National Rail Card


The biggest complaint in surveys about the railway is its perceived poor value for money. Despite the large amount of public money being invested in the rail network (esserntially for enhancements, as the train services actually cover their costs), passengers get a poor deal on value for money in Britain, compared to car drivers. Some of our rail fares are the highest in Europe, but UK petrol prices are lower than several other European countries. One of the ways fares could be reduced for regular users is to introduce a national rail card. Germany's equivalent, the BahnCard, is now 20 years old. 4.8 million people in Germany have a BahnCard.

In 2003 Railfuture commissioned research on how a national rail card could increase patronage.

You can view the following from this page:

Railwatch report of the launch of the research August 2003 41kB PDF

National Rail Card report introduction April 2003 120kB PDF

National Rail Card report executive summary April 2003 338kB PDF

National Rail Card report full report 704kB PDF

National Rail Card international comparison report introduction July 2003 120kB PDF

National Rail Card international comparison full report July 2003 756kB PDF

However, two recent developments have brought the concept of a national railcard closer:

Two-together discount card

A two-together railcard was piloted in the West Midlands area (to people with a Birmingham, Walsall, Wolverhampton, Dudley or Coventry postcode) and has now been rolled-out across all train operators in Britain. It was launched in response to the fact that the majority of people do not qualify for a senior railcard or a young person's card.

Railfuture welcomes its introduction - it is one step towards a National Rail Card and will make the cost of rail travel more competitive with the cost of two people travelling together by car.

Gold Card

From 2 January 2015 the area covered by a Gold Card was extended beyond the Network railcard area to also include all Abellio Greater Anglia services (except Ely - Peterborough), East Midlands Trains from Norwich to Ely, all Chiltern Railways services including to Kidderminster, London Midland to Stafford, the West Midlands, Shrewsbury and Worcester, and Arriva Trains Wales from Birmingham to Shrewsbury. Virgin Trains and East Coast services are excluded. See the new Gold Card area map.

A Gold Card is an annual season ticket for journeys starting, finishing or wholly within this area, and issued within this area. It gives the holder and up to 3 adults travelling with the holder a 34% discount, and up to 4 children a 60% discount, for journeys after 0930 on Mondays to Fridays and at any time Saturdays and Sundays, with no minimum fare. Many people will find it worth buying a season ticket for a minimal distance just to get these benefits.

The cheapest season available as a Gold Card will then be Lichfield Trent Valley to Lichfield City, although the Ryde Esplanade to Ryde St Johns Road season does also include six free tickets on South West Trains each year.