Does UK rail station's ticket machine sell group tickets?

Also, does the ticket machine runs 24 hours?

Edit: I am asking for the station of Cambridge.

  • Which station? Different stations can have different kinds of ticket machines, with different hours and different tickets sold / not sold...
    – Gagravarr
    Apr 19, 2017 at 15:54
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    Cambridge has a manned ticket office that's open virtually the whole day. Why worry about ticket machines when you can just speak to a friendly human who'll sell you exactly the right ticket?
    – Gagravarr
    Apr 19, 2017 at 16:03
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    @Gagravarr Cambridge's ticket office only opens Monday - Friday 05:10 - 23:00, according to your link. Not 24 hours :P
    – zlin
    Apr 19, 2017 at 16:28
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    @Gagravarr When I can buy a ticket from a machine I usually much prefer it. As a regular user I find it to be much faster, and any mistakes made will be my fault rather than out of my control (or to put it another way, there's one fewer human to introduce human error). While I've never experienced Cambridge, many ticket office humans are also far from friendly! (Though I think the unfriendly ones are still the exception rather than the rule). I think it's a shame that ticket offices are closing, but frankly when I can, I buy from machines, as it's faster and more reliable for me.
    – Muzer
    Apr 20, 2017 at 10:32
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    @zlin I never said it was 24 hours! It's open virtually the whole time that there are trains running, which is pretty much what matters
    – Gagravarr
    Apr 20, 2017 at 10:38

1 Answer 1


OK, the official answer from the staff at Cambridge station is "yes, you can buy a GroupSave ticket from the machines". I tried buying a GroupSave (GS) return to Ely. It isn't straightforward.

Firstly, simply telling it you have three people isn't enough, you have to press "Railcards" to access the GroupSave option. Secondly, although the machine says the ticket is valid on all services, according to the staff it is lying, and GS tickets CBG-ELY are not valid on Cross Country services (ie, those that are going to/from Birmingham). Similar issues arise with many other GS tickets.

As for hours, the ticket machines are accessible "all the hours the station is open", which is from shortly before the first train to shortly after the last one. According to my helpful staff member, this is roughly 0400-0115, which is a wider set of hours than those for which the ticket office is open

As another caveat, if you try to buy tickets after midnight and before the station shuts, the machines will try to sell you a ticket for the day that has just passed (because tickets for day X are valid until the small hours of day X+1); you have to buy a ticket for "tomorrow" to get one valid for the actual day in which you find yourself. But by 0400 the machines have often caught on, so if you then ask for a "tomorrow" ticket out of force of habit, you will get one for the following day.

In short, the advice of the (super-friendly and helpful) staff member is "don't buy GroupSave tickets from the machines, come to us". But if you really want to, then that is how and when you can do it. You might also want to try buying them in advance via National Rail Enquiries, and just collect them from the machine; apparently NRE does know which trains GS tickets are valid on.

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    Tickets for one day are usually valid until 0429 the following day, so maybe that's the logic of selling the "wrong" day. e.g., "Outward Validity: Day - DATE ON TICKET UNTIL 0429 THE NEXT MORNING"
    – Calchas
    Apr 20, 2017 at 13:46
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    I think that is exactly the point, and I am grateful to you for putting it much more clearly than I did!
    – MadHatter
    Apr 20, 2017 at 13:55
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    Except there isn't much logic there because a ticket is still valid FROM 0000 that day, so you're paying the same for (much) less validity.
    – Muzer
    Apr 20, 2017 at 13:57
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    @Calchas well, you're welcome to go to the station and ask. There's only one of me, so I have a strictly limited interest in the question (my secret train spod indulges himself in finding the cheapest outside-boundary-zone-6 destination to which I can buy off-peak returns from Cambridge, since these do not suffer from the evening departure restrictions that OPRs to London termini do).
    – MadHatter
    Apr 20, 2017 at 14:03
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    @Calchas I suspect GroupSave tickets count as promotional tickets. The official page saying which TOCs they are available on is here: nationalrail.co.uk/times_fares/… . I don't know if the framework for this sort of restriction exists in the Conditions of Travel though. I agree that it's very confusing.
    – Muzer
    Apr 20, 2017 at 14:30

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