an adventure climb where you harnessed up and walked the skyway over the field - a full day hop-on-hop-off bus, a full day of Uber boat, which would get you to/from Greenwich, plus several Greenwich sights and museums. St. Paul’s had a dedicated express line for London Pass holders to get in, but Westminster Abbey sent us to stand in a 40-minute queue. There’s Hampton Court Palace, Kew Gardens, and Windsor Castle, Kensington Palace, and the Tower of London. The Transport and Postal Museums, plus Charles Dickens, Florence Nightingale, and the fascinating Ben Franklin House. Globe Theatre tour (highly recommend), the Cortauld Gallery, and lots, lots more.

The King’s Gallery (which still has Queen’s Gallery etched into the stone above the door - some things need time to change - is expensive without the Pass, but a deal with it, same with the Royal Mews just down the street. I didn’t know about the Garden Museum (and its cafe, which overlooks a wonderful garden that includes the tomb of Admiral Bligh of Mutiny on the Bounty), but the London Pass made for an outstanding visit there. The Pass won’t be for everyone on every visit to London, but it sure worked for us last month.

Posted by
3821 posts

Since your original post was about the paper travelcards;
Just buy an Oyster card for each family member.
This is the easy way to just tap in when you get on the tube.
Tap out when you get off the tube.

There are machines all over London where you can buy these.
You can also buy them in visitor centers (such as the one across the street from St Paul's) and small grocery markets.
Do ride the London buses for transportation, too.
Sit upstairs by the front window for a great view of London streets.
https://content.tfl.gov.uk/bus-route-maps/key-bus-routes-in-central-london.pdf

The Oyster cards are good for the river boats, too. The Uber/Thames Clipper boats.
Just tap in with your Oyster card when you get on; tap out when you exit the boat.
https://www.thamesclippers.com/plan-your-journey/route-map

The riverboats are a good way to get from Westminster area to Tower of London area or onward to Greenwich.
Plus to many more destinations along the river.

Posted by
3821 posts

Cyn, have you written a trip report yet about your London trip? I've been looking forward to reading it, but cannot find it.

I am hoping you will tell, day by day, how you fitted in a bunch of sights each day using the London Pass. It would be interesting to see how many sights you were able to see per day and what transportation you used between sights.

How many days was your pass for? What did you pay for it, per person?

Posted by
16874 posts

Mind you, I have not found an image of the actual Elizabeth Line tickets, but everything about it says it will have the National Rail symbol. You can buy it on the National Rail website, but putting in Heathrow Terminal 5 (rail station only) to, say, Tottenham Court Road (a rail station as well as a Tube station). Choose the direct (no transfers) journey and proceed. The National Rail website sends you to the Crosscountry Train site to complete the purchase, and you get an “off-peak single” regular train ticket.

Ironically, the Heathrow Express ticket also has the National Rail symbol, although it is not valid for 2-4-1 purposes. I know this because I have our tickets for May 1 travel to Heathrow sitting right here (the ones we did not use because we canceled our trip). I offered to give them away on this website about a week ago, and the only response I got was to the effect of “don’t use the Heathrow Express—-take the Tube”.

Posted by
6696 posts

Very odd that National Rail sends you to Cross Country (of all people) to make the purchase for the Elizabeth Line. Equally I was looking at Northern Rail today and Elizabeth Line tickets can be purchased through their website as well, and then collected anywhere. But no rail company issues them as e-tickets.

I just find the utter hostility on this forum towards Heathrow Express totally frustrating. Sure it's not my choice, but it is a choice and if people want to take it, especially on advance tickets we should let them.

Depending on where someone is staying in London there are also other routes from Heathrow to central London which would give paper tickets for 2-4-1 (the original question) , but they are not apparently deemed suitable on this forum- even if locals use such routes.

Posted by
7626 posts

@ Rebecca - a full-scale trip report hasn’t been submitted. My husband, Scott, might be the one to tackle such a project, but it will be an undertaking.

He actually bought us 10-day London Passes, on sale for Black Friday in November, just after Thanksgiving. It was a very surprising Christmas present! They were several extra % off, even better than their usual promotional deals.

Posted by
899 posts

Heathrow Express works fine for some people if you get your tickets upfront. I think some people end up staying in Paddington because of it, so the hotels around there love it I'm sure.

I'd take the Elizabeth Line because it's a nice long ride on a new-ish train to some interesting stations. It gets the 2-4-1 problem right out of the way by the sounds of it too.

Futbol is a completely different game btw, largely played in South America I believe. It's generally football in the UK. I'm not sure how much luck you would have seeing a professional game, it's out of season for the football league in July.

Posted by
18 posts

Thanks all - good ideas.

@Rebecca - the Oyster is a good choice, but doesn't help the 2-4-1 problem, so I think we'll just go contactless.

@Lola and isn31c - Great idea about the 'Lizzie' line! I didn't even think about it. We were planning to take Piccadilly into city, but this would be an easy solution and fairly economical (only costing us a bit more per person). The 2-4-1 deal should offset that amount quickly. especially now that I won't be purchasing travelcards x 6.

@GerryM - None of the Prem leagues will be playing while we're there, but to see the stadiums would be awfully great. I think we'll get to see a few club games. Thanks for the grammar lesson (futbol/football/soccer). My native language still creates translation issues sometimes.

Thanks so much all,
Jenn

Posted by
899 posts

Ah sorry! I wasn't meaning to sound pedantic on the futbol thing! I'm sure all of the Premiership clubs in London will lay on a tour worth seeing if you're a fan.

Sounds like you're sorted for your 2-4-1, and keeping it pretty legit :) Would you not want to get paper tickets at Heathrow though, so you can wave them when you go to attractions?

Posted by
3821 posts

The Oyster card is only for traveling around London. Tube, bus, boat. (You'll need to travel around London.)

The train tickets are for journeys from one city or town to another....say from Windsor to London.....and those are what you will need for the "two for one" offers.

The two are entirely different. (Just clarifying so there's no mix-up.)

The Oyster card could never help with the 2-for-1 offers. It isn't meant to, and I have not indicated that it would.

Contactless is also fine for travel around London--Tube, bus, boat.

But I hope the links I gave will help you get around London using the bus routes and the riverboats! You get a great view of London using the riverboats!

Have a great trip!

Posted by
16874 posts

I have been searching for confirmation that the Elizabeth Line qualifies as a National Rail service, and it is confusing and ambiguous. The Heathrow T5 platforms for the Elizabeth Line and HEX are designated a “rail station”, and as I noted above, the HEX tix I have on hand do have the National Rail logo on them (but do not qualify for 2-4-1 offers).

Moat of what I came across is confusing discussions about fare rules for transfers between National Rail and TFL lines, and how this applies to the Elizabeth Line. These for example:

https://www.standard.co.uk/news/transport/elizabeth-line-tfl-tube-train-fare-capping-confusion-b1112507.html

Or this

https://www.railforums.co.uk/threads/national-rail-tickets-on-elizabeth-line-exits.252844/

Third post down says “though Tfl likes to pretend otherwise, the Elizabeth Line is a National Rail service”

The actual operator says it is a TFL service with interchanges to National Rail lines:

https://mtrel.co.uk/about-us/

But none of this answers the question of whether the National Rail logo appears on the Elizabeth Line tickets. Maybe someone who is there now can answer the question.

Posted by
5382 posts

The Elizabeth line is riddled with ticketing & other anomalies. For one thing it is not possible to buy a National Rail ticket valid to a named station in the core section (between Paddington to Liverpool Street) as that section is treated as if it were an Underground line add-on whatever its legal status is.

With a NR through ticket for a straightforward journey from a station in the west of the Elizabeth line to a station east of the core you should be able to break your journey at any station including the core, but again TfL staff won't let you.

You can't collect NR tickets at core stations either - I walked by a big notice outside of Tottenham Court Road station to that effect only yesterday, so they must be getting enough people asking about it to put one up.

In effect it is treated as NR when it suits TfL but as Underground when it doesn't, mainly to get more revenue.

Returning to the question of Elizabeth line tickets from Heathrow being valid for the 2FOR1 it should technically be possible to get them to Paddington but whether those issued by the ticket office there would be clearly National Rail is another matter which someone would need to check out. Having tried to buy them online, with many operators it comes up that there is no delivery mechanism.

Posted by
33310 posts

tickets bought with the 2 Together Railcard (or any other UK Railcard) are accepted for the railways 2-4-1 programme.

All you need is a ticket into London Terminals and one out which bracket the times you want to use the 2-4-1 programme for each person (in pairs), with or without a Railcard discount, and Advance tickets count, even mix and match.

If you have a specific question about what is acceptable, ask away.

Be aware also, this programme is not limited to London. It is not as dense with offers, but they are all over the country.

Posted by
6696 posts

If I lived in London (or anywhere near) I would have gone to Heathrow last night and definitively (for you and others in the future) answered the core question of whether tickets issued at Heathrow HEX/Elizabeth line station do or do not carry the National Rail logo- by buying a railcard single from Heathrow to Hayes and Harlington for under £5.
Because that is the kind of person I am- going out of my way to provide a definitive and clear solution, rather than a maybe or maybe not which this thread is presently.

If the answer was no, then a clear plan B could have been devised.

But that is what is needed now is for someone (traveller or local) to get that kind of yes or no answer.

I know that Hayes and Harlington and every other West London station on the Elizabeth Line have national rail machines. It is just the one at Heathrow that seems to be in question.

Posted by
18 posts

Hello all,
Thanks for the continued activity...
@isn31c (and Lola): You've really been terrific; thank you. If we don't get an answer about Elizabeth, I promise to post after our trips for others.

@Nigel: the railcards are wonderful, but the 90L cost (6 people) would almost eliminate the savings from the 2-4-1 attractions.

Jenn