Until last year, a rail-happy millennial – or should that be rail-unhappy?! – was led to believe that yoof officially ended on their 25th birthday.
For lo, that is the day when they were longer eligible for a Young Person’s rail card (though clever clogs managed to renew existing cards for another three years if they sneaked in the day before their 25th birthday…)
But hark, what is that I hear? Why, it’s the new Millennial Railcard pulling in at the platform! Choo choo!
The National 26-30 Railcard was first conjured up by the chancellor in his Budget in November 2017, with Philip Hammond predicting that 4.5m young people were about to make big savings.
Then came a bumpy ride. A pilot programme in the Greater Anglia area allowed only 10,000 young people on board, with everyone else left behind. Then cards went on sale last March and sold like tickets for Beyonce (or Michelle Obama’s UK book launch, for that matter).
Only another 10,000 cards were on offer, and the website crashed as unlucky applicants failed to grab one.
That prompted Angus Hanton, co-founder at the Intergenerational Foundation, to say:
Struggling millennial workers facing low pay, poor prospects and high rents, were promised this railcard in the budget. By withdrawing this promise, the government would be sending yet another message to younger generations that they simply don’t care. This is in stark contrast to the generosity of freedom cards and other perks given to pensioners who want to travel.
In his last Budget in November Hammond had to admit that the Railcard non-Express would not arrive until after the Christmas hols – when most people frankly need it.
Instead it was delayed until January 2 – ironically they day when rail fares were hiked by an average 3.1%, prompting Jeremy Corbyn to renew his call for railway renationalisation – and we have covered the merits and drawbacks of his policy on the blog before now.
The rush to buy when the card finally went live saw people waiting for *three hours* in a virtual queue. If you though Brits were good at queuing, wait till you see millennial Brits who will do just about anything to shave some pounds off their rail fares.
— Rachel Leighton (@RachelALeighton) January 2, 2019
— Antonia Holdgate (@antonia_lh) January 2, 2019
But at least it’s here and the queues have died down. No excuse not to have one and I’ve got mine! It’s lthe new status symbol, like going Vegan for January and having that new sausage roll from Greggs…wait, no, that’s taking things too far.
The millennicard (yes, I came up with that!) means discounted tickets are now available to anyone from 18 to 30, after the government finally twigged that denying travel perks to the under-31s didn’t look good when they are on offer to everyone over 60.
It is first digital-only Railcard, so you apply online and download it to the Railcard app on your phone.
What if your phone dies or gets nicked? The Rail Delivery Group says:
Once downloaded customers can start travelling (and saving) straight away, with no need to wait for the post. If their phone runs out of battery or gets lost it can be swapped to another mobile device.
Watch out for social media storms when people find out this might not be foolproof! I can see the hashtag now – #railcardrage.
But it’s another good reason for being phone smart – charge it before any trip or, better still, get a portable charger so you’re never caught short. Most of all, guard it with your life (like you don’t do that already?!?)
Here are the facts:
🚆 So the National Rail 26-30 Railcard costs £30 a year and will save you one-third on all “leisure journeys” – in other words, it’s not for commuting, and the card is obviously not valid for season tickets (well, whaddya know?)
🚆 Based on the trials, millenicard users will save an average of £125 a year. That’s based on taking an average six leisure journeys a month travelling 400 miles – though anyone going regularly to Scotland like me may end up saving quite a bit more.
🚆 At least you now get let off, but only once, if for whatever reason you can’t show your railcard on the train. Under new industry rules passengers unable to show their railcards are allowed to reclaim the cost of one ‘penalty fare‘ (horrors!) a year.
🚆 It can be used on journeys before 1000 on weekdays but there is a £12 minimum fare. There is no minimum on weekends and holidays. After 1000 the card will give the full one-third discount.
🚆 It can be used on Travelcards and Oyster off-peak journeys – so be sure to have the railcard ‘put on’ to your Travelcard or Oyster card…. staff at tube stations can do this for you if you ask nicely. (And most of them are really nice…you only have to look at those nice quotes on information signs to see that 😊)
Here are the full details. In the meantime, please let me know if you have any problems with the railcard – leave a comment, tweet me @ionayoungmoney or email youngmoneyagency[at]gmail.com.