When a fare freeze is not a freeze…in south east London of course

Southeastern train

As you may have heard, London Mayor Sadiq Khan announced a fares freeze for next year. Some may expect, or hope, that this cover Southeastern passengers. Don’t be silly, you’ll still be paying some of the highest fares in all of London, and now even higher.

The freeze applies to the Underground, London Overground, Trams, Buses, the DLR and also some National Rail services that operate under TfL fare zone prices, such as C2C trains over in east London and Great Western passengers in the west.

Southeastern, under Department for Transport policy, will put an extra 10p on every journey. A journey such as Abbey Wood to Woolwich Arsenal goes from £1.80 to £1.90 off-peak. Yet another near 5% annual rise.

In most of London a Tube or Overground trip is only £1.50 off-peak no matter what distance, providing it doesn’t go through Zone 1.

A TfL takeover of Southeastern really can’t come soon enough. Central Government, through the Department for Transport, still wont confirm as time ticks away.


To highlight the unfair system now in place, just over the river on C2C trains, a single Oyster trip from Zone 6 to Zone 2 is £2.80 in the peak or £1.50 off-peak. This is due to that franchise using TfL fare prices.

Cross the river, and Southeastern passengers pay £4.30 in the peak or £2.70 off-peak.

And to add insult to this injury these higher fares go up 10p, whilst the cheaper fares elsewhere are frozen.

Changing to the tube

Another way south east Londoners using trains are charged higher fares is when changing to the tube. Do so when you get to, say, London Bridge to head to St Pancras, and your off-peak £2.80 fare goes up to £4.10.

This £1.50 surcharge doesn’t apply to C2C passengers, nor Great Western, nor those on the DLR or Overground. Fortunately this doesn’t look like rising 10p, but the vast discrepancy remains and will do so until the Department for Transport aren’t in control of services.

Greater Anglia takeover

As I’ve said before, those lucky people in east London saw TfL takeover some Greater Anglia services in 2015. Almost immediately TfL set to work and ordered new trains. They also hired staff to supervise stations from first to last trains. Passenger numbers rose 27% in a year. Now they get a fare freeze.

Southeastern may have been in with a chance of TfL taking over in 2014, but our old friends at the Department for Transport messed up awarding the Virgin West Coast franchise, which meant all others were put on hold and delayed. This gave Southeastern three more years, which many are paying for day in and day out.

Will the DfT finally allow south east London rail users the perks enjoyed in many other places in London? Time is rapidly running out. It’s Autumn Statement day tomorrow. Let’s hope a takeover is approved, or many more years of higher fares and sub-standard services will be the case for many in this part of London.

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J Smith

I've lived in south east London most of my life growing up in Greenwich borough and working in the area for many years. The site has contributors on occasion and we cover many different topics. Living and working in the area offers an insight into what is happening locally.

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