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  • Buy Before You Board - header image Mar 2017
    Buy Before You Board

    Your responsibilities 

    If you are travelling from a station that has ticket purchasing facilities available (a ticket booking office or a ticket vending machine), it is your responsibility to buy a valid ticket for the date and time of your journey before getting on the train (as set out in the National Rail Conditions of Travel and Railway Byelaws (2005)). 

    You must carry this ticket with you at all times and have it available for inspection or to use automatic ticket barriers. Keep your ticket safe. It is your ticket, not the receipt for it, which gives you the right to travel. If you board any of our trains without a ticket, at a station where ticket buying services are available, you may only be sold full fare tickets by available on-train staff or Unpaid Fares facilities at selected destination stations. This means that railcard savings, lower priced or discounted fares may not be available.

    Please note: On train staff may not always be available to retail tickets on board due to other on-board duties.

    The exceptions to this are:

    • If you are unable to buy a ticket because the ticket office is closed
    • If there is no ticket machine at the station where you start your journey or if it is not in operation
    • If you are unable to access our ticket retail facilities as a result of your disability
    • In these circumstances you can buy any ticket available on the train, on the day of travel, including Railcard discounts if applicable 

    Travelling without buying a valid ticket before you board can even result in prosecution and a fine of up to £1,000

    These rules are set out in the National Rail Conditions of Travel and Railway Bye Laws 2005.

    Where can I buy tickets? 
    There are a number of ways that you can buy train tickets for any journey with us: 

    How to buy your ticket

    • Online - simply enter your journey details into the 'Train tickets and times' search to find the best fares or click here. We don’t charge booking fees
    • Our app - you can buy your ticket on your smartphone with the free  ATW app. Buy tickets securely on our app and collect your tickets from ticket machines, or if m-tickets are available for your journey, your ticket will be stored within the app on your device (mTickets must be activated before boarding the train)
    • Book in advance - get your tickets mailed to you, collect them from a ticket machine at the station 
    • For regular travel - weekly, monthly or annual season tickets may offer great savings.
    • Ticket machines - you can buy tickets using ticket machines at many of our stations to buy tickets on the day of travel, or collect pre-paid tickets
    • By phone - 08709 000 773 
    • In person - visit your local staffed rail station 
    • From a travel agent - visit any ATOC Licensed Travel Agent 

    If you need information or advice to help you choose the correct ticket, including any restrictions on when the ticket is available, please ask our staff at ticket offices or check our website. 

    National Rail Conditions of Carriage
    There are National Conditions that apply to the sale and use of rail tickets. If you would like more information, a copy of the ‘National Rail Conditions of Travel’ booklet, is available from the National Rail website:

    If your ticket is in breach of the terms and conditions associated with the ticket type, your ticket will be invalid and you will be asked to purchase a new ticket or pay an excess fare. Please read the terms and conditions of your ticket carefully before boarding the train and check for any restrictions that may apply. Details of the ticket types available can be found at

    Are you paying by the rules?

    When starting your journey at a station with purchasing facilities in operation

    • It is your responsibility to buy a valid ticket for the journey before getting on a train
    • Only full fare tickets will be sold by available on-train staff or Unpaid Fares Facilities at selected destination stations. Any railcard savings, lower priced and discounted fares may not be available.*

    These rules are in the National Rail Conditions of Travel and Railway Byelaws 2005.

    For travel without a valid ticket you may risk prosecution and a fine up to £1000.

    Here are some frequently asked questions about our Buy Before You Board policy.

  • Buy Before You Board - FAQ's

    Buy Before You Board, is this a new policy you are introducing?

    The rules of this policy are laid out in the National Conditions of Travel and Railway Byelaws 2005.

    In order to reduce ticketless travel, from July 31 Arriva Trains Wales is strictly enforcing these rules across its network. A customer information campaign about the Policy "Are you Paying by the Rules" has been active since March 2017 to remind customers of their obligation to buy a ticket before boarding a train if departing from a station where ticket purchasing facilities are available.

    My ticket booking office was not open this morning?

    If the ticket office is not open, use the Ticket Vending Machine where applicable. For booking office opening hours

    My station has a TVM but I prefer to buy a ticket from the conductor on the train

    Whilst the conductor does have the facility to sell tickets , there is no guarantee that the conductor will be able to get round to selling you a ticket if the train is busy or the conductor is carrying out other operational , safety and customer service duties.

    I don’t like using a TVM

    Ticket machines are designed to provide rail passengers with the opportunity to make quick and easy ticket purchases at the train station. They are a popular method of purchasing tickets and have been designed with easy to follow step by step on-screen instructions.  The process is standard across the whole of the UK network.

    Other alternatives is to buy your ticket on-line, from the ATW ticket app (link) or from your nearest ticket booking office.

    I don’t have a payment card and the TVM at my station is card only – what do I do?

    All ticket vending machines on the Arriva Trains Wales network accept credit or debit cards. Only a small number of machines can accept coins and notes. You can find out about the locations of our ticket vending machines by going here .


    We recognise that not everyone has a payment card, so if this is the case, board the train and find the conductor straight away to buy your ticket with cash.


    What tickets can I buy from the Ticket Vending Machines?

    You can use cash, credit or debit cards to buy Single and Return tickets or Weekly Season tickets for all journeys across the UK rail network. Single and Return tickets may be purchased after 16:00 the day before travel.


    Can I renew my monthly or annual season ticket from my local TVM

    You can renew your monthly or annual season ticket from the card only TVMs .

    You can also buy season tickets of any duration, between a month and a year online ( ) or from a booking office once you have your photocard.


    I’ve had a bad experience in the past so I don’t really trust the TVMs?

    In the past, there has been some reliability issues with a few TVMs, however we have recently spent £500,000 upgrading our TVMs across the network. 


    The TVM does not accept my railcard?

    The TVMs accept all National Railcards however some local railcards may not be available. If your railcard is not available on the TVM, you can buy your ticket on board using the railcard.


    The TVM was not working – what do I do?

    Conductors receive a daily TVM operation report.  If there is problem with the TVM, please report it to the conductor as soon as you board the train. If the TVM is not in operation, you will be able to buy a ticket from the conductor.

    Sometimes I’m in a rush and there’s not enough time to buy a ticket before I board can I buy from the conductor?

    It is your responsibility to buy a ticket before you board if ticket purchasing facilities are in operation. You need to plan enough time to buy your ticket and to factor in time for possible queues too especially if you are travelling in peak times.  

    What should I do if I have forgotten my photocard and/or season ticket? 

    You should buy a daily ticket to cover your journey before travelling. You may then apply for a refund on this daily ticket at the ticket office where you buy your season ticket. Only two such refund applications will be considered in a 12 month period and you may be charged an administration fee. 

    The ticket conductor would not give me a railcard discount?

    If you have boarded a train from a station where ticket purchasing facilities are in operation you will not be able to use your railcard, with the exception of a Disabled Persons Railcard.

    Why couldn’t I buy an off peak day return?

    If you have boarded a train from a station where ticket purchasing facilities are in operation, only standard single or return tickets are available to buy from the conductor. Any lower priced or discounted tickets will not be available.

    Why have you invested in new conductor ticket machines if I can’t buy a ticket from the conductor?

    Not all stations have ticket purchasing facilities available (mainly quieter, less frequented stations), so the conductor still needs to be able to sell tickets on-board.

    The conductor handed me a yellow card – what do I need to do?

    The yellow card is to help communicate our Buy Before You Board policy to customers.  On the other side of the card there are details of all the different ways you can buy a ticket before boarding the train.

    Why is there no conductor on board?

    This is not the case. All Arriva Trains Wales services have a conductor on board. The conductor may be in another carriage (services have up to 6 carriages). If no ticket facilities are available at your station, it is your responsibility to locate the conductor to buy a ticket. As a guide to the location of your conductor, the conductor will board the train after dispatching duties. However, please do not approach the guard for a ticket on the platform.

    I haven’t bought a ticket, can I pay when I get to my destination?

    There are Unpaid Fares facilities at Cardiff Central, Cardiff Queen St, Newport, Swansea and Chester stations. If you have travelled from a station where ticket purchasing facilities are available, any railcard savings, lower priced and discounted fares may not be available.*

    *conditions apply

    If you arrive at a destination without a ticket, staff at the gateline will also sell you a ticket, similar to the Unpaid Fares facilities as noted above.

    What happens if I forgot to activate my m-ticket?

    When using an m-ticket you'll need to activate your m-ticket on the day of travel before you board from within the app, and show it to the conductor while on the train. 

    If caught travelling with un-activated m-ticket, it is the same as travelling without a valid ticket 

    I have an m-ticket on my phone but my phone has run out of charge?

    Ensure your mobile is charged - if you are unable to display your m-ticket, you'll need to buy a valid ticket before you board if ticket buying facilities are available.

  • Revenue Enforcement Policy

    The ethos of Arriva Trains Wales is to collect the correct revenue that we are contractually due from all our passengers. We recognise however there is a small minority of passengers who will deliberately attempt to evade payment. You can read more about our Revenue Enforcement Policy here.