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Cheap Rail Travel



Researched and written by one of our volunteers: Chris Hosking 





For cheap rail travel in the UK use a railcard when buying your train tickets.

All offer discounts of about a 1/3 off most standard and 1st Class rail fares.

As well as cheaper train tickets, railcards can also save you money with special offers for days out, restaurants, hotels, theatre trips and much more.

These offers vary between cards so do check which card offers the greater value for money for your lifestyle.

You may be surprised that the most obvious railcard for you may not give you the best savings overall - it all depends on your own individual circumstances and whether you travel alone, with other adults or children.


Railcards available in the UK








16-25 Railcard

Price: £30 a year. 

Eligibility: Any individual aged between 16 and 25 years (or over 25 years studying for over 15 hours a week)

Savings: 1/3 off standard Anytime, Off-Peak, Standard Advanced and 1st Class Advanced.

Applications

Online applications will require:

  • A valid passport or UK driving licence to verify your identity
  • A digital passport style photo saved to your computer, tablet or mobile phone
  • A debit or credit card

Station Applications will require: One of the following...

  • Your birth certificate
  • Passport (all nationalities accepted)
  • UK driving licence
  • National identity card

Plus both....

  • A passport sized photo
  • Proof of eligibility as a mature student

Offers

They are currently offering:

  • 20% off Virgin Experience Days
  • 30% off Water-to-go
  • 50% off first Gusto Box
  • 90% off YHA membership for a year
  • London 2 for 1 entry at London's top attractions, restaurants and theatres
  • Discounted theatre tickets
  • 2 months free access to the Gourmet Society
  • 5% saving on Forest Holidays


Best for

Anyone aged between 16 and 25 years who travels alone.







Two Together Railcard

Price: £30 a year. 

Eligibility: Two people aged 16 years + Both must be named on the card

Savings: 1/3 off standard Anytime, Off-Peak, Standard Advanced and 1st Class Advanced.

Applications

Online applications will require:

  • Two separate digital photos (one for each person named on the railcard) saved to your computer
  • A debit or credit card

Station Applications will require: One of the following...

  • Two separate passport sided photos - one of yourself and one of the other card holder

Offers

They are currently offering:

  • Savings on Haven Holidays (up to 50% touring and camping in May, June, early July and Autumn)
  • 5% reduction on Forest Holidays
  • 2 nights for 1 at Bespoke Hotels
  • Virgin Experience days
  • 50% off your first Gusto Box
  • Buy 1 get 1 half price on wine tasting experience from Vinopolis
  • Theatre discounts

Best for

Any two people who travel together.    

If one person is disabled it may be better to buy the Disabled Railcard as a companion receives the same discount as the disabled person.







Senior Railcard

Price: £30 a year. 

Eligibility: Any individual aged 60 years and over

Savings: 1/3 off standard Anytime, Off-Peak, Standard Advanced and 1st Class Advanced

Applications

Online applications will require:

  • A valid passport or UK driving licence to verify your identity
  • A debit or credit card

Station Applications will require: One of the following...

  • Your birth certificate
  • Passport (all nationalities accepted)
  • UK driving licence

Offers

They are currently offering:

  • 5% on a Forest Holidays
  • Savings on Haven Holidays (up to 50% touring and camping in May, June, early July and Autumn)
  • 2 nights for 1 Bespoke Hotels
  • 75% off YHA membership for a year
  • Up to 50% off Warner Leisure Hotels
  • Virgin Experience days
  • 20% saving on Vinopolis wine tasting expereince
  • £25 off your first Gousto box
  • Theatre discounts

Best for

Anyone aged 60 years + who travels alone.







Family and Friends Railcard

Price: £30 a year. 

Eligibility: Up to 4 adults when travelling with up to 4 children aged 5-15 years.

2 adults must be named on the card and at least one 'named' adults must travel per group, per journey for any savings to be made on a train journey.

Savings: 1/3 off adults (over 16 years) standard Anytime, Off-Peak, Standard Advanced and 1st Class Advanced and 60% off per child fare.

Applications

All applications will require:

  • Your address and email address
  • The name of the second cardholder (as can't be added later)
  • A debit or credit card

Offers

They are currently offering:

  • £50 deduction on Haven Holidays
  • 67% of YHA Household membership for one year
  • 2 for 1 entry at London's top attractions
  • Virgin experience days
  • £15 off their first Sassy Bloom gift box
  • £25 off first Gousto box
  • 5% saving on Forest Holidays
  • Theatre discounts

Best for

Groups who regularly travel together, even if one or two member of the group are disabled.







Disabled Persons Railcard

Price: £20 a year. 

Eligibility: You may qualify if you..

  • Receive disability related benefits including Disability Living Allowance or Personal Independence Payments
  • Are registered as deaf or use a hearing aid
  • Are registered as visually impaired
  • Have epilepsy

Savings: 1/3 off standard Anytime, Off-Peak, Standard Advanced and 1st Class Advanced for the disabled person and an adult companion.

Applications

New applications and renewals may be undertaken online.

Alternatively you can download an application form.  It is available in large print and Easy Read.

Disabled Railcards cannot be bought at the Railway Stations.

You will be required to submit evidence of the disability - this may include:

  • A copy of your Award Letter
  • A copy of your Certificate of Visual Impairment
  • A copy of the front page of your NHS battery book for the hearing impaired
  • A copy of your Exemption Certificate for Epilepsy Medication

Evidence of disability when applying online will need to be submitted in JPEG or PDF format with a maximum file size of 4MG.

Offers

They are currently offering:

  • Discounted 2 night breaks in a QHotel for £170 per person
  • Up to 50% off food at Gourmet Society diners club (2 months free trial)
  • 5% discount on short breaks with Vitalise
  • Up to 30% off hotel breaks - Holiday Inn, Express and Crowne Plaza
  • 75% off a home wine tasting experience
  • 10% off photo books at Blurb
  • £60 wine voucher courtesy of Naked Wines
  • Ups to 68% off a selection of magazines
  • Theatre discounts with listings of assisted performances, step-free maps and venue access guides from Access London Theatre
  • Save 1/3 with PLUSBUS when buying rail tickets
  • 2 for 1 entry to hundreds of attractions and more when you travel by train across the UK
  • 1/3 discount on all Oyster pay as you go single fare and peak daily cap.  The discount applies for journeys on National Rail, London Underground and DLR services in London.
  • 1/3 off an off-peak London zones 1-6  Travelcard for disabled person and person travelling with them.
  • 10% off Caledonian Sleeper Anytime fares for adults.

Best for

Any disabled person who does not travel in groups/with children especially if you travel to London several times a year.

An adult companion also receives the same discount as the disabled person.







Regional Railcards

These are all regional railcards offering reduced rail fares for local residents.

Cambrian Railcard - 1/3 off most individual standard rail fares on Cambrian lines.  Cost £5 for one year and may be purchased at staffed railway stations. Proof of residence in local area required.

Cotswold Line Railcard - 34% discount on off peak single and return tickets and Anytime Day Tickets.  Valid between Worcester Foregate Street and Oxford.  Cost £7.50 of one year. Purchase from staffed railway stations.

Dales Railcard - 1/3 off single and day return tickets. Cost £13.  Proof of residence in local area required.

Devon and Cornwall Railcard - 1/3 off most standard off peak and off peak day tickets across Devon and Cornwall. One adult can take up to 4 children for £1 each. Cost £10 for one year.  Proof of residence in local area required.

Esk Valley Railcard - 34% discount on standard Day, Cheap Day and Saver ticket types and 81% discount on Tees Day Ranger on railway between Middlesborough and Whitby.  Cost £10 for one year. Adult and up to four children can be eligible for discount.  Local residents only.

Heart of Wales Line Railcard - 34% discount on adult standard Day Return, Cheap Day Return and Saver return.  Two accompanying children travel for £2. Cost £5 for one year.

Highland Railcard - Up to 50% off local rail travel for Highland residents.  Cost £8.80 for one year.  Up to two children can travel for £2 with the railcard holder.

Hull Disability Rail Card - free off peak travel on Northern rail services from Hull into all East Riding of Yorkshire stations, Scarborough and York. Open to Hull residents, hold a disability bus pass issued by Hull City Council and be registered with social services.

Island Line Residents Card - 40% discounts on Island Line trains (Isle of Wight) single and day return after 9am Monday to Friday.  Cost £5 for individuals and £7.50 for family card.

Network Railcard - 1/3 off most rail fares in the Network Railcard area.   Cost £30 for one year. Three accompanying adults also get 1/3 off and up to four children (5-15 years) receive 60% discount.  Restricted to after 10am on day of travel and there is a minimum of £13 fare for discount Monday to Friday.

Pembrokeshire Railcard - 34% off local rail travel for Pembrokeshire residents. Cost £5 for the year. 

Scottish Youth Railcard - 34% off most rail fares and 50% off all season tickets.  Available to young people aged 16,17 or 18 years and hold a Young Scot Entitlement Card.  Free with the National Entitlement Card.

Thameslink and the Great Northern 16/18 Connect Card - open to students in full time education.  34% saving on adult monthly or annual season ticket. School or college must be in the Great Northern are (north of Essex Road) or on the Thameslink route (north of Kentish Town)

Ticket to Work - 1/2 price off peak travel and quarterly season tickets on finding work.  Open to all registered unemployed people on key valleys and Cardiff routes.

Valleys Senior Railcard - 50% off Cheap Day Return Standard rail fares on the Valley lines.  Over 60's only.  Cost £5 for one year. No travel until 9.30am.

Valleys Student Railcard - 26% discount on all day tickets and 10 % off season tickets on Arriva Valleys and Cardiff services.  Cost £9 a year.







Other Railcards

HM Forces Railcard - Save 1/3 on adult fares and 60% on children's fares. Cost £15.  Open to members of the Armed forces, the Volunteer Reserve and their families.  No travel before 10am and £12 minimum fare applies.

Jobcentre Plus Discount Card - provides reduced travel rates in London when looking for work.  Open to those on Jobseekers Allowance, Incapacity Allowance and Employment and Support Allowance and Income support.(Other conditions apply).  Applications through local JobCentre Plus.

Groupsave Discount  - for groups of 3 to 9 people  34% discount on off-peak fare to destinations in London and South East













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