The Two Together Railcard

A screenshot of the Two Together Railcard web site

There’s a new addition to the railcard family – the Two Together Railcard. Launched some time ago as a pilot in the West Midlands, it’s now available nationally, as of yesterday.

Unlike most railcards, issued to a single person, this is issued to two named people who must travel together for it to be valid. You needn’t be related, so if you regularly travel with a particular friend or housemate then they can be on the card. Like most railcards, it costs £30 and is valid for one year, and gives you a third off almost all rail tickets. You can also get 10% from this link, so it costs £27 for the year. The card can be bought at staffed ticket offices at stations, or online.

As Christine and I do a lot of travel together, this card has the potential to save us a lot of money, so we’ve ordered one. The £30 cost will easily be recuperated as we regularly spend more than £90 per year on tickets where both of us travel. In fact, it may pay for itself after just one long return journey. Until now we’ve been making use of Northern Rail’s Duo tickets, which allow a second adult to go half price with a full-fare paying adult. But this is limited to only some of Northern’s trains and isn’t a national scheme.

Right now we don’t qualify for any of the four other existing national railcards. The 16-25 railcard is for those aged 16-25 (we’re too old) or older people in full-time education (we’re not). The Friends & Family railcard is for those with children aged 5-15, which won’t apply to us for some time – you need to be travelling with at least one child in that age range for it to be valid. We’re both thirty years too young for the Senior railcard, and neither of us are disabled, so the Disabled railcard is out.

So, if you’re like Christine and I – adults who work full time, are approaching middle age and are childless or don’t have any children over five years old – then the Two Together railcard is a welcome introduction.

Buying rail tickets


Buying rail tickets for train travel in the UK is complicated. Despite some simplification introduced last year, it’s still possible to buy a range of rail tickets at different prices that will get you on the same seat on the same train.

The fantastic Money Saving Expert has a very thorough guide and it’s well worth a read, but here’s my summarised advice:

  • Buy your rail tickets in advance, and as early as possible – you can get them up to 3 months ahead.
  • Rail tickets bought on the day (so-called ‘walk on fares’) offer lots of flexibility but are also usually the most expensive – you can book as little as 48 hours in advance and save a lot of money.
  • Avoid – it charges extra fees.
  • You can usually book any ticket from any train company, even if your journey doesn’t use their trains. So you could book with CrossCountry to travel on a First Transpennine Express (FTPE) train and get the same price as you would booking direct with FTPE.
  • Rail Easy displays fares in a different way which can make it easier to find cheaper tickets. I also found that they are more likely to send tickets by first class post for free, rather than charge £6 for next-day delivery. They do charge a booking fee though.
  • If you spend more than £76 per year (or £6 per month) on rail tickets, get a railcard. If you are between the ages of 16 and 25 you can get a 16-25 railcard. You can order a new one right up until the day before your 26th birthday too. Family railcards and senior railcards are also available. They give you 34% off the price of almost all train tickets, including those booked in advance.
  • Sometimes two single rail tickets are cheaper than a return – always check both. This is especially true if you book in advance.
  • Megatrain is worth a look as its fares start from £1 (plus 50p booking fee). Trains run from Sheffield, Derby and Portsmouth into London, but there are connecting coaches from cities like York and Bradford (I travelled from York to London for a total of £3.50 last year). There’s also additional discounts for NUS Extra card holders.

There are many more tips out there, which shows how confusing the system is. Ultimately, the best way to get the cheapest fare is to book as far in advance as possible, use a railcard and shop around a bit.