Buy Before You Board

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.