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Frequently Asked Questions

If you're new to Railsmartr or looking for answers to your questions, this guide will help you learn more about our services and their features.

Getting my tickets

It's not normally cheaper to buy train tickets on the day, but there are a couple of things to bear in mind if you're after a last-minute bargain.

Is it cheaper to buy train tickets on the day?

As a general rule, no! It might not be more expensive, but it's unusual to get a last-minute price drop unless a train is exceptionally quiet. If you want to buy an Advance ticket, then we'd recommend buying it as soon as it's available and you're sure when you want to travel. When you book with Railsmartr, you can also change these tickets to another date and only ever pay the price difference. Buying a flexible ticket? If you're buying an AnytimeOff-Peak or Super Off-Peak ticket, there's no advantage to booking far in advance. The price will always stay the same. Of course, it can be worth booking ahead if it's going to be a busy train and you'd like a seat reservation.

What should I know if I want to buy train tickets on the day?

First of all, it's still worth booking with Railsmartr! It's possible to buy an eTicket for most journeys, so you can seamlessly get your tickets on the move without queueing up at ticket machines or the ticket office. What's more, you can still get Advance tickets on the day for many routes. Even if it's just a few minutes until your train leaves, we'd recommend popping on your phone and taking a look. Just make sure you've got your ticket before you board - we usually send them within seconds of your payment being confirmed. Let's take a look at what we can find when we want to buy train tickets on the day: Example of buying train tickets on the day with Railsmartr At the time of searching, it was only 25 minutes until this Leeds to Manchester train departed. But, it was £8.10 cheaper compared to buying a full-price flexible ticket.

How else can I save money?

Don't forget that here at Railsmartr, we now offer split tickets. Even if only flexible tickets are available, we'll try to find the cheapest combination for your trip. Struggling to find a suitable fare? Just contact us. We'll do our best to grab you a great deal.
You should have your confirmation email and eTickets within 10 minutes of completing your purchase and we'll usually get them to you a lot quicker! If you haven’t got them within that time, please check your spam and promotions folders. Still no luck? Our customer service team is here to help. Just contact us as soon as possible before your train departs. If you have another email address, we may want to try that.  
An eTicket is a train ticket that we email to you. The eTicket comes in both a PDF and in a PKPASS format. You can use the PKPASS on iPhones and iPads. It’s much easier and quicker than collecting your ticket from a station! Your eTicket has a barcode that can be scanned at gatelines at stations, or by the guard/train manager on board a train, to check it’s valid. More details on eTickets are available in our guide to getting your tickets.
If you opt to collect your tickets from a station, you'll be provided an 8-digit 'Customer Reference' (in a format such as X8LKRT7W). You'll need both that and the card you paid with to collect your tickets from the station. It's usually quickest to collect your tickets from a ticket machine, rather than from the booking office. What to do
  • Choose the 'collect pre-paid tickets' option on the screen
  • Insert your card into the card reader (you won't be charged)
  • Remove your card when instructed to do so and type in the 8-digit customer reference on the screen
  • Select the journeys you want to print (it’s usually best to select 'all')
  • Your tickets will be printed. Check that the correct number of coupons has been printed – as well as your tickets there may be seat reservations or other supplements, and there will always be a collection receipt printed last.
  If you have any problems please contact station staff or contact us. Our Customer Service helpline is available Monday-Sunday 7am-10pm. 
You use an eTicket by scanning it at the station gateline or on the train. We'll email the ticket to you once your booking is complete. You can use either the PDF or PKPASS attachment. Both formats contain the same information – so it’s up to you. PDF or PKPASS?
  • You could show the PDF on your phone or print it out
  • You can add the PKPASS to your Apple Wallet on your iPhone (or iPad) and just use that
  • Or you could do both, or any other combination. It’s all fine!
  • Your eTicket has a barcode that can be scanned at gatelines at stations, or by the guard/train manager on board a train, to check that it’s valid.Find out more in our guide to getting your tickets.

Unfortunately, an eTicket option isn’t available for every journey. Usually you can get your tickets straight to your mobile but there are some instances when it's not possible. But don't worry, if eTickets aren't available for your journey, we'll always give you an alternative when you book.

Main exceptions
  • If your journey involves crossing London – eTickets aren't accepted on the Tube, London Overground or DLR. This also means there isn't an eTicket option available to or from London Zones or when buying London Travelcards
  • If your journey involves travelling on Southeastern or c2c. Unfortunately, these two train operators don’t support eTickets
  • Some journeys involving ScotRail and those on Merseyrail
  • Finally, some ticket types can’t be issued as eTickets – these are mostly group tickets.

  • Find out more about other ways to get your tickets on our dedicated help page.
    Yes. You have exactly the same rights with eTickets around travel, refunds and compensation for delays etc as you do with paper tickets. So there are no disadvantages to eTickets!
    If the station you're travelling from doesn't have a self-service ticket collection machine, you can still collect your train tickets. In fact, you can use any other station that has this facility. If there’s nowhere nearby, you might be better off choosing postal delivery or getting your eTicket sent directly to your mobile. We'll always let you know the ticket delivery options available for your journey when you book with us.

    Find out more about how to get your tickets on our dedicated help page.

    You'll need the credit or debit card you booked with to collect your tickets from a machine. If you try and collect your tickets with a different card, unfortunately it won't work! So you may need to get in touch with us if you have a replacement card.

    Our customer service team is here to help. You'll need both your booking order number and the bank card details you paid with. 

    The reason why your station isn't on the self-service ticket collection machine list is because not all stations have collection facilities. If a station is not on the list but you think it should be because you know it has ticket collection facilities, please contact us. We rely on information from the train operators for this, and sometimes this is out of date.  More details on how to collect tickets from a station are available here.
    Please allow 10 minutes after booking online before you collect your tickets from a self-service machine.

    And don’t forget about those pesky peak hour queues at ticket machines. Please leave yourself enough time before your train departs!

    Ticket on departure is an option that you have if you book tickets with Railsmartr. It's exactly what it sounds like - you can pick up the tickets from the station before you go!

    What is Ticket on Departure?

    It means that you'll get a paper ticket. If you choose to buy your tickets in this way, then you'll receive a collection code. You can visit any ticket machine at any station in order to collect your tickets.

    How do I use Ticket on Departure?

    You'll need the same card that you paid with. Every machine has a collect tickets open on the screen. Just insert your card, then remove it when you're told to. After this, you can enter your code. Once you've entered your collection code, you'll be shown the tickets on the booking. You can then print the tickets. Make sure that you have all of your tickets and that you haven't left any in the machine. The tickets are usually available 10 minutes after booking, but it can be near instantaneous.

    Do I have to collect my tickets from a specific station?

    There's no need to collect your tickets from a specific station. We'll ask you to choose a station from a list, but this is just to show you which stations will allow you to collect your ticket. If you departure station doesn't have a ticket machine, then you'll need to visit a station which does, before you travel. You cannot travel using your booking confirmation. The Find a Station feature on the National Rail website will tell you if your station has a ticket machine. You may prefer to use eTickets in this case. You can either print them at home or show them on a device of your choice.

    How do I select Ticket on Departure on Railsmartr?

    When you get to the last step in your booking on Railsmartr, it'll usually be the second option: Railsmartr website showing how to collect ticket on departure bookings Simply select this option, and we'll give you tickets on departure. Keep an eye out for the email which will contain your collection code.
    Unfortunately, you cannot collect your train tickets with a different payment card. You will need the same payment card as you purchased with.

    If you have problems collecting tickets from the machine, please go to the ticket office. Station staff are able to issue your tickets if you have your Customer Reference number and the credit or debit card you booked with.

    If there is no ticket office, please call our Customer Service helpline on 03330 153 488 (Monday-Sunday 7am-10pm). Please contact us before your departure time.

    We also accept payments from 'virtual' or numberless cards. When you choose how to get your tickets, we recommend you choose eTickets rather than collecting your tickets from a machine. If you have any problems collecting your tickets from a machine and have used a numberless card please get in touch with us.

    No, you don’t need a smartphone (and you don’t need to download an app either!) to use an eTicket. If you haven’t got a phone that can display your eTicket, then just print it off before travel. The paper version is all you need. You’ll need to print it off at home or at work before you travel - it can’t be printed at stations, or on board trains.
    This is the great thing about eTickets. If you lose your eTickets, you can just print them off as many times as you like, or get them out of your email inbox again. So you can never really lose them!