Family Railcard

Avatar Image
iloveglee | 16:32 Tue 22nd Jul 2014 | Travel
16 Answers
i have a friends and family railcard and have purchased tickets for myself,my husband and one of our grandchildren to travel to london. i bought and paid for these tickets a while ago, and now the child is not able to travel with us. do we have to lose the whole trip and start again with tickets just for ourselves. the terms and conditions do state that the child must be travelling. surely if the child is unable to travel this can't means the adults lose their trip, especially since the ticket has been bought. i have tried get through to the customer services and have lost the will to live.


1 to 16 of 16rss feed

Best Answer

No best answer has yet been selected by iloveglee. Once a best answer has been selected, it will be shown here.

For more on marking an answer as the "Best Answer", please visit our FAQ.
I think the T&C may mean that the child - if using the ticket - has to be travelling with you. I would have thought you would be OK.

Otherwise, auto ticket barriers will still work, so the only query is likely to come from on-train inspector - just tell them the child is in the loo.

On here terms and conditions state at least 1 child must be travelling with you to make the tickets valid. Scroll down to point 3.
I've run a railway station and I can confirm that tickets purchased with a Family Railcard aren't valid if there's no child actually travelling in the group. (If they were, business travellers would be able to group together using Family Railcards, buying tickets for imaginary children, costing rail companies a massive drop in their revenue).

If the tickets were purchased directly from the train operator (rather than through a third party, such as the dreaded you'd probably find it best to speak to a member of staff at a station booking office. They might, for example, suggest that you purchase a Two Together Railcard, enabling them to replace your Family Railcard tickets with 'Two Together' tickets for no extra charge. You and your husband would then have a full year of discounted travel, even when no child was present. (Of course, if you're over 60 and have got, or could purchase, Senior Railcards, that would be another possibility).
>>>just tell them the child is in the loo

You've obviously never worked alongside rail revenue staff, Canary42. They know every trick in the book, including that one!
Having visited the website and read the conditions I acknowledge my answer was incorrect.

However you should be able to get a refund on your tickets (less and admin fee) and start again, using Chris's advice on railcards possibly. The following comes from the rail website re refunds :-

With the exception of Advance tickets and some special offers where refunds are not available, a ticket may be refunded before travel. In the case of a return, the return portion may be refunded within 28 days of the expiry date. An admin fee may apply.

If your journey was delayed or cancelled, you may be entitled to compensation. You should contact the Train Operating Company that you travelled with.

If you would like to claim a refund for an unused ticket you should apply for a refund from where you purchased the ticket. If you booked the ticket online, the company you purchased the ticket from can be found in your Booking Confirmation email.

Can't you borrow another child from somewhere?
We've just had a refund on tickets booked via the Trainline. They charged £10 per person cancellation fee but we got all the rest back. As long as you cancel before the date of the intended outward journey, you get your refund then you can book against straight away for a more appropriate ticket package.
what about one of your other grandchildren?
As Canary42 states, rail companies are entitled to charge an administration fee for refunding tickets. Since that can be quite hefty you can sometimes find that it's hardly worth asking for a refund anyway. However the manager of a station booking office might be prepared to use his discretion and replace (rather than refund) the tickets free of any additional charge if an alternative Railcard (such as 'Two Together') is shown.
Our railway personnel told us that it was much simpler for us to cancel the tickets than for them to reissue them (with associated charges) at the station, chris - we just then rebooked on line.
>>>They charged £10 per person cancellation fee

3 x £10 = £30, which is the cost of a Two Together Railcard (which would provide discounted travel for a whole year as well), so I still advocate speaking to booking office staff in person if the tickets were purchased from the rail company. (If they were provided by a third party operator then only that company can arrange a refund or exchange).
////You've obviously never worked alongside rail revenue staff, Canary42. They know every trick in the book, including that one!////

In over 60 years of rail travel I've seen quite a few stunts pulled (even done some myself in my misspent youth), but you're right, my suggestion very unlikely to succeed.
Question Author
this is what i more or less expected. we have the card as we had a free one for 3 months, then a discount from the annual card. we don't often take any children but a couple of journeys we planned to take saved us more than the cost of the card. just a problem on this occasion, none of them are able to come with us. i expect i shall have to bite the bullet and contact customer services to see if we can get a refund and start again. unfortunately we did buy it from trainline, hope this doesnt make the whole thing worse. they just take ages to answer the phone.
>>>we did buy it from trainline, hope this doesnt make the whole thing wors

Aaagh! Well it seems that you've already discovered one of the many reasons that should NEVER buy from that horrid company. (i.e. their lack of customer service). The only place that should ever look for rail fares is here:
(The can't, and doesn't offer any discounts that can't be found there). Then book, from the links on the National Rail website, through the train operator, thus avoiding the booking charges made by The and even the possibility of being provided with tickets that aren't valid on any train at all. (I got fed up of explaining to rail passengers that The had issued them with tickets using a fare only valid on operator A, but for a train run by operator B, with reserved seats on a train that didn't accept reservations!).

The ONLY third party website which can sometimes be worth using is That's because you can use £5 or Tesco Clubcard vouchers to get £10 of rail travel with them (and because they don't charge any booking fees).
Question Author
thats really useful information and i am going to keep the national railways link for future use. i am still a bit miffed though, we bought the tickets in good faith quite a while ago meaning they have had our money for a while, paid for a child and now find because the child cant travel, we are penalised. i dont think this happens when you fly, if somebody doesnt turn up for the flight they just sell it on to somebody else!! cant see how it could possibly matter whether the child is there or not, they have their money. however, i do take the point that business travellers could buy one of these cards, and buy tickets for imaginary children. i guess if you travel often you may well save money by doing this. i read the terms and conditions and it does say a child has to be travelling - but this could be taken as a ticket has to be purchased for a child. thing is, you have to book these tickets quite a while in advance to get good prices and who knows what can happen in the meantime. i hate how expensive trains are these days, making people feel they need these discount cards, i hate them almost as much as i hate airlines!! i just wish we had a railway service like they have in italy. cheap, efficient, on time and supported by the government - as all services should be. and italy has even less money than we do but still support their trains - and goodness me are they well used!! rant over. might have to cast around for a spare child, at least we dont have to give details of the child's name as you do to travel by air!!!
we bought the tickets in good faith

They were sold in good faith too

1 to 16 of 16rss feed

Do you know the answer?

Family Railcard

Answer Question >>