Mapped: London's Oyster Zone Boundaries

Geoff Marshall
By Geoff Marshall Last edited 52 months ago
Mapped: London's Oyster Zone Boundaries

A while ago, we spotted an anomaly on the tube map and Oyster network: if you travel by London Overground from Clapham to Highbury and Islington via Willesden (clockwise) you stay in Zone 2; but if you head anticlockwise, you pass through Zone 1 at Shoreditch High Street.

This got us thinking as to where the actual Oyster-Zone boundaries physically lie (as opposed to the schematic version shown on the tube map). So here it is, a map of London with the Oyster boundaries laid over on top.

For comparison, we've also added in the actual outer border of the London Boroughs (orange line), as well at the congestion charge (red) and Cycle Hire area (blue, including the recent expansion into Fulham & Hammersmith).

Click image for a high-resolution version (14 MB).

How we made it

To make it, we looked at the Oyster Rail Service map, which schematically shows tube and national rail stations and where they fall within the Oyster system. We then 'joined the dots' with the neatest curved lines possible between the stations. From this more geographical representation, it became apparent where the anomalies were. In large areas where there are no stations to define the zone (e.g. in the south-east of London where there's nothing between the Tramlink and National Rail services), it is very much a 'best guess', but we think it's quite a good one!

What it shows

You can see that the Cycle Hire scheme almost completely covers Zone 1. If the western extension to the congestion charge still existed, that would have broadly covered the Oyster Zone 1 area, too.

It also perhaps goes someway to answering the question "Do I live in London or not?". For some people, 'living in London' equates to the official definition of living in a London Borough. Others might call themselves Londoners so long as they're on the tube map — 'Zone 6 inwards' equals London. The map above helps to visualise which areas fall within Transport for London's zone boundaries.


But look closely, and you will see some strange anomalies, which we'll highlight here for you.

1. Hoxton should be in Zone 2, and only Zone 2. As it stands, it is a Zone 2 AND Zone 1 'border' station, but you can clearly see the Zone 1 area bumps up like an enormous spot, to suck Hoxton into Zone 1. Naughty TfL have promoted it to the inner-most zone in order to justify higher fares for people travelling here. By the same token, Shoreditch High Street should also geographically fit into Zone 2, rather than Zone 1.

The Hoxton bump (light blue) thrusts out of the main Zone 1 area to encompass the Overground station.

2. Where the DLR snakes south to Lewisham, the border between Zone 2 and Zone 3 bends with it to ensure that all the DLR stations south of the river here are 'border' stations between the two zones.

The Deptford Bridge invagination ensures all DLR stations in this region remain on the zone 2-3 boundary.

3. Epping should not be in Zone 6. This is another Hoxton-like 'bump', but this time it works in the passengers favour. You could argue that Epping should really be a Zone 7, or possibly even a Zone 8 station.

The Epping bulge puts several stations, way outside the Greater London boundary, inside Zone 6.

4. The commuters of Northwood and Moor Park get a good deal, too, with a bump that pulls their stations into Zone 6, and not 7. We think Moor Park used to be Zone 7, and was moved into Zone 6 recently.

The Northwood bulge.

Let us know in the comments if you spot any other anomalies.

Last Updated 14 January 2014


Is the Hoxton bump a bad thing? If you're coming from Zone 2 you'll touch out in Zone 2, if you're coming from Zone 1 you'll touch out in Zone 1.


Surbiton is in Zone 6 not Zone 5 as on the map. That might create a bit of an anomaly because the boundary will have a bump going in.


Love it! I might print one out naaace quality and get you to sign it. As for anomalies ... "do do do do do anomalies do do de do."

Jonn Elledge

This is great.

Couple of inevitable niggles... Upminster's zone 6 - from this map it looks suspiciously like you've pushed it beyond the boundary into outer darkness.

Also, there are stations in zones 7+8 in the Lea Valley.


What's the history of the Metropolitan's extra zones? Did they originate as a way of pegging fares to British Rail's ones? This would explain why Epping never got the same treatment.

Also, was the line out to Ongar still operating when the zoning system was introduced? If that was Z6, that'd be one hell of a bulge...

Paul R

Technical question: What is the scale of this map? Apologies if it is already stated.

Roger Manser

Great piece of research... could you correlate it with flat prices/rents? I know most things north west and south west is more expensive, but any clear relationship?


Looking at this, you could make a strong argument for moving Wood Street Walthamstow to the zone 3/4 boundary.
TfL are you listening?!


Looking at it Kennington gets a rough deal too, as it all kind of sucks in to make e&c a zone 1/2 boundary, but looking it at it it is clearly a z1 and Kennington if the line was smoothed out should be on the z1/z2 boundary. Its also a bit unfair regarding the cycle scheme doesn't cover down to at least Camberwell which would make sense if you smoothed out a couple of lines there too!


Regarding the 'Epping Bulge' bear in mind that Essex County Council subsidise LU to maintain the central line to Epping north of Woodford. If it wasn't for that subsidy Epping would indeed be in Zone 7 or 8. The western end of the Met doesn't receive a subsidy from the council in that area so that is why it lies in Zones 7-9.


Borehamwood is only 1/3 in Zone 6 on the map (obs as there's only 1 station), but there are buses that you use Oyster on that go in to parts of Borehamwood (and indeed further that aren't covered on the map.


Also, the whole zone thing is nonsene as buses are a great anomoly. For example I can use my z 1-6 travel card to get from Edgware (z5) to Watford (z9) on the 142 bus.


Indeed a z1-2 tvl card can get you from Victoria (z1)-Cricklewood (z4) on the bus. Even when an inspector once checked my ticket near Cricklewood it came up fone...


what a boring article...


"We think Moor Park used to be Zone 7, and was moved into Zone 6 recently."

No, Moor Park has always been in Zone 6 and Rickmansworth was in 6a (of the former 6a-d Zones at the end of the Met line) until the recent invention of zones 7, 8 and 9


Apparently my local station Theobalds Grove in Hertfordshire will be part of TFL in 2015. Oyster machines have been installed and been in use for the last year or so. The map, no doubt will be rejigged next year!

Footprints of London

Epping used to be in what was Outside Fare Zone B up until 1996 - that is you had to get a Travelcard that covered Zone 6 + B. It then got moved into Zone 6 when Essex County Council subsidised the route. I think Ongar was Outside Fare Zone C

Andy Brice

But is it right to think of TfL zones as geographical at all? Isn't a station's "zone" more to do with how busy it is? Maybe "zone" is a misnomer and something like "tier" would be better.


Also, Wanstead should be zone 3-4, instead of Leytonstone


Manor House (on the Piccadilly Line on the eastern corner of Finsbury Park) is a Zone 2 & 3 station.


wow its too much Huge Boundaries .

Stuart Fanning

The Oyster Card is coming to Epsom, Surrey in September 2015. At this time it is not known whether it will be in Zone 6 or Zone 7.