On the day when millions of commuters find out how much more they will be paying for rail travel in 2020, the Department for Transport (DfT) has announced a new half-price railcard for teenagers aged 16 and 17.
The “16-17 Saver”, priced at £30, will halve the cost of many train tickets in England and Wales, as well as some services to Scotland. Unlike other railcards it covers season tickets.
The DfT says 1.2 million young people will qualify, and are “set to make average savings of £186 every year”.
Currently anyone aged 16 to 25 can get one-third off most tickets with a 16-25 railcard. Holders of this card who are 16 or 17 will not be able to exchange it for the new one, and must spend another £25 to get the 16-17 card and benefit from a 50 per cent discount on tickets.
The rail minister, Chris Heaton-Harris, said: “The brand-new Saver means that a generation of rail passengers can now benefit from cheaper fares, keeping money in their pocket and helping them get to school, college and work.”
The card itself is available online or by calling 0345 301 1656. But it will not go on sale until 9am on Tuesday 20 August, for travel from 2 September onwards – the day when many teenagers are back at school.
David Hughes, chief executive of the Association of Colleges said: “This rail discount for 16- and 17-year-olds is a huge step in the right direction and will help to alleviate the financial pressures facing young people and their families across the country.”
But unlike other railcards, it does not extend beyond the age range. Currently anyone aged 25 can buy a 16-25 railcard up to the day before they are 26 and use it for a full year. But the 16-17 Saver will be valid for a year or until the customer turns 18 years old, whichever comes first.
However, season tickets bought with the 16-17 Saver will remain valid for up to four months after the cardholder’s 18th birthday.
David Sidebottom, director at the independent watchdog Transport Focus, said: “It’s good that the 50 per cent discount that this offers will apply to peak period and season tickets, but it would be better if this card also covered the entire sixth form period. As it stands students turning 18 early in their second year of studies will lose this valuable discount.”
The 16-17 Saver is not valid on ScotRail or the Caledonian Sleeper, but will cover LNER, CrossCountry and TransPennine Express services from England into Scotland.
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