We all have that horrible feeling when we book train tickets, glumly looking at the railcard box with the knowledge that you can't get a discount because you're too old or too young to get a special railcard. It sucks, right? Because train travel is obscenely expensive.
Later today the Chancellor is expected to announce an extension to the Young Person's railcard, which will increase the maximum age to 30 - and if you time it right makes it usable up until the day before your 32nd birthday. But what happens after that? Why don't people between the ages of 31 and 59 get discounted rail travel? Well you might be able to, provided you live in the right place and match certain criteria.
There are a number of naional railcards that work across the country for specific people, and a number of regional cards that save you money if you live in or travel through the right place. Here's what you need to know.
Two Together: 1/3 off fairs for any two people travelling together, provided you don't get on a train before 9.30 Monday to Friday. It's £30 for the year, and is valid nationwide.
Family and Friends: The one with the most restrictions from the looks of things, but this one is for families and can be registered for up to two adults and three kids. You get 1/3 off rail fair, but only if you have a child over five with you for the whole journey. It's not eligible for use during peak morning times, or journeys that stay within the London/South East region during the week (barring public and bank holidays). Everything else is fair game, though. This is £30 for a year.
Senior: Self explanatory. If you're over £60 you can get 1/3 off train prices at anytime. It's £30 a year, or £70 for three.
Disabled Persons: One for someone with a disability that makes travelling by train difficult, giving them 1/3 of train tickets at any time and any place. You can check your eligibility here, and will need to prove your status as a disabled person during the application process. It's £20 a year, or £54 for three.
HM Armed Forces: Also self explanatory, this one is for members of the armed forces, certain reservists, as well as military spouses, partners, and dependent. They get get 1/3 off rail travel anytime and any place. There is, however, a £12 minimum fair between 4.59am and 9.30am Monday to Friday, September to June.
Network: A handy one for the large number of people living in London and the South East, letting you travel anywhere within the region with 1/3 off ticket prices - provided you don't travel at peak times. This is for anyone over the age of 16, and costs £30 a year. A great deal if you ask me, particularly since it stretches as far north as Bedford and Cambridge, as West as Exeter and Worcester, and to both the east and south coasts.
You can see the participating rail companies here.
Cambrian: Offers at least 1/3 off rail fares on individual standard class tickets on most Cambrian lines. The only participating rail company is Arriva Trains Wales. It costs £5 for one year.
Cotswolds: This card gives you 34 per cent off off peak Great Western Railway tickets between Worcester Foregate Street and Oxford. It's £7.50 a year, and can only be bought at the following train stations: Worcester Foregate Street, Worcester Shrub Hill, Evesham, Moreton-in-Marsh, Kingham, Charlbury, and Oxford.
Dales: Good for 1/3 off single and day return tickets when you travel with Northern Rail, valid within this area. It's £10 a year, and children travelling with a card holder pay 81 per cent of the adult's ticket (minimum price £10).
Devon & Cornwall: One for residents of Cornwall and Devon, giving them 1/3 off most train tickets within the two counties. It only applies to Off Peak singles and Day Returns, providing you travel with GWR, Cross Country, and South Western. It's £10 for one year.
Esk Valley: Only available to people with select North Yorkshire and Teeside postcodes, this card gives them 34 per cent off travel between Whitby and Middlesbrough. It's valid on Northern Rail services, and costs £10 a year. Children travelling with a card holder get 81 per cent off the adult fare (minimum price £10).
Thameslink and Great Northern Student 16/18 Connect Card: This one is only for students between the ages of 16 and 18, giving them 34 per cent off tickets within the Thameslink and Great Northern areas. You're only eligible if your school or college is North of Kentish Town, and the discount doesn't extend down to central London.
The card is free, but if you lose it a replacement will cost you £10.
Heart of Wales Line: Available to residents with specific postcodes over the age of 16, this card gives holders 34 per cent off Standard Day Return (SDR), Cheap Day Return (CDR) and Saver Return (SVR) ticket with Arriva Trains Wales - but only between Swansea/Llanelli and Shrewsbury (via Llandrindod Wells).
It's £5 for the year, and children accompanying card holders play a flat fare of £2.
Highland Railcard: This one offers 50 per cent off local ScotRail train journeys in the Scottish Highlands, but only on certain routes and only if you live in specific postcode areas (details available here). Children pay a flat fare of £2 when accompanying a card holder.
Pembrokeshire: 34 per cent off trains within Pembrokeshire and extending down to Swansea (via Carmarthen), provided you have an eligible postcode. It's valid on Arriva Trains Wales and GWR tickets, and costs £5 for the year.
Valley Lines Senior Card: Available to people aged over 60, giving them 50 per cent off standard class day returns on the Valley Lines, provided they arrive in Cardiff after 9.29 am. The participating rail company is Arriva Trains Wales, and it costs £5 for the year.
One More Thing
Have you of the Gold Railcard? It's a perk reserved exclusively for season tickets holders in the South East of England, giving them 1/3 off train travel and a bunch of other perks. Normally this would be out of reach of most people, seeing as how season tickets are incredibly expensive. But there are loopholes, and all you need to do is buy a very cheap season ticket to claim your complimentary card.
The shorter and less popular the journey, the cheaper the season ticket will be. You just need to make sure it's within the Gold Card area. For instance, a season ticket between Ryde St John and Ryde Esplanade on the Isle of Wight (a four minute journey, according to Google) costs £176 for the year.
So buy purchasing it, you also get a Gold card that gives you 1/3 off rail travel in the South East (with further reach than the Network railcard), 1/3 off off peak travel on London public transport (including the Tube, DLR, Overground, and so on), 60 per cent off tickets for children between 5 and 15, an additional railcard for just £10, and more. You can read more about those perks here.
It's expensive, sure, but if you travel a lot the savings will quickly stack up.
So there we have it. Regardless of the fact that them pesky millenials what ruin everything are getting extra discounts, it's not impossible for the rest of you to get some money off the train. You just need to match the right criteria, and to be honest a lot of them are pretty broad.