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I'll be in the UK in a few weeks, and will do some train travelling with my wife and two (under 5) children. The kids are free on trains, yay, so we're planning to get a Two Together railcard (As we'll be together the whole time).

As far as I can tell, I can't buy one while I'm in the US - I'll have to buy one in the UK. So:

  • Can I go ahead and buy (ahead of time) train tickets that assume the railcard exists?
  • Is there a particular place I need to go to buy it once I'm in the UK? We'll be landing at Heathrow around noon, staying overnight, then leaving on a train for Edinburgh the next day.
  • 2
    It looks like most answers are here. You could buy it now, but would have to have it delivered to your hotel. Otherwise, at any National Rail office. – mkennedy Sep 10 '15 at 20:46
  • online purchase has 10% off discount – Him Sep 11 '15 at 2:09
  • Also take a look at Family & Friends railcard. – A E Sep 12 '15 at 8:40
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Yes, you can go ahead and buy the tickets now. As long as you have a railcard by the time you have to show anyone the tickets, you'll be fine.

You can either buy the card online, and have it delivered to a place you are staying (kinda dicey, as the time for delivery can vary a little). This way you get a neat, credit-card style (and size) pass.

Alternatively, you can buy from any station ticket office (there's one at Heathrow, although apparently this does not sell railcards (most other airport ticket offices will however ). Don't forget to bring a passport photo of each of you, and you can speed things up by having already filled out the application form. If you do this, you get a larger, paper railcard in a little passbook.

See this from the Railcard FAQs:

Q:Can visitors to Britain buy a Railcard online?

A: You can only buy online is you are able to give a UK-delivery address. We cannot send Railcards to non-UK addresses. Alternatively, you can buy a Railcard at a staffed rail station ticket office in England, Scotland, or Wales or a National Rail-licensed Travel Agent on arrival. You can also buy a Railcard at Gatwick Airport, Stansted Airport rail stations, Luton Airport Parkway and Manchester Airport – but NOT at London Heathrow Airport.

If you're travelling on trains a large amount though, it may make sense to take a look at Britrail passes.

You can read the rules and general information on railcards from National Rail, and the FAQ on the railcard site is also very useful

  • 1
    Heathrow is "special", and doesn't have a full ticket office. Are you sure that the restricted service there is able to issue railcards? (They don't offer ticket collection at least) – Gagravarr Sep 10 '15 at 22:10
  • No, not sure - never been there. Just observed that NR says there is a ticket office there. – CMaster Sep 10 '15 at 22:13
  • NR says there is a ticket office. The people there seem to pretend they're not a ticket office, just a HEX sales desk. I've had them refuse to sell me tickets beyond Reading, claiming they're not a full NR ticketing office, and also had them refuse to let me collect tickets ordered online. I'd be very reluctant to suggest telling people to try to buy railcards from them without explicitly checking first that they offer them :( – Gagravarr Sep 11 '15 at 10:26
  • Britrail is tempting, but it's unclear if it'll save me or not: on the Caledonian, for example, more of the cost is in the berth reservation than the ticket... ends up being $50 a day, which I'm not sure if I'll likely spend that or not. It'll be close. Maybe worth it for the flexibility (as it would be nice not to have to decide for sure to do some of the trips on a particular day, so I don't have to buy ahead for cheaper pricing). – Joe Sep 11 '15 at 15:50
  • You can collect the pre-purchased ticket in many ticket machine. Simply plug your card in the machine and type the reference code, and you can get the ticket. – Him Sep 12 '15 at 12:51

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