Time to move Surbiton

Local MPs ask OffRail to consider moving station to London zone 5.

Last January's massive 36% fare increase has prompted further action from disgruntled travellers after previous legal action wish rejected due to a legal loophole.

Liberal Democrat MPs Edward Davey and Susan Kramer have written to the Office of Rail Regulation to challenge the positioning of Kingston, Surbiton and the two Chessington stations in zone 6 - a move which could reduce ticket prices.

Surbiton resident, Tim Leunig, who lectures at the London School of Economics said, "Surbiton and Kingston are both 12 miles from Waterloo, which means they are well before the average for zone six and there are 25 stations in zone five which are further away from their London terminal than Surbiton and Kingston."


Surbiton - 12 miles out in Zone 6
Cheam - 16 miles out in Zone 5


Boris Johsnon was electioneering here, just before he got elected for his first term.

He *promised* on Surbiton Station forecourt that he would move Surbiton from Zone 6 to Zone 5, but nothing ever happened since.

I suppose he blew all the money instead on the headline grabbing Boris Roastmaster buses, and the cable car that nobody uses. Meanwhile, we keep getting fleeced on ever more crowded trains, and we're still no nearer to getting the tube like the rest of London.

Whilst it does seem a compelling case to make Surbiton zone 5, I have one little nagging fear.

I live in Surbiton, but actually travel out to Woking everyday for work. How will the re-zoning effect my cost of travel? I don't know the answer to this, but I do wonder if all these campaigners have considered that not everyone travels into London and they could be effectively campaigning for me to pay an extra £50 a month just so they can line their own pockets.

Does anyone know the answer to this query?


From a recentish Q&A session on SW Trains website:

Question: 89
Dear Sir, There seems to have been a number of stations re-zoned recently, why is Surbiton in zone 6 when many stations further from London are in Zone 5.

It seems to be a lack of competition as Sutton is in 5 (competes with Southern) and Isleworth zone 4 (competes with piccadilly line) and they are similar distances.

Please state how Surbiton doesn't meet zone 5 criteria when others further from London do.

Many Thanks for your help. Johnny

Johnny Williams, 04:03

SW Trains Reply: Please see question 114


Question: 114

Please can you confirm the position of South West Trains in relation to the campaign to change the fare zones of Surbiton and Kingston stations from Zone 6 to Zone 5, as the distance of both stations from Waterloo is close to the average Zone 5 distance.

Can you also confirm the expected price change in fares from these stations to Waterloo once zonal pricing is introduced.

Name withheld, 03:08

SW Trains Reply:

Although there are many requests and proposals to expand the travel zones, revise the zones for various station etc there are no plans for an overhaul at the moment.

Any change would have to be agreed among all the train operators and would really only be considered if there was a major problem.

If a station did move zone then, while fares in one direction might fall, fares in the other direction might rise.

This would create quite a reasonable protest among those whose fares had increased.

Regarding overall price levels, we recently reviewed zonal pricing on a per mile basis and don't see any major anomalies on that basis.

We are also often asked about future pricing plans.

Unfortunately, the competition act makes it impossible for us to announce future pricing intentions before this is necessary and in the case of zonal fares, the London-wide agreement process means it is not entirely under our control anyway.


On the basis of this reply, then yes, you would see a fare increase if you're travelling to Woking.

For the vast vast majority of Surbiton commuters, however, the reverse would apply.

Of more note perhaps, is the lengths they now appear to be going to in an effort to frustrate a zone change.
Initially, they claimed they were neutral on the subject.

Now they say a zone change "would really only be considered if there was a major problem."

They neglect to say what "major problem" precipitated the recent rezoning of Cheam and Epsom to zone 6.

They are lying if they claim that there are no major anomalies when looking at cost per journey travelled under zonal charging.

There are 25 stations in zone five which are further away from their London terminal than Surbiton and Kingston

How can SW Trains claims possibly be true?
These zones are completely arbitrary and bear no relation to the distance travelled.

SW Trains objections to boundary review can only be based on nothing other than their desire to maximise revenue from Surbiton (the 8th busiest station in their whole network).

South West trains are taking the piss.
I love their concern for the few whose tickets would increase - "reasonable protest among those whose fares had increased".
What about their concern for the majority who are getting overcharged because Surbiton should never be in zone 5.

And the current overcharging is nothing compared to what will happen when season tickets are made zonal (in 2010?).
Based on what happened to off-peak fares, current Surbiton to Waterloo tickets would jump from £1800 to £2400 - a massive £600 increase.

See http://www.thisislondon.co.uk/standard/article-23420590-details/Cost+of+...

I saw the Lib Dems giving out flyers on this yesterday.
Allegedly Ken Livingstone is the only mayoral candidate not to support Surbiton's rezoning.
He claims that everybody would love to see their station rezoned, but refused to address the unfairness of the zones (25 stations in zone 5 are further away from their terminii than Surbiton).

On that basis, the Lib dems say that we should withold our votes from him, even second preferences.
Sounds fair enough advice to me.
They also advised people to email Ken at mayor@london.gov.uk.

I'm emailing the following, I'd recommend that everybody here does the same:

I want to know BEFORE May 1st, whether you support the campaign to re-zone Surbiton station from zone 6 to zone 5.

25 London stations are in zone 5, even though they are further away from their terminii than Surbiton which is in zone 6.
The zones currently in use are entirely arbitrary and bear no relation to distances travelled.
It appears that the zones were based on nothing more than old education board boundaries and bear no relation to journey cost or distance travelled.

It is important that Surbiton's anomalous position is corrected before season tickets are moved to zonal pricing.
Based on off-peak fare rises, ordinary Surbiton commuters can look forward to a £600 increase in travel costs from 2010.
Surbiton isn't Kensington, Fulham or Chelsea.
We already pay the highest Council Tax in London - thanks to anomalies in another unfair system that gives boroughs like Kensington & Chelsea, Hammersmith & Fulham far higher per capita funding.
Surbiton residents can ill afford to absord this fare increase.
Please give potential Surbiton voters your opinion on rezoning before May 1st.
This will allow us to consider whether to cast our first or second preference votes for you.

Totally agree with the sentiment, but I am not sure that Ken Livingstone would take notice even if everyone who commutes from Surbiton wrote to him.

The simple fact is that Ken Livingstone has done very little for Kingston and the other 'leafy' outlyings boroughs since he has been mayor. The single benefit he has had for this area was stepping in to stop the Kingston University 'village' being built in Berrylands a few years ago.

I am not saying that any of the other mayoral candidates will be any better, but they certainly cannot by much worse!

How can every day commuters register their disgust at these proposals - is there a petition that we can sign up to?

Sadly the zoning is clearly based on maximising revenue rather than anything else. How else can you explain Surbiton and Kingston being Zone 6 and New Malden being zone 4. More people use Surbiton so they increase the fare by making it part of zone 6.

Hopefully the local MPS will have a bit more success with this one.

SW Trains can't claim that there's no precedent for this.
Afaik, Cheam and Belmont stations used to Zone 6, but were reclassified as Zone 5.
If Surrey Comet article is correct, then I guess the rezoning request must have come from Southern Trains.

Exactly. I am sure SWT will argue that Surbiton is on the very edge of the London boroughs so there would be no zone 6 here at all if it were moved into zone 5. This is exactly the same with places like Cheam and Belmont, though, and they are further out of London.

I think that there could even be a reasonable argument to move Esher into zone 6 - it is only 3 miles from Surbiton, so is probably around the average distance for zone 6 stations.

If you look at North West London, the tube goes out so much further, and they even extend the zones out as far as places like Watford and Amersham. It is unlikely that we will get improved links, so they could at least improve the zoning and costs in the SW.

Whilst its logical to move Esher to zone 6, we should regard that as a separate issue and not link it to Surbiton's mis-zoning.

SW Trains are currently hiding behind the Oystercard project to avoid considering Esher's claim to be added to Zone 6.
If we link Surbiton's mis-zoning to Esher's, we're guaranteed to have at least a two year delay before they even consider it.

Here are snippets from their correspondence with londontravelwatch, discussing SW trains really hefty fare increases, for stations just outside the Zone 6 boundary.

http://www.londontravelwatch.org.uk/get_document.php?id=2774 (30th May 2007)


Section 3: Stations in Travelcard zones

3.1 London TravelWatch commented :

“London TravelWatch has previously advocated the move of Epsom station into Travelcard zone 6
and I would be grateful if this could be considered at the same time as [Esher, Hersham, Hinchley Wood,and Claygate]”

3.2 South West Trains responded :

“In the past, it has been possible to add certain outlying railway stations to the London Fare Zonal Area if all the parties involved want this to happen.

There is a major project underway to fit Oystercard readers to the full current set of London Zonal railway stations over the next two years.

We are concerned that variations to that project’s scope and deliverables at this stage are likely to create significant variation, legal and add-on costs, not to mention delays which would be hard to justify or recover entirely at a particular station, and probably be unfair to apportion to others.

We will therefore review this once the Oyster project is nearing completion.

Please note that in this point, Epsom is not actually our station to move."


As an aside, I'm amazed that Worcester Park is in Zone 4. On a map, it looks noticably further away from Waterloo than Berrylands, which is Zone 5.

How did they ever draw up these boundaries?
If they were able to carry out a major review of fares when deciding on zonal charging, surely its logical to review the zone boundaries themselves.

Or is it just easier to leave them in their illogical and unfair state, and screw more money from suburbs, just like council tax.

So everyone can follow along, here's a PDF map of the travel card zones: http://www.tfl.gov.uk/assets/downloads/lon_con.pdf

Even on this schematic map, they've had to put a little bump around Surbiton to get it into zone 6.

Experimenting with Google Maps I found that Berrylands (zone 5) is 9.81 miles from Picadilly Circus, and Worcester Park (zone 4) is 10.08 miles. They're obviously not decided by distance; the zone borders seem completely arbitrary and open for arbitration.

The zones are arbitrary, and date to the mid-1980s (anyone remember the capitalcard?) Essentially the original Z6 boundary was the old GLC boundary, and the old Z2/3 boundary was the old Inner London Education Authority Boundary (how that was decided I have no idea!). The Z3/4 and Z4/5 and Z5/6 boundaries seem to have been drawn on a map as lines inbetween the ILEA and GLC boundaries. So Surbiton is in Z6 because it is near Elmbridge Borough.

Lots of stations have been rezoned since then, usually when zonal pricing is introduced (as it was in SE London a couple of years ago). As various correspondents have said, SWT can request a rezoning, and then TfL/ATOC & DfT will consider it. TfL have told the Kingston Informer that they would expect such a request to be granted, which is what they told Ed, Susan and I when we asked them before launching the campaign.

The other option is to get the Office of Rail Regulation to declare that the Z6 fares from Surbiton are (illegally) disproportionate to the cost. Then ORR could require SWT to rezone Surbiton into Z5. This is what Ed, Susan and I are trying to do for Kingston and Surbiton.

Let's hope we win - and thanks to Surbiton.com for the publicity. One of the criteria that the ORR use when deciding whether to investigate a complaint is whether people seem bothered. So the more people who protest, the more likely that it is that they will investigate.

Tim Leunig

This is an utterly bogus campaign trying to whip up fear.

I accept that distance might be 'part' of the calculation but surely quality of service is also important. Both surbiton and New Malden get a far higher frequency of service than Berrylands or Worcester Park. In fact it is almost a turn up and go system in Surbiton,

Commuters should be paying for service, as well as distance, and I would much rather someone campaigned to ensure I get a seat rather than endure the constant crush. I would happily pay £400 extra if he could achieve that.

I gather Ed Davey's claims that he has won extra platforms at Waterloo International are also bogus. It seems that if they did get used there are only a couple that could be put into service (without a bill the treasury will not fund) and they would only help relieve pressure on the Hounslow/Richmond bit of the network.

When SWT negotiated their new contract they were told that zoning must not be a method for them to make additional money and that the the total changes must be revenue neutral across the network. This meant there were bound to be winner and gainers.

The really outrageous part of the fare increase was the cost of off peak-fares going up by them moiving the times of the peak hours. Ed went into battle on that but he obviously lost as we have not heard a thing from him about it since.

It Seems to me that Davey' record on starting campaigns and not achieveing success is pretty abysmal.

Tim (and Ed and Susan),

thanks for your work on this. Good luck with the campaign.

Anything that mitigates the horrendous fare rises imposed last January will be most welcome.

You say that "the more people who protest, the more likely that it is that they will investigate".

How do surbiton.com viewers / members of the public make their protests heard on this issue?
Is there a petition or something?

I agree. This has become necessary now that zonal pricing has been brought in at the start of this year to accomodate Oyster from 2009.

The new charging structure means that you will pay the same for a ticket from any zone 6 station to any zone 1 station. Previously, it was cheaper to go from Surbiton to Waterloo than from Chessington to Waterloo as the prices reflected the distance involved. Now they just reflect the zone.

Before this time, it was only people who bought travelcards that were penalised by Surbiton being 'incorrectly' zoned. Now it penalises those who buy standard single and return tickets.

It is very annoying that Surbiton is classified as zone 6, when you see places much further out like Cheam and Sutton in zone 5. New Malden is classed as zone 4 even though it is less than three miles away from Surbiton.

I am not sure if ticket prices will increase for those passengers travelling from Surbiton to Guildford/Woking etc if Surbiton moves to zone 5.

A move in the right direction, if you pardon the pun. It's outragious the way SWT are ripping us off.

Couldn't agree more. Surbiton is a great place to live. Making it zone 5 would make it even better.

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