I have a ticket from Southampton to Manchester in the next month or so. Its a non-refundable Single Advance ticket but due to circumstances out of my control, I won't be in Southhampton on the date - but rather Birmingham.

Considering that Birmingham is on the train route anyway, can I join at Birmingham and resume my travel to Manchester?

I have seen similar questions to this posted, but most of the advice is upon the assumption that a ticket inspector will mark your ticket to prove you have been on the train from the start of its journey. Considering that I will have an E-ticket on my phone, would an inspector know?

Any advice welcome, as the original price of the ticket is pretty high and I'd rather not waste it.

  • 2
    @George that's different, that's "hidden city ticketing", where you get a sweet pricing deal on a ticket from $origin via $desirable to $bumblebutt, (which is priced cheaper than $origin-$desirable for marketing or subsidy reasons), then abscond at $desirable. Airlines don't like this (not least, it disrupts their agreements with subsidizers), and will cancel your entire return trip when they catch you. Railways don't like it either. Dec 11, 2018 at 19:03
  • @Harper The other question ends also asks about the return journey, getting on at $desirable on a ticket from $bumblebutt back to $origin, which is the case being asked about here. Also, train tickets don't get cancelled if you don't show up for part of the journey. There might not even be a ticket check on the train you use, so there'd be no way of knowing that somebody didn't use their outward ticket. Dec 12, 2018 at 14:32
  • Whatever the legitimacy of the arrangement, in practice I can't imagine it being a problem.
    – Strawberry
    Dec 12, 2018 at 14:41
  • @DavidRicherby I did not see anything from OP indicating this is a round trip. I still don't. Maybe there's a "term of art" or UK English idiom I am missing. Dec 12, 2018 at 15:53
  • @Harper This question is about a one-way journey and the other is about a two-way journey. You're claiming that it's not a duplicate because of that. I'm saying that it is a duplicate, because this question asks about Y and the other question asks about X and Y, so covers everything that's needed here. Dec 12, 2018 at 16:21

4 Answers 4


If it's an advance, then no, advance tickets need to follow the route exactly ("You may not start, break and resume, or end your journey at any intermediate station except to change to/from connecting trains as shown on the ticket(s) or other valid travel itinerary.").

From a practicality point of view, the train guard would almost certainly not know, but getting through ticket barriers at the station (which Birmingham New Street has) would be the issue, since you'd need to convince the guard to let you through (your ticket will not open the barrier as per normal)

  • 15
    Could OP by a cheap ticket to a local Birmingham station to get through the barriers? Could get a ticket for a few pounds, cheaper than a new ticket to Southampton or a ticket to Manchester to catch their original train. Birmingham New Street to Smethwick Rolfe Street is £2.40. This is a comment for your second paragraph.
    – BritishSam
    Dec 11, 2018 at 13:39
  • 12
    It would get OP through the barrier, yes, and then they could use the advance on the train itself. It's still against the terms of service (they boarded after the start of the printed journey), but I highly doubt they'd get caught, especially if the train is any level of busy.
    – qechua
    Dec 11, 2018 at 13:45
  • 1
    While @BritishSam's strategy might well work. Be careful a) that the main concourse station is divided into two and I'm not sure whether the ticket barriers would only let you through to the correct half and b) If you are not changing trains in Birmingham, the guard may well notice. Probably won't care, but might. Dec 11, 2018 at 15:25
  • 5
    @BritishSam Note that could potentially be shown as evidence of wilful intent to travel without a valid ticket, and therefore liable for summary prosecution for a criminal offence under the Regulation of Railways Act 1889. (i.e., this isn't just a matter of the "terms of service", it's a criminal matter)
    – gsnedders
    Dec 11, 2018 at 15:50
  • 2
    @gsnedders I seriously doubt anyone was thinking about "hidden city ticketing" in 1899. To convince a court that you broke the law by being on a train only on segments you had a ticket for (the common sense rule), you would need to argue the merits of hidden city ticketing, and show its reasons have such a compelling public interest that they must override the common sense rule. Dec 11, 2018 at 19:13

This sort of change to a journey is allowed on most types of train ticket in the UK. Unfortunately, an advance ticket is an exception, and does not allow any changes at all; you have to board and leave at the stations specified, not in between. (Advance tickets are notorious for being particularly inflexible.)

However, you say that the journey is still some time in the future. It is often possible to request an exchange for your Advance ticket, updating the details to a different set of details; with cardboard tickets this would be done via handing in the tickets at the ticket office of any staffed station, but the process may be different or nonexistent for mobile tickets. (With mobile tickets in particular, the terms and conditions say "However, please note that if you choose (where offered) to print your tickets at home or download them to your mobile device, different rules apply and you may not be able to subsequently change your ticket."; it's nonetheless worth checking to see if a change is possible, because "may not be possible" doesn't imply "is never possible".) Note that there is a fee for the change in journey, normally £10 plus the difference in price; as such, it's a good idea to look into the possibility of an exchange as soon as possible, as the price is normally lower the earlier you book the ticket.

It's quite possible that (as you're changing to a shorter journey) the difference in price is less than minus £10, so (assuming that the exchange is technically possible) it may be possible to convince the ticket office staff to exchange the ticket for free.


You could just ask before going on the trip. Just walk to the nearest big train station to the reception if there is a possibility to do this in a legal way.

Sometimes they are more accommodating than one might think. I actually had a similar problem when I went to London because I bought the wrong (non refundable) ticket by accident, they did change it to the one I needed without any extra fee.

If that fails you can still try it the "sneaky" way. But most probably, asking won't hurt you.

  • 1
    I suspect they'd be less forgiving of "I bought a non-refundable ticket and then my plans changed" than "I bought the wrong ticket by mistake." But you can always try. Dec 11, 2018 at 16:23
  • Once when I travelled without my railcard, the train conductor 'exchanged' the two advance tickets I had and deducted their cost from the new full price return that I had to buy. So I think that the staff are able to be flexible if they want to. Dec 12, 2018 at 9:30

There is a route between Southampton and Manchester which changes at Birmingham New Street (using the National Rail website, any of the services with one change appear to change at Birmingham). As others have said, you may need a different ticket to get through the barrier at Birmingham, but if your ticket allows for travel by Any Permitted Route, you'd have no problem using it to board at Birmingham.

Unfortunately, Advance Singles are usually for a specific service. If this is the case with yours, and the train you're booked on requires a change at Birmingham, then you should be fine to simply board the Birmingham leg as you would have to anyway. If your ticket doesn't change at Birmingham, then you throw yourself at the mercy of the conductor on the train. It's likely that he wouldn't notice or would use his discretion, but the risk is high enough that it's worth checking the cost of changing your ticket before making a decision.

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