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Is a Sr. Rail Card worth it?

I'm trying to decide if I should go through the hassle of buying a senior rail card. Here's my rail itinerary:

Gatwick airport to Cardiff
Cardiff to Bath
Bath to Salisbury
Salisbury to Winchester
Winchester to London
London to Canterbury and return
Possible London to Oxford and return

While in London for 6 days I plan to buy an Oyster card to ride the tube. My best guess at this point is that given restrictions against discounts during peak hours, which is when I'm likely to want to ride the tube, the savings are hardly worth the effort.

Am I wrong?

Posted by
4685 posts

You are going to need to price up your individual rail journeys at the time you want to make them to see if the 1/rd saving outweighs the £30 cost.

Note that peak journeys within the London and the South East area during morning peak time are excluded, which would include your last four listed journeys if they are made during that time.

Your journeys are presented as a series of singles which might work out expensive. However, as you are doing what in effect is a big loop you might be able to contrive a round trip out of it.

For example an off-peak Gatwick->Cardiff return routed via Salisbury costs £61.80. You can use the return portion then to do Cardiff->Bath->Salisbury.

Posted by
162 posts

Thanks Marco,
I had done the pricing that you suggested and it didn't appear that I would save much using a rail card. I have the stops listed as individual trips because I want to spend a full day touring each town and the 2 websites I used to compare ticket prices didn't show a price break when routed as a round trip vs. single trips.

So thanks for your input; you validated my thinking that without additional day trips outside of peak hours, the rail card won't do much for me.


Posted by
4685 posts

The ability to be able to break the journey on the back portion of a return as màny times as you like over a month is often not taken into account by websites etc

.As for the day trips, although you may have to use an anytime ticket to leave London, you could come back on a ticket that us discountable.

Posted by
1889 posts

I find to be the easiest site for finding fares.

If you put in for Gatwick (GAT) to Cardiff (CDF), you can find single fares (no Railcard used) for around £20 if you book ahead. These apply to specific trains. OK - so you are not sure when you will clear Gatwick & catch a train. Having pre-booked your specific train - allowing plenty of time, should you turn up earlier, wait on platform for earlier service and be where rear of train stops - here you will find the conductor. Say you are booked for a later service but would it be OK for you to board his/her train. (Usually, they will let you board with no penalty - unless it is packed out).

On the GAT > CDF route, you will see several options. My advice would be to go for the ones that say 1 change (at Reading). You can click 'details' to find this out. This is far more convenient than the ones that go via London - which involve a tube journey to Paddington. The Reading change also tends to be cheaper.

You will also find that by travelling on Saturdays, you do not get peak fares at commuting times as less people go to work. Avoid Fridays from 3pm to 7pm if possible. The fares on the Cardiff>Bath>Salisbury>Romsey route tend to be reasonable.

You can from abroad buy the Britrail Pass but these tend to be expensive.

Posted by
340 posts

Brenda, purchasing a Senior Railcard is not really a hassle. Just download the application and fill it out before your trip, take along a passport size photo (digital is okay), and present both at the counter at the Gatwick rail station when picking up your tickets. My husband and I did that to purchase a Two-Together Railcard last fall at the Edinburgh train station and it took all of 10 minutes.

I don't know the dates of your trip, but if you are purchasing Advance Anytime tickets through the nationalrail site (if you don't want to commit to a particular train time on your day of travel), I think you'll come out ahead. A nice aspect of the railcard is that it can be used to purchase tickets at a discount on the day of travel if you have a change of plans. It also looks like you can show your Senior Railcard when you purchase your Oyster card in London and get a discounted rate if you use the tube during non-peak hours and weekends.

Have a great time.