University of Sussex Students' Newspaper

Is the 16-25 Railcard for Me?

Georgia Keetch

ByGeorgia Keetch

Oct 12, 2020

Words By Katya Pristiyanti

The proximity to London, the incentive to travel around the UK, and the possibility of discounts are all enticing arguments made for students to get the 16-25 railcard. 1/3 off all future fares for the rest of the year just has to be worth it. Okay, you may be put off by the fact that it is £30 upfront, perhaps an unnecessary expense at the start of the year when you have so many other things to spend that hard-earned cash on plants, a fairy light, a few textbooks, the pub… more plants? 

Not convinced? Let us break down how much of a good investment that initial £30 is. 

First of all the train is a good way to travel, it is far quicker than the bus, far less busy and extremely well connected. London is just over an hour away, the historic town of Lewes is 20 minutes, Brighton, 10. For international students, London is probably the most attractive and most likely place to visit. It also provides ample room for savings on the train with the railcard. Right now, a return trip from London is likely to cost approximately £25. At off-peak times it is even less. Anyway, let’s say £25 is the average and most probable cost of rail travel to London without a railcard. With 1/3 off, £8.30 is saved, and that £25 now becomes an attractive £16.67.

With this in mind, it will take about 4-5 trips to London (depending on the price of the tickets) to be able to breakeven with that initial £30 railcard fee. That’s it, all you have to do is travel 4-5 times to London to make the railcard worthwhile over the course of the year. But it gets better. Let’s say you fancied making the long trip way up north to Liverpool for its festive Christmas market, museums and cultural heritage. At this moment in time, a single from Brighton to Liverpool ranges between a whopping £85-£55. With the discount, that results to just £53-£39. It just might have gone from: “Out of the question” to “Yeah… I could probably manage that!” With one trip to Liverpool and a couple to London – not to mention the countless small money fares between Falmer and Brighton you are likely to take in one year at Sussex- you WILL break even and then save some.  For a person who travels a lot and to long distances, who wants to see their family far away, or who wants to travel, the railcard is a no brainer.

Image Credit: Bigger

A bigger investment and a greater deal, however, is the railcard that covers the whole duration of your undergraduate degree (3 years) for the cost of £70. Say you bought into our argument above, three times, you could save £20 (in the very long-run) by splashing out on your travel expenses straight away.  

As an alternative for a lot of people, there is also the option to receive 1/3 off when travelling in groups of 3. This discount is given to those even without the railcard. This option could be more useful for those one-off trips with your friends and for those who rarely travel.

All in all, the 16-25 railcard is a huge draw for a lot of students. Not only do they provide savings for rail travels, but it also pushes you to explore the UK, its culture, see different cities, and more. Given the current unpredictable circumstance, if rules are properly followed and health and living situations are considered, train travel remains one of the best ways to travel.

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