Review of Scotrail Club 50

Written by Karen Bryan

When I moved home to Stirling in central Scotland, I decided to pay £15 to buy annual membership of Scotrail’s Club 50.

With Club 50 you get a 20% discount on off-peak and advance tickets booked online (but not on Cross Country or Virgin trains). The discount drops to 10% if you book by phone, or buy your tickets at the station.

I reckoned that I would go to Edinburgh or Glasgow by train on weekday day trips from Stirling at least once a month. As I’d save £1.90 on the standard price of an off-peak day return to Edinburgh, and £1.65 on a the price of an off-peal day return to Glasgow, I worked out that I’d recoup the £15 annual cost of Club 50 after eight or nine day trips. I also thought that I might take the occasional longer day trip to Dundee, Inverness or Aberdeen.

Although I have a car, I calculated that as diesel costs me around 9 pence a mile. I’d pay around the same amount in fuel as I would for the reduced price rail ticket. When I factored in wear and tear on the car, the hassle of driving on congested roads and having to park miles from the city centre to avoid paying to park. I thought that the train was much better value for weekday trip to city centres.

To join Club 50, I filled our an online application form for a Smartcard,. There is an option to join Club 50 while completing the application. I received my Smartcard in the mail a few days later.

I could only find one machine for picking up prepaid tickets at Stirling railway station. As I’m in the city centre regularly, I planned to pick up my ticket in advance, in case there was a long queue at the machine on my day of travel.

I went to collect my tickets a couple of days prior to my day of travel after making my first purchase online through the Club 50. The machine gave me the option to print tickets or load the ticket onto my Smartcard. I decided to print the tickets, as I didn’t want to risk having issues getting through the barriers with my Smartcard.

I did read on the Scotrail website that there are some Smart Super Off-Peak Day Return which you can only load onto your Smartcard, but I didn’t spot any of these when booking my travel.

Another perk of being a member of Club 50 is a free refreshment which includes a cold drink and cake. However, that is only available on trains with a catering service. I didn’t think that there is a catering service on all the Scotrail trains between Stirling and Glasgow or Edinburgh.