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Woking to London, HELP!

Hello, we are visiting London mid Oct, staying in Woking. SO confused on transportation options! Just now realized it is out of the zone for Oyster card. Seems the South Western Railroad is the only option, and it is so pricey! So now do we have to buy tickets on BOTH to get to tourist attractions in London? Are there any other options? Could we drive closer in to get to an Oyster served station, or is traffic too bad and parking too expensive? Thanks!

Posted by
2746 posts

I guess the obvious question is, would you be able to change your home base from Woking to central London, or at least to someplace closer in? Hotels will be more expensive in the more desirable central London neighborhoods, so the amount you'd spend on railway tickets might zero out, but you would save time not having to "commute" each day from Woking to see the sights of London.

Posted by
5632 posts

Did you choose Woking because of the accommodation price?

I’m sure you’ll get more info in the morning after our across the ocean posters take note of your predicament.

Personally unless there’s a huge cancellation fee I’d seriously rethink and rebook somewhere closer to London within Zones 1 & 2. You will spend far too much transport time and money making the journey into London to see the sights if you stay in Woking.

The answer to your question about BOTH...is yes you’ll need to buy bus or train tickets and Oyster Cards. At least the Oyster has a five pound refundable deposit. I

Posted by
12490 posts

Could we drive closer in to get to an Oyster served station, or is
traffic too bad and parking too expensive?

Sounds like the OP is traveling with a car. Dunno but that might be a factor where staying in or closer to center is concerned?

Posted by
16056 posts

Have you spent any time researching the South Western Railway website? There could be some deals with Groupsave tickets if there are 3 or more of you. You could go into London later and come back later to save money. Maybe buying tickets only as far as Surbiton and then switching to the Oyster card.

Posted by
4748 posts

Woking is a prime commuter town, so peak rail travel prices will be expensive and the trains will be packed! I don’t know anyone who commutes from there to get an idea about whether or not you would get a seat if you are travelling rush hour or if you would have to stand.

Looking at peak travel from there ie before 9.30 am, it’s only £21.70 return per day. I say “only” as I commute into London from Kent and my equivalent fare is £37.40 per day, but commuters have season tickets.

Travelling after 9.30-10am will drop the price significantly - my £37.40 drops to £12.50.

If you are staying for a week, a weekly season ticket will be slightly cheaper.

Driving nearer London isn’t a good option, as you will get stuck in traffic and most station car parks are £5 a day and upwards. You won’t be able to park on streets near stations, as these will have parking restrictions, otherwise everybody would be doing it!

Posted by
4528 posts

Woking is somewhat of an unusual choice if you are just visiting London, but you must have your reasons I guess.

A 7 day travel card, which would cover all your travel in London Zones 1-6 as well costs £101 and will be the cheapest and most convenient for 5 days or more and you can travel at any time. You will need a passport photo. You can take advantage of the 2for1 deals.

There may be cheaper ways depending on your precise travel pattern, number of people etc.

Posted by
29 posts

My apologies, I should have given more information. We are house / pet sitting in Woking, so cannot change our accommodations. We will have a car. Thank you all !

Posted by
25746 posts

Fast trains from Woking to Waterloo take just a smidge over half an hour.

You likely will be after the first weekend strike 5,6th October, on SWR, but be extra careful because I expect others, and of course as Woking is a key part of SWR it will be affected if and when.

How do you intend to get to Woking station for your journeys?
If you intend to park at the station, plan for it to be very busy, and here is the information about it:-

Oriental Road car park;

Weekend tickets available after 1100 Friday £8.00

Off Peak from 1100 Monday to Friday

Opening hours
Monday - Friday 24 Hours a Day
Saturday 24 Hours a Day
Sunday 24 Hours a Day
Number of spaces
570 with 6 accessible spaces available Accessible car park equipment
Wheelchair users may require assistance using car park equipment at this station

Daily rate £11.00, Off peak rate £4.00, Saturday rate £2.00, Sunday rate £2.00

Weekly rate £54.60

Posted by
25746 posts

A little bit of a conundrum which you will have to see how you respond to...

The fast trains in the morning get into London in one leap, but they originate elsewhere so may well be a tad busy by the time they reach you.

The slow trains often originate at Woking, but stop a lot.

So fast and stand or slow and sit?

Or travel before the peak.

Coming out of London in the evening is likely to be crowded.

Do you take rush hour trains where you live?

Posted by
2746 posts

Here's an important bit of advice about house/pet sitting, assuming you are entering the UK as a tourist/general visitor: When you go through passport control, just tell the officials you're visiting friends. Do not say you have any sort of responsibilities that could remotely be viewed as work. Otherwise you could run afoul of the laws that prohibit foreigners from working in the UK without the necessary work permit/work visa.

Posted by
29 posts

Jennifer and Harley, please calm down, we aren't breaking the law, we are not getting paid to house / pet sit. We are doing someone a favor, as they are doing us a favor letting us stay there. Thank you to everyone else for all the advice!

Posted by
25746 posts

actually you are not required to be paid to be considered working.

I'm sure that you have worked out those hurdles.

Posted by
4528 posts

A third party with a relationship with a visitor can provide funds, maintenance and accommodation to visitors.

The only scintilla of difficulty here is the 'pet sitting' aspect which might be construed by an officer as providing goods and services if the people aren't actually personally known. It isn't difficult to find on the internet people who claim to have been excluded on these kind of grounds, but not necessarily all the pertinent facts and associated previous immigration history that might surround such a decision.

Posted by
16056 posts

That is exactly why any lawyer will tell you to answer questions honestly, but simply.
Q. "What is the purpose of your visit, business or pleasure?"
A. "Pleasure."
Q. "How long will you be staying?"
A. "One week."
Kerchunk. (sound of passport being stamped)
"Have a nice trip."
That is not lying or breaking any laws. Just no need to get into messy details.

Posted by
4748 posts

You don’t need to be paid, as you are getting payment in kind ie free accommodation. It’s still not legal, as technically you are entering here for business purposes ie house and pet sitting!

Posted by
29 posts

For Heavens sake I simply asked for information on how to get from Woking to London. This was not supposed to turn into some political discussion. I'm not bringing drugs into London. I'm not moving there illegally. I am staying one week. A friend is having me pet / house sit. For those who suggested I simply say "pleasure trip" in the airport to avoid confusion / complications, thank you. For those who are worried about my entering the country "illegally", please find something more worthy to worry about. I am sorry I ever said what I was coming for. Good grief.

Posted by
1033 posts

I second the "good grief." If the OP was barred from entering on the dubious claim that she was illegally working, what would her poor friend do about ensuring her pets were cared for? This is legalistic craziness.

If the passport agent asks where you are staying or why Woking, a truthful answer is that you have a friend who lives there. Any pet sitting you might do is simply incidental. I suspect your friend would let you stay even if he or she had no pets. If staying in someone's home is a problem, then how could anyone in the UK entertain guests from another country? We've stayed in a friend's flat outside London before and it never entered our minds that there could be a problem. It is not like we were using an unlicensed AirBNB.

Posted by
4748 posts

Sorry if my comment ruffled some feathers.

(A) You didn’t say it was for a friend - many do this on a professional basis as the way to get a cheap holiday.

(B) I did give you advice earlier on your train query! Hope you have resolved this issue.

Posted by
1838 posts

You may like to know that you can go by direct train from Woking to Bath. The train leaves at 9.46 & takes 2 hours to reach Bath. The return leaves Bath at 16.08 to arrive Woking at 18.15. (These are weekday schedules - weekend might be a bit different). The outbound train will split at Salisbury - so, make sure you are in the correct half! The pay on the day return is £38.90 but you can advance book for a date in the future and may find prices as low as £10.40 one way. Of course, this would tie you down to making the trip on a day when the weather might be bad.

Plenty of trains also go from Woking to Salisbury and Winchester - both of which are well worth visiting. If going to London, it will be cheaper on Saturdays due to fewer commuters. https://www.visitwinchester.co.uk
On arrival in Salisbury, I would take the the shuttle bus to Stonehenge:> http://www.thestonehengetour.info
On arrival back in Salisbury - go and see the wonderful medieval cathedral.

You will also find frequent direct trains from Woking to Portsmouth Harbour taking just over 1 hour:>https://www.visitportsmouth.co.uk

Posted by
4528 posts

I've experienced plenty of Americans who have sleepwalked into immigration issues because they are doing something on a visit which seems completely innocent to them but which has actually crossed over a line (*). You can believe me or not, but use of the word petsitting would raise suspicions and lead to further questioning, and waste of your time. That was your unprompted choice of word. However, there is no issue at all about staying in a house owned by people you already have a personal relationship with, even actually to the extent of them funding your trip.

(*) The one that comes to mind is a case of someone who was coming in as a volunteer at a non-profit making event. However, because his part was not organised by the charity but a different company limited by guarantee he was turned round at the border. Although not excluded by this it now takes him ages every time to enter the UK

Posted by
80 posts

If off-peak travel works for you, you could consider buying a Network Railcard: https://www.network-railcard.co.uk.
This offers you up to 1/3 off many tickets in the South-East for the bearer and up to 3 adult companions. You could buy it at Woking station ticket office when buying tickets for your first trip. It costs £30.

Edited to add: there are minimum fare restrictions on weekdays, which may not make it worthwhile from Woking.

Posted by
29 posts

Thank you to everyone for warning me about possible problems at the airport if we mention house / pet sitting, even if for a friend. It had never occurred to me that it could be an issue. We will just say "visiting friends" or "vacation" to keep things simple. And thank you to EVERYONE for offering train tips!!! So helpful.

Question: Would driving from Woking to park at Surbiton train station be insane? We will have a car anyway for trips outside of London. I realize the traffic would be heavy certain times of the day, but with 4 of us, even with the discounted South West Railway tickets, the train Woking / Waterloo for 4 days at peak hours would be $400 ! (even non peak is $320). Is parking a problem? Actually found 2 websites where people rent out their driveways close to the station, JustPark.com and YourParkingSpace.com, very interesting option. Is this crazy? Or would you recommend a different station close to Woking that is in the Oyster card zone? Thanks!!!!

Linda

Posted by
16056 posts

Surbiton is the closest station inside Oyster card territory. That or Hampton Court Palace or Thames Ditton. Those 2 require train change at Surbiton.

In Green Bay, just about anybody living within 5 or 6 blocks of Lambeau Field charges people to park on game days, driveways AND yards.

Posted by
25746 posts

Linda,

Unfortunately people don't hire out their driveways out of the goodness of their hearts. They do it because people are so desperate to park that they will use a stranger's drive and hope that they don't get blocked in.

Being on the main line means that trains are extremely crowded at the rush, and people who drive to the stations pay a lot of money to park there, and they fill up fast so a lot of people wind up on kerbs or on yellow lines and they wind up with tickets. Those tickets are just part of the routine for people who aren't the first there. It is the luck of the draw whether they will get a legal space, and if they have to catch a particular train will leave the car anywhere they can even if playing the illegal parking lottery. If your car isn't fully within a space you risk one of those nasty yellow plastic souvenirs.

A nearby station to me in Northamptonshire is an hour by train from London and on work days the 6 parking areas are completely full by 7.30, with people parking on the sidewalk within the car parks, or on what would be grass if the grass grew.

I don't want to scare you, nor give false alarm. Those cheap parking rates after 11.00 at Woking are only available if somebody has taken a car out when you get there.

I asked upthread if you have considered other ways to reach the station. Is there a bus? How does your friend get there? Or if they drive, do they have an annual parking pass on the car? That would be a savings.....

There are 446 spaces at Surbiton. Prices are the same as at Woking.

It is only 17 and a bit miles by car between the two stations, and part of that is on the A3. But that is over half an hour in the middle of the day. Double that, IMHO, in the peak. And there are 14 roundabouts which always back up when there is traffic. And you are going in the direction of the rush, both ways.

And then what would you do if you couldn't park?

At least if you catch a bus to Woking and get a weekly Travelcard, you can go into and out of London to Woking whenever you want and as often as you want, and anywhere in zones 1-6 by tube, train, bus or tram. And you will know your costs up front. And you can do the 2-4-1s at the expensive attractions. Still have to pay for the Woking bus though.

How far from Woking is the place? In the town or out in the boonies?

You haven't said where you are from, nor what experience you have had driving in the greater London area. I think you said upthread that it wouldn't be any problem. I've driven in Paris, Munich, Los Angeles, Boston, San Francisco, and NYC. Lived in most of them. Trust me please when I say that driving in the greater London area is more difficult, more frustrating and slower than in any of those. By a lot. Just toss in bus lanes, speed cameras everywhere, bus lane cameras, traffic light cameras, box junctions (and their pet cameras), yellow lines (single, double and hashed), red lines (single, double and boxed), clearways and blue bike highways, and Belisha Beacons, Puffins, ZigZags, Toucans and Zebras and driving becomes quite an art.

Oh, and the motorcycles (mostly with "L" plates) which weave between the stationary or slow lanes of cars and trucks, usually at great speed. My wife reminded me. I usually only remember when one has buzzed through just as I am changing lanes.

Greater London traffic lanes are considerably more narrow in many places than you would expect (North Circular and South Circular and Euston Road, I'm looking at you).

I'm sure that you will have a great time - but forewarned is forearmed.

Posted by
29 posts

Nigel, thank you so much, your honesty is much appreciated. We would want to get to the train station early because we have a 4 day London Pass to take advantage of. From what you say about the parking issue, it sounds VERY risky and I assume not worth the stress. And the bus is an idea, but does sound like it all would take a very big chunk out of our day. We might just bite the bullet and buy the train tickets out of Woking. THANK YOU!!!! Linda

Posted by
25746 posts

Oh you bought the London Pass.

Is it the one with transportation included or just the attractions? This is an important question. I'm glad you mentioned it. Anything else we should know?

I was talking about taking a bus from wherever you are staying (still unknown, rural or urban or suburban) to the station at Woking instead of parking there, before taking the train.

If you can get a train into London which arrives by - say - 7.30 or 8.00 you may have a decent chance at a space in the carpark in Woking. Buses, if that is an option, probably start by 5.30 or so and will be frequent during the peak travel times.

If you shared if you are on a bus route I (well all of us really) can help with that too.

Posted by
1849 posts

Staying in Woking for free. Off-peak day return from Woking for £18.10 gets you into London so you can take advantage of the 2 for 1 deals (half-price) on attractions. Sounds like a bargain to me.

Pity you bought the London Pass.

Posted by
36 posts

Nigel, just want to say what a fount of information and a treasure you are on this forum. I don't often comment (time restrictions), but I am always reading various posts and lots of England posts because it was my childhood home and I often visit relatives there. Although I have visited many many times, I always learn something new when reading here and it is often from you. Thanks for your willingness to share information, honestly and without mincing words.

Posted by
29 posts

We got the 4 day London Pass without transportation, are you saying that was a mistake? Got it in the US through Costco, you basically get the 4th day free, good price. When I added up all the places we want to go to, it made sense. We will just have a VERY busy 4 days. I was just figuring the cost of the train plus the Oyster card for the tube, plus our rental car for the days outside of London, air line tickets, meals, etc, it kind of adds up. With the exchange rate between the US and the UK, 1 pound is $1.31 US. Not complaining, VERY grateful we have free lodging. The townhouse we are staying in is only 1 mile from Woking train station. We can walk there, 10 - 15 minutes. When I looked at the 2 for 1 offers through the train for attractions, they didn't include Windsor Castle.

Posted by
25746 posts

Don't allow yourself to get confused between what train tickets and Oyster cards can do for you.

With a day return ticket Woking > London Terminals (Waterloo) > Woking, no matter if it is Anytime or Of-Peak, you get one trip in and one trip out on the same day at the times the ticket is valid. From the time you get off the train in Waterloo, or if you cut the journey short and leave in Vauxhall or Clapham Junction, say, all the travel in London has to be paid for, often with an Oyster Card. You could pay cash or card for single tickets but they are very much more than Oyster fares.

If you get a Season ticket - in your case a weekly - it is effectively 7 days of Anytime Woking London returns for the price of 5. You still have to pay for the buses and tubes.

EDIT in my sleep deprived early morning answer I said it wrong:
If you get a Travelcard (Anytime or Off-Peak) from Woking it gives you unlimited one journey each way on the route it is valid for plus unlimited bus, tram, tube and local train in the zones in which it is valid. You can get day travelcards (no photocard required) or a weekly travelcard which requires a photocard same as a weekly season ticket. If you get Travelcards Woking to All Zones you can change trains at Surbiton for Hampton Court and the fare is included. Or change at Clapham Junction for Kensington Olympia or Brompton Road if you want to go to Kensington Palace. Or connect to Richmond for the bus to Kew Gardens, all without going into central London, and without paying extra. Or head out to Heathrow.

So it is very worthwhile planning just what you want to see, and the order to see them - you have to do that with the London Pass anyway or you waste money.

Some of us here know London fairly well and know less obvious tricks for getting to places relatively easily.

Walking to the station from your friend's flat is a good idea, or hopping the bus if there is a bus by the door.

You won't need the car during the time you are using up your London Pass. Can you save money there? It is a shame your friend didn't let you use theirs while you swapped.

Posted by
29 posts

Nigel, can you be our tour guide? :) I have studied and studied the transportation options, and thought I understood finally, but I guess I don't. We aren't using our friend's car for the outside London trips because I don't feel comfortable doing that (too worried about an accident), and the weekly rate on the rental was cheaper than the 4 day rate! Okay, trying again to understand the Travelcard. Is the Travelcard good coming on the train out of Woking? I realize the Oyster card is not. Is the Travelcard good from Woking and then also on the tube, etc then to the sites? So are you saying it is good on everything and we wouldn't need 2 different types of tickets? I thought I had to buy a South Western RR ticket for the Woking train AND the Oyster or Travelcard for the sites inside London. For example, we want to see : Tower of London and Tower Bridge, Westminster Abbey, St Pauls Cathedral, Kensington Palace, Churchill War Rooms, Windsor Castle. If we have time, we will add other sites, such as Thames River Cruise, Hampton Court Palace, HOHO Bus Tour, possibly bicycle tour (but I doubt we'll have time for it all).

Posted by
4666 posts

Jumping in for Nigel:

The Travelcard and the ticket from Woking to London are normally two different things. However, it is possible to buy a single ticket that combines both a journey from Woking to London and back, and a Travelcard for travel within London. It is two different types of ticket, but combined on the same piece of card.

Posted by
29 posts

Nigel, please also see my reply above. Okay, looking at the National Rail website (ojp.nationalrail.co.uk). 7 day season ticket is 82 pounds, for instance, Woking to Kensington Olympia. But I don't understand this: " Valid only for travel via (changing trains or passing through) Clapham Junction, not valid via London Terminals." What does it mean, not valid via London Terminals?

Then I see (this may have been what you were talking about?), same site, Travelcard zones 1-6, 7 days 101 pounds.

OR
2 Together or Friends & Family rates 1/3 off , 30 pounds (each person?) to activate.

Trying to register on National Rail site, it won't take any of my passwords. Says Your password must be at least 8 characters long and contain: 1 upper case letter, 1 digit (that means a number, correct?), and 1 special character (such as # ) ? Won't take anything I put in.

Posted by
29 posts

Hi Philip, replied before I saw your posting. Thank you. See what I just posted please, 2 different postings. SO confused!!!! So which site would I buy the one ticket you are referring to? What is the ticket called? Am I on the right site with National Rail? Thanks

Posted by
4528 posts

Here are some Woking-London price comparisons (not exhaustive)

Season ticket (7 days)
With travelcard: £101
Without travelcard: £81.20

Off Peak Day Returns
With travelcard: £24.10 (£19:30 Saturday and Sunday)
Without travelcard: £18.10

Posted by
4528 posts

What does it mean, not valid via London Terminals?

You couldn't use it to go to London Waterloo or Victoria for example. A 7 day ticket only to Kensington Olympia without any onward travel would be pretty useless for you. Just look for tickets to London Terminals.

You can't buy your first 7-day season online because you need to have the number associated with a photocard, which is issued at a station.

Posted by
1849 posts

This is getting awfully complicated for something that should be straightforward.

You don’t need to register with the national rail site. They show ticket prices but don’t sell tickets – the train companies do that. But there’s no need to do this in advance. You can buy at the station on the day of travel.

How many days are you intending to travel into London? There’s lots of comments on weekly tickets with 1-6 zone travelcards but that seems like overkill if you're only using 4 days. Most of the sites are in zone 1 so a travelcard covering 6 zones is unnecessary. The daily cap for zone 1 is £6.80 – chances are you won’t even spend that much per day. Walk, take buses (£1.50).

Unless I’m missing something a train ticket and a contactless payment method are all you need.

Posted by
4528 posts

I think most of the talk around 7 day travelcards originated when it wasn't clear that the period was only for 4 days. Even so, if these are four packed days starting early during peak time they might not be out of the question.

Buying off-peak one day travelcards outside of the oyster zone can be a good deal; sometimes they are less than the cost of two bus fares (well they are for me!). From Woking the cost appears to be greater than this, but still less than the cap especially on weekends (don't think we have the actual days of the week yet, but they are important in considering costs). The all zone aspect doesn't really feature.