“ A Network Railcard gives you 1/3 off most rail fares for journeys in the Network Railcard area and can also save you money on trips to and around London. „
The network rail card is one of the best things I have ever bought! At only £30 it is worth every penny and has saved me a fortune in rail travel. I would recommend it as an essential purchase for anyone who uses trains and lives in the south of England.
The network rail card is a card which entitles the user to 1/3 off rail travel within the network rail area. When I first heard about the card I thought the area it served must be tiny, but no! It covers a huge area from Cambridge in the north east of the area, aacross to Exeter in the south west and covering many areas in between. The card does have restrictions on Times, it can only be used after 10am, and on price, the original fare needs to exceed £13. However, at weekend's these restrictions don't apply. The other really good thing about the card which is different to other forms of rail card is that up to 4 adults can travel at the discounted rate using the same card. The card also covers travel into and around London, it really is one of the most precious things in my wallet!
How to buy:
You can buy the card from any national rail ticket office (excluding London Underground and Heathrow airport) The card is also available to buy online from national rail. It lasts for one year from the issuing date and unlike other rail cards you so not need a photo to attach to the card.
This really is an essential purchase for anyone who uses the train. It's particularly useful If you are someone who uses the train a lot at weekend's for day trips etc as there are no restrictions on use so far as Times and prices. A bargain! I learnt my money back in less than two months!
The Network Railcard was introduced by the South East rail network in 1986, however rather peculiarly it still seems relatively unknown and underused by the British Public. If you live in South East England, then this card could save you a little (or a lot) of money with just a few journeys.
The card costs £25 and will last you for 12 months. An application form can be downloaded from www.railcard.co.uk and then you simply take this to any manned train station ticket office to purchase your railcard.
Your card entitles you (the adult) to 1/3 of most rail fares (restrictions are detailed below). As a major added benefit it also entitles 3 adults travelling with you to the same discount, plus up to 4 children (under 16), to a whopping 60% discount.
The card does also entitle you to some 2for1 deals when sightseeing around London so this may be of some interest to various people. However, to be honest these deals are readily available on the internet, through oyster cards etc etc, so this isn't really a major selling point.
It goes without saying, but it is worth reiterating that you must take your card with you when you travel, otherwise you will be asked to pay the full fair, and possibly even a possible penalty. Remember also that anyone travelling on reduced fares via your card, must be travelling with you (and the card) at all times, otherwise penalties will be issued.
You cannot use the card to travel at peak times, so your travel is therefore restricted to weekends, public holidays and weekdays after 10am (there are some exceptions to this 10am rule, so check the website for further details).
The card does have a number of minimum fair restrictions, which is generally £13 for an adult ticket, but only £1 for a child ticket. This means that for an adult, your ticket is going to have to cost at least £20 before you're going to make any kind of saving.
The card can be used for travel around the South East area and the following link gives you the train routes which the card can be use on http://www.railcard.co.uk/clientfiles/File/map.pdf. Its worth bearing in mind that if you do buy a railcard and are travelling outside of the travel zone, it may be cheaper to split your journey into the portion within the area at 1/3 off, and then the portion outside. A quick check on www.nationalrail.co.uk should let you know the answer to this.
Who's it for?
Anyone can purchase this card, however if its going to be of use to you and to save you money, then you need to be planning on using it for some reasonably sized journeys. Basically as long as you are doing a few journeys in the year that are over £20 then its going to save you some money. Its great if you have a partner or kids who will regularly be travelling with you as you can all get the discount and the savings on children are very generous. Therefore it is highly recommended for any family's travelling on the train, and would probably save you money after just one journey.
If you're young enough to get a young persons railcard then this is a better option, since there's no minimum spend to get your discount when travelling off peak. If you're over 65, then again, a Senior Persons railcard is going to be better value for you.
I live in London, however since I don't have an inner city season ticket, I previously used a pay as you go oyster card for travelling around London at the weekend. If you regularly travel around the city, you will know that your oyster card caps your spending depending on zones travelled. I tend to travel between zones 1-3 which is capped at £6.30 on the weekend. However, this card will let you purchase a weekend travelcard for £5, which is a small saving of £1.30. However it only takes 19 days of travelling around London and its already paid for itself, so that's another plus worth bearing in mind.
All in all the card is a prudent purchase if you do tend to make a few train journeys in the year, and highly recommended.
I'm still not sure how this card still seems to stay so relatively unknown so definitely worth passing this onto anyone you know.
We decided to go and visit our friends in Farnborough in Hampshire. We don't own a car so being organised I jumped on to the Network Rail website to book our fares in advance - 4 weeks in advance to be exact. So imagine my surprise when there was no advance purchase option on fares to Farnborough! But it was the shock of paying £24.90 per return - that's a total of £49.80 - that I am still trying to recover from!
I was convinced I was doing something wrong, but no matter which way I entered it, £49.80 was the cheapest for 2 return tickets on a weekend for London to Farnborough. Still in shock - I can get to Paris for cheaper than that sometimes - I looked at other options of getting to Farnborough including car hire and buses, but all came out at a similar price.
Still determined not to pay Southwest Trains £24.90 each for 75mins travel (30 min out, 45 mins back) I hit the internet to try and find some type of discount code or voucher.
Many forums later - thanks Money Saving Expert - I finally came across the Network Railcard.
=== What is it? ===
A railcard that gives you a third of adult standard rail fares in a designated area.
=== How much does it cost ===
£25 for 12 months (prior to May 2009, the annual cost was £20 - D'oh!)
=== Who can use it? ===
Now here is the good thing. This card is not income tested or similar. Anyone can buy this card. The great thing is one card covers the holder and up to 3 other adults and all get a third off their fares. In addition you can take up to 4 children and save 60% off their fares!!
=== When can I use it? ===
You can travel any time on weekends and public holidays or from 10.00am Monday to Friday.
=== Where can I use it? ===
Anywhere in the Network Railcard Area - www.railcard.co.uk/clientfiles/File/map.pdf
But basically from Worecester in the North West of London to Eastbourne in the South East. From Kings Lynn in the North East to Weymouth in the South East. So quite a large area.
=== How do I get one? ===
Simply download the form (or pick one up at the station), complete and take it to the ticket office at any National Rail station to purchase.
=== Ok. So what's the catch? ===
There is none. The only thing it the card is in the holder's name, so the holder needs to be travelling as well.
=== How much could I save? ===
Our Network Railcard has already paid itself off after 2 trips.
Outlay - £25
1. London to Farnborough - 2 return fares cost £49.80. By using the Network Railcard the same trip costs £32.80. That's a saving of £17.
2. London to Tonbridge - 2 return fares cost £44.00. By using the Network Railcard the same trip costs £29.00. That's a saving of £15
So total savings after 2 trips in 1 month is £32 less the initial outlay for Network Railcard of £25 - this means I have actually saved £7, with 11 months still left to use on the card!!!
Card paid for itself after 1 month!!!
But don't forget you can also use your Network Railcard in combination with "2FOR1 entry to 100 top London attractions, restaurants, theatres, exhibitions and more, when you travel to by train to the capital" Added savings!!!
=== Overall ===
I'm totally impressed with my find. I'm wondering why this card is not widely publicised (none of my friends had ever heard of it either) and I'm kicking myself that didn't know about it sooner. But I know about it now and I'm spreading the word!!