Travel Question of the Day: Simon Calder on the best railcards for families

Q My husband and I are expecting our first child in August. A colleague insists that, when he or she is born, it is worth our while buying a Family Friends Railcard. Even though the child won’t legally need a ticket for several years, apparently the discount still applies. Is this correct?

Name withheld

A Yes, but it’s probably not the optimum answer. These very useful railcards are intended for families with children aged 5-15. They gets you a one-third discount on adult fares, and 60 per cent off for child fares (with a minimum fare of £1). You can buy a Family Friends Railcard online at; the one-year version costs £27 (so long as you use the discount code LEAFLET3 when you buy, to secure £3 off) or you can go for a three-year version, price £70.

The rail industry is happy for you to buy a card even if your child is under 5 and therefore does not need a ticket. On all journeys when you claim a discount, you must take the card, a child and tickets for all three of you. 

To give you an idea of the savings on a London-Manchester off-peak return: with no card, two adults pay a total of £164.80; with a card and child, it’s £150. But a better plan is

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