The must-have railcard for any Londoner on a day trip.
Railcards are a funny old game. As a jaunty 16-25 year old, the Young Person’s Railcard is always a go-to, saving 30% on nearly any train journey you can think of. Or, as of January 2, you can finally get your hands on a 26-30 railcard. (You should attach it to your Oyster Card, by the way, which will save you 30% on any off-peak PAYG fares.)
If you’ve turned 31 though, it gets more confusing. The Two Together railcard, which saves 30%, seems to be a random bonus reward for people who’ve found love; while the Friends & Family railcard a consolation prize for those who’ve procreated.
Enter, then, the unsexily titled NETWORK RAILCARD. Available to anyone of any age, it gives the same delicious 30% discount on any destination in south-east England, and bestows the same deal on up to THREE extra travel companions each time. (And unlike the Two Together and Family and Friends cards, they can be different people each time, as long as the cardholder is travelling.) At just £30 for a year, it offers, my friends, SAVINGS GALORE.
And oh, the places you’ll go! To be known henceforth as the ‘Fuck Off To The Seaside Card’, the travel area extends to all of London’s nearest beaches, like Walton-on-the-Naze in Essex, and Margate and Ramsgate in Kent. Or you can head directly south to Hastings, Eastbourne, Brighton, Bournemouth, or as far west as Weymouth – or even over to the Isle of Wight. Inland destinations in-zone include Oxford, the Cotswolds, north to Cambridge or south to the New Forest, and of course all the places where you’ll actually end up having to go, like Basingstoke and Milton Keynes.
It pays for itself pretty quickly – if you and a friend decide to rock down to Bournemouth one sunny Saturday, for instance, it’ll be £32 cheaper with a railcard, or more than the £30 cost of the card itself. Throw in a bachelorette in Brighton and a wedding in Reading over the summer, and you’re well in the money. Plus, if you’ve got family in the Network area, a few trips home to mother dearest will only add to the savings.
The only real limitation is that you can’t use the railcard during the weekday morning rush hour, so you can’t use it to save money on your commute. But for beach trips, countryside adventures and those endless rural nuptials, you’ll be quids in with a railcard.