The Oyster machines at St Margarets are supposed to charge the following fares for travel to London Waterloo:

  • £3.10 peak
  • £2.30 off-peak

As ever nowadays, it’s necessary to read the small-print on the Oyster website which states:

You pay National Rail Oyster single fares when you use Oyster on National Rail lines that did not accept pay as you go before 2010. These fares are cheaper than cash fares on National Rail. You pay half, or less than half, the price of a cash Anytime Return.

Peak and off-peak fares
Peak Oyster single fares apply from 06:30 to 09:30 and 16:00 to 19:00 Monday to Friday (excluding public holidays). At all other times, the Off-Peak Oyster single fare applies.

The fare charged is determined by the time at which you touch your card on the yellow card reader at the start of your journey. For example, if you plan to catch a train that leaves after 19:00, but you touch in before 19:00, you will be charged the peak Oyster fare.

If you touch-in as late as 9:29 in order to catch the 9:30 train (for which you can buy a paper off-peak ticket from the ticket office from just after 9:15, when the last peak-time train has departed), Oyster will charge you the PEAK fare when you touch-out at Waterloo!

If (as happened to me today) the 9:30 train is then cancelled and you have to then wait until 09:45, Oyster STILL charges the PEAK fare when you touch-out at Waterloo – because you touched-in BEFORE 09:30!

The only way to get an Off-Peak Oyster fare at St Margarets seems to be to wait up the top of the stairs until the reader says 9:30, then touch and run!

— from Ed Randall