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RailUK Fares & Ticketing Guide - Section 1 - Ticket Types & Conditions

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Paul Kelly

Verified Rep - BR Fares
16 Apr 2010
1.1 Introduction to ticket types

This section discusses single and return tickets.

A single ticket allows a single journey in one direction from the origin to the destination.

A return ticket allows an outward journey from the origin to the destination together with a return journey back again, either on the same day or up to a month later, depending on the ticket type.

It is permitted to start the return journey without having made (or completed) the outward journey, but the outward portion of the ticket then becomes invalid and can no longer be used. In other words, the outward portion is only valid when still in possession of the unused return portion.

Alternatives to Single and Return Tickets
Various other tickets are discussed in separate sections of the guide as follows:
  • Multi-journey Tickets
    Even when only one journey is being made, a ticket allowing multiple journeys can often offer better value. Such tickets include season tickets, rangers, rovers and travelcards, and are discussed separately in Section 5
  • Integrated Fares
    When a longer journey is being made involving more than one mode of transport, integrated fares may be available that include bus, ship travel etc. together with a rail journey, all on one ticket. Full details are in Section 7.
  • Penalty Fares
    Penalty Fares are special single tickets, priced more expensively than normal, that certain train companies are permitted to charge on-board certain trains to passengers who have not purchased a ticket prior to boarding, when there was an opportunity to do so. More information is available in Sections 10.4 to 10.7.
Ticket Categories
All return tickets, and most single tickets (i.e. apart from Advance fares) fall into one of the two categories
  • Anytime
  • Off-Peak
These two categories are also known collectively as Walk-Up Fares. They can be purchased any time from the day of travel up to a year in advance, although you must specify the required date at the time of purchase. Depending on the ticket type (see Sections 1.1.1 and 1.1.2 below) the ticket may be valid only on this date, or also for a number of days following it. Anytime and Off-Peak tickets do not tie you to travelling on a specific train and you may travel via any permitted route for the given journey (see Section 3 - Routeing). You have up to and including 04:29 in the morning following the last day of validity to complete your journey.

The majority of single fares allow the journey to be broken and resumed along the way (see Section 1.5), and some of them allow travel to be split over two days with an overnight break. Break of journey is allowed on the outward portion of most return tickets and on the return portion of almost all of them. Where the validity is longer than 1 day, this can include multiple overnight stays en-route if so desired.

The main distinction between Anytime and Off-Peak tickets relates to the times of day at which they may be used. These time restrictions are discussed in more detail in the next sections. A secondary distinction is that Off-Peak tickets are not normally available to buy on-board the train, unless there were no ticket issuing facilities at the station where you boarded. Anytime tickets can usually be purchased on-board the train, but in some cases only Penalty Fares are available for on-board purchase - so buying before boarding (when facilities are available) is the best policy to avoid having to pay more than necessary.

Single tickets may also be available as Advance Fares, which have a category of their own:
  • Advance
They have a number of specific conditions attached, which are discussed in the next sections.

Advance is a completely separate category of ticket from Anytime and Off-Peak, with much more stringent validity conditions - Anytime and Off-Peak tickets purchased in advance are not Advance tickets!​
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Paul Kelly

Verified Rep - BR Fares
16 Apr 2010
1.1.1 Anytime Tickets

Listed below are the four common types of Anytime ticket, showing the period of time that each one is valid for. Anytime Tickets may be used at any time within this validity period (i.e. up to and including 04:29 on the day following the last day of validity).

They have no restrictions on break of journey.

  • Anytime Single
    Valid for 2 days
  • Anytime Day Single
    Valid for 1 day
  • Anytime Return
    Outward portion valid for 5 days, return portion valid for 1 calendar month
  • Anytime Short Return
    Outward portion valid for 1 day, return portion valid for 1 calendar month
  • Anytime Day Return
    valid for 1 day; outward and return journeys must both be completed on this day
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Paul Kelly

Verified Rep - BR Fares
16 Apr 2010
1.1.2 Off-Peak Tickets

Listed below are the four common types of Off-Peak Tickets, showing the period of time that each one is valid for along with details of Break of Journey restrictions. Each Off-Peak ticket type has a corresponding Super Off-Peak type, which has more stringent validity restrictions but is otherwise very similar.

  • Off-Peak Single (and Super Off-Peak Single)

    Not always valid at all times (although an Off-Peak Single sometimes might be) and break of journey may be restricted – check individual ticket restrictions.

    Valid for 2 days, however the journey must be commenced on the first day. An overnight stay en-route is allowed as follows:
    • If the individual ticket restrictions allow break of journey
      Overnight stay anywhere en-route allowed if the passenger so wishes; it is his/her decision alone.
    • If the individual ticket restrictions prohibit break of journey
      Overnight stay only allowed if the journey cannot reasonably be completed in one day - although it is still the passenger's decision where to stop off; it does not necessarily involve travelling as far as possible before services stop for the night.
    In both cases the journey may be resumed at any time (taking account of any validity restrictions) on the second day.*

  • Off-Peak Day Single (and Super Off-Peak Day Single)

    Not valid at all times and break of journey may be restricted (although usually isn't) – check individual ticket restrictions.

    Valid for 1 day.

  • Off-Peak Return (and Super Off-Peak Return)

    Not always valid at all times (although an Off-Peak Return sometimes might be; check individual ticket restrictions).

    Outward portion is valid for 2 days (although the journey must be commenced on the first day) and break of journey may be restricted; see individual ticket restrictions for details. An overnight stay en-route is allowed as follows:
    • If the individual ticket restrictions allow break of journey
      Overnight stay anywhere en-route allowed if the passenger so wishes; it is his/her decision alone.
    • If the individual ticket restrictions prohibit break of journey
      Overnight stay only allowed if the journey cannot reasonably be completed in one day - although it is still the passenger's decision where to stop off; it does not necessarily involve travelling as far as possible before services stop for the night.
    In both cases the journey may be resumed at any time (taking account of any validity restrictions) on the second day.*

    Return portion is valid for 1 calendar month and has no restriction on break of journey, allowing multiple overnight stays en-route if desired.

  • Off-Peak Day Return (and Super Off-Peak Day Return)

    Not valid at all times and break of journey may be restricted on either portion (although usually isn't) – check individual ticket restrictions.

    Valid for 1 day; outward and return journeys must both be completed on this day.

* The official rule in documents available to rail industry retail staff is currently Travel the next day is governed by the same restrictions from the origin station as on day 1, unless the restriction code specifies day 2 validity. For the (common) case where the restriction code does not specify any additional rules for day 2 validity, the meaning of this rule is unclear. Very few restriction codes refer to validity in terms of the departure time from specified origin stations; by far the majority refer to validity in terms of the trains they are valid on. A typical restriction code will prohibit travel either on specific trains for their entire journey (this is especially common for long-distance trains to and from London), or on all trains departing any station within a barred timeframe. See Section 1.3.3 below for more information on Off-Peak (i.e. time-based) validity restrictions.
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Paul Kelly

Verified Rep - BR Fares
16 Apr 2010
1.1.3 Advance Tickets

Advance fares are only available as single tickets. They are quota-controlled, only available on certain trains, and must be purchased in advance of travel.

Booking deadlines do vary; typically by 1800 or 2359 on the day before travel, although an increasing number of train companies (including Northern, Virgin Trains, TransPennine Express, Greater Anglia, East Midlands Railway and CrossCountry) now sell Advance fares on the day of travel.

A booking system that has the facility to make reservations (e.g. a train company website) must be used to check validity of advance fares on individual trains. Note that the majority of train companies aim to make these tickets available 12 weeks in advance of travel (but sometimes this can be considerably less than 12 weeks). Some train companies (such as LNER, TransPennine Express and Virgin Trains) have committed to trying to release tickets up to 24 weeks in advance of the date of travel and Caledonian Sleeper generally release tickets up to one year in advance.

When travelling on an advance fare you must travel on the booked train(s) for the full journey between the origin and destination on the ticket. If you do not comply with this requirement, your Advance fare no longer has any value, and can be neither refunded, upgraded nor excessed. You will instead be required to buy a new ticket for your journey. The tickets available to you depend on the circumstances as follows:
  • If your advance ticket is dated for the same day as you are travelling, and you have complied with the train company or route restriction shown on the ticket (see Section
    You may purchase the cheapest Anytime or Off-Peak single (or, at your option, return) fare available for your journey that would have been available at the station booking office prior to boarding the train.
  • If your advance ticket is dated for a different day, or you are travelling on the wrong train company or route
    You may be treated as not having any ticket; depending on the train company you are travelling with and whether there was opportunity to pay before boarding, this may be a full Anytime fare. Train Company or Route Restrictions
Advance tickets always have a restriction as to the train company or route they can be used on. This is printed on the ticket under Route - however from a passenger's point of view, in normal circumstances the information is superfluous since Advance tickets are only valid on specific booked trains! It is primarily intended for booking office clerks and computer booking systems (to indicate which trains they may book the passenger onto, assuming those trains also have advance quota available).

Two cases where the train company or route restriction is relevant to the passenger however, are in determining appropriate connecting trains for multi-leg journeys, and in determining which trains may be used in the event of delays that result in the booked train being missed. Thus we will introduce it here.

The route or train company restriction for an Advance ticket generally appears in one of the following three forms:
    The ticket may only be used on trains operated by the Train Operating Company (TOC) indicated.
    The train(s) used in the journey must pass through the station indicated. It is not necessary for the train to stop at the station, only to pass through. There may also be two stations indicated, in which case the train(s) must pass through both.
    The ticket may be used on trains operated by the TOC indicated, as well as on appropriate connecting trains shown on a valid travel itinerary. Multi-Leg Journeys with Connecting Trains

As stated above, advance tickets are only valid on the booked train. When there is only one leg to the journey, i.e. the whole journey is made on one train, the meaning of booked train is clear and unambiguous. However sometimes a journey on an advance ticket also involves one or more connecting trains.

A common question is:
I have a TOC & CONNECTIONS ticket. What are the rules about the train I can catch as my connection?
The general rule is that if a reservation has been issued for the connecting trains, then they are also counted as booked trains. They have to be used, and the Advance ticket is not valid if any other train is used.

If on the other hand no reservation has been issued for the connecting train (because it doesn't offer reservations), then you are free to use an alternative connecting train, provided both these conditions are met:
  • you still allow the minimum connection time for the relevant station when changing between trains. (The Minimum Connection Times for all stations may be viewed at brtimes.com - type in the station required, select "Station Info Only" and click on Search. When making a cross-London journey by Underground, the minimum connection time is the sum of the times for the arrival and departure stations, plus the cross-London transfer time.)
  • the alternative connecting train does not offer reservations either. (This can be checked by looking up the relevant departure or arrival at brtimes.com - any train that has neither a diamond symbol nor R symbol beneath it is not reservable.)
For a more detailed technical explanation of the issues surrounding reservations on connecting trains, see Section below. Delays while travelling

In normal circumstances, Advance tickets are only valid on the booked train(s). However if delays occur while travelling, either
  • on the rail journey, or,
  • only in the case where the Advance ticket is a through ticket covering the entire journey, on a connecting journey by other means of public transport (e.g. Underground, bus or ferry),
you will be allowed to complete your journey on later trains.
However the train company or route restriction shown under Route on the ticket still applies, e.g. for a ticket routed TOC ONLY you must wait for the next train operated by the train company indicated, even if this increases the length of the delay further.

Another common question is:
I am combining tickets; am I covered in the event of a delay?
As long as you have allowed the minimum connection time at the station where you are combining tickets, then this is treated as a valid through journey and the same conditions apply as above, i.e. in the event of a delay you may take later trains in compliance with the route or train company restriction shown on your ticket.​
This section attempts to cover all basic validity issues that passengers encounter with Advance tickets. For further reading, the Advance Fares Frequently Asked Questions document attached to this post might prove interesting. This is reproduced with permission from The Manual (the official source of retail information for rail industry staff). It also includes information regarding discounted fares, excess and upgrades that is covered in more detail in [thread=68553]Section 6[/thread] and [thread=70374]Section 4[/thread] respectively. Advance Price Tiers
Advance fares for a given journey are typically available at a range of fixed price tiers. As the cheaper tiers "sell out" (i.e. have their quota used up; see Section 1.2) the more expensive tiers will be sold. The number of tiers available can vary greatly depending on the journey and train company concerned, e.g. Sheffield to London has 17 different advance price tiers in standard class, whereas Holyhead to Liverpool has only a single tier.

Each price tier is technically a different ticket type, although these days they all have the same name: "ADVANCE". Before the 2008 fares simplification exercise they usually all had different names, specific to each train company, indicating the price tier they belonged to (e.g. Advance Single A/B/C, Value Advance Single A/B/C etc.). This distinction is not particularly important now but as background information, it may help in understanding how advance quotas work.​


  • Advance Tickets FAQs 2017.pdf
    96.9 KB · Views: 1,742
  • Advance Tickets FAQs 2018.pdf
    178 KB · Views: 1,165
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Paul Kelly

Verified Rep - BR Fares
16 Apr 2010
1.2 Class of Travel
Whilst Standard accommodation is provided on all trains, on some trains in addition First Class accommodation is available. This offers a more exclusive travelling environment, in most cases with more spacious and/or comfortable seating than in Standard.

In order to travel in first class accommodation, purchase of a first class ticket is required. On most trains, a first class ticket is required to walk through or even stand in the vestibules of a first class carriage, however this requirement is waived on certain trains where the layout of the carriage makes it difficult to enforce.

It is often possible to upgrade a standard class ticket to a first class ticket by way of an excess or supplement. The rules on this are quite complicated and vary by train company; see Sections 4.2.2 and 4.3 for full details.
Additional First Class Benefits
Passengers travelling in first class accommodation may be offered certain additional benefits (e.g. complimentary food, drink and newspapers) depending on the train company and route. This is particularly common on long-distance inter-city routes; although the only contractual right is to travel in first class accommodation, consumer law may entitle passengers to compensation if additional benefits are not available.

First class tickets also often allow access to exclusive lounges at main stations. See the RailUK First Class Lounge Guide for full details on what to expect from these.
First Class Fares and Advertisement of First Class Accommodation
Not all journeys that may be made using trains having first class accommodation, have first class fares available to purchase. This is more common for relatively short journeys over routes with infrequent first class trains. On the other hand, first class fares may be available for journeys that can only be made using first class accommodation very infrequently or not at all.

The availability of advertised first class accommodation on a train can be checked by consulting the public timetable, for example by checking on brtimes.com - if your chosen departure has a 1 symbol on a black background beneath it, the train has first class accommodation. It can occasionally happen that the provision of first class accommodation on a train doesn't agree with what is advertised in the timetable; in these cases the following applies:
  • First Class advertised, but train does not have first class
    This may happen either because the train simply does not have any first class carriages or compartments, or because the first class accommodation has been declassified en-route, e.g. due to overcrowding, and passengers with standard class tickets have been permitted to use it. Assuming you hold a first class ticket, you may claim a refund of the difference in price between the first class and the standard class ticket for the relevant part of your journey.
  • First Class not advertised, but train has first class anyway
    First Class is automatically declassified; anyone can travel in it even without a first class ticket. In this case first class ticket holders are not entitled to a refund.
To summarise, in the case of first class accommodation being declassified, you may only claim a refund if the train was advertised as having first class accommodation.
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Paul Kelly

Verified Rep - BR Fares
16 Apr 2010
1.3 Advance quotas

It is well known that advance fares are quota-controlled, based on the reservations system, and that it is important to book as soon as possible after reservations open to get the cheapest fares. Much less widely understood is the system by which advance quotas are enforced. It is often thought that a fixed quota of advances at each price tier exists between every pair of origin and destination stations, but in reality the quota mechanism is more complicated than that.

The journey made by each train on which advance fares are offered is divided into segments, corresponding to the calling points of the train. For example, a train from Edinburgh to London King's Cross might have 4 segments:
  1. Edinburgh to Newcastle
  2. Newcastle to York
  3. York to Peterborough
  4. Peterborough to London
For a through Edinburgh to London advance fare at a particular price tier to be available on this train, quota for that price tier must be available on every segment of the journey. If even just one segment has run out of quota for that tier, an advance for the through journey at that tier cannot be offered. Instead, booking engines will offer the lowest-priced advance tier for which quota is available for every segment of the journey.

So it is possible that if a lot of people were travelling between Newcastle and York one day, they could "use up" all the cheapest quota on that segment of the journey. This would affect more than just passengers travelling between Newcastle and York, but anyone who would potentially be travelling on that journey segment. E.g. the cheapest advances from Edinburgh to King's Cross would no longer be available either, even if there was still cheap quota available for the Edinburgh to Newcastle, York to Peterborough, and Peterborough to London segments.

The result of this is a "weakest link" effect: cheap advances are only available for a through journey, if every single journey segment has cheap quota available - and if not, only a higher priced advance for the through journey can be sold.

It is common for the cheapest quota for the journey leg closest to a major centre of population to get used up very quickly, resulting in only expensive advances being available for much longer journeys that include this "weakest link segment" at either end. A good example of this is a journey from Cambridge to Birmingham on CrossCountry. Advances between Leicester and Birmingham are very popular, and quota for the cheapest tier gets used up quickly - often while journey segments east of Leicester still have plenty of cheap quota available. In this situation it can offer quite a saving to buy a cheaper-tier advance from Cambridge to Leicester, and combine this with a higher-tier advance or off-peak day single for the final journey segment between Leicester and Birmingham, resulting in a significant saving over the higher-tier advance price for the through journey from Cambridge.

1.3.1 Barred Journeys
The quota mechanism explained so far covers a lot of the unusual phenomena seen with regard to advance fare availability. However there are some more tricks the train companies have up their sleeves, to reduce advance availability even when there is still theoretically quota available.

These mechanisms are known as barred journeys and involve either blocking, or putting a reduced quota on, journeys that start and/or end at a particular station. This is usually done purely for the purposes of increased revenue generation, rather than controlling demand on services.

For example, LNER have competition with Virgin Trains for through journeys from London to Edinburgh. Virgin often have a lot of spare capacity on their trains, and offer cheap advances from London Euston to Edinburgh via the West Coast mainline to attempt to fill this. LNER need to compete with this, so offer a full range of cheap, low-tier advances from London King's Cross to Edinburgh.

On the other hand, from York to Edinburgh LNER's main competition is with CrossCountry. Their trains tend to be overcrowded and they don't offer so many cheap advances, so East Coast have no need to compete so much. To make the most of this situation, they may put a block on quota at the cheapest tiers being used for York to Edinburgh journeys. Passengers trying to book from York to Edinburgh may therefore be faced with only higher tier advances available, even though there is still cheap advance quota available on that train - and it may be booked by passengers making through journeys from Edinburgh to London.

Unfortunately, even though a ticket from Edinburgh to London may be cheaper than one from Edinburgh to York, since advance fares do not permit break of journey there is no easy way to get around this competition-based pricing.​
1.3.2 Seat Reservations and Quotas - Further Quirks
In order to explain a few further quirks in relation to booking advance fares, it is necessary to briefly summarise the mechanism by which quotas are enforced. Booking systems enforce advance quotas by attempting to make a seat reservation on the relevant train(s). This is done in a very straightforward way:
  • For each train in the journey itinerary, the booking system first asks "Is it possible to make seat reservations on this train?" (this information is stored as part of the timetable)
  • If yes, the booking system then connects to the National Reservation System, and for each advance price tier (i.e. ticket type) in turn, starting with the cheapest, it asks "May I book a seat for these journey segments with this ticket type?"
  • If the given train has quota available for that ticket type (i.e. price tier) for every journey segment, then the seat reservation succeeds, and the advance fare has been successfully booked at the cheapest possible tier.
The fact that booking advance fares is so intrinsically tied to making a seat reservation leads to a number of complications, which are discussed below. Booking for large groups

This is a limitation of most booking systems, rather than the reservation system itself, but when booking a journey for, say, 2 people, but there is only one seat left at a given price tier, a reservation will usually be made for two seats at the more expensive tier, rather than one seat at the cheaper tier and one seat at the more expensive tier.

Current booking systems are not intelligent enough to try booking seats singly; if there is not enough quota left at a given tier to book the total number of seats requested, the booking system will only offer fares priced at the first tier that has enough quota available for everyone. "& CONNECTIONS" advances and connecting services

Most long-distance train companies offer advance fares for journeys where the majority of travelling is done on their service, but there is a relatively short connecting journey on a local train company at one or both ends of the journey. This is known as an & Connections advance.

Complications arise with this type of ticket when the connecting service also permits seat reservations to be made. The booking engines do not generally have the intelligence to know which is the "main" service and which is the "connecting" service. Thus if a connecting service also offers seat reservations, the booking engine must attempt to make a reservation on this train, in order to be sure that the advance fare is not quota-controlled on this train (this is generally quite rare for connecting services, although long-distance inter-city TOCs may put a zero quota on each others' advances, e.g. to avoid "XC & CONNECTIONS" advances being used on a Virgin service, for example).

This has two main undesirable side effects:
  • The passenger receives a reservation for the connecting service in addition to the main service, which binds them to using that specific connecting service (according to the terms & conditions of advance fares) and means they may not have a chance to use station facilities at the connecting station. It also means they are not permitted to start the connecting journey a little earlier, in order to be sure of making the connection to the main service.
  • A booking cannot be made for a through journey until reservations have opened for both the main and connecting services. As mentioned above, the booking engines do not have the intelligence to know that there will be no quota enforced on the connecting services, and so they must wait for reservations to open if the connecting service is marked in the timetable as reservable. This delay can result in the cheapest tier of advances being already used up by the time it is actually possible to book the ticket!

By using a little ingenuity it is sometimes possible, depending on the route involved, to avoid being given a reservation for a connecting train by adding a suitable 'via' station to the journey planner in a booking website. This via station should be a station that no reservable connecting services call it, but that non-reservable connecting services do call at. It must also not be a timing point for any reservable services, as information on timing points is also available to the booking websites. (Sites such as RealtimeTrains.co.uk or OpenTrainTimes.com will show details of all the timing points in a train's schedule if required.) Counted Place Reservations

Some train companies have started to offer advances on services that traditionally did not have seat reservations available. To achieve this they mark the service in the timetable as having reservations available, but then issue reservations marked "Coach *, Seat ***", i.e. a reservation for the train, but without a specific seat. This is known as a Counted Place Reservation.

This does not cause any difficulties in itself, but with more and more services being marked as reservable for advance fares, it increases the likelihood of being issued with an unnecessarily binding reservation for the connecting portion of a journey on an & Connections advance, as discussed above. For example, this is a particularly common problem when travelling into London Waterloo with South Western Railway on the connecting leg of an advance to the north of England; many SWR services have SWR-specific advances available, and so appear to the booking system as reservable.

The other reason why a "Coach *, Seat ***" counted place reservation might be issued is that some train companies do not wish passengers travelling on Advance tickets to be given a seat reservation, preferring to try and restrict availability of seat reservations to passengers travelling on Anytime and Off-Peak tickets. This is particularly common on Transport for Wales services. If a "proper" reservation is desired for travel on such a service, it is usually possible to obtain it by buying the Advance ticket at a rail station booking office, rather than through a web site. Changing Seat Reservation

This issue is specific to LNER trains and is due to a limitation in the booking system used on their website rather than an inherent problem with the advance quota/reservation system, but as it has caught a number of people out it is worth documenting.

To secure availability of an advance fare, the booking system will make a seat reservation (and assign a random seat; the important thing is that quota was available). The system then offers you the opportunity to change your seat, and when a new seat is selected it attempts to make a new seat reservation before releasing the old one. A problem arises if you had booked the last seat available at that advance price tier though; since it can't make any more reservations at this tier it refuses to change the seat.​
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Verified Rep - FastJP
8 Sep 2010
1.4 Restriction/Validity Codes

Some tickets have restrictions on which route you can or cannot take, which Train Operating Companies you must use and what times you can and cannot use them.

Time restrictions will not always be obvious and may be simply be printed on the ticket as "See Restrictions".

1.4.1 Route Restrictions on tickets
Many tickets have restrictions on which routes you may or may not use. These are always printed on bottom of the ticket under "Route".

If the route is ANY PERMITTED you may take any route permitted by the NRCoT or Routeing Guide (see Section 3 - Routeing)

Some tickets are routed DIRECT. The meaning of this is undefined. However, one interpretation is that the only permitted routes are those taken by through trains or following the shortest route rule.’

Where the route is VIA one or more stations, your journey must pass through these stations although the train doesn't need to stop there. If there is no permitted route that allows travel via these stations, see Tickets routed via stations that are not on a permitted route.

If the route is NOT VIA one or more stations, you may take a train that does not call or pass there, but you must follow a permitted route.

Should you wish to travel on a permitted route that your ticket does not allow, you may be entitled to excess it to allow you to travel on your preferred route.
1.4.2 Train Operating Company (TOC) Restrictions
Some tickets restrict the trains you can travel on by TOC. In this case the names of the TOC(s) you can or cannot use must be printed on the ticket, although sometimes their names are shortened so that they fit in the space allowed. If you are in doubt, please ask on the forum.

For example, a ticket routed WM TRAINS ONLY could only be used on trains operated by West Midlands Trains (regardless of their route branding). If you were to try to use it on other operator's trains you would be charged the Anytime Single fare as if you held no ticket at all, or you may receive a penalty fare.
1.4.3 Time Restrictions Unrestricted Ticket Types
Certain types of tickets do not have any time restrictions at all. As the name suggests, ANYTIME tickets can be used at any time of the day. Except in some rare cases, season tickets are also valid at any time. Restriction Codes
Tickets that bear the text See Restrictions have an associated restriction code. This is a two letter or number code which refers to the actual time restrictions for the ticket. Sometimes this is also printed on the ticket.

An example of an actual restriction code would be W1 which can be found on the National Rail Enquiries website.

Restrictions vary widely from almost none to very prohibitive. There is no concept of off peak times - each ticket may have different validity and some tickets labelled Off Peak may, in fact, be valid at all times. Finding Restriction Codes
To find the restriction code for a ticket, you can try any of these:
  • ask at a staffed station
  • use National Rail Enquiries
    • Search for a journey on National Rail Enquiries and select the journey and fare that you want.
    • Now scroll down to the blue box titled "Tickets". The type of ticket you've selected will be underlined in this box.
    • Click on this and you'll get a page of information about the ticket.
    • At the bottom of this page you'll find a link called "view the specific 'Validity Code' applicable to the journey plan that you have selected."
    • Click on this for the actual restrictions.
  • use brfares.com
    • Type in the origin and destination of your journey and click the "Query Fares" button
    • Click on the ticket you require from the left hand column Interpreting Restriction Codes
The easiest way of determining time validity is to use National Rail Enquiries and see if your desired ticket is offered for the train you want to use. If it is, the ticket it valid (you might like to take a printout with you to confirm it).

Some restrictions, such as 8A and W5 are very straightforward. Others, such as 1K or 2W are much more complex and require detailed analysis to check if your journey is valid. They are usually laid out in columns showing restrictions for the outward and return journeys although they sometimes show morning and evening restrictions instead.

There may also be extra rules for specific trains or stations. In this way, each easement is different and needs to be studied independently - there are no "hard and fast rules". Restrictions also tell you if break of journey is restricted for the ticket (see section 1.4).
1.4.4 Advance Tickets
Advance tickets are only valid on the trains on which you are booked and hold reservations for and appropriate connecting trains. If you try to use them on different trains you will have to pay for a new ticket. For more information see section 1.1.3.
1.4.5 Refusal of Valid Ticket
Although rail staff ought to be properly trained regarding restriction codes, that's not always the case.

Because the time restrictions for Off Peak and Super Off Peak tickets vary so much depending on the journey being taken, sometimes tickets that are perfectly valid are refused by on-train or ticket barrier staff.

If you are using a ticket with a generous time restriction, it may be a good idea to take a printout of the restriction with you to show to staff. However it would normally be advisable to follow the instructions of rail staff and pay any excess demanded, then seek advice from the forum to obtain a refund.
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Verified Rep - FastJP
8 Sep 2010
1.5 Break of Journey

One of the advantages of rail travel is that it is often possible to stop somewhere on your journey (break your journey), do something like go shopping, meet friends or sightsee and then resume your journey at your leisure.

Sometimes it may also be convenient to start your journey at a station somewhere on the route, rather than the origin on the ticket (starting short), or end it early (ending short).

However, some tickets limit whether you may break your journey or not. This is explained in 1.4.3.

1.5.1 What is and is not a "Break of Journey"
The current National Rail Conditions of Travel (NRCoT) does not define the concept of "break of journey", however Section 16 of the former National Rail Conditions of Carriage (NRCoC) defined a break of journey as: "if you leave a Train Company’s or Rail Service Company’s stations after you start your journey."

However, it also defined the following exceptions as NOT being a break of journey:
"(i) to join a train at another station, or
(ii) to stay in overnight accommodation when you cannot reasonably complete your journey within one day, or
(iii) to follow any instructions given by a member of a Train Company’s staff.
So you're not breaking your journey if you have to go to another station to continue it, nor if you need to stay overnight because there are no more trains to your destination, nor if a member of staff gives you permission (for example, to go and smoke a cigarette).

Neither are you breaking your journey if you simply want to use station facilities (like shops, pubs, ticket offices etc). Sometimes this will require you to pass through the barriers, but that doesn't mean you're breaking your journey.​
1.5.2 Break of Journey Types Breaking and Resuming Later
Unless your ticket restricts break of journey (see 1.4.3) you may leave the train at any station on a permitted route for as long as you like within the validity of the ticket. (Note that if the only reason your route is permitted is because you're using a through train, you can't do this, however).

There is no limit to the number of times you may break your journey, other than how long the ticket is valid for.

If you hold a ticket that is valid for more than one day, your break of journey can also include one or more nights provided you resume your journey whilst the ticket is still valid.

Some tickets that are valid for only one day may also allow an overnight stay. For example, the restriction codes on outward portions of off-peak tickets state "If the journey cannot be completed in this time, the ticket may be used to continue the journey on the following day...". Other conditions may apply, so see for details on restrictions codes. Starting And Ending Short
The NRCoT specifically allows you to start and/or end your journey short, provided that your ticket allows break of journey. Clause 16.4 states:

"Generally, you may start, or break and resume, a journey (in either direction in the case of a return Ticket) at any intermediate station, as long as the Ticket you hold is valid for the trains you want to use. However, this may not
be the case with some through services that take an indirect route. You may also end your journey (in either direction in the case of a return Ticket) before the destination shown on the Ticket."

You must make sure that any station you choose to start or end short at is on a permitted route from the ticket origin to destination.

Because of the way fares are priced, and depending on your journey and the route you want to take, it's possible that starting or ending short may save some money. London Underground / DLR
National Rail Enquiries says:

"You can ‘break your transfer journey' and leave the Underground at any intermediate station, e.g. if you are travelling between Victoria and Euston you can exit at Oxford Circus. However, if you subsequently wish to continue your journey by Underground you will have to purchase another ticket.
1.5.3 Break of Journey Restrictions
For detailed information about cross London transfers, see the Crossing London page.

Some tickets restrict your break of journey rights, whereas others freely allow breaks of journey. If you hold an ANYTIME or season ticket, there are no restrictions. For other tickets, any restrictions will be found the restriction code definition.

Advance purchase tickets never allow you to break your journey, or to start or end it at intermediate stations.

Occasionally Off Peak and Super Off Peak tickets may restrict break of journey on the outbound journey, but allow it on the return, so it's important to study the restriction code carefully. It may also be prudent to take a printout on your journey.
1.5.4 Permission to Break Journey
If a member of a train company's staff instructs you (or gives you permission) to exit a station, it does not count as a break of journey. For example, if you have a long wait for a connecting train you could ask to leave the station while you wait.

Although you have no automatic right to this, you will find that most staff will allow such a reasonable request.
1.5.5 Invalid Breaks of Journey
If you attempt to break your journey, but your ticket does not allow this, you are liable to pay an excess fare.
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Verified Rep - FastJP
8 Sep 2010
1.6 Split Ticketing

It is possible to buy a through ticket from almost anywhere to almost anywhere else on the rail network. Sometimes, however, it may be beneficial to buy more than one ticket to complete your journey. Reasons for this might include
  • Saving money over through fares
  • Breaking your journey where through tickets would not allow it
  • Circular journeys
  • Change of plans whilst travelling
  • Bypassing restrictive Off Peak conditions
  • Taking a route that is not a permitted route
  • No suitable through fare is available
1.6.1 Why can Split Tickets Save Money?
Most tickets is priced by a particular Train Operating Company (TOC). Some TOCs have pricing policies that keep ticket prices low, whereas others attempt to increase prices as much as possible every year.

If a through ticket is priced by an expensive TOC but you can buy two tickets to make the same journey and these are priced by cheaper TOCs, you may be able to save money.

Additionally, some areas have local fares policies that keep prices down and some tickets (especially day tickets which tend to be cheaper than period ones) may not be available for long distance journeys.
1.6.2 Valid Combinations of Tickets
Section 14 of the National Rail Conditions of Travel tells us what combinations of tickets are allowed.

"14.1 Unless shown below, you may use a combination of two or more Tickets to make a journey provided that the train services you use call at the station(s)where you change from one Ticket to another.
14.2 If you are using a Season Ticket, daily Zonal Ticket, or another area basedTicket such as a concessionary pass, ranger or rover in conjunction with another Ticket and the last station at which one Ticket is valid and the first station that the other Ticket is valid are the same, then the train does not need to call at that station for your combination to be valid.
14.3 Some Tickets specifically exclude their use in conjunction with other Tickets. This will be made clear in the terms and conditions when buying such Tickets, and you cannot use such a Ticket in conjunction with another except as set out in 14.1 above.
14.4 In all cases you must comply with the specific terms and conditions of each of the Tickets you are using (for example, keeping to the valid route(s) and train services for which each Ticket is valid). It is your responsibility to check that you comply with the Conditions listed above
" Clause 14.2

Zonal fares
With particular reference to the zonal system around London, this allows you to use two tickets that allow adjacent zones. For example, you could use a combination of zones 1-3 and 4-6 tickets to travel anywhere in zones 1-6.

This also allows you to combine boundary zone tickets with travelcards on express trains, although such tickets must go to the boundary of a zone you already hold a travelcard for.

Season fares
If you have a season ticket you may combine this with any other ticket (season or non-season) on trains that don't stop where you change from one ticket to another

For the purposes of this clause, a rover ticket with a validity of a week or more (or of at least 3 days out of 7) counts as a season ticket and could be extended in the same way with no requirement to stop.

Freedom Passes are considered to be off peak season tickets but may also be combined with zonal tickets, including outboundary travelcard seasons. They are only valid on the services of participating train companies (the exclusions are listed here). Clause 14.1- Stopping at Split Points
Where you have a combination of tickets that don't involve a Season ticket or Zonal tickets as described in 14.2, you must ensure that the trains you use stop at all of the stations where you swap from one ticket to another.
1.6.3 Rights of Split Ticket Users
When using split tickets you are entitled to the same rights as users of through tickets, namely:
  • If you miss your final train home due to delays on the rail network, any TOC in a position to do so must help to get you home or arrange overnight accommodation for you but you must make sure that you adhere to the minimum connection times. We suggest that you obtain and print an itinerary from National Rail Enquiries as this will ensure your connections are valid.
  • If your train is delayed you are entitled to compensation for the full journey from the operator who delayed you. Often this uses the Delay Repay scheme, but some older TOCs have their own schemes.
  • When using one or more Advance tickets, if you are delayed on route you may take the next available service. We recommended that you get your ticket stamped at a booking office to confirm the delay, although this is not strictly necessary.
1.6.4 How to Find Split Fares
You will need to do some research to find the best set of splits. Using a source of fares information (see try looking at the fares to and from each station that your trains will stop at. Then work out the best combination.

There are National Rail accredited websites which will sell combinations of fares, such as Trainsplit.com or Loco2.com.
1.6.5 Splitting Advance Fares
It is often cheaper to split Advance tickets. This may be because quotas have run out for long distance journeys but are still available for short distance ones, or because advance tickets to London tend to be cheap (if booked well in advance) and a combination to and from London can be excellent value for long distance cross country journeys.

Remember that you must travel on the booked service. However, if you are delay on route, you can take a later connecting service even on split tickets (see 1.6.3 above).
1.6.6 Refusal of Valid Split
Although unusual, it's possible that rail staff may refuse to let you travel on a valid set of split tickets, particularly if you are using condition 14.2

If this happens and a complaint to their manager does not succeed immediately, you may be forced to buy a new ticket or to accept an unpaid fares notice. You should immediately put a complaint in, in writing, about this, ensuring that you ask that the staff are properly trained. You will receive a full refund.

However, you must make sure that you are sure your combination of tickets is valid and have read the National Rail Conditions of Travel carefully.
1.6.7 Invalid Splits
If you attempt to use a combination of tickets that are not valid (normally because they don't comply with 14), you will have the pay the full Anytime Single fare for your journey from the last station your tickets were valid at. You may also be subject to a penalty fare.

Remember that split tickets force you to go on particular routes. A through ticket may have many different routes available, but you must ensure that all parts of your journey are covered by a valid ticket. This may include using buses when engineering works are on, since your split tickets might not be valid via an alternative route.
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Established Member
18 Nov 2008
1.7 Promotional & Experimental tickets

Promotional fares are defined as "special fares limited by duration, destination or distribution" (source: RDG). These are normally advertised by the TOC directly (on their website, on their Twitter/Facebook presences, in station, in their customer magazine etc.) or in conjunction with publications. In the case of the latter, it may be necessary to buy a number of different issues to collect differently numbered tokens.

In some cases, a voucher and/or tokens (from either the TOC or a publication) needs to be exchanged for a ticket before travel. Most will either require that the voucher and/or tokens be exchanged at a specific ticket office or selection of ticket offices.

In other cases, the voucher will state tickets need to be purchased from a specific website (possibly with a specific code), and the voucher and/or tokens need to be carried to make the tickets valid. If you travel without the necessary vouchers and/or tokens, you may be treated as if you are travelling without a ticket.

The type of ticket available varies with each promotion, but most promotions will take the form of a discount on Advance tickets or a promotional “System Pass”. A “System Pass” refers to a ticket which allows travel on all services run by the stated TOC. Such tickets are only available as part of a promotion, and may exclude travel at “Peak” times and on certain services. Examples of previous “System Pass” promotions include Southern’s “Day Save”, East Midlands Trains’ “Red Dot Days” and London Midland’s “Great Escape”.

Some promotions (e.g. Club 55) are run by multiple TOCs, and occasionally allow travel on more than one TOC.

Please be aware that promotional tickets may be subject to quota controls, in which case they will be sold on a 'first come, first served' basis.

For information regarding promotions which are available, please see the Special Offer Tickets thread.
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Established Member
18 Nov 2008
1.7.1 Megatrain

Megatrain are special tickets sold directly by Stagecoach Group, for travel on services operated by East Midlands Railway (formerly also Virgin Trains and South West Trains). Please note that following the start of the new East Midlands Railway franchise (now operated by Abellio rather than Stagecoach) Megatrain may be withdrawn in the future entirely.

Megatrain tickets are only available through the Megatrain website. An unavoidable “booking fee” applies. As tickets are sold by Stagecoach Group rather than the by the TOCs, ticket offices cannot assist with booking issues - these must be rectified with Megatrain customer services directly.

Megatrain tickets are sold on a quota basis, similar to Advance Tickets but with additional restrictions. Tickets go on sale around 45 days ahead of the date of travel – at this stage the cheapest tickets become available, which could be as low as £1 “per seat”. Once the quota for the lowest price available has been exhausted, tickets at the next price tier will go on sale. This repeats until all tickets have been sold. As with Advances, it is not possible to purchase a Megatrain ticket the same day as travel.

There are no Child or Railcard discounts available, so it is always worth checking if Megatrain is offering a price lower than that offered by a ‘normal’ booking engine. If you are under 16 or a Railcard-holder you are less likely to save money using Megatrain over Advance Purchase tickets (and Advance Tickets are less restricted, with refunds available should services become cancelled and/or run late). A discount of 10% is available to Students carrying an NUS Extra card, which must be valid and carried on the date of the journey.

Even though the Megatrain website offers “seats”, it does not allocate you a seat, therefore a seat is not guaranteed for your journey. Since Megatrain tickets are generally only released on under-used services, there is likely to be plenty of unreserved seating available. Megatrain tickets are only available for travel in Standard Class, although Weekend First upgrades may be available at the discretion of the Train Manager.

When you purchase Megatrain tickets, there is no option to receive a physical paper ticket. You are instead e-mailed a code which must be carried and presented in place of a ticket. There is no requirement for the confirmation e-mail (with the code) to be printed, however it is advised that you do so to ensure a hassle-free journey. If your journey involves passing through a gateline, you will need to find the gateline assistant, who will manually verify your code and allow you to pass through.

Megatrain tickets are only valid on the specific service selected at the time of booking. If you board a train other than the one you selected without permission, you may be charged the full Anytime Single or Return fare or a Penalty Fare for your journey.

Megatrain tickets are only valid between the origin and destination specified at the time of booking. If you attempt to start short, you may be prevented from boarding the train. Finishing short is specifically not permitted, although the procedure which would be carried out if you attempted this is a matter of some considerable debate. No Break of Journey is permitted when travelling using Megatrain tickets.

In the event of late-running, Delay Repay does not apply to Megatrain tickets, nor is a refund scheme of any sort available. If the service you selected is cancelled or running more than an hour late, you may seek permission from a member of staff to travel on the next service. It is advisable to make clear that you are a Megatrain ticket-holder.

Megabusplus tickets are a type of Megatrain ticket which include travel by a combination of rail and coach.

As tickets are purchased from Stagecoach Group (registered in Scotland) rather than the TOCs (registered in England), the contract is formed under Scottish rather than English law.

Controversially, Stagecoach Group have been known to cancel and refund bookings before the day of travel. You may wish to bear this in mind as the cost of alternative tickets may have increased since the original booking. Stagecoach Group are able to exploit a loophole in Scottish Law in order to do this.
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17 Sep 2010
1.8 Ticket formats

1.8.1 Paper tickets

Many train tickets are printed on credit-card sized orange stock. Tickets may come in more than one part e.g. a return ticket will have an outward and a return portion and an Advance ticket will come with one ticket covering the journey and one or more reservation coupons.

An increasing number of paper tickets are being printed on larger receipt-roll type orange stock. In principle these are the same as credit-card sized stock, however due to the fact these larger tickets are not accepted by London Underground gatelines, the decision has been made not to issue any 'cross London' fares; this also removes the ability to issue excess fares to, or from, any fare with 'cross London' marker.

Rarely you may come across ‘airline-sized’ tickets which are much longer. These are being phased out. However, if you are booking a domestic train journey to connect with Eurostar from Eurostar themselves, you may find that you get one of these tickets.

1.8.2 Smart cards

A smart card is a contactless card that is a way of storing tickets or credit. Some smart cards can be topped up for Pay as you Go (PAYG) use, like you would with a PAYG mobile phone. Alternatively, you can store products on it by purchasing them in advance e.g. season tickets and travelcards.

The most popular type of smart card used on the railways is the Oyster card. With the Oyster card you can store Travelcard season tickets or credit to be used as Pay as you Go.

More and more operators are introducing smart cards to some of their services, mainly as part of new franchise requirements.

Although not every train operator along a route where smart cards can be used may equip conductors with a smart card reader, the ticket is just as valid as it would be in the form of a paper ticket, unless additional restrictions say otherwise.

1.8.3 Print @ Home

Some operators offer Print @ Home tickets. This is when you buy your tickets online, as normal, but instead of having the tickets sent home or collecting them at the station, you can print off a PDF on a sheet of A4 paper which is your ticket.

Print @ Home is currently only available in this country for Advance tickets, where you are restricted to specific trains. Also, Print @ Home is generally restricted to Advance tickets where you are travelling on one operator only e.g. East Coast or Virgin. So if you have an Advance ticket with a connection on another operator e.g. Virgin with a connection on Greater Anglia, then chances are you won’t be able to get a Print @ Home ticket.

When travelling on a Print @ Home ticket, you need to specify the name of the lead traveller and choose a form of identification that you must show on the train to prove they are travelling e.g. credit card.

You’ll need to book with the operator you are travelling with to get the Print @ Home option.

Advantages of Print @ Home:
• If you lose your ticket, you can always print off another one.
• There is no worry of tickets getting lost in the post or queues at self-service ticket machines before you travel.
• If you don’t have a self-service ticket machine at your local station and are booking Advance tickets with less than a week to travel, then it is too late to have your tickets sent to you free of charge, so this is the cheapest way to get them.

Disadvantages of Print @ Home:
• You’ll need to have access to a printer to use Print @ Home.
• The lead passenger who was specified at the time of booking needs to travel.
• The lead passenger needs to remember to carry the ID specified when booking the tickets.

1.8.4 m-tickets

Most train companies have their own apps for mobile phones such as iPhone, Windows Phone, Android and Blackberry. These apps are often very similar as they are produced by the same company, Masabi. With these apps you can purchase tickets. Often you’ll be asked to collect your ticket from a self-service ticket machine at the station, but sometimes you’ll be sold an m-ticket.

M-ticket stands for mobile ticket i.e. a 'virtual' ticket which is on your phone. M-tickets come in two parts: Travel details and a barcode. The travel details contain information about your journey, so you can make sure you are travelling on the correct trains. The barcode can be scanned by a member of staff on a train or at a station to check you have a valid ticket. You’ll need to activate your m-ticket on the day of travel before travelling.

Despite many apps being very similar, you’ll generally need to book tickets from the app of the train company you are travelling with to take advantage of m-tickets. Also, generally only Advance tickets are available as m-tickets.

Advantages of m-tickets:
• Can be easily booked ‘on the go’ on your phone.
• As long as you have your phone on you, you have your ticket on you, so less chance of forgetting it.

Disadvantages of m-tickets:
• If your phone runs out of battery, you won’t be able to show your ticket, which could lead to you needing to purchase a new ticket.
• If you lose your phone, it may be complicated to retrieve any m-tickets you have purchased but not used yet, so you may have to buy a new ticket.
• You’ll need the phone with the ticket on and the card that was used to pay for the ticket, so you can’t really buy tickets for other people, unless they are travelling with you or have the phone and the card.
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