Northern logo

Frequently Asked Questions

Ticket Types

You can buy tickets online from our home or Journey Planner pages.

If you're buying tickets from us online, or by phone, any restrictions will be made clear before you complete your purchase.

You can also click here to visit the National Rail Enquiries website, or call them 08457 484 950 for all tickets and fares information.

We accept all major credit and debit cards for payment. Unfortunately, we can't accept Electron cards or any type of pre-payment card.

Taking your children on the train is a real adventure for the whole family. Witnessing their excitement, their wonder, expressed in ways that only youngsters can, is an uplifting experience - and that’s just getting on the train!

Showing your children the beauty of the English countryside, adventures beyond their own small world, is easy when you go by train. Our charming villages, and vibrant towns, the awe-inspiring coastline, and castles that reach to the sky are all there for your children to experience.

At what age do children start paying on trains?

Northern appreciate that raising a family can be expensive, so the fares are as budget-friendly as possible. Under 5s can travel absolutely free, and for children aged between 5 and 15, tickets are usually around 50% of the adult fare.

Once your child reaches the age of 16, adult tickets should be purchased; however, the 16 -17 Saver Railcard or 16 -25 Railcard offer big savings on the regular fares.

With a Family and Friends Railcard, you can save even more money. For just £30 per year, you can benefit from ⅓ off rail fares for up to 4 adults, and up to 4 children aged 5 - 15, a huge 60% off. Travel together whenever you like, and having two adults named on the Railcard allows one cardholder to travel when the other is busy.

The UK has limitless options for family days out, so why not start planning your adventure now?

At 16 years old you’ll have to pay the full adult fare unless you have a 16 - 25 Railcard. Another useful railcard for families travelling with younger children is the Friends and Family railcard which offers 60% off fares on up to four children between the ages of 5 and 15 travelling together with an adult. At least one child must travel with one of the two named adults to be eligible for the discount. For more information about the 16 - 25 Railcard and the Friends and Family railcard please visit the Railcards page.

You cannot reserve seats on Northern trains. You can reserve seats on many other train operators' services and, if available, we will automatically try to reserve a seat free of charge. If a seat cannot be reserved at the time of booking, it will be because of one of the following reasons:

  • the train operator does not offer seat reservations (usually shorter routes)
  • the train operator has not made seat reservations available
  • the seats that are reservable are fully booked.

You can claim Delay Repay if one of our trains is late or cancelled and as a result you get to your destination station more than 30 minutes later than scheduled. Compensation can be in the form of a cheque, National Rail vouchers which you can use to buy any rail ticket or free tickets across our network, to use when you choose.

You can find complete information and apply for compensation on our Delay Repay page.

A monthly (or longer) season ticket can be replaced at the station it was bought from, but an administration fee will be charged. Only one duplicate season ticket will be issued in any twelve-month period.

7-day season tickets can't be replaced.

It's best to check your tickets when you buy them. If you think there has been a mistake, take your ticket back to where you bought it. Some advance tickets have restrictions on exchanges and these will be explained to you when you buy them.

If you have a problem collecting your tickets from the Self-Service Ticket Vending Machine, please speak to the Ticket Office staff. If there isn't a ticket office at the station, or if the ticket office is closed, please contact Northern Rail Customer Relations on 0845 00 00 125.

Any increases in rail fares are set by the Government, which recently has been at RPI +1%. This increase is the equivalent of around 10-20p per single journey, and travelling with Northern is often cheaper and quicker than the car or the bus for similar journeys.

The Government uses revenue from rail fares to invest in improving stations, trains, and services on the railway. Their long-term approach is to reduce the amount of investment from taxpayers, and increase the share paid by rail passengers.

We understand that these are difficult financial times for our customers, which is why we will continue to work with the Government and the wider rail industry to drive down the cost of running the railway to provide better long-term value for money for passengers and taxpayers.

The breakdown below shows where every pound of income from fares goes:

  • 26p - Investment into the rail network
  • 25p - Industry staff costs
  • 22p - Maintaining track and trains
  • 11p - Leasing trains
  • 9p - Interest payments and other costs
  • 4p - Fuel for trains
  • 3p - Train company profits

Statistics from National Rail.


In the unlikely event that you purchase a ticket from a Ticket Vending Machine (TVM) at a Northern station and then discover you could have bought a cheaper product for the identical journey, you may be entitled to a refund to the value of the difference in cost.

Please speak to staff in the ticket office at your nearest staffed station. Alternatively, contact our Customer Centre using this form or post your tickets to Freepost NORTHERN RAILWAY. 


To understand your ticket details and which train services your ticket is valid for, visit My Ticket and travel with confidence. 

If you prefer to travel without the hustle and bustle associated with the commuter rush hour, then the discounted Off-Peak tickets are exactly what you’re looking for.

Northern considers the rush hour to be between 16.01 and 18.29 on weekdays, excluding bank holidays. Therefore, for the majority of the day, all weekend and bank holidays, you can travel off-peak, enjoying those savings.

There are restrictions that may apply to off-peak train times, and these depend on the route taken, and the type of Off-Peak tickets you purchase. There are several ticket types to choose from, all offering big savings on the standard tickets, and even more when you add on one of the many discount Railcards.

The routes where restrictions apply are:

Greater Manchester

For more information click here

Offering you complete flexibility,  Open Return train tickets are ideal if you want to keep your travel options open.  Allowing you to travel to your chosen destination, and return at any time; you can even break up your journey by stopping at any stations on your route. 

Due to the complete flexibility of Open Return tickets, they are slightly more expensive than the Advance or Off-Peak tickets; however, when you book your tickets online, we’ll tell you all the available options for your journey, so you can choose whichever ticket suits your requirements the best. 

Buying your Open Return train ticket


By entering your journey details into the ‘Train Tickets and Times’ section on the right, your fare options will be displayed. Your tickets will be sent out by First Class post, and be with you within seven days. You can also collect them from the ticket vending machine (TVM) at the station. 


Ticket Vending Machines (TVMs) at participating stations

You can purchase a range of tickets from any TVMs using cash or card. Please ensure your chosen ticket is valid for your particular journey. 


Station ticket offices

The staffed ticket offices can provide our full range of ticket options, and they will accept all major credit/debit cards, cash, and National Rail vouchers.



There are a number of stations where tickets have to be bought from the conductor aboard the train as no ticket office or TVM's are provided.


Refunds & Amendments

Open Return train tickets may be eligible for a refund. Unfortunately, Northern are unable to offer refunds for self-print and mobile tickets.


Contact us 

If you're having any trouble booking tickets visit our contact us page for further details - our trained staff can always find the best ticket for you.

Off-Peak tickets allow you to save money by travelling outside the busy commuter hour. They offer more flexibility than an Advance ticket as they can be purchased anytime before you travel.

Train timetables

All of our train timetables are available online.

You can find these by visiting the Stations page for your chosen departure station. This will display every route that stops at your station. It’s easy to see which trains run outside the rush hour, and therefore are eligible for Off-Peak tickets.

Booking tickets

You can book online via our easy-to-use booking system, our free mobile app, or in person at your local station, either from the ticket office or the Ticket Vending Machine (TVM). At some smaller stations without the office or a TVM, you can buy your ticket straight from the conductor on the train.

In all these cases, put in your desired departure and destination, along with the date and time you wish to travel. We will then inform you of all the trains that correspond to your schedule, and tell you which discounts are available for your particular route, including Off-Peak, Railcards, and more.

When are our Off-Peak tickets valid?

The trains your Off-Peak tickets are valid on can vary depending on your route and when you wish to travel.

There are four types of Off-Peak tickets to choose from:

Off-Peak Day Single/Return

  • Tickets are valid all day over the weekends and bank holidays
  • Restrictions on train travel in the mornings apply for all journeys
  • Evening restrictions may also apply
  • Outward and return journeys must be made on the date on your ticket

Off-Peak Single/Return

  • Tickets can be used to travel anytime over the weekends and on bank holidays
  • Travel restrictions in the morning and/or evening may be applied
  • Outward journeys must be made on the date shown on your ticket; however, the return journey can be any day within one calendar month of the outward journey
  • Outward and return journeys must be made on the date on your ticket

You will be advised of any restrictions on travel when booking your ticket online with Northern.

Off-Peak Day Single/Return evening restrictions

If you are travelling on an Off-Peak Day Single/Return ticket, the following evening restrictions apply:

Restrictions on Off-Peak Single/Return tickets can vary depending on the journey being made and/or the day of travel.

Specific Route Restrictions


Greater Manchester

For more information click here