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What is a break of journey?

Did you know that with many tickets in Great Britain, it’s possible to use one ticket and break up your journey as you wish? Let’s take a look at break of journey, what it means and when you can do it.

What is a break of journey?

In a railway sense, a break of journey is when you interrupt your trip part-way through. For example, if you’re travelling from London to Birmingham, then choose to get off in Coventry and visit some friends for a couple of hours, then this is a break of journey.

If you’re just changing trains or using the facilities at the station, then this isn’t a break of journey. For example, you might have 30 minutes between trains and choose to visit a shop on the station concourse.

How long can a break of journey last for?

You can break your journey for as long as your ticket is valid. For example, if you have a day return, you’d need to complete your journey by 04:30 the next morning.

If you have an Off-Peak Return, then you need to complete your outward journey on the same day. You can break your journey on the way back as many times as you like within one month, so long as you don’t ‘double back’ and keep travelling in the same direction. There’s no requirement to complete your journey on the same day.

An Anytime Return has similar rules, but you can use the outward part of your ticket for five days. An Anytime Single is valid for two days.

Finally, if you can’t reasonably complete your journey within the validity of the ticket, and need to stop overnight, you can do this. However, you need to complete your journey the following day, with no further breaks allowed, other than to change trains.

Which tickets allow a break of journey?

Most flexible tickets allow you to break your journey. This includes all tickets marked as ‘Anytime‘. When it comes to tickets that are either Off-Peak or Super Off-Peak, it can vary. You can always break your return journey, but some tickets don’t allow you to do this on your outward journey.

You can find this out by checking which restriction code your ticket has. You’ll find this at the bottom of your ticket if it’s an eTicket:

train ticket showing where to find the restriction code


When you follow the link, it’ll tell you what the restriction code means. If it does not mention breaking your journey, then there aren’t any restrictions.

If there is a restriction, you’ll find it in the notes section, such as here for code 3A:

break of journey restriction for a ticket on national rail website


Can I break my journey with an Advance ticket?

Breaking your journey isn’t possible with an Advance ticket. This is because you need to stick to the trains you’ve booked, and complete the journey in one go.

Remember, changing trains and using the facilities at the station doesn’t count as breaking your journey. If you have a long connection and want to be let through the ticket gates to pop to a shop in the station, you should be allowed to do this.

What if a member of staff writes the date on my ticket?

If you have a paper ticket, staff might mark the date on it. This usually happens if you have a return ticket where the return part is valid for a month. This doesn’t affect how long the ticket is valid for and doesn’t mean that you have to complete your entire journey on that day.

Any markings on the ticket do not change how long it’s valid for.

Is there anything else I should know?

The final thing that we’d recommend doing is booking your rail tickets with Railsmartr. We believe in keeping things simple and making rail travel easy to understand and accessible. Whether you want to know about cheap train tickets or the best First Class trains, we’ve got you covered.

We don’t charge any fees either. No booking fees, and no extra fees if you need to change your plans. Why pay more?