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Millennial railcard to finally go on general sale – but one million have missed out

Card will cut train fares by one-third for people aged 26-30 but no firm date has yet been set for launch

Simon Calder
Travel Correspondent
Friday 26 October 2018 10:28 BST
Simon Calder: How the new 'Club 26-30' millennial railcard will work

A new discount railcard for train travellers aged 26 to 30 will finally go on general sale nationwide before the end of the year, the Rail Delivery Group has confirmed.

The “millennial railcard”, as it has been called, saves one-third on most train fares. It was promised by the chancellor in his budget in November 2017. The new discount scheme broadly extends existing 16-25 railcard privileges to people aged up to 30.

Jacqueline Starr, managing director of the Rail Delivery Group, said: “It means more young people can explore Britain for less using our trains and benefit from saving a third on rail travel, making it cheaper to get out and enjoy the seaside or visit family and friends.”

But by the time the railcard goes on general sale nationwide, around one million people who were in the target age range when Philip Hammond made his announcement about the card will be too old to qualify.

They must wait until they are 60 for another chance to save – unless they qualify for a Family & Friends or Two Together railcard.

A pilot programme for the 26-30 railcard began in the Greater Anglia area in December 2017, with just 10,000 on offer. All had been sold within two months.

In March 2018 the railcard went on sale nationwide – but with only 10,000 additional cards available, one for every 500 people in the 26-30 cohort.

Many people in the eligible age range of five million tried to obtain the discount card, causing the website to crash.

Following the fiasco Virgin Trains temporarily offered millennials who were carrying an Avocard the chance to get the same level of discount.

The 26-30 railcard costs £30 for a year. It is available only digitally and is intended to be carried on smartphones.

All advance tickets and most walk-up fares are cut by 34 per cent, though anytime and off peak tickets have a minimum fare of £12 between 4.30am and 10am.

Thirty-year-olds can apply up to the day before they turn 31, and get a railcard that is valid until the day before their 32nd birthday.

The move will reopen a debate about whether it would be better to abolish railcards and simply reduce fares across the board.

In Switzerland, where almost every rail passenger has a Halbtax railcard, giving a 50 per cent discount, there are demands for the scheme to be scrapped and fares nationwide to be halved.

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