Assessing the Impact of Travel Path Choice on London's Rail Network Using an Automatic Fare Collection System

Document Type

Journal Article

Publication Date


Subject Area

mode - rail, place - europe, technology - ticketing systems, operations - crowding, policy - fares


London, Oyster, travel savings, journey time, peak, off-peak, fare


London's extensive rail network can present travelers with several alternative paths to reach their destinations. Since the introduction of Oyster route validators in 2009, travelers using Oyster pay-as-you-go could be charged a lower fare between the same origin and destination if they avoided traveling through central London's Zone 1. The path choice decision involves a trade-off of the price differential between paths against other attributes of the paths, particularly journey time. Data from 150 days of these journeys were analyzed to ascertain the extent to which differences in fare and journey time affected path choice during peak and off-peak periods. The analysis found that at peak times travelers would be more likely to change their journey path to avoid Zone 1 if the fare discount for doing so were increased than if the time difference were reduced, but during off-peak hours a reduced time differential would be more effective. Other environmental factors, such as overcrowding, also played a part in the path choice decision, especially during peak hours.


Permission to publish the abstract has been given by Transportation Research Board, Washington, copyright remains with them.