Find out everything about nationalrail.com including buying train tickets online or over the phone.

What is National Rail?

National Rail is the umbrella body for all the main line, suburban and local train services in England, Wales and Scotland. There are 23 trains operating companies (TOCs) which run services under a franchise from the Department of Transport, excluding the heritage railway sector, London Underground and Eurostar.

I just want to check times and fares. Can I do so?

Yes, you don't have to book straight away. Just put your journey details in the booking form and search. You don't need to continue all the way to payment. However if you know when you want to travel and are offered an Advance ticket, bear in mind that deal may not be offered in the future, so it might be best to book now.

Who runs nationalrail.com?

Since 1999, nationalrail.com has been run by an independent station on the East Coast Main Line at Chester-le-Street in County Durham. This station, and another at Eaglescliffe in the Tees Valley, are run by a small company called Chester-le-Track which also sells tickets over the phone.

How do I book by phone?

Call Chester-Le-Street Station on 0191 387 1387 until 18:00 Mon to Fri and 14:15 Saturday. Or call Eaglescliffe Station on 01642 200140 until 18:00 Mon to Fri and 14:15 Saturday. These stations send tickets out by post and if you call before 17:00 Mon to Fri we can usually get tickets to you next day by first class Royal Mail. Allow time for your tickets to be sent by post. Opening hours are on the contact us page. There is no booking fee or delivery charge for tickets booked over the phone.

Does nationalrail.com sell for all train operating companies?

Yes, we sell the whole range, including all advance fares marketed by the train companies to manage demand. Advance tickets are sold on line and at stations, and are specific to particular trains on fixed dates and times. You must travel at the times and dates on your ticket. There is usually a range of several advance fares available for a given journey. We also sell a range of more flexible off peak and anytime tickets online, but these can also be bought on the day at stations.

When are advance tickets available?

Tickets go on sale around 12 weeks before travel, once the timetable for the day has been finalised, taking into account engineering work on your chosen route. The cheapest tickets are usually available the further in advance you book, but they can fall after booking because the prices are determined by a dynamic demand-responsive system. Generally, though, the more you book ahead the more you can save.

When do advance tickets stop being available?

Our website keeps selling advance tickets until midnight before the day of travel. You might book at 23:55, pay immediately, and be travelling six hours later. Remember these tickets are subject to availability, but it is always worth checking what is available rather than paying on the day for any long distance journey.

Do you arrange refunds?

We can issue refunds for tickets which are refundable, but note that Advance tickets are not refundable. They can, however, be changed for a journey from the same origin to the same destination at some time in the future, so can be rebooked for up to 12 weeks ahead for a £10 amendment fee plus any change in fare. If you have booked online, you need to call the online helpline which is 0871 244 1545.

Is it worth getting a railcard?

If you are likely to spend over £90 on rail fares in a year it is worth investing in a railcard, if you are eligible. Railcards cost £30 and offer a 34% discount on the normal fare. Railcard discounts apply to all advance fares. You can have a railcard if you are aged 16-25 (you do not have to be a student), aged over 60 for a Senior railcard, or travelling in a group with at least one child for a Family and Friends railcard. There are also railcards which we do not issue for HM Forces and Disabled people.

What about the Two Together Railcard?

The Two Together railcard is for friends or colleagues travelling together, and is also suitable for couples including those over 60 who always travel together. Two Together cannot be used before 09:30 Monday to Friday.

Can I speak to someone on the telephone to book my ticket?

Yes, our two stations are available Monday to Saturday from 0730 to 1800 approx. Call Chester-Le-Street Station on 0191 387 1387 until 17:45 Mon to Fri and 14:15 Saturday. Or call Eaglescliffe Station on 01642 200140 until 18:00 Mon to Fri and 14:15 Saturday. These stations send tickets out by post and if you call before 17:00 Monday to Friday, we can usually get tickets to you next day by first class Royal Mail.

How do I avoid booking fees, credit card fees and mailing charges?

Book by phone with our real stations, numbers above, and we make no additional charges. The price on the ticket is the price you pay.

I want to travel using a railcard but have not bought it yet. Can I still buy the discounted ticket?

Yes, if you tell us you have a railcard over the phone or internet we assume you actually have one. If you do not, that is not a problem provided that if you travel with a discounted ticket you MUST have a railcard on your dates of travel. If you do not, you are travelling with an invalid ticket and must buy a new one as if no ticket were held.

What if I forget my railcard?

You can buy a new railcard at staffed stations and it may well be cheaper to buy a new railcard than to buy a new ticket. Remember you need a photo for many railcards.