Know your rail rights

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We have launched this campaign to better empower rail passengers.

Complaint handling

Train and station operators are required by their operating licences to establish and comply with a procedure for handling complaints relating to licensed activities from customers and potential customers. This procedure is known as the 'complaints handling procedure' (CHP) and it is approved and monitored by ORR.

If an issue arises that becomes a “complaint”, the train and station operators must treat that complaint in accordance with the principles and procedures found within its CHP.

Ombudsman

If the complaint cannot be resolved, there is also the Rail Ombudsman who is able to look at the complaint from an independent perspective. The Rail Ombudsman is a free service and any decision it makes is binding upon the train service provider.

For further details about the Rail Ombudsman and how it may be able to assist, please visit their website.

Ticket types

Advance tickets
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  • Subject to availability, limited numbers.
  • Valid only on date and train shown on the ticket.
  • Non-refundable except if there is disruption.
  • Date/time can be changed before departure of the first reserved train (fee may apply).
  • No break of journey allowed.
  • Some railcard discounts apply.

Off-peak/Super off-peak Tickets
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  • These tickets may require you to travel at specific times of day, days of the week or on a specific route.
  • Break of journey allowed (subject to some restrictions).
  • Refundable subject to admin fee (no fee if service is cancelled/delayed).
  • Railcard discounts apply.
  • Where there is more than one Off-Peak fare for a journey, the cheaper fare with more restrictions will be called Super Off-Peak.

Anytime Tickets
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  • Fully flexible.
  • Refundable subject to admin fee (no fee if service is cancelled/delayed).
  • Railcard discounts apply.
  • Can break your journey at stations along the route of travel (except on London Underground/DLR).
  • Anytime Day tickets valid on date shown on ticket and up to 04:29 the following day.
  • Anytime Single must be used within 2 days of the date shown on the ticket and up until 04:29 after the last day of validity.
  • For Anytime Return tickets, the outward journey must be made within 5 days and up until 04:29 after the last day of validity; the return portion must be used within one calendar month and up until 04:29 after the last day of validity.

Season Tickets
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  • You can buy a season ticket for seven days or any period between one month and a year.
  • Unless your season ticket says it can only be used to travel with a specific train company, it is valid on all services on the route/within the zones for which the ticket is issued.
  • Season Tickets are available for most short and medium distance journeys on the National Rail network, and for some long-distance journeys where a train company chooses to offer them.
  • If you no longer need your Season Ticket, you can request a refund from the retailer you bought it from. An admin fee may be payable. 
  • The refund amount will be the difference between the price you paid and the cost of a ticket or tickets for the period for which you have actually used the ticket up to and including the date a refund is requested.
  • The National Rail website has a calculator (National Rail Enquiries - Refunds) so you can work out the approximate refund value of your ticket. Because of the discounts on longer term Season Tickets, refunds are not made pro-rata and so there may be no monetary value to your refund once your Season Ticket is nearing expiry. 
     

Railcards
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  • Railcards can save you 1/3 on rail fares. 
  • You can choose from national Railcards or regional Railcards that cover specific geographical areas.
  • National Railcard options include 16-25 Railcard, 26-30 Railcard, Disabled Persons Railcard, Family & Friends Railcard, Network Railcard, Senior Railcard, Two Together Railcard, and Veterans Railcard. 
  • There may be some restrictions on when you can use certain Railcards so check the individual Railcard terms and conditions for further information.
  • You must always carry your Railcard with you during the journey in order to qualify for the discount.
  • Further details about National Railcards are available on the National Rail website.
  • Regional Railcard options and information are available on the National Rail website.
     

Mobile tickets ('mTicket')
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  • An mTicket is a train ticket that is held on your mobile device in a rail travel app.
  • It includes a barcode that holds your ticket information, and you will need to activate it before the barcode can be read.
  • If you are unable to show a valid barcode, this may be classed as travelling without a valid ticket.
  • Ensure your mobile device is charged and your screen is in good condition so that the ticket barcode can be scanned and validated.

Refunds

You can get a refund:

  • If you change your mind about travelling.
  • Some tickets such, as Advance Tickets, are non-refundable if you just change your mind.
  • All ticket types are refundable if you do not travel due to disruption.
  • An admin fee (usually £10) applies to refunds, except in cases of disruption.
  • If your ticket costs less than the admin fee you will not receive any money.

Refunding Anytime, Off-Peak (including Super Off-Peak) and Advance Tickets
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  • If you have an Off-Peak or Anytime ticket and you apply for a refund on an unused ticket, an admin fee of no more than £10 may apply.
  • Customers can apply for refunds up to four weeks from the last day that the ticket was valid.
  • Advance tickets are only refundable if disruption to your booked journey means you do not travel.

Refunding Season Tickets
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Unexpired Season Tickets can be submitted for refund to the retailer or train company you bought it from. The refund is calculated from the date after the Season Ticket was returned.

The refund value will be the difference between the price you paid and the cost of a ticket/tickets for the period for which you have used the Season Ticket. An admin charge of no more than £10 may be payable.

Refunds can only be backdated with evidence that illness prevented you from travelling. (National Rail Conditions of Travel, Condition 40.4). 

To see how much you could get back on your Season Ticket, try the Season Ticket Refund Calculator. 

Disruption

To be compliant with its passenger train licence each train operator needs to publish a code of practice setting out how it will provide information to passengers, including during disruption. 

Most train operators rely on the Approved Code of Practice for Passenger Information During Disruption (ACOP) published by RDG. 

What is in the ACOP - Did you know?
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  • Pre-Journey – All railway undertakings must ensure customers are able to obtain timely and accurate information via all channels (web, contact centres, telephone services)
  • At the station – To increase customers’ trust in the information they receive, manual announcements should be made ahead of automated announcements when there is disruption. 
  • On the train – Announcements should be consistent with the Passenger Information Screens (PIS) which themselves should be updated at the start of the journey and throughout. Further to this, on train employees should be visible to passengers, should they need further, specific information beyond that provided by the announcements and PIS.
  • During times of disruption, customers should not be discriminated against on the basis of their chosen operator. The principle is that if a passenger intended to travel on a route that is disrupted that has a cheaper fare then the cheaper fare should still apply.

To document their compliance with the code of practice, the train operator must also produce a local plan which gives details of how it intends to meet the requirements. 

The ORR reviews these local plans annually and monitors their implementation to ensure that the written document is an accurate reflection of the passenger experience even during times of disruption.

National Rail Conditions of Travel

The National Rail Conditions of Travel form part of the agreement you make with the train companies when you buy a ticket to travel on the rail network.

They set out your rights and responsibilities when travelling by train, as well as the minimum level of service the train companies must provide.

They cover topics including buying your ticket, using your ticket, ticket refunds and compensation rights, and Season Ticket special conditions. 

The complete National Rail Conditions of Travel are available on the National Rail website.

*Please check all information due to changes regarding Covid-19.