Would a ‘Two Together’ Railcard Save You Money?

Written by Karen Bryan

east coast trainThere’s a new kid on the block in the railcard stable – the ‘Two Together’.  This new rail discount card offers two people travelling together one-third off most rail tickets on off-peak services for an annual fee of £30.

The ‘Two Together’ railcard is not transferable, as it has photos of both holders on the railcard. It’s aimed at passengers aged 26 -59, as there’s already a railcard for 16-25 year olds and one for seniors aged 60+.

I wondered how many people would be able to save money with the ‘Two Together’ railcard?

The ‘Two Together’ railcard is only valid after 09.30 between Monday to Friday, so not much use to most people working full-time.

My husband and I live in Berwick upon Tweed. I mainly use the train to travel to London alone for business trips, on average of twice a year. We use our car, a diesel Skoda Fabia supermini for most of the journeys that we do together, which generally consist of days out in the countryside within a 50 mile radius of Berwick upon Tweed (not accessible by rail) and monthly visits, at the weekend, to either Edinburgh or Glasgow to meet up with our sons (for which we could use the train).

We use Edinburgh Airport several times a year, but only a couple of times a year to travel together. Although Berwick upon Tweed lies on the East Coast mainline, the first train departs from Berwick at 07.19 and the last train back home from Edinburgh departs at 21.00, so we can’t get to Edinburgh Airport for early flights or back home from late landings in Edinburgh, by rail. The last time my husband bought an advance rail ticket to return home from Edinburgh, his flight was late, so he missed the last train to Berwick and had to fork out for the bus home.

I calculated if it’d worth buying a ‘Two Together’ railcard to use mainly for meeting up with our sons once a month. We drive an average of 1,800 miles a year to meet up with our sons, which costs £180 in fuel for our diesel supermini. I estimate that the 24 return rail tickets would cost us £350, plus the £30 for the ‘Two Together’ railcard, making a total of £380.

As there are high fixed costs in having a car on the road, e.g. depreciation, we are as well to use the car as much as possible. With fuel being the main cost for these trips to Edinburgh and Glasgow, paying out £200 more for rail travel than for fuel doesn’t make financial sense. We won’t be buying a ‘Two Together’ railcard.

It’s not just about money.  We often do other things on our way to and from Glasgow and Edinburgh, e.g. stopping at a National Trust garden near Edinburgh, picking one of our sons in Edinburgh up on the way over to meet up with his brother Glasgow. In order to find the cheapest rail ticket we’d need to book for a specific train, which would mean lose any flexibility to stay a bit longer if our sons didn’t have much on that day.

Neither of our sons own cars, so use public transport for their leisure travel. But they often travel alone or with different friends.

I’d recommend that you do your sums before buying a ‘Two Together’ railcard. Unless you make regular off-peak rail journeys with the same person and/or don’t own a car, a ‘Two Together’ card probably won’t save you money.

I wish that instead of all these railcards, train companies would reduce the price of tickets for everyone. It doesn’t seem fair that if by choice, or by circumstance, a person aged 26-59 travels alone on the train they have to pay for a full price ticket.