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Contactless transport payment London, day trips, longer train journeys

OK, I think I have been down too many rabbit holes today researching contactless payment in London, some day trips and 2 longer journeys in April. Tell me if I am missing anything or have something wrong.

  • There is contactless payment available on both TFL and some of the National Rail providers but the contactless method differs.

  • TFL contactless can be either via Oyster (have an old one with money on it I will use up first) OR via CC with contactless properties OR via smartphone Apple Pay. I'd tap in and out on the turnstiles the way you always do with an Oyster card.

  • National Rail depends on the operator and maybe the route?

  • Day Trips: The specific routes I'm researching are to Bletchley (North Western Rail supports both m-Ticket and e-ticket to this destination) and Windsor and Eton Central (Great Western from Paddington which also supports m-Ticket, e-Ticket and Smartcard which seems like overkill for just one train ride so far). Both of these are outside the zone for the Oyster contactless system so I can't use ApplePay on them. I'd have to buy a ticket online on the app and would want to book ahead for the best prices.

  • Longer journeys: London to Harrogate and then York back to London OR Windsor. London to Harrogate from KGX on LNER supports m-ticket and e-ticket for either route (via York with a change or direct to Harrogate with several stops which is probably what I'll do. York to London or Windsor is back on LNER with a change to Great Western if I go on to Windsor both of which support m-ticket and e-ticket. Neither support Applepay but there is a huge advantage to booking ahead on these anyway.

  • As an aside it also looks like if I split the ticket on the York to Windsor trip it's slightly less expensive but I'll look at the times and prices when they are finally posted for April.

Thanks for any help in making sure my brain is untangled, lol!!

Posted by
14647 posts

Wow, that's complicated.

You can use any type of contactless payment on TFL. You don't need to buy a ticket with contacless payment. Just make sure you tap in and out with the same method of payment.

With the others, you have to buy a ticket. Most ticket machines accept contactless.

I found it easiest to just download the train company apps and buy my ticket from them. On one trip on LNER last month, my train was delayed just under an hour. That means a 50% refund. Since I bought it in the app, all I had to do was press one button and the refund was initiated. Real Easy. Most of the apps also keep you updated about delays. I get too confused with e-tickets or m-tickets or z tickets or tiny tickets. I just bought the ticket and if allowed chose my seat.

You can technically buy any train ticket from any train company but I prefer buying from the company operating the train.

Posted by
13702 posts

Thanks Frank for the app and refund info. And yes, I’ll buy directly from the operator.

Carol, it’s been on my to-do for years. I am going to prioritize it this time to get it done!

Posted by
3727 posts

Oh Pam, thanks for the post? As we will also be in London April 24 - May 5. We leave Friday, the day before the coronation. Bletchley Park is also on the top of my list of go to places. I’ll have to read, and reread this post.

Posted by
2470 posts

I'd have to buy a ticket online on the app and would want to book ahead for the best prices.

Trains from London to Bletchley Park and Windsor are short journeys, there are no savings booking ahead. Just buy those tickets at the station on the day. How you want to pay - contactless, cash, is up to you.

Buy Advance tickets from/to London to York/Harrogate from LNER on their website. From York to Windsor all you need do is buy an Advance ticket from York to Kings Cross then make your way to Windsor with a separate ticket.

It's less complicated than you think!

Posted by
26511 posts

If your Oyster Card runs out in the middle of the day and you switch to using a contactless credit card or Apple Pay, you will lose the benefit of the daily fare cap; you'll potentially pay the full amount of the cap on each payment method.

Posted by
34 posts

When we were in London the other week, we used the credit card tap in/tap out option only when taking the Tube. It was so nice to not have to worry about a transit card/app/anything and it worked perfect for us. It also worked on the Uber Boat is you are considering that as another mode of transport inside London.

Posted by
13702 posts

Thank you all for the replies and comments!

Barbara - We'll be there at the same time!

RAmblin - yes, I'll pick up those long journeys as soon as they are available. I was confused about where I could use contactless vs having to purchase a ticket. I just wasn't sure if I could use contactless for the trip to Windsor or Bletchley Park.

Acraven - thank you for that information. I see what you mean. As I get to the end of my credit on the Oyster I'll try to use it on a day when I know I'll just be using 2 rides within town.

Mimi - Good to know about the Uberboats. I think I will go to Greenwich this time so will be using the boat transport at least in one direction.

Now, I see this page on the Great Western Rail website. It does indicate you can use contactless to go to Windsor and Eton Central so I guess I will see when I get there. I think I will be overnighting in Windsor on the way back after my Seymour Travels tour of Northern England so arriving from York at Kings Cross, taxi or tube to Paddington and then out to Windsor. Being able to just use contactless when I've got a bag in tow will be easier although I will have data and can pull over to the side and just buy my ticket on the app as needed.

Posted by
2470 posts

If you've installed the LNER app to buy tickets to/from York etc you can use the same app to buy a ticket from London to Windsor - no need to install yet another app and register with another company ie GWR

Posted by
13702 posts

Thank you Ramblin'. I'm assuming if I am able to use contactless for the Paddington to Windsor journey that all I will need is my ApplePay and will not need an app. I'll have the LNER for both the outbound to Harrogate and inbound from York so that is good to know if I can't use the contactless for that last journey.

Posted by
14647 posts

I'm going to go over this again....

On the tube you don't need to buy a ticket so you can use contactless to get on and off.

For ALL OTHER TRIPS, to Bletchley Park, to Windsor, to York/Harrogate, you must buy a ticket prior to boarding. You can buy a ticket from a ticket machine using different types of payments. You can buy a ticket online from a train's website, or you can buy a ticket from a train company's app. But you cannot use ApplePay directly to get on board. There is no tap and go on these routes.

The only times for your journeys where you can use Apple Pay to tap in and out is on the tube. Fo

Posted by
13702 posts

Yes, I totally understand keeping them altogether, Frank, thank you. On some train apps it's possible to move them to Apple Wallet and if I can do that I will.

I thought in looking at the National Rail and TFL map on the website that contactless couldn't be used past Zone 6. However, the link above from GWR does say that contactless can be used at some Stations beyond Zone 6 including Windsor and Eton Central.

"Stations beyond Zone 6

Contactless pay as you go is available on the GWR network beyond London Zone 6 to the following stations:

Windsor & Eton Central
Furze Platt
Bourne End

Have you had the opportunity to use contactless much in your recent/current(?) London visits?

Posted by
14647 posts

That seems like something new......perhaps because of the opening of the Elizabeth line that goes from Paddington to Reading as well.

I use contactless all the time in London. Mostly my Oyster Card but I have tried my Google Pay and it worked just as well. I prefer my Oyster card because I don't like to take my phone out on the tube.

Posted by
5296 posts

Contactless payments have been available from Paddington to Windsor & Eton Central since 28 March this year.

Posted by
13702 posts

Thank you both. Marco...good to know when it started to be able sift older information from the up-to-date information on various websites.

Frank, good to know contactless is working well for you.