New National Railcard launched
'Two Together' scheme for all passengers - provided they travel as a couple
Simon Calder’s career in travel started at Gatwick Airport, where he cleaned aircraft for Laker Airways and later worked as a security officer. He became The Independent’s Travel Correspondent in 1994, and is known as “the Man Who Pays His Way” because he does not accept free travel facilities. He writes across the Independent titles, as well as for the Evening Standard.
Thursday 27 February 2014
At last – a railcard that doesn’t require you to be young, old, serving in the armed forces or travelling with children. “Two Together” is a new National Railcard from Britain’s train operators, designed to appeal to people aged 26-59. These travellers are generally excluded from discounts on Britain’s railways. The new railcard promises one-third off the cost of most rail tickets – but only if the two people named, and photographed, on the card travel together. The card goes on sale at 9am on Monday, 3 March.
Q How do I get the card?
First, find someone you want to travel with – a friend, family member or colleague. The only stipulation is that you must both be over 16. Each of you needs a passport-sized photograph. Next, fill in the form at a staffed station. Alternatively, apply online at twotogether-railcard.co.uk – for which you will need a digital passport photo of each person. A card valid for one year costs the standard railcard price of £30.
Q What are the benefits?
One-third off many Standard and First Class Anytime, Off-Peak, Super Off-Peak and Advance fares across the National Rail network for two people travelling together. The card also includes airport express services, and ferry-inclusive journeys such as trips to or from the Isle of Wight.
Q What about time restrictions?
Business travellers, and anyone else with a need to travel early in the morning, will be annoyed to learn that the card is not valid for “walk-up” tickets (ie Anytime or Off-peak) on morning rush-hour trains. The card cannot be used between 4.30am and 9.30am from Monday to Friday. However, you can still travel on earlier trains with a Two Together Railcard discount if you book Advance tickets.
The discount applies at any time at weekends and on public holidays.
Q Can either of us travel alone or with other people?
Emphatically not. While other railcards, such as the Network Card (valid only in the South-east) and the Family and Friends Railcard are liberal about the people who can travel with the holder, the conditions for Two Together are very strict. The discount applies only when both of you travel together. Any variation – such as only one of you making the return journey – renders the discounted tickets invalid. Depending on the precise policy of the train operator, you could be liable to pay the full Anytime fare (which may feel like an on-the-spot fine) or a penalty fare.
Q Can I buy more than one Two Together card?
Yes, and indeed many rail travellers will do so, even for a one-off journey, because the savings are so significant. Take a standard London-Birmingham off-peak round trip: £50.50 per person on Virgin Trains, so £101 for two. The Two Together fare, plus the cost of a brand-new railcard, totals £96.70, which saves enough for a cup of tea each en route.
A company that regularly deploys more than one member of staff on the same rail itinerary could well be losing money if it does not buy a number of these cards on behalf of employees.
Q Can additional travellers accompanying us benefit from the same discount?
Q What about our children?
There is no special discount for them. It would be better to use a Family and Friends Railcard.
Q Suppose my partner and I sadly become no longer “Two Together” during the validity of the card. Can I nominate someone else?
No. If you want to team up with another traveller, you will need to buy a new card.
Q I already own a Young Person’s Railcard/Senior Railcard. Can I still buy a Two Together card?
Yes, you can hold as many Two Together cards as you like in addition to your existing card. Typically this arrangement will appeal to a couple, one of whom qualifies for a Young Person’s Railcard/Senior Railcard, and the other does not because they are aged between 26 and 59. The Two Together card will enable both to travel at a discount.
Q So should I bin my existing railcard?
No. Unless you happen to be handcuffed to the person with whom you share a Two Together card, there will be circumstances in which these “classic” railcards are more valuable. The main example is when you are travelling alone, when you are ineligible for the Two Together discount but may be able to deploy an alternative railcard.
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