Railcard for 830,000 armed forces veterans goes on sale

Simon Calder
·2-min read
Honoured traveller: Captain Sir Tom Moore is the first recipient of the Veterans Railcard (Department for Transport)
Honoured traveller: Captain Sir Tom Moore is the first recipient of the Veterans Railcard (Department for Transport)

Armed forces veterans can now apply for a railcard that will offer a 34 per cent discount on many train tickets for journeys from 5 November.

Captain Sir Tom Moore, who served in the Second World War and raised millions for charity during lockdown, was presented with the first Veterans Railcard to be issued.

The ninth national railcard is open to “UK veterans who served at least one day in Her Majesty’s Armed Forces or Merchant Mariners who have seen duty on legally defined military operations”. The Rail Delivery Group (RDG), which administers the scheme, estimates that 830,000 people will be eligible.

Holders can also nominate a companion to get the same discount when travelling with them. Up to four children travelling with the holder get 60 per cent off.

The card initially costs £21 for a year or £61 for three years, though prices will rise to the usual £30 and £70 rates respectively from the end of March 2021. It will be available either as physical card or a digital version on a smartphone.

The latest railcard delivers savings of just over one-third on many tickets, though a £12 minimum fare applies on rush-hour journeys up to 10am from Monday to Friday – this restriction is lifted during July and August.

Two “open access” operators on the East Coast main line, Grand Central and Hull Trains, have declined to join the scheme.

The transport secretary, Grant Shapps, said: “We have an eternal debt of honour to those who have served our country, and this railcard is part of marking our gratitude.

“For veterans looking to re-enter the world of work and connect with friends and family, it will cut the cost of travel to open up new opportunities.”

The chief executive of Help for Heroes, Melanie Waters, said of the railcard: “The pandemic is having a lasting impact on veterans and their families both financially and socially, and its introduction will come at a welcome time.”

The announcement follows controversy over the government’s decision not to extend railcards that holders were unable to use during lockdown.

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