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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.

Train tickets explained

Yes, split tickets can be refundable. It all depends on the ticket type that you have. In any case, it's always possible to exchange them for another date/time, no matter which ticket type you have.

Which split tickets are refundable?

If you have any of these tickets in your split ticket combination, then you're able to refund them fee-free:
  • Anytime
  • Off-Peak
  • Super Off-Peak.
Your split tickets are refundable if they're made up of these ticket types. If you have an Advance ticket as part of your split tickets, then any 'Advance' parts aren't refundable. Instead, you can exchange them for another date and time, so long as you purchase your new tickets and send us all of the details before the original train departs. In these cases, you're also able to exchange your Anytime, Off-Peak and Super Off-Peak tickets if they form part of the same booking. If you have an Anytime or Off-Peak ticket, then you can refund these from your Railsmartr account, if you have one. If you'd like to change your Advance tickets to a different date, then please contact us.

What happens if I exchange for a non-split ticket or vice-versa?

If you want to change your Advance tickets for a different date and time, then don't worry if the combination of tickets for the journey is different. It's also not a problem if you're exchanging split tickets for non-split ones or vice-versa. After all, we've offered you the cheapest option for your journey, so you shouldn't be penalised for that. So long as the journey is the same, then you're all set. You can tell which kind of ticket you're buying depending on whether there's a Split single or Split return badge: non-refundable split tickets on railsmartr site

What happens if I abandon my journey?

It all depends on why! If you decide only to travel part of the way, then you can receive a refund on the split tickets that you don't use. If they're not refundable, then you can exchange them for a different date, so long as you tell us before the date/time of departure on the unused ticket. Caught up in disruption? No worries. If you need to abandon your journey for this reason, then you can claim a refund on all of the split tickets in your booking, as per the National Rail Conditions of Travel. You would need to claim this refund from us. As is always the case, if you complete your journey, but with a delay, you claim Delay Repay from the first rail operator that delayed you. If you abandon your journey, you'll be able to claim a full refund from Railsmartr. You can find out more on our dedicated page about split tickets.
There are a few kinds of day return ticket. Let's take a look at them and when you can use them.

What is a day return ticket?

As a general rule, day return tickets are flexible tickets that allow you to make a return trip on the same day. You don't have to use a specific train, either. Just make sure you follow any time restrictions. Here are the main types:
  • Anytime Day Return
  • Off-Peak Day Return
  • Super Off-Peak Day Return
  • Weekend Super Off-Peak Day Return.

When can I use a day return ticket?

Let's go through each day return ticket type and the usual rules that you can expect:
  • Anytime Day Return tickets are valid at any time. You can start your outward journey whenever you like
  • Off-Peak Day Return tickets are normally valid after 08:30, 08:45, 09:00, 09:15 or 09:30. It all depends on the restriction code. In some cases, they're also not valid in the evening peak
  • Super Off-Peak Day Return and Weekend Super Off-Peak Day Return tickets are more restrictive. They might be valid during limited hours in the week and/or only on weekends and Bank Holidays.
The restriction code will be on your ticket. To look at it in more detail, just enter 'nre.co.uk/(code)'. For example, restriction code B1 would be nre.co.uk/b1. When you book with Railsmartr, we'll always sell you the cheapest ticket for your journey, so there's no need to worry about whether or not your ticket is valid: off-peak day return ticket on railsmartr site

Are these tickets valid only for one day?

Almost! They're only valid during a 'railway day'. This means that you can use a day return ticket until 04:29 the next day.

Are these tickets refundable?

Yes! If you have a flexible ticket such as Off-PeakSuper Off-Peak or Anytime, then you can claim a refund through your Railsmartr online account if you have one. Otherwise, please contact us.
Weekends are Off-Peak when it comes to the ticket type! But there are a couple of things that you should bear in mind when you travel.

Are weekends Off-Peak?

As a general rule, Off-Peak tickets are valid all day on weekends and Bank Holidays. With the exception of some West Midlands Trains and South Western Railway tickets, you can also use Super Off-Peak tickets all day on weekends. Unless you're returning during a 'peak' time on a weekday, there's no need to pay extra for an Anytime ticket. In any case, when you pop your journey into Railsmartr, we'll tell you the cheapest option for the journey that you want to take: Now, if your question is whether weekends are 'busy' rather than if your ticket is valid, that is a bit more complex! Weekends aren't Off-Peak in some places if you're judging them based on the number of people on the train. For example, many long-distance trains are busiest on Sundays. Even if you're travelling at the weekend, we'd still recommend making a seat reservation if you can.

What if I can't find an Off-Peak ticket?

You're most likely to be asking this question if you're travelling from London to Newcastle, Berwick, Edinburgh or vice-versa. As part of a 'simpler fares' pilot, LNER doesn't sell Off-Peak tickets for these journeys anymore. As a result, on busy weekend trains, you might find that services are more expensive than during the week. Because of this, you might prefer to book a ticket to a different (but similarly located) station, where there's still a Super Off-Peak (or Off-Peak) fare available. Here at Railsmartr, we also offer split tickets. This is where we'll find the best combination of tickets for your journey so you're getting the best value fare. There's no extra fuss, just an extra ticket in your hand! Look out for the split tickets symbol when booking: split ticket saving for weekend off-peak train journey on railsmartr
Sometimes your plans might change or you want to get a headstart during disruption! Let's go through when it's okay to take an earlier train than booked, and when you need to hold tight and wait for your scheduled train.

When can I take an earlier train than booked?

If you have an AnytimeOff-Peak or Super Off-Peak ticket, you may be allowed to take an earlier train than booked. These tickets don't tie you to a specific train. As a result, you can be flexible about when you travel. You just need to be careful about time restrictions. If you have an Off-Peak ticket, there will be some restrictions on weekdays. When it comes to Super Off-Peak tickets, it'll be the same. If you're using one of these tickets with West Midlands Trains or South Western Railway, there could also be some restrictions on a Saturday. If you choose to take an earlier train, then your seat reservation will no longer be valid. Instead, scout out the unreserved carriage(s)! You can find out more information about these in our dedicated guide. If you have an Advance ticket, these are only valid on the date and service specified. When you book with Railsmartr, we'll tell you clearly which kind of ticket you're buying. Just click/tap the price to see what's what: Ticket types on Railsmartr site, including ones where you can take an earlier train than booked

Can I take an earlier train than booked during disruption?

If there's disruption, then you might want to start travelling as early as possible and take an earlier train than booked. Here are the key rules to be aware of if you have an Advance ticket:
  • You can take the service before or after if your train is cancelled. It'll usually need to be operated by the same company
  • If there's widespread disruption, you can usually travel whenever you prefer on the day. It all depends on what kind of ticket acceptance is available
  • As per the National Rail Conditions of Travel (Section 28.2), train companies cannot leave you stranded (unless it's physically impossible to run a service or source replacement transport)
  • If you're ever in doubt, speak to the conductor before you board.

Is there anything else I should know?

If you're ever unsure about when your ticket is valid, feel free to contact us. We've also written dedicated pages about disruptionstrike action and more.
Yes, you can use a Railcard with split tickets. After all, they're just a combination of the same single and return tickets that you'd otherwise buy! There are a couple of things to bear in mind, though. For one, the restrictions that apply to your Railcard will apply to every ticket that you buy. For example, if there's a minimum fare or if the Railcard isn't valid before a particular time. In some cases, you might find this to be quite useful! If your Railcard isn't valid before 09:30, and you want to travel at 09:00, then you can buy a shorter, undiscounted ticket, then have a discount apply to the rest of your journey. Secondly, if your Railcard is only valid when there is a group of you (such as a Two Together Railcard) then you'll need to stick together for the whole journey when you're using a Railcard with split tickets. The same applies if you're using Groupsave tickets. We've written more about Railcards and how you can know which restrictions apply to them in our dedicated guide. Looking to know more about split tickets? We've written more about them, too.  
Split tickets are legal! There are no rules against using split tickets and they're a great way to save money when you book with Railsmartr. However, there are a couple of things that you will need to remember:
  • Split tickets are legal but you need to make sure that your train stops at the point where you change tickets. If you have a split single or return ticket, then your train will need to stop at all of the stations where your tickets are to/from
  • Make sure that you leave enough time to change trains. This isn't a problem if you book with Railsmartr, but if you choose to book tickets separately, you'll need to obey the minimum connection time at any station that you change at. If you don't leave enough time (usually five minutes at smaller stations, up to 10 at larger ones and up to 15 at major interchanges) then you aren't entitled to any compensation if there's a delay
  • Remember your rights. Split ticketing does not affect your rights under the National Rail Conditions of Travel.
Looking to book split tickets with Railsmartr? Take a look at our handy guide and keep an eye out for the split ticket symbol when you book: example of split tickets on railsmartr site
In a nutshell, an Open Return ticket is one where you don't need to have to come back on a selected day. The return part of the ticket is valid for one calendar month. It's a flexible ticket.

What kinds of Open Return ticket are there?

There are a couple of different kinds of Open Return ticket. Some of them are completely flexible, while other have same time restrictions. Here are the most common types:
  • Anytime Return tickets are the most flexible. The outward part is valid for five days, rather than just one. As the name suggests, you can use them at any time
  • Off-Peak Return tickets have some time restrictions. The outward part is valid for just one day
  • Super Off-Peak Return tickets have the most restrictions. Usually, they have restrictions in the morning and evening rush hour, and a select few of them also have restrictions on a Saturday.

How do I know when my Open Return ticket is valid?

This is a great question, and there's no 'hard and fast' rule when it comes to these tickets if you have an Off-Peak Return or Super Off-Peak Return. On every ticket, you'll find a restriction code. At the bottom of an eTicket, it's at the bottom of the ticket, such as in this example: open return ticket You can either type in 'nre.co.uk' followed by the restriction code (eg. nre.co.uk/2V) or you can click here to visit their dedicated page.

Can I get a reservation with an Open Return ticket?

Of course! When you book your ticket with Railsmartr, just pick the train you'd prefer to travel on. This doesn't affect the flexible nature of an Open Return ticket, and there's no need to travel on this service if you change your plans. If you don't have a reservation, many trains have a dedicated unreserved coach. You can take a look at our guide to finding the unreserved coach for more handy tips on this.

Why can't I find an Open Return ticket?

You might find that on some journeys, it's not possible to get an open return ticket. This will be for two reasons:
  • Your journey is too short. On short trips, it might only be possible to get a day return
  • The ticket you want to buy is priced by LNER. They've adopted 'single-leg pricing' on the fares that they're in charge of. This means that a single costs roughly half of what a return fare used to. Of course, if you normally break the return leg of your journey across several days, this won't be possible anymore. Feel free to contact us if you're struggling to find a suitable alternative.

How do I book one of these tickets?

You can do it easily with Railsmartr! Just select 'Open Return' if you're not sure when you're going to be coming back: Railsmartr website showing how to book an Open Return ticket What's more, when you book with us, we won't charge you any fees. Open Return tickets are fully refundable, so if you change your mind before you travel, you can get a fee-free refund. You can claim a refund through your Railsmartr online account if you have one. Otherwise, please contact us.

Are you wondering 'where is the ticket number on a train ticket?' No problem. Sometimes you might need the ticket number, particularly if you need a refund or to submit a delay compensation claim. Where it is can depend on what kind of ticket you have. 

Where is the ticket number on a train ticket?

There are usually two kinds of train tickets that you might have. You could have a paper ticket or an eTicket. The latter is usually the most common kind of ticket these days. 

Let's take a look at where the ticket number is on a train tickets that's issued as an eTicket: 

where is the ticket number on a train ticket - image shows eticket with number highlighted

We've highlighted the number in yellow. It's pretty easy to find as the description quite literally says Ticket Number

It's a little bit trickier with paper tickets. Let's take a look at an example of where to find the ticket number here. There are actually two kinds of paper ticket, too. This first kind is the traditional 'credit card style ticket': 

credit card style ticket showing where the ticket number is


There isn't a 'proper' ticket number, so to speak, so you'll have to refer to the big long line of numbers on the bottom right. In this example, it starts with 95682

It's a bit simpler with the newer kind of paper ticket, as this one has an 'Aztec Code' on it (often called a QR code instead):


paper ticket showing where the ticket number is

 In this example, you just need to look for the 'UTN No', which is the ticket number. 

Why might I need to know the ticket number on a train ticket?

In most cases, there's no need for you to know the ticket number. You might need it if you want to claim Delay Repay, though. This is when you claim for compensation from the company that you travelled with, if your journey was disrupted. 

If you claim a refund with Railsmartr, don't worry. We just need to know your booking reference, and we'll do the rest of the legwork for you. 

Advance train tickets are often the cheapest option when you travel by train. They are subject to availability, which means that the cheapest ones on the most popular trains will sell out fast.  Just like flights, the earlier you book, the cheaper the train fares and the greater the value for money. Ticket types and prices are shown on our journey planner, so you can find Advance fares quickly and book your train tickets online.

Why are Advance tickets cheaper?

You can only use them on the train that you've booked. This makes them cheaper, as you're not able to pick a different train. Usually, they should be available up to 12 weeks in advance. Some operators may release them a little earlier or later. Rail companies need to confirm their timetable before they can release Advance train tickets for sale, too. The latest information on when tickets are available can be found on the National Rail website or on the Railsmartr homepage. They're sold with a seat reservation (where they're offered). This means that when all of the seats on a train have been reserved, Advance train tickets will sell out. If strike action has been announced, then Advance tickets will be taken off sale. When the timetable has been confirmed, they might be offered once more.

Can I refund Advance train tickets?

In normal circumstances, it isn't possible to refund Advance train tickets. However, you can amend your ticket without any fees (other than the difference in ticket price) with Railsmartr. You can find more information on amending your Advance rail ticket here. You'll need to drop us an email with your old booking reference and new booking reference and we'll do the rest. If your train is cancelled and you no longer wish to travel, you can refund your ticket. This includes if you're affected by industrial action and can't make your trip. Just know that if you get on a train which is different from the one on your Advance train ticket, you may be required to purchase a new ticket and could even receive a Penalty Fare. Want to know more? We've produced a more detailed guide to Advance tickets here.
Off-Peak and Super Off-Peak train tickets are more flexible than Advance tickets. They’re perfect if you’re not restricted to travelling early in the morning or don’t need to arrive at a certain time of day.
It's worth checking the details before you book as these tickets usually carry restrictions. You may need to travel at specific times of the day, on particular days of the week, or a certain route. The travel restrictions will depend on the journey you’re making. We’ll let you know any restrictions in the detailed ticket information before you make your booking.

The key facts

  • You can buy Off-Peak and Super Off-Peak train tickets any time before travelling
  • All Off-Peak and Super Off-Peak Single tickets are valid on the date shown on your ticket. If you choose an Off-Peak Return or Super Off-Peak Return, you'll need to take your outbound trip on the date shown on your ticket but you can return on any day within one calendar month
  • Off-Peak Day Return and Super Off-Peak Day Return tickets are valid to make a return trip on the same day
  • Super Off-Peak tickets are available on some journeys and tend to be cheaper. They can't be used on all trains so it's best to make a note of the eligible train times before you travel
  • If you decide not to travel, Off-Peak and Super Off-Peak tickets are fully refundable. So there's no need to worry if your plans change.

Are these tickets refundable?

Yes, as these are flexible tickets, they're fully refundable if you decide not to use them. If you have a Railsmartr online account, then there's no need to contact us. You can refund them straight away through your account. You can find out more about refunding your Off-Peak or Super Off-Peak tickets here.
Anytime train tickets are the most flexible option for travelling by train in Great Britain. If you're looking for the freedom to travel at any time of day and the ability to change your plans at short notice, then Anytime train tickets are perfect for you.
Anytime Day Single tickets
  • You can travel on any train on the date of travel booked
  • You can break up your journey at stations along your route.
Anytime Day Return tickets
  • You can travel on any train on the date of travel booked. You need to also make your return journey on the same day, or by 4:30am the next day
  • You can break up your journey at stations along your route, so long as you complete your journey on the same day, or by 4:30am the next day.
Anytime Single tickets
  • These tickets are usually available for longer-distance journeys
  • They're valid for two days, so you have the ability to complete your journey the following day.
  • You can break your journey at stations along the route.
Anytime Return tickets
  • These tickets are the most flexible, but most expensive, tickets that you can purchase
  • The outward portion of your ticket is valid for five days
  • The return portion of your ticket is valid for one month
  • You're able to break up your journey at stations along your route, so long as you complete your outward journey by the end of day five, and your return journey within a month.
Anytime Short Return tickets
  • These tickets are usually available for some short and medium-distance journeys
  • The outward portion of your ticket is valid on the date of travel
  • The return portion of your ticket is valid for one month
  • You can break up your journey at stations along the route.
How do I know if I'm buying an Anytime train ticket?
Here at Railsmartr, we'll always offer you the cheapest ticket for your journey. But, if you click on the suggested price of your trip, we'll show you more ticket options. When you select 'View all fares' (highlighted in yellow) you can choose from all of the ticket types available for your trip.
Things to remember
  • Anytime train tickets are more expensive than Advance or Off-Peak because they give you much more flexibility. If you're travelling at the weekend or on Bank Holidays, it's unlikely that you'll need an Anytime train ticket
  • Anytime tickets are eligible for refunds. Just remember that there's no need to amend your ticket if you're catching a different train on the same day, or within the time that your ticket is otherwise valid
  • Find out more about refunding your Anytime tickets here. If you've created an account with us, you can do this yourself. There's no need to contact us first
  • You can also find out more about the terms and conditions of Anytime train tickets in the National Rail Conditions of Travel.
There are all sorts of other train tickets you can buy directly from your train operating company or local railway station. Maybe one day we'll sell them at Railsmartr too. These include:

  • Railcards
  • Season tickets
  • Oyster cards
  • Sleepers
  • Ferries (except for Portsmouth Harbour to Ryde Esplanade)
  • Tickets in exchange for warrants
  • Railway staff tickets
  • Cycle or car parking reservations