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Train passengers still struggling to buy railcards weeks after website update

Train passengers still struggling to buy railcards weeks after website update

Some train passengers have been left unable to buy or renew their railcards online for weeks, due to ongoing "technical issues" with the Railcards website following a major update. If you've paid for a railcard you haven't received or are struggling to buy one, here's what to try.

Since the Railcards website was updated at the end of November, we've seen lots of reports of customers getting error messages when trying to buy or renew railcards, which earn their holders discounted train travel. Others say they've been charged but haven't received their railcard, or the code needed to download it on to their phones – while those who have tried to contact Railcards about the issue have complained of long call waiting times or messages not being replied to.

We've seen 60 complaints on Twitter about these problems in the last week alone – and when we tried to renew a 16-25 Railcard online on Thursday, we were shown an error message saying the order couldn't be processed.

The Rail Delivery Group, which manages the Railcards service, insists the majority of its customers aren't experiencing issues and says over 190,000 railcards have been sold online since the website update. It says it's working to fix any outstanding issues "as a matter of urgency" and tackling a backlog of customer queries, and has apologised to customers for the delays. 

In the meantime, passengers can buy railcards via other websites, or get most one-year railcards at stations or elsewhere online, while those who have a confirmation order for railcards they've purchased but not received will be able to use these for discounted travel. See your full options below

Our Cheap Train Tickets guide has full help on cutting the cost of rail travel. 

'I ordered my railcard in November – I'm travelling next week'

One MoneySaver, Bronwen, emailed us to tell us she'd been trying to renew her railcard for over a month, but had received an error message every time. When she tried to phone Railcards she was left on hold for over an hour before giving up, and she hasn't had responses to messages on social media. 

Bronwen's story is echoed in scores of complaints we've seen on social media over the last few weeks from frustrated Railcards customers. Here are a few we've spotted: 

If you've been affected by the issues while trying to buy or renew a railcard, let us know at news@moneysavingexpert.com

I'm a Railcards customer – what can I do?

Here's what to try if you're affected:
 
  • If you've paid for a railcard but haven't received one, your proof of purchase will be accepted when you travel. The Rail Delivery Group (RDG) says rail staff have been briefed to accept email confirmations of railcard purchases, so you should still be able to buy or travel on a discounted ticket even if you haven't received the railcard itself. You'll also need to show proof of ID. 

    If you've paid for a railcard but haven't got an email confirmation, you should get in touch with Railcards directly. Contact are details below

  • If you've paid for a full-price ticket after not receiving your railcard, you can get a refund of the difference. You'll need to get in touch with Railcards (contact details are below) with proof of purchase for the railcard and the full-price ticket, and you'll receive the difference between the cost of a discounted railcard ticket and the price you actually paid.

  • If you're struggling with the website and haven't yet paid, you may be able to buy your railcard at a station or elsewhere online. Most railcards, with the exception of the Disabled Persons Railcard, can be bought online via the Avanti West Coast or East Midlands Railway websites.

    Alternatively, many railcards can be bought at staffed ticket offices in stations. However, the 16-17 and 26-30 Railcards can only be bought online, while Disabled Persons Railcards and mature student applications for 16-25 Railcards require extra evidence which needs to be provided online.

    And crucially if you are planning to buy in person, you can only get the one-year version of a railcard at a station. Three-year railcards – available for the 16-25, Senior, Family & Friends and Disabled Persons Railcards – work out as cheaper if they're used for the full three years, but these are also only available online. 

If you have more questions or are looking to get full-price tickets refunded, you can contact Railcards by phoning 0345 3000 250, emailing railcardhelp@nationalrail.co.uk, or getting in touch through Twitter or Facebook

What does the Rail Delivery Group say? 

Jacqueline Starr, RDG chief operating officer, said: "In November we implemented a significant upgrade to our website and while it was largely successful, we regret that some technical issues are still affecting a small number of customers when purchasing railcards.

"We are extremely sorry for the problems this has caused our customers and while we work urgently to resolve the issue, customers can still purchase most railcards in person from any National Rail ticket office or online via train operators Avanti West Coast and East Midlands Railway. We will also ensure that customers are not left out of pocket."