How to Buy Before You Board

Buy before you board buttonBuy before you board and get your tickets hassle free.

You'll always get the best fare if you buy your ticket before boarding your train, you also remove the risk of having to queue for a ticket at busy times when you get off.

Here’s how you can save money and avoid the queues.

Ways to Buy Before You Board

You can pay for your ticket at any of our 143 staffed station ticket offices with cash or by debit/credit card. Please allow yourself plenty of time to do so, especially at the busiest periods. Our targets for serving customers are within five minutes at peak times, and three minutes at off-peak times (peak time periods vary from station to station).

Top tip

Avoid any queues by purchasing your tickets in advance. For example, buy your ticket the evening before (on your way home perhaps) for travel the following day.

Search for your station here to view staffing information and opening times.

Give yourself a little bit more time and use one of our 241 Ticket Vending Machines (TVMs) installed at 179 stations.

Our TVMs are configured to accept three payment options:

  • Cash and credit/debit cards
  • Cash only
  • Credit/debit cards only

Our TVMs allow you to purchase a variety of tickets, including weekly season tickets and discounted tickets for Railcard holders. If you are unfamiliar with using our TVMs, check out our 'How to' video tutorial or speak with any of our station staff who will happily assist you.

Top tip

Avoid any queues by purchasing your tickets in advance. For example, buy your ticket the evening before (on your way home perhaps after 4pm) for travel the following day.

Stations with ticket vending machines

Smartcards give you fast, secure and great value train travel. You can enjoy a range of offers and promotions while you’re travelling around Scotland.

A ScotRail Smartcard will store your tickets electronically, so you just need to touch in and out at the Smartcard Validator located at the station where you begin and complete your journey. Smartcards are also ideal to use at our Automatic Ticket Gates, giving you a faster, smoother journey.

Smartcards offer better value and feature great promotions. Season Ticket holders who travel on annual, monthly and weekly tickets can already enjoy using Smartcard. New routes will be rolled out to our customers this year and you’ll find an even bigger selection of ticket types and our best value fares exclusively on Smartcard. Our ‘Smart Teams’* will be visiting a station near you to assist you in using our Smartcards.

Top tip

As a Smartcard Season Ticket holder you are entitled to a third off Standard Off-Peak tickets for you and up to three adults aged 16+ when you’re travelling together.

Find out more about Smartcard

Buy tickets in advance and get live journey updates from the ScotRail website.

Top tip

We have a ticket for every journey type, from occasional to frequent travel.

Find the best ticket for you Buy tickets online

With our free, easy to use ScotRail app, you can buy tickets in advance and get live real journey updates on your phone.

Find out more and download the app

Buy your ticket in advance from our dedicated sales team by calling 0344 811 0141.

You can make substantial savings with our Season Tickets.

Season tickets are ideal for commuters and people who travel regularly with ScotRail. They offer weekly, monthly or annual unlimited travel on your chosen journey.

The table below highlights some of the savings available:

Route 5x Standard Day Return journeys Weekly Season Ticket Saving £ Saving %
East Kilbride - Glasgow Central £31.50 £23.20 £8.30 26%
Wemyss Bay - Glasgow Central £59.00 £45.50 £13.50 23%
Helensburgh Central - Glasgow Queen Street £50.00 £37.30 £12.70 25%
Neilston - Glasgow Central £31.50 £23.20 £8.30 26%
Kirkcaldy - Edinburgh Waverley £70.00 £54.40 £15.60 22%
North Berwick - Edinburgh Waverley £56.00 £42.70 £13.30 24%

Save with a Season Ticket

Travel regularly? Save money with a weekly, monthly or annual Season Ticket and get unlimited travel on your chosen journey.

Seasons »

Get smart with Smartcard

Smartcards give you secure, great value train travel. Store your tickets electronically and touch in and out at the gates for a faster, smoother journey.

Smartcard »

Find out more

Important information including our rules of travel, travelling with an invalid ticket, what to do if things go wrong, ticket errors and the National Rail Conditions of Travel.

Read more »

​We want to be clear and transparent with customers in everything we do. So, to make sure we always act in a fair and consistent way, we've set out guidelines for our revenue protection policy below. This policy helps us to reduce levels of ticketless travel and make our services fair for everyone.

The vast majority of our customers do purchase the right ticket and this helps us invest in improving services for us all.

We are making buying a ticket before you board as easy as possible - at our stations, online, over the phone and at self-service ticket vending machines. If you board any of our trains without a ticket, at a station where ticket buying services are available, you may be charged the full Single or Return fare relevant to your journey, and you will not be eligible for any Railcard or other discounts.

At stations where there's no option to buy a ticket, we make sure that customers are able to buy the best value fares on the train instead. This is in accordance with the National Conditions of Travel and Byelaw 18 (Ticketless travel in a non-compulsory ticket area).

If you travel with an invalid ticket you'll have to pay the difference in price. If you're travelling with an Advance ticket that's different to the one booked, you'll need to buy a full new ticket. An invalid ticket might mean you've travelled beyond your destination or travelled with an off-peak ticket during peak times.

We know things don't always go as planned - tickets get lost or stolen, or people miscalculate fares. If you encounter a problem, please speak to us rather than boarding a train and hoping for the best. We can process payments that allow your ticket to be paid for by another person at any National Rail station. In some circumstances we will issue you with an authority to travel, allowing you to complete your journey.

Help Points are also available at all ScotRail stations to allow you to seek assistance from our Customer Service staff. In addition ScotRail have launched a ‘Customer Mobile Help Point App’ that will enable you to get advice from our customer service staff.

Our staff are trained to assist vulnerable people. We'll help people who are stranded or don't have the means to get home, so if you find yourself in this situation do speak to a member of staff. We also have Help Point telephones at each of our stations where you can speak to someone and get advice.

If you are found to be travelling without a valid ticket, we have the option to issue a Travel Irregularity Report. We'll record the traveller's full name, address and date of birth, as well as time, location and description of the incident. Then a bill, including an administration fee, will be issued by post.

When you purchase a ticket to travel on the National Rail network you enter into agreement with the train companies whose trains you have the right to use. The National Rail Conditions of Travel (formerly National Rail Conditions of Carriage) set out your rights and any restrictions to those rights.

If you would like more information, a copy of the ‘National Rail Conditions of Travel’ booklet is available from ScotRail Customer Relations and as a PDF download from the National Rail website

National Rail Conditions of Carriage, Section 1(a) Sub-section 1(b):

  • Tickets remain the property of the relevant train company each is issued subject to the applicable byelaws

Fare evasion on ScotRail is contrary to:

  • Either the Regulation of Railways Act 1889
  • Or the Railway Byelaws 2005

Serious fraudulent practice, persisted fare evasion, the use or production of forged or counterfeit tickets or revenue fraud may be prosecuted in accordance with the Fraud Act 2006.

Assaults against ScotRail staff or contracted staff employed by ScotRail are an offence contrary to the Criminal Justice Act 1988 and the Offences against the Persons Act 1861.