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You can still save a bit of money on your train travel
Member Name: djwhite1982
Date: 05/08/09, updated on 05/08/09 (453 review reads)
Advantages: Long journeys practicaly pay for the card already
Disadvantages: Minimum fair restrictions
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.
Summary: A must have for anyone using the train for long journeys off peak
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