Saving Money On The Trains
One thing occurred to me recently – that a lot of people don’t know about some little money saving tricks when travelling on the railways in London and the South East. So I thought I’d mention them to those that don’t. If you know all about Boundary Extensions and Network Gold Cards, you can probably wander off somewhere else.
Network Gold Cards
First up – Network Gold Cards. If you have an annual travelcard, then you have a Network Gold Card. If you have an annual rail season ticket for the old Network South East area, you also have a Gold Card.
The Network Gold Card is a railcard, and as such gives you a third off rail tickets in the old Network South East railway area. There’s a map of the area on the Railcard website.
A Gold card is pretty much the same as a Network Railcard but with two important distinctions.
- You don’t have to pay £20 for it. You get a Gold Card by default when you spend all that cash on your annual travelcard/season ticket.
- There is no minimum fare – the Network Railcard has a minimum fare of £10 on weekdays. This doesn’t apply for Network Gold Cards which mean you can save money on the shortest of journeys.
Information about the Network Gold Card can be found in the Transport for London fares booklet, or from your local, friendly railway company.
If you’re a regular user of the tube, you may know about zone extensions – where you might have (say) a zone 1,2,3 travelcard, and you want to travel to zone 6. You just get a tube extension ticket to cover your journey through zones 4,5 and 6. If you have an Oyster, it does it automagically. Dead easy and simple.
Bit more hidden is the fact that there is a similar scheme for use on the national railway network.
The rules behind it are a bit more complex and seem to vary between operators but the logic is pretty similar to the tube version. You already have a ticket for certain zones, so you don’t need to pay for your journey within those zones.
It’s a bit more complex than that – your extension is valid from the last station for which your travelcard covers, and that your train stops at. So imagine that you’re travelling Waterloo to Raynes Park. You have zones 1,2 and 3. Your travelcard covers you from Waterloo to Wimbledon, which is in zone 3. Raynes Park is further beyond, so your extension covers the journey from Wimbledon to Raynes Park.
There’s some other rules and restrictions – bit too complex to explain. It all depends where your train stops, which train company you’re travelling with, and sometimes which station you buy your ticket from!
In some circumstances you might not get any discount (don’t expect to get anything if you’re travelling via an Intercity company for example!) but if you’re travelling in the South East, it’s certainly worth a shot. You could save yourself a couple of quid off your fare.
To get one, just ask at the ticket office. The staff there will know what you’re talking about – show them your travelcard, ask for a boundary extension and tell them where you’re going – they’ll handle the rest. The important bit is that you could save money. Incidentally it works with any travelcard – even day travelcards.
One final word
One final word is to say that ticket office staff are generally very helpful on these things – just ask nicely and they’ll do wonders. I’m mentioning this because in recent months Catherine and myself have been doing hikes which start at one station and finish at the other – in some instances, the stations have been on different lines. Every time we’ve asked at the ticket office, the staff have worked out the best ticket for us, and saved us some cash compared to buying two singles. Which is nice.