students at a lecture

A student's guide to train travel

Travelling to university by train? Check out our guide and discover how to benefit from our railcards, season ticket and student discounts

If you’ve decided to commute to university, train travel is one of the quickest and easiest ways to get to your lectures. But if you’ve never travelled by train as a student, it’s natural to question how everything works.

Our guide to student rail travel explains everything you need to know, from the benefits of student train travel to the discounts you can make the most of.

Benefits of travelling by train as a student

Low cost

Commuting to university saves you copious amounts of money on rent and other bills. Instead, you’ll only need to fund your transport to lectures – and students travelling by train can make the most of discounted prices with Railcards and Season Tickets.

Free onboard Wi-Fi 

Want to catch up on a missed seminar or finish some work? Our free onboard Wi-Fi gives you the tools to work from the train. Bring your laptop and charger; you’ll find plug sockets near your seat.

Easy and convenient 

From booking your tickets to navigating the station, train travel has never been easier. 

Our SWR mobile app will assist you with all your travel needs, whether you’re booking on the go, checking live departure times or adding tickets to your Touch Smartcard.

Once you arrive at the station, scan your tickets to get through the barriers. Live arrival and departure boards will display your train’s status and platform, or you can check the app. On the train, you’re free to settle down and get comfy; you’ll just need to listen for your stop.

You can bring your bike

If the first or final leg of your commute involves cycling, you’ll be happy to know that you can bring your bike on board our South Western Railway services. Ensure that your station doesn’t have restrictions and try to travel off-peak, as your bike is more likely to fit on the train.

How do students get cheap train tickets?

There are various cheap ticket opportunities for students. Here are some tips for budget-friendly train travel:

Book in advance. The earlier you book, the cheaper your tickets will be. Our advanced tickets go on sale up to 12 weeks ahead of time – and with limited fares available, we recommend you book early.

Travel off-peak. Travelling off-peak is a great way to cut down on travel costs. Off-peak hours vary, but they tend to be outside rush hour when trains are quieter. If your lecture is at a peak time, consider coming in an hour early to grab a coffee or work in your university’s library. 

Use a Railcard. Students can benefit from a variety of Railcards depending on their age. Railcards cost £30 and offer a discount of up to 1/3 on each fare, so you’ll soon make your money back.

Travel in a group. If your friends are commuting from the same area, travel together and enjoy up to 34% off fares with GroupSave tickets. Your GroupSave discount will automatically apply when you buy off-peak train tickets with South Western Railway.

How do I get a Railcard as a student?

We have many options for different age groups if you want to apply for a student Railcard. In this section, you’ll find answers to all your Railcard queries and information on the types of Railcards we offer.

Do students get a free Railcard? 

Students can get a free Railcard through a student bank account. 

What’s the difference between 16-25 and 26-30 Railcards?

We offer two Railcards for university students: 16-25 and 26-30. Each can help you save on your commute to lectures.   

16-25 Railcard

What age? 16 – 25. Mature students attending college or university full-time can also use this Railcard.
What discount? 1/3 off all standard class train tickets across Great Britain, and plenty of 2FOR1 offers.
How much? £30 for a one-year card or £70 for a three-year card.
How to access: Digital Railcards can be accessed on your electronic devices. Physical Railcards can be carried on your person and take around five days to arrive after ordering.

Apply for a 16-25 Railcard

26-30 Railcard

What age?
26 – 30. Order your card before turning 30 and benefit from savings until it expires. 
What discount? 1/3 off  standard class train tickets (some conditions apply) across Great Britain, and plenty of 2FOR1 offers
How much? £30 for a one-year card or £70 for a three-year card.
How to access: Digital Railcards can be accessed on your electronic devices. Physical Railcards can be carried on your person and take around five days to arrive after ordering.

Apply for a 26-30 Railcard

Do I need to renew my student Railcard?

You will need to renew a one-year Railcard every year and a three-year Railcard every three years. 

Can I use a season ticket?

Students can use season tickets to help them save on university travel costs. Savings depend on where and when you’re travelling, and you can’t use your Railcard with a season ticket.

Discover the season ticket calculator to determine how much money you’ll save. Here are some options we have available:

Flexi Season Tickets – for eight days of travel in 28 days.
Weekly Season Tickets – for regular travel between the same two stations. If some weeks are busier than others, this could be an excellent option for you.
Monthly Season Tickets – if you have busy weeks filled with lectures, placements and work experience, you could benefit from Monthly Season Tickets.

Book your tickets with South Western Railway today

Travelling as a student is easy with South Western Railway. Discover cheap train tickets for university lectures, or get inspired with our travel blog.

Family train tickets

Save money and avoid hassle by booking your family train tickets in advance

Find out more

Where Next

Find inspiration for your next day out or break in our travel blog

Visit the travel blog