Buying tickets

30 March 2015

You can buy tickets at the station (from the ticket office or the ticket machine), online or by telephone before you make the journey. In some cases you can choose to collect your tickets from the ticket machine at some stations; you will be given a reference number and instructions for this. Some types of ticket can be printed at home or stored electronically on a device such as a mobile phone. Make sure that you understand the conditions applying to these tickets before you pay for one.

Reductions are available for many disabled passengers. See the Reduced-rate fares for disabled passengers pages.

You must hold a valid ticket or have authority to travel by train. However, if no means of buying a ticket or obtaining authority (for instance a permit to travel) is provided at the station where your journey starts, or if the ticket office there is closed and the ticket machines are out of order, you can pay during or at the end of your journey, without incurring a penalty fare.

Even where booking offices are open or ticket machines are available, you may not be able to use them if:

  • you are travelling alone and your visual impairment prevents you using a ticket machine;
  • your ability to operate the machine by touching the screen or pressing buttons effectively or accurately is considerably reduced; or
  • if the ticket machine or ticket office is located a long distance from the platform where your journey begins and your shorter way to the platform does not pass it or you can reach it only after a long or awkward route (e.g. having to use stairs or steep slopes).

In cases such as these, you may pay during or at the end of your journey without incurring a penalty fare.

You can find in the company’s Making rail accessible – helping older and disabled passengers DPPP document or on the website, if its ticket machines are accessible to you, which stations have accessible machines and if they can issue tickets with a DPRC reduction for both you as railcard holder and for the person travelling with you. No penalty is due either if the machines cannot issue both types of ticket and you have to pay the correct fare on the train.

Many stations are having accessible ticket counters fitted. If you cannot use the counter or if you cannot get inside the ticket office (e.g. due to steps or a narrow doorway) staff should come out from behind the counter to serve you. If they do not do so, you may pay during the journey.

Full details of station accessibility (including ticket offices and ticket machines, staff availability to assist, car parks, toilets etc) can be found either on the National Rail website or on each train company’s website, or by phoning the company’s Passenger Assist helpline.

Several companies are trying to improve their ticket machines so that you can use them even if you have a visual impairment.

You may find it more convenient to buy your ticket online or over the telephone. All train companies provide facilities for this. If you are booking assistance and time permits, you may prefer to buy your tickets and make reservations and assistance-booking requests in a single transaction by phone. Any of the train companies involved in your journey can do this for you.