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Discounts and railcards

Discounts and railcards

If you forget to take your Railcard with you, you will usually be asked to buy a new ticket (without a discount) on the train. On certain services, you may even be charged with a penalty fare. However, the good news is that you are now normally allowed to claim the cost of this back. In any case, this applies if it’s the first time in a calendar year that this happens.

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Yes, there are some discounts for accompanying children. Some train operators have flat fares for children accompanying adults. These can offer excellent value, as they can be as low as £1 for a return ticket. They can also include a London Travelcard! We’ve got them all covered in Railsmartr and they will automatically appear as options if you’re travelling on the right journey and with the right mixture of passengers. Flat child fares are available on Southeastern, on c2c and on Chiltern Railways. They are also available on Govia Thameslink Railway (GTR), which is the official name for the Southern Railway, Great Northern and Thameslink brands. However, they are not available on Gatwick Express, which is also part of GTR. With these tickets, you must always travel together at all times. This applies also on the London Underground, if your ticket is valid on it. If you don’t, then you may be asked to pay for a new (undiscounted) ticket.

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Yes, you can get a discount if you don’t have a Railcard. If you’re travelling in a group (and will stay together at all times), there are some great discounts to be had. We’ve got them all in Railsmartr! Discounts for just two people are available on many Northern routes, as well as Gatwick Express and Stansted Express. Typically, these reduce the cost of the second adult travelling by half. “GroupSave” discounts are available on most of the train operators in South East England. They are also available on GWR (which serves Devon and Cornwall, as well as South Wales). These offer ⅓ off for three or more people travelling together. There are lots of cities and destinations in the GroupSave area, which is a huge area of south east England centred on London and including Cambridge, Bedford, Oxford, Reading, Bristol, Exeter and Cornwall. The whole south coast with Bournemouth, Southampton, Portsmouth, Brighton and Dover are also covered. You can also get “GroupSave” discounts between London and Birmingham, provided that you travel with Chiltern Railways or West Midlands Trains. Unfortunately the discount does not apply on Avanti West Coast. “GroupSave” discounts are also available in South Wales (on GWR only). There are also group discounts on some East Midlands Railway and ScotRail, and there are family tickets on Avanti West Coast and on LNER. Wherever there’s a group discount, we’ve got it covered on Railsmartr. More details on Group Tickets are available here.

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Yes, you can use up to three different railcards in the same booking, providing that there are enough passengers in the group, of course! Railsmartr will automatically use the railcards that give you the best discount, if you have provided more than one railcard. For instance, if there are two adults and two children travelling together, and you have selected one Family & Friends Railcard, one Senior Railcard, and one 16-25 Railcard, Railsmartr will use just the Family & Friends Railcard if that gives you the cheapest option. In fact, the Family & Friends Railcard covers up to four adults and four children. Put simply, Railsmartr will do all the hard work for you.

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Your Railcard discount is less than ⅓ off because, for some railcards, there’s a minimum fare that applies at certain times of the day. and that might be the reason. For example, the 16-25 Railcard has a minimum fare of £12.00 on journeys starting between 04.30 and 10.00 on Mondays to Fridays.  This minimum fare does not apply on public holidays, at weekends and during July and August.    

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The reason why there is no discount for your Railcard showing on Railsmartr is probably because your Railcard isn’t valid at the time of day that you are looking at journeys and fares for. Try a later time on the same day, or a weekend or public holiday, and you will probably see the railcard discount. It might also be because the Railcard you have doesn’t discount the fares you are looking at. For instance, your Network Railcard won’t apply to Advance tickets.  This is often the case with group tickets, where a discount has already been applied. It’s also the case for 1st Class, as no discount applies to holders of 16-25 Railcards, for example.   

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We don’t (yet) sell Railcards online at Railsmartr. You can get most from your local station, though some are only available online now. For information about how to buy most Railcards, please visit the Railcard website.

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We accept all National Rail railcards to buy train tickets on Railsmartr:
  • 16-17 Saver
  • 16-25 Railcard
  • 26-30 Railcard
  • Annual Gold Card
  • Disabled Persons Railcard
  • Family & Friends Railcard
  • HM Forces Railcard
  • Job Centre Plus Railcard
  • Network Railcard
  • Senior Railcard
  • Two Together Railcard
Also, we’ll soon be adding local railcards, to bring you even more savings:
  • Cambrian
  • Cotswold Line
  • Dales
  • Devon & Cornwall
  • Esk Valley
  • Thameslink and Great Northern Student 16/18 Connect
  • Heart of Wales
  • Highland
  • Pembrokeshire
  • Valleys

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You can save up to ⅓ off the cost of your tickets with a railcard. Two railcards (the 16-17 Saver and the Job Centre Plus) give 50% off. Some railcards are not valid at certain times of the day, or have minimum fares at certain times of the day. Therefore, you won’t always get ⅓ off. The times when these apply are shown on your Railcard’s T&Cs. Additionally, if the discount is reduced for any reason, we’ll show you on Railsmartr too. More details on Railcards are available here

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