/ Travel & Leisure

Two together railcard – is it worth it for you?

Two friends travelling together by train

If you regularly use the railways and travel with your partner you might be interested in the new Two Together railcard. But how often would you need to use this railcard to make it pay for itself?

The new Two Together railcard costs £30-per-year, anyone aged over 16 can have one, and it can cut the cost of off-peak train travel by a third.

But is it worth it? And are there any other ways of cutting the cost of train travel that don’t involve forking out for a railcard, especially if you travel on your own?

For short journeys, such as London to Milton Keynes, using the Two Together railcard cuts the cost of two travelling from £26 to £17.20, saving £8.80. If you made this journey together four times, the railcard would have paid for itself.

For a trip to Nottingham, the railcard saving is £16.30, so you’ll be in credit if you make this journey twice. But for longer journeys, such as London to Cardiff, York or Manchester, one trip is all you need to save the cost of the railcard.

So if you’re aged over 16 and travel regularly on off-peak trains with a friend or partner, the new card would be a good money-saving option.

Train travel two-by-two

If you travel alone, you’re over 26 and under 60 (too old for the 16-25 railcard and too young for the Senior Railcard) you’ll need to find other ways of saving money when you travel nationally by train.

Splitting your ticket – Buying two tickets for your journey, rather than one, can sometimes save you money. I do this for my journey to work and save more than £800 on the cost of my season ticket. If you’re taking a long journey, look for a regional mid-point where the train stops and see if you can find a money-saving split.

Taking an alternative route – Taking an alternative route is another way to save money. An anytime single from Waterloo to Southampton is £39.20 and takes 74 minutes. If you can live with one train an hour and a two-and-a-half hour journey, you could travel from London Victoria direct to Southampton for £29, a 26% saving.

Advance tickets – A walk-up single ticket for Edinburgh to York is £83.50. Booking in advance can cut the cost dramatically – the cheapest advance ticket we found for a journey in July was £16.85.

So will you be buying a Two Together railcard? Or do you have other ways of saving when you travel by train? Let us know what you do to cut the cost of train tickets.

JNL says:
28 April 2014

Yet another disadvantage for people who aren’t in couples.

Dibdob says:
29 April 2014

In the South, the Network railcard is good. It costs £30 and you save 1/3 for up to four people when travelling off-peak and weekends. The only pain is that Mon-Fri the minimum ticket price needs to be £13, and my trip to London is about £10. But if travelling at weekends it pays for itself really quickly. It covers an area as far out as Bedford and Exeter, so it’s definitely worth a look. No photocards needed, so you don’t need to be in a couple!

Perhaps the answer is to dispense with cards and just offer cheaper rail travel to everyone prepared to travel off-peak. I wonder how much it costs to administer railcards.

Although people in the 26-59 bracket travelling alone might be ineligible for a two-together railcard – obviously! – they might though qualify for a Disabled Adult, HM Forces, or Network [or one of the many other regional versions] Railcard or a JobCentrePlus Discount Card, so there are still cheaper rail travel options available. And, even if they do have to pay the full fare, for any journey over about forty miles I reckon rail travel will work out less expensive than any other form of fast travel. The train has little competition for the solo traveller whereas the economics of two or more in a car make the train less attractive until the distance becomes sufficient to add a time and fatigue penalty; hence the off-peak discounts for pairs and groups.

Tink says:
1 May 2014

I would love the opportunity to purchase a rail card annually which could give discount. There are no loyalty schemes (that I know of) at all for regularly travellers and although you can get cheaper tickets they’re often sold out. I’d pay £50 of more for a railcard because I have to travel often to see family friends, but I find it disgusting a return (on peak) can cost me £145, it’s just ridiculous.

Without knowing the length of journey you are making regularly, and what you are comparing train travel with, it is not possible to see whether the £145 return fare is a fair price. Typically that might be for a round trip of about 300 miles and I would consider that good value for money. Also, I expect it would be much quicker and more comfortable than a road journey.

Tink says:
1 May 2014

You might well consider it good value and that’s great, but personally I think it’s expensive especially when doing that once a month. I’d like to see more rewards for the loyalty of being a regular traveller. I would definitely purchae a railcard if this meant regular savings, which is the point of this article.

I can see your point, Tink. There is definitely a case for fresh thinking on the types of concession provided, and a loyalty scheme would be a very good idea. People who have to make, say one journey a month, or one journey a week, for which regular season tickets are not the answer, ought to be able to buy [for, say, £5] a set of weekly or monthly vouchers that could be exchanged for a third off the full fare when buying tickets. Another way of doing it could be to let people who buy on line operate an account and accumulate train miles that could be commuted to a discount off future purchases. A buy-two-get-one-free for advance purchases of the same journey could also be introduced. There must be numerous other posssibilities that modern systems could handle easily; the railway is currently stuck in the past with old-fashioned weekly and monthly seasons, a handful of discount cards for people defined by age or status, and a plethora of obscure rover tickets for holiday-makers. Even this new Two-Together ticket had a stuttering start with confusion over when the off-peak starts and stops, what sort of tickets attract the discount, and whether the booking clerk has a clue how to issue them.

Andrew Brown says:
6 July 2018

Beware renewing your 2together Railcard. I did this and the new one started from the date I applied, and not from the date of expiry of the old card. It took over a year to get a response to my complaint and even then the response just repeated what I had said had happened. Dreadful customer service.