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Rail travel: fares and concessions

You can buy different types of train tickets depending on when and where you want to travel and when you pay your fare. Find out about the different fares, how to save money on tickets and how to get discounts with a Railcard.

How to get information about train fares and timetables

You can get information about train times or fares on services throughout Great Britain by:

  • calling National Rail Enquiries on 08457 48 49 50 - available 24 hours a day, seven days a week
  • checking the National Rail Enquiries website or using the Directgov journey planner
  • contacting the train company

Choosing your ticket

There are six main types of ticket, although not all of these may be available for every journey:

  • anytime
  • off-peak
  • super off-peak
  • advance
  • season (weekly, monthly or any longer period up to one year)

Two children under five years of age can travel for free on your ticket. If you're travelling with more than two children or any between 5 and 16 years' old, they will each need a child-rate ticket.

You can usually save money on your tickets by:

  • booking advance fares
  • travelling outside peak hours

You may also be able to get a discount on your fare if you’re travelling in a group of three or more adults.

Permits to travel

Some stations without a ticket machine or ticket office have a 'permit to travel' machine. You can buy a permit to travel, using coins only, and then board the train. You pay any additional cost later in the journey. A permit to travel is valid for two hours.

If you're travelling from some smaller stations where you can’t buy tickets, you may be able to pay the fare on the train. Look for notices at the station with information about this.

Combined rail and bus (Plusbus) tickets

If your journey includes rail and bus travel, you may be able to save money by buying one ticket that covers both using Plusbus. Plusbus gives you unlimited bus travel around the origin and/or destination towns of your rail journey, including to and from the train station.

Railcards – concessions on rail travel

You can save up to a third on most rail fares if you buy a Railcard. Minimum fares and time restrictions apply to some Railcards. Check before you buy the Railcard or any tickets using it.

As well as the Railcards listed below, there’s a wide range of other local and regional Railcards that give significant reductions. You can also get a Ranger or Rover ticket - these cover selected days’ travel in particular areas. Railcard reductions are valid on these fares too.

16-25 Railcard

This Railcard costs £26 for people aged 16-25 and those over 26 years old who are in full-time education. A three-year version, available online only, costs £65.

Disabled Persons Railcard

If you're disabled, you could use a Disabled Persons Railcard to get discounts on most standard or first-class tickets for yourself and a companion. It costs £18 for a one-year card or £48 for a three-year card.

Senior Railcard

A Senior Railcard (for people aged 60 and over) costs £26 for one year and £65 for three years (online only).

Network Railcard

If you're travelling by train in the south east of England for leisure, you can buy a Network Railcard for £25. This Railcard gives you one third off most standard adult rail fares. If up to three adults are travelling with you, they will also get one third off their fares. You can also travel with to four children (aged 5 to 15 years) and save 81 per cent on each child's fare.

Family & Friends Railcard

Anyone can buy a Family & Friends Railcard for £26 for one year or £65 for three years (online only). With this Railcard, you can save one third on your fare if you're travelling with at least one child who is under 15 years old. Up to three other adults and three other children may accompany the cardholder and first child. Each child's fare is reduced by 81 per cent. 

HM Forces Railcard

Serving members of the regular forces, their spouses and dependent children are eligible for discounts on rail fares with an HM Forces Railcard for £15.

  • Source Direct Gov
  • Last Updated: 06 Jan 2012