So the journey I take to work (southeastern) the ticket barriers are always open in the morning. I usually still put my ticket through the machine regardless as I am scared that if I just walk through (regardless of having a ticket) my ticket will not work at the barriers when I get to the other end. My boyfriend tells me that this is nonsense and that I can just walk through with out putting my ticket into the machine if the gates are open but I wasn’t sure and too scared to try!

  • 5
    If you have a valid ticket you will be able to leave at the destination. There is (I think!) always a member of staff who is there to open the wider gates manually, for example to allow wheelchairs and buggies through. Commented Nov 24, 2021 at 21:31
  • @WeatherVane yes, the normal reason for the gates being open is that they don't have enough staff to attend to them properly, so if they're shut there should be someone very close. Commented Nov 25, 2021 at 9:40
  • @ChrisH-UK there is also the situation of a technical fault - a valid ticket won't open the barrier for some reason. Image the news headline "Grandmother imprisoned all night on freezing station". Commented Nov 25, 2021 at 9:42
  • @WeatherVane indeed, also tickets occasionally jam in the machines, and plenty of people need help working out what's a ticket (and that it's not the thing with "seat reservation, only valid with a ticket" on top in big letters). Technical faults seem far more common with QR code tickets. So they really do need someone at the barriers. I have recently seen an IT fault take the barriers out of action so badly the staff had to open a panel and manually open the gates, then check tickets themselves (or just wave through people they recognise). That obviously takes even more staff Commented Nov 25, 2021 at 9:46
  • Further to Weather Vane's advice, every ticket office is supposed to hold stocks of the National Conditions of Rail Travel… a surprisingly short booklet explaining, among other things, that broadly, the ticket itself is all that matters; not which machines it's been through. Commented Nov 25, 2021 at 22:04

1 Answer 1


Yes, you will be able to get through the barrier at your destination.

It’s common for barriers to be open at certain times of day, in which case you don’t need to put your ticket through. Some stations don’t even have barriers at all!

Since you mention Southeastern, it’s worth being clear that this applies if you’re using a National Rail ticket, either on paper or a digital format, but rules are different if you’re using Oyster or Contactless Pay As You Go in/around London. In that case, you must always touch in and out so the system can determine how much to charge you; if you touch out without touching in you’ll be charged a maximum fare, usually £8.60.

  • 3
    For completeness: You do not need to tap in/out if you have a Travelcard on your Oyster/smart card, if the zone you are tapping in/out of is covered by your digital Travelcard. The system will try to autocomplete your journey. It does occasionally make mistakes, which can be fixed through either the Oyster website, or the Oyster hotline. Personally, I try to tap in/out whenever possible.
    – overground
    Commented Nov 24, 2021 at 23:49
  • 1
    In general if using a smartcard it's a good idea to touch in and out, but in plenty of cases it's not necessary if the gates are open. For example I have a flexi-season ticket on the go, and it uses up a day if you touch in or out at either station on that day. That's similar to @overground's comment about travelcards. Commented Nov 25, 2021 at 9:38
  • @ChrisH-UK flexi-seasons are interesting, are you required to touch in? Unlike regular seasons, the train company stands to lose out if people don't use up one of their days.
    – Joe Malt
    Commented Nov 25, 2021 at 15:44
  • 1
    @JoeMalt There are gates at both ends of my route, and they're normally in use (except sometimes when I get off in the evening) so I need to touch in to get in. I'm not sure if flexi-seasons are available from gateless stations at all, or there would be a loophole where I could buy one from my local station to the station nearest work (2 changes, would take ages) and not run down my journeys unless checked - perhaps not even then as... Commented Nov 25, 2021 at 15:51
  • 1
    ...Staff aren't that familiar with them - when mine was checked on the train the other day it was me that pointed out the number of passes remaining, while the revenue inspector (not even the train manager but the expert) was looking at the use-by date and though I had a couple of weeks left. Commented Nov 25, 2021 at 15:52

You must log in to answer this question.

Not the answer you're looking for? Browse other questions tagged .