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. During the coronavirus pandemic the franchsing system has been terminated, and private train operating companies are operating to government instructions. The shape of the industry going into the future has yet to be determined.

Is it possible to obtain a map to show where the network operates and which operators go where?

Yes, nationalrail.com produces a map of the entire network in the UK and shows the services of all passenger operators on the network. The most recent version was correct to December 2019. You can find full details and obtain your own copy by mail order at http://www.railmap.org.uk.
Postal tubes may be sent to any address worldwide, and prices for backnumbers start at £2

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. Normally, 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. However, during the pandemic few advance fares are being offered and if the situation improves more cheap fares may be introduced into the reservations system.

Who runs nationalrail.com?

The website nationalrail.com has been used to promote train travel since 1999, and has sold tickets since 2003. Formerly managed from Chester-le-Street station, the online business is now operated by National Rail Bishop Auckland Ltd based in County Durham..

How do I book by phone?

Telephone bookings are offered at Bishop Auckland station by our sister company, Bishop Trains. At present during the pandemic, the office is CLOSED. We will place further information when the office is open again.

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 shown on your booking confirmation..

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 16-30 (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. For older couples who always travel together, you only need one Two together, instead of two Senior Railcards, saving £30. Two Together cannot be used before 09:30 Monday to Friday. Note you can have more than one Two together railcard on the go at once, e.g. with a partner, and a friend and a work colleague.

Do you routinely offer Split Ticketing?

Yes, but not everybody wants it. Look for the red button to select our partner offering split ticketing as standard.

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 no problem provided that when 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.