In the UK, the National Rail Conditions Of Carriage defines the circumstances where an Advance ticket can be used on a train other than the specific service specified on the ticket. It refers to the "previous connecting train service was delayed", but what does this actually mean?

Does it mean that my ticket is a through ticket potentially using several train operating companies (and hence changes), and one of the legs on my ticket was delayed? Or can I hold several tickets, as long as they are Advance or better, in a split ticket format?

I've read the Conditions Of Carriage several times to try to understand this phrase, together with websites such as RailFuture, Which, and MoneySavingExpert.

The reason I ask is that I booked two separate tickets through the Virgin Trains website, following their social media guidance, which constitute my journey. The service for the first ticket was delayed/cancelled, so I missed my specified train on my second ticket which was an Advance ticket. I took the next train to my destination (a Virgin Train), and the train manager refused to accept my ticket as valid. I don't want to go through that again!

  • For contrast - I've heard of people's advance tickets being accepted on later trains after their bus was late to the station. Seems there's some variance here. Also, while you bought your tickets from the Virgin trains website: are you sure that your ticket was valid on Virgin trains, and not a "Cross Country" or "London Midland" (or anyone else) only ticket? Note that there are in fact 2 "Virgin Trains" franchises, east coast and west coast, and they are not the same company.
    – CMaster
    Commented Jul 18, 2017 at 8:24
  • Cmaster - I take your point. My first train in my journey is with either Southern or London Overground (both proper Train Operating Companies), and my second train is Virgin Trains West Coast Main Line. But it's a train network. Should we expect customers to be penalised for late running trains? Virgin Train's position is my Advance ticket on their train was invalid, and I would have to buy a new one - and no refund for the original ticket. Commented Jul 18, 2017 at 9:00
  • I'm not arguing either way. I was just checking that there was not an additional restriction on your ticket. If the train you missed was not a Virgin West Coast service, then I'm not sure that Virgin would be obligated to carry you. Of course, if it was, it seems they have little excuse
    – CMaster
    Commented Jul 18, 2017 at 9:14

3 Answers 3


As long as you left the official minimum connection time between trains (you can find this for a given station at http://brtimes.com), the rules still apply, and you should be allowed on the next train. Note that this is NOT the case if you're doing a cross-London transfer and paying for it separately to either of your tickets. Knowing your exact itinerary could really help here. However, a lot of staff don't realise this because it isn't exactly set out clearly in many places and probably isn't part of their training.

Please, do write to Virgin Trains (East Coast or West Coast as necessary) and ask for a refund for any additional tickets you had to purchase. If this doesn't work, escalate it to Transport Focus.

For my source, this has always been the case in the industry and the previous Conditions of Carriage used to make this a little clearer. However, Condition 14.1 makes it clear that using a combination of tickets still constitutes one journey.

Unless shown below, you may use a combination of two or more Tickets to make a journey provided that the train services you use call at the station(s) where you change from one Ticket to another.

(It used to be the case that the rules for catching trains after missed connections were also phrased in terms of journeys but this is no longer the case. However, since the change in rules was largely intended to simplify the wording rather than to change the status quo, I'm quite confident this still applies.)

  • This is certainly my understanding from websites, and the Conditions Of Travel, but what should one do when the Virgin staff disagree, and the Virgin Trains social media team disagree as well? I have complained to Customer Relations at Virgin Trains. Commented Jul 18, 2017 at 9:03
  • @PeterSchofield The least hassle would usually be to pay whatever they're making you pay to complete your journey, then to get a refund from customer services after the fact. That's still way more hassle than it should be, I agree! And what if you can't afford to do that?
    – Muzer
    Commented Jul 18, 2017 at 9:04
  • Just to clarify on "cross-London transfer" - my understanding is if you use a Train Operating Company, you are covered. If you use the tube, or a bus, you are not. Commented Jul 18, 2017 at 9:04
  • Muzer - if they had asked me to pay, it would have been either £180 or £360 (double the fare). That's a LOT of money, on top of my original fares. I think I would have taken the penalty notice. As it turns out, the Train Manager didn't return, even though I asked the other staff to call him back. Commented Jul 18, 2017 at 9:05
  • 1
    @PeterSchofield Well, that's a good result. No, I agree completely, but in reality, there isn't much you can do if you can't convince a belligerent member of staff who thinks they know the rules when they really don't. Perhaps try to get a letter from Virgin confirming the rules so you can show it to them in the future.
    – Muzer
    Commented Jul 18, 2017 at 9:08

The answer from @Muzer is very good, but I wanted to add what I've learnt as I progressed my negative experience through the system. Train tickets in the UK are confusing, and some of the train operating companies appear to be misleading customers. The devil really is in the detail! If in doubt, ask!

The National Rail Conditions Of Travel 2016 makes it abundantly clear that if you are using an Advance ticket, and you miss your booked train because a previous connecting train service was delayed then you are entitled to take the next train service with whom you are booked with. Obviously, I have to have been at the station at the start of my journey in good time, and I have to have allowed the Minimum Connetion time for my interchange station. In my case, I was booked on a Virgin Trains service to Crewe with an Advance ticket, and my connecting service Southern train was delayed, so I missed my booked train.

National Rail also produce a Guide To Tickets, which clearly states the position in the section on Advance tickets:

"However, if you miss your service because your connecting train was delayed you will be able to travel on the next service provided by the same train company, or any additional services as authorised by rail staff, without penalty."

National Rail's website, in the section on Advance tickets, clearly states: "If delays occur while travelling, you will be allowed to take the next available train(s) to complete your journey."

Finally, National Rail have a section of FAQs about Advance Tickets for internal users. The guidance is that if the customer is delayed because of a rail industry issue (or partners) then the customer can change to another train of the same company to get them to their destination with the least delay.

Partners: If are are delayed because you have a separate ticket for a bus or tube service, then you will have to buy a new ticket. Through tickets generally will allow you to take the next available train on an Advance ticket, but it's getting even more complex - so always check. The internal document gives allowable examples, such as Brighton - Zone U12 plus an Advance ticket London Euston - Manchester.

Combination tickets:

The National Rail internal FAQs for Advance tickets confirm that combination tickets are allowed. The Conditions Of Travel also confirms this in Section 14, though where the train services must stop where your tickets begins/ends

Off-peak & Super-OffPeak tickets:

Having said all that, it does seem slightly unfair that if I didn't have an Advance ticket, but an Offpeak or a Super-Offpeak ticket then I would have to buy a new ticket. I'd ask station staff for permission to travel on the later train

National Rail Advance Tickets: http://www.nationalrail.co.uk/times_fares/ticket_types/46546.aspx

Minimum Connection Times: http://www.nationalrail.co.uk/times_fares/ticket_types/46562.aspx

National Rail Guide to tickets: http://www.nationalrail.co.uk/posters/National_Rail_Guide_To_Tickets.pdf

  • 4
    If you had an off-peak or super off-peak ticket, you're not limited to a single train anyway. I'm not sure what would happen if the delay pushed you into the peak time for that particular fare - I'd definitely hope common sense would be exhibited but I'm not entirely convinced by that. However, in any case, if you're on a train with a fare with the wrong time restriction, as per Condition 9.4, you're only required to pay the price difference between your fare and one that would have been valid. It's an interesting point you raise, nonetheless.
    – Muzer
    Commented Jul 28, 2017 at 10:32
  • Might I suggest using the blockquote notation to make it clearer what's a quote and what isn't?
    – TRiG
    Commented Dec 9, 2018 at 20:48

My understanding is that, officially, it is only trains covered by the same ticket that count - so if you have a ticket A-B-C and the train from A-B is late, you'd be accepted onto a later train from B-C, but if you have separate tickets A-B and B-C, you wouldn't.

However, the on-train staff often have a fair bit of discretion, so it probably depends more on what mood they are in and how nice you are to them!

  • 2
    This is not the case.
    – Muzer
    Commented Jul 18, 2017 at 8:55

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