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I will soon be making a journey by train that will require me to wait for around 90 minutes in a relatively small station. I would like to leave the station and wander into the nearby town during this time, but this would require me to exit through the ticket barriers and then reenter again. Is this possible? And if so does it require a particular type of ticket?

I will be travelling on Greater Anglia services. I intend to use a mobile e-ticket through the TrainLine app but I am willing to use another ticket provider if that will make the process easier. My ticket type will be an off-peak open return ticket.

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    Which station? Some on the Greater Anglia route don't have any barriers where as others do. – Crazy Dino Oct 11 at 22:04
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    In practice 100% yes. If there are barriers talk to a member of staff and they'll let you through. Source: have done this many times, on all types of ticket, never had an issue. – davnicwil Oct 14 at 12:39
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I can't answer precisely without knowing the full details of your journey and ticketing.

Leaving station premises, even when changing trains, constitutes a break of journey*. Some tickets allow break of journey, and others don't. Advance tickets in particular (those that have to be bought in advance and are only valid on one particular train) don't allow a break of journey; there are also some more flexible tickets that forbid it too, though most flexible tickets allow it. Break of journey can also be restricted sometimes by your route, if you do it at a station you're only allowed to be at thanks to certain routeing rules for instance.

Breaking your journey when you're not entitled to do so may lead to you being required to pay the difference between your advance fare and one that would have been valid but allowed break of journey, which could be quite substantial:

16.4. If you start, break or resume your journey at an intermediate station where you are not entitled to do so, you will be liable to pay an excess fare. The price for this will be the difference between the amount paid for the Ticket you hold and the lowest price Ticket available for immediate travel that would have entitled you to start, break or resume your journey at the station concerned.

(National Rail Conditions of Travel).

However, having said all this, it is very likely that even if your ticket doesn't allow break of journey, they will very likely take pity on you if you explain your situation to the gateline staff. In all likelihood if the station has barriers you will be allowed out (bearing in mind that using station facilities outside the barriers, if they exist, does NOT constitute a break of journey), and if it doesn't, in all likelihood there will be nobody there to stop you (even if they perform a revenue blockade they will likely not be doing this at the entrance to station premises, but the entrance to platforms instead — people will need to be able to enter the station to buy tickets after all!). I did, however, want to write an answer which explains what the actual rules say.

* The National Rail Conditions of Travel, since they were "simplified", no longer contains a definition of Break of Journey, but it's generally assumed that the old definition from the Conditions of Carriage likely still applies.

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    Very interesting, thanks, +1 from me. Did the old definition of break of journey formally state that use of station facilities outside the ticket barriers was not a break? I ask since I run into that one at Norwich all the time, and though I've never had a guard fail to let me leave the platforms and return, it would be nice to know that I have some basis to claim that as a right. – MadHatter supports Monica Oct 12 at 6:01
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    This is very confusing. At first read it sounds like it applies to OP's situation, but on further thought, I think it applies to breaking of segments. If my first train ride segment is A via B via C to Manchester Union, then change trains to second segment is Manch. via J via K to L, they are saying if I alight at B to shop, then hop on a later train from B to Manch, the B stop is a break of journey that I am not entitled to. Manch is entitled because they chose to have me change trains there. If I was booked on an A-B-C-Manch-J-K-L single train, then not entitled to alight at Manch. – Harper - Reinstate Monica Oct 12 at 18:23
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    I'm not sure this is correct. I always understood "breaking a journey" to mean getting off a train where you didn't have to. For example, if you're travelling from London to Leeds on a direct train, breaking your journey would be getting off at, e.g., Doncaster and catching a later train on to Leeds.. Here, though, the asker has to get off at the station they want to leave, because they are connecting there. – David Richerby Oct 12 at 19:49
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    @DavidRicherby: At least under the old Conditions of Carriage mentioned in the answer's footnote (and assuming I've found the right document), break of journey occurs when you leave a station other than for one of three reasons, none of which apply here. It's not about getting off a train. (Leaving a station to get on a train at a different station is not a break of journey, but leaving a station to wander around and then go back to the same station is a break of journey.) – user2357112 supports Monica Oct 13 at 10:03
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    Leaving a train where you don't need to is absolutely NOT a break of journey. It always referred to leaving railway premises. – Muzer Oct 13 at 12:16
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The actual barriers might not open for you, (those in Bham New St never open when I change there, even when you have to go through them to go to your next platform, but Liverpool ones do), but if you show your ticket to an attendant they will open it for you to let you in/out, I've been doing it for years using TrainLine and never had an issue with it! If there are no attendants around to open it, I've asked security or people on the ticket desks who have either opened it or got someone to do so.

If it is a small station, there is also a chance it doesn't actually have any barriers, my home town and the ones around don't have any, and some of the larger ones like Preston don't either.

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    While this is certainly true in practice I thought I'd write an answer that went into more detail about what the rules actually say :) (And incidentally, don't use the Trainline, they charge booking fees which you won't get if you buy directly from the train companies). – Muzer Oct 11 at 12:23
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    @Muzer is right about the booking fees! It's normally around £1 before hand, and free on the day of travel. Guess it depends if the seller requires you to print the tickets or if they have their own app as my preference is to save time queuing 15+ minutes at the one printer at my local station – Uciebila Oct 11 at 12:28
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    I was going to post exactly the same thing. As long as you have a valid ticket, the barrier guards really don't care if you come and go provided you ask nicely. – Valorum Oct 11 at 21:39
  • I've never had any issue getting through the barriers when connecting at Birmingham New Street. By the way, don't use The Train Line. They charge a booking fee and buying direct from the train company avoids that. (Or, at least, don't buy tickets from The Train Line. If you like their user interface, by all means use that to discover what trains are available.) – David Richerby Oct 12 at 19:52
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You can as confirmed by an email from Trainline:

I would like to inform you that whether you can break or not break the journey depends on the type of ticket you've booked. Anytime, Off-Peak and Super Off-Peak tickets are more flexible options, so breaking your journey is allowed, as long as you don’t start your journey before, or end it after, the two destinations that are written on your ticket.

Checking the terms and conditions of the ticket you bought will provide more information. If you have an Advance ticket, breaking your journey’s not allowed, unless it’s to change to/from a connecting train, which will be written on your ticket.

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    Incidentally, the implication that Off-peak and Super Off-peak tickets always allow break of journey is flat-out wrong! The restriction code for the ticket (which usually defines time restrictions) may or may not restrict break of journey. As I mentioned in my answer as well you also have the possibility of wanting to break your journey at a station you're only allowed to be at because of the Group Stations Rule, which would not be allowed. Our ticketing is so complicated even retailers don't understand it. – Muzer Oct 14 at 15:07
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    Note - Trainline are a private ticket sales company seperate to the rail operators, and should be considred no more than advisory. – CMaster Oct 14 at 17:54
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All tickets allow break of journey for connectional purposes i.e. changing trains where necessary. If you have a waiting period in a station for your connecting train, you can pass through the barriers or leave the station during that time.

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    As others have said, automatic barriers may not allow this, but the staff will always do so (by law, there has to be a member of staff on duty whenever the barriers are closed). – Tim Lymington supports Monica Oct 11 at 21:58
  • Do you have an official reference that confirms you can leave the station? – GS - Apologise to Monica Oct 12 at 19:48
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    @DavidRicherby well, obviously they can't physically stop you. But why wouldn't they have the right to charge you for a new ticket when you tried to return? It all hinges on whether leaving the station does consist of breaking a journey. – GS - Apologise to Monica Oct 12 at 21:14
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    @DavidRicherby I guess different interpretations are possible, though personally I find yours less convincing than just "leaving railway property". But that's the point of my request for an official reference. – GS - Apologise to Monica Oct 12 at 21:24
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    @DavidRicherby that's irrelevant to the legal/contractual position. What if there's no-one there when you leave but there are inspectors doing a spot-check when you return? – GS - Apologise to Monica Oct 12 at 21:28
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In my experience that's always been allowed for trains I've taken, I don't use trainline, but assuming you get the same orange and cream credit card sized ticket as every other train ticket this should apply. I often change trains, wait at stations and even get on or off at stations between my specified start / end station and have never had a barrier not open for me. In some stations you have to go through ticket barriers to change train / platform or get to a waiting room. And even if your ticket didn't let you through barriers (which may not be present or operational if it is a small, explaining your situation politely to an attendant would almost certainly result in you being allowed to leave the station and return.

Note: my experience is limited to South Western Railway, TFL and Great Western Railway, YMMV on other carriers

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    This is my experience too. I don't know the exact rules & regs, but I sometimes take a long break outside the station on my train journey home so I can do some grocery shopping. This obviously being where I have to change trains anyway. Railway staff are generally pretty cool and are OK with reasonable requests. – Algy Taylor Oct 14 at 10:25
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I would consider buying two return tickets - for the two parts of your journey: one from your origin to your connecting station and another from your connecting station to your destination. That way you'll have the right tickets to get in and out of your connecting station regardless of it being manned or having barriers.

There's a chance it won't cost you anything extra. (Bizarrely, splitting some rail journey can even make them cheaper.)

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Probably. If you show your ticket to the staff at the barrier and explain, I can't imagine you will have a problem - I've done this dozens of times. Make a point of re-entering the station at the same barrier, you'll be recognized and waved through.

Technically some tickets don't allow it (most do), but even then a polite ask will almost always get you through.

Obviously if it's a station without barriers, no problem at all.

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