Veterans Railcards that give former members of the UK Armed Forces discounted rail travel are to be launched later this year – but what will the cards offer and who is eligible?
What Is The New Veterans Railcard?
The card will work in a similar way to other railcards including two new cards which were launched last year – one for rail travellers aged 26-30, and another for teenagers aged 16-17 that offered half-price fare reduction.
Full details on how it will operate have still not yet been released but it is expected to come with similar terms and conditions to existing railcards for other concessionary groups.
Who Is Eligible For The New Veterans Railcard?
The new railcard will be available to 830,000 veterans and will give them a third off most rail travel. It extends discounts to veterans not yet covered by existing discounts.
Any veteran, no matter their age, will be able to buy the card unlike other railcards that normally apply to particular age groups.
It is estimated that between 1.6 and 1.7 million veterans already qualify for either the Senior (over-60s) or Disabled Person’s Railcard.
When Will The New Veterans Card Be Available?
On July 15, 2020, a spokesperson for the Department of Transport said:
"The department is continuing to work with industry to fulfill the government’s ambition to provide the veterans railcard by November 11, 2020."
Therefore, the veterans railcard appears to be on track to be released on Armistice Day, as originally announced earlier this year.
How Much Will The Veterans Railcard Cost?
Transport Secretary Grant Shapps has announced that the card will cost £21 for an initial introductory period but the price will then increase to £30.
He has announced that the railcard will be on sale from Armistice Day.
What Discounts Will The Veterans Railcard Offer?
Again, full details are yet to be revealed, including on what restrictions there might be to discounted travel.
However, the card is expected to offer a third off most train travel to former members of the British Armed Forces.
Like other railcards, it is expected to come with restrictions on certain times such as weekday mornings, where a minimum fare is applied. With existing rail cards, this can apply from 4.30am to 10am, Monday to Friday.
It is expected that the holders of the new veterans railcard will be able to use it at any time, peak or off-peak.
However, during peak times, as with existing railcards, a minimum fare of £12 would apply.
At the moment, there are only plans for discounted rail travel across England but the Government hopes to roll out a similar discount across Scotland and Wales.
Similarly, it is not yet known if discounted travel will be extended to some city transport networks such as London.
Other limited discount schemes already exist in some parts of the country such as the Manchester Metrolink, which gives free travel on Armistice Day, Remembrance Sunday and Armed Forces Day, to former members of the Armed Forces who carry a veterans badge, and free travel to serving Members of the Armed Forces who carry a MoD Card 90.
Final details for London travel discounts with the new veterans railcard are still being negotiated with Transport for London.
The veterans railcard is not the same as the Veterans Concessionary Travel Scheme (VCTS) Pass which offers discounted or free travel on some services in and around London to anyone in receipt of an ongoing payment under the War Pensions Scheme or the Armed Forces Compensation Scheme, including war widows/widowers and eligible dependents.
The VCTS pass offers concessionary fares in London Fare Zones 1–6, plus outlying stations including Rickmansworth to Amersham, inclusive, and stations Carpenders Park to Watford Junction, inclusive, on participating Train Company services, London Underground, DLR, London Trams and most bus services in the Greater London area.
A HM Forces Railcard is already available which can be bought by serving personnel for £21 per year.
Could Family Members Also Use The Veterans Railcard?
The new railcard is likely to include similar standard terms and conditions as existing railcards but the veterans railcard is expected to also offer discounts to any spouse of family member so long as they are travelling with the card holder.
Why Was The Veterans Railcard Created?
The new card offering discounted rail fare is the first step in the Government’s plans to do more to support those who have served their country and comes after the Government created a new Office of Veterans’ Affairs (OVA).
The Government pledged to provide lifelong support for veterans.
It is hoped the new railcard will help boost veterans’ job prospects and strengthen family bonds through cheaper travel.
The discount forms part of the Government’s new veterans strategy to support all former servicemen and women.
The strategy sets out support available for those who have served their country in areas including employment and job skills, health and wellbeing, housing and finance.
* This article is a version of an earlier report that has been updated on July 15, 2020.