Is there a machine pick up system like in other countries? Will it take foreign credit cards (Mastercard or Visa of course)? If so, in what locations are these accessible?

Otherwise, how can I get them mailed to me abroad (Sweden) in the most efficient way? I want to book tickets for 5 people in advance, for 6-7 seperate rail journeys. Since it will be quite a lot of tickets to keep track of, I want the simplest method possible of obtaining them to avoid the risk of losing them.

3 Answers 3


Yes, you can buy UK train tickets online with the provision of collecting them at the station. The only problem is that ticket vending machines at stations typically only accept chip-and-PIN cards and thus with your foreign Visa / MasterCard, you may not be able to pick up your tickets unless it's a chip-and-PIN card. For long-distance journeys, thetrainline.com does has an international delivery option which costs an additional 7.50 GBP (although if you book early you can also get cheap 'advance' tickets).

If you do have a chip-and-PIN card, then sites like thetrainline provide you a unique one-time ID - this, along with your card details allows you to print your tickets out at the station itself.

For most short distance journeys, you can buy tickets at the station itself. This is not a problem when the station is staffed (during work hours), but can be when it's not as you will again find yourself unable to buy from ticket vending machines. You can buy your tickets on the train itself when the guard comes checking tickets, but the portable payment system they use usually doesn't support anything other than chip-and-PIN cards. Even with chip-and-PIN cards I have often found payments do not get cleared (PIN is accepted, but transaction is declined) so it's best not to rely on that. In that case you have to make sure you carry enough cash on you before you get on-board a train.

You may also be interested in GroupSave / group travel tickets that many UK train operators offer - you can find how much your savings will be by going to the 'train tickets' section on most train operators' websites. As mentioned in a previous answer, you also may find it cheaper to buy a multi-day / season pass.

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    Dude. Swedes have chip and pin! In fact the majority of europe does afaik, we are pretty advanced.
    – victoriah
    Dec 5, 2011 at 19:32
  • Edited to reflect this :) Dec 5, 2011 at 19:55
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    "You can buy your tickets on the train itself when the guard comes checking tickets". Note that this is not technically true on many UK train operators. For example, South West Trains generally require you to buy a ticket (southwesttrains.co.uk/penalty-fares.aspx). Most of the time they'll sell you one on the train anyway, especially if you plead ignorance/are obviously unfamiliar with the system/etc., but theoretically you could be liable to a penalty fare. Apr 24, 2013 at 15:33
  • @AndrewFerrier Theoretically, but I've never had this happen to me. They've always sold a ticket when I wanted one on the train itself. Apr 24, 2013 at 23:55
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    I've seen it happen to others, but not me. It tends to happen when folks get into an argument. Also, if you buy your tickets on the train, you aren't eligible for any discounts, such as Network Railcards (although they aren't so relevant to visitors anyway). Apr 25, 2013 at 3:39

The Man in Seat Sixty-One explains how to do it. He lists some online ticket retailers, as well as a possibilty to order tickets via phone.

To keep track of more complex projects with several legs, I set up a plan before starting the reservations. I then fill in details about the different parts. I am using a spreadsheet for this, but paper and pencil will also do the job. I am using a template like this one.


You can collect online train tickets from most (but not all) ticket offices, by showing your payment card and reference numbers. You do not have to collect the tickets from the same station you are travelling from.

Although all the Train Operating Companies sell all companies' tickets from the same fares database, there are company-specific discounts, e.g. if you are travelling London-Edinburgh with East Coast then there is a 10% online discount if you book on East Coast's site rather than another operator's.

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