Buy Before You Board Icon

Like most train operators across the UK, we operate a Buy Before You Board policy.


Don’t forget there are many ways to buy your ticket before you board

  • From your local station booking office or ticket vending machine
  • From our website (we don’t charge any booking fees)
  • Download our free TfW Rail app then activate your ticket
  • For regular travel – weekly, monthly or annual season tickets can offer great value

The policy states that when starting your journey at a station with ticket purchasing facilities available, it is your responsibility to buy / activate a valid ticket for your journey before boarding the train.

If you fail to do so, you may only be sold an Anytime Single ticket by on-train staff or at Unpaid Fares facilities (at selected stations only). Railcard savings*, lower priced and discounted fares may not be available.

For travel without a valid ticket, you risk prosecution and a fine of up to £1000. A penalty fare system is in operation for journeys between Shrewsbury and Birmingham International stations.

Revenue Protection teams are regularly out and about on our network checking tickets. We are currently investing in new trains and station improvements across our network so it’s important to ensure that everyone is paying their way.

*conditions apply


    For extra clarification, here are some Frequently Asked Questions (FAQs) about our Buy Before You Board Policy

    • At the station
        • Can I board the train if the ticket office / Ticket Vending Machine (TVM) queue is too long?

          It is your responsibility to leave sufficient time to buy your ticket, taking into account that during Peak times (07:00 – 09:30 and 1530 – 18:00) queues are likely to be longer. Queues can often be longer throughout the day on busy event days.

          If possible, try and plan to buy your ticket in advance of your journey and you can always buy a ticket the evening before at a TVM (from 1600) for a next day journey.
        • Can I jump straight on the train if it is at the station and about to leave?

          It is your responsibility to leave sufficient time to buy your ticket before the train departs. The train will not leave the station until it is scheduled to do so. The doors will close 40 seconds before departure.
        • Do I have to bother to buy a ticket if I’m only going one stop down the line?
          You must buy a valid ticket for your journey, whatever the length of your journey.
        • What happens if I can’t buy a ticket before I board due to my disability?
          If you have a disability that prevents you from buying a ticket before you board; then you may buy your ticket on the train. We’ll offer the appropriate fare for your journey and provide a discount if you qualify.

    • Railcards
        • What if I have bought a discounted ticket with a Railcard in advance, but have forgotten the Railcard for my actual journey?

          If you are travelling on a ticket with a Railcard discount, you must have your valid Railcard with you to accompany your ticket. If you forget your Railcard, you must buy a new full price valid ticket for your journey before you board. If you’re unable to produce your railcard if stopped by our revenue protection team, you could be prosecuted.

          If you hold a valid Railcard, but have forgotten it when travelling, you can claim back the cost of any extra fare as long as it’s the first time you have claimed.
        • Why wouldn’t the conductor give me my Railcard discounts?

          If you have boarded the train from a station where ticket buying facilities are available, you will have to pay the full, un-discounted single or return fare for your journey (discounts, including Railcards, will not be available) when buying from a member of staff on the train.
    • Buying ticket on the train
        • Why do you have guards/conductors on the train if they can’t sell me a ticket?

          The conductor is on the train for your safety and has many roles to carry out during the journey such as opening and closing the doors, providing customer service, checking tickets and making train announcements. It is a busy role and the guard would not have the time to sell tickets to everyone on the train as well as carrying out these duties.

          However, Conductors do have the capacity to sell tickets to customers who board from stations where ticket buying facilities are not available. When trains are busy, customers in need of a ticket may have to seek out the conductor on the train as it could be difficult for the conductor to get through.
    • Mobile tickets
        • What happens if I have a mobile ticket but my phone has run out of charge?

          It is your responsibility to ensure that your mobile phone has charge. Some of our newer trains have electric sockets for phone chargers.
        • Can my friend activate a mobile ticket for me to use?

          Yes, but you need to make sure you are travelling together for the whole of the journey.
        • Why do the conductors want to scan my ticket?

          Conductors will scan your e-ticket or mobile ticket to prevent the ticket being reused - similar to the conductor clipping a paper ticket. If you have an M-ticket in a mobile app you will need to activate it before you board so the barcode can be read.
    • Booking Offices
        • How do I find out the opening times of my local booking office?

          Opening times should be advertised outside the booking office itself and can also be found online (link).
        • The booking office was closed when it was supposed to be open

          Sometimes for reasons beyond our control such as staff sickness, booking office opening times may need to change. Booking office closures are communicated in the station updates section of Journey Check. All stations with booking offices also have ticket vending machines.
    • Ticket Vending Machines
        • What if the Ticket Vending Machine was not working?

          TVM faults are reported to our control team and displayed in the stations updates section in Journey Check and communicated to our conductor and revenue protection team. It is always a good idea to take a photo of the screen as evidence
        • I want to pay by cash but the Ticket Vending Machine at my station is card only

          Speak with a member of staff at the earliest opportunity and/or obtain an Authority To Travel to exchange for a ticket – You may then pay by cash without any additional charges.
    • Season Tickets
        • What do I do if I want to renew my season ticket and there is no booking office available?
          If you have a photocard, you can buy a weekly Season Ticket from the ticket vending machine. If ticket buying facilities are not available at your departure station, buy a single for your destination from the ticket vending machine and then buy your Season Ticket at your destination station. The cost of your single ticket will be deducted from your Season Ticket. You must have a valid ticket for your journey before boarding the train.
        • What do I do if I’ve left my season ticket at home?
          You will need to buy a valid ticket for journey before boarding the train. You can then apply for a refund for the ticket at your local booking office. You may apply for a refund on two occasions in a year.
        • What if my plans change and I need to travel further than the destination on my ticket?
          We understand that plans can change. If they change before you start your journey, ensure that you buy an extension ticket for you journey before you board the train.

          If your situation changes once your journey has begun, advise the conductor at the earliest opportunity and buy an extension for your ticket or buy it via our TfWRail app.

          You may be prosecuted if it is proved that you purposefully had the intention to travel beyond the destination on your ticket, without paying the correct fare.
    • Revenue Protection Teams
        • Why do the Revenue Protection Teams always seem to be at my station?
          Revenue Protection teams operate around our whole network however we do use ticketless travel and revenue data to help target specific areas of concern.
        • Are the Revenue Protection Inspectors employed by Transport for Wales?
          Revenue Protection Inspectors are employed by Transport Investigations Ltd (TIL) with whom we work closely together in partnership to manage our Revenue Protection operations. All Revenue Protection Inspectors are fully trained by TIL in customer service and revenue protection legislation.
        • Do I have to give my personal contact details to the Revenue Protection Inspector?
          Yes. Your personal details will only be used for the purposes of following up your case if you have been unable to present a valid ticket upon request. It is a serious offence to provide false information and this will not help your case should it proceed to a prosecution.
        • What do I do if I’m not happy with how I was treated by the revenue protection team?
          You can contact our customer service department either online or pick up a customer feedback form at your local booking office.