If taking a suburban train in London and buying a Permit to Travel, bought at dedicated vending machines for any amount less than the full fare, to be exchanged for an actual ticket later by paying the difference, where does one exchange the permit for an actual ticket?


You exchange the permit for a ticket if you are asked to present your ticket onboard the train by a guard, ticket inspector or revenue protection officer - they will charge you the difference between the permit value and the ticket you require to conduct your journey, or refund the difference if the permit is worth more than the ticket for your journey (unlikely).

You may also be asked to purchase the full ticket from a ticket office if you present the permit at an exit barrier inspector, if that ticket office is open.

From the National Rail penalty fares FAQ:

If you are unable to do so, you must buy a Permit to Travel from the machines that are provided at most stations. This permit must be upgraded to a valid ticket at the first opportunity.


If you are not challenged onboard or at your destination station, the proper approach is to voluntarily go to the nearest open ticket office and exchange the permit.

In practice, if you remain unchallenged, you just got yourself some cheap train travel.

  • "You may also be asked to purchase the full ticket from a ticket office if you present the permit at an exit barrier inspector," How do you even get out through the barrier with just a permit if it's not manned? Literally, how do you not get stuck inside the station (and no, jumping over it doesn't count) – Crazydre Feb 16 '17 at 12:36
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    @Crazydre if a station is unmanned, the ticket barriers will not be closed. If the ticket barriers are closed, there is someone trackside at the station - guaranteed. – Moo Feb 16 '17 at 12:47
  • I see, do you happen to know whether the barriers are usually open or closed at Luton Airport Parkway on Saturdays around 17:00? – Crazydre Feb 16 '17 at 12:50
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    @Crazydre no idea, never been there. But as its an airport station, I would pretty much guarantee its always manned and thus always has active barriers. – Moo Feb 16 '17 at 12:50
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    @ChrisH the moral of the story is, with regard to Permits to Travel, that you always under pay when you buy the Permit to Travel, but don't shy away when someone asks you to upgrade it. That way you can never be prosecuted, and you also never lose money. – Moo Feb 16 '17 at 16:58

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