Buy Before You Board

The hassle-free way to travel.

You must have a valid ticket to travel with us. Not only does buying your ticket before you board keep you on the right side of the track, but it’s cheaper than buying on the train as not all tickets are available from our on-board staff. Plus, you won’t need to wait in a ticket queue when you reach your destination.

Here are the best ways to buy your ticket before you board and avoid the queues:

How to buy before you board

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 journey updates on your phone.

Find out more and download the app

You can pay for your ticket with cash or by debit or credit card at any of our 143 staffed station ticket offices. We aim to serve customers within five minutes at peak times, and three minutes at off-peak times, so give yourself enough time to buy a ticket. Peak time periods vary from station to station.

Top tip

Avoid queues by buying your tickets in advance. For example, buy your ticket the evening before - on your way home perhaps - for travel the next day.

Search for your station for info about staffing and opening times.

There are ticket machines at 179 ScotRail stations. Get to the station in plenty of time to buy your ticket before the train arrives.

Our ticket machines accept three payment options:

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

You can buy a range of tickets at a ticket machine, including weekly Season Tickets and discounted tickets for Railcard holders. If you’re unfamiliar with using a ticket machine, check out our 'How to' video tutorial or speak to staff at the station.

Top tip

Avoid queues by buying your tickets in advance. For example, buy your ticket after 4pm the evening before - on your way home perhaps - for travel the next day.

Stations with ticket 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 stores your tickets electronically. You just need to tap in and out at the Smartcard validator at the station where you start and end your journey. You can also use you Smartcard at our automatic ticket gates, giving you a faster, smoother journey.

You can buy Season Tickets, Anytime and Off-Peak singles and returns for a Smartcard on all ScotRail routes. You can buy Smart Super Off-Peak Day Return tickets on Smartcard on certain routes. And our Flexipass ticket is brand new to Smart. Get ten single journeys for the price of nine over a one-month period on over 1,350 journey options across 28 routes in Scotland. Look out for the Smartcard delivery option when you buy tickets online.

Top tip

As a Smartcard Season Ticket holder you can get a third off Standard Off-Peak tickets for you and up to three adults aged 16+ when you’re travelling together. Buy online and select 'SEASONS LOYALTY DISCOUNT' from the list of Railcards.

Find out more about Smartcard

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

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 »

How to...

Check out our short video tutorials on YouTube and find out how to use:

Our rules of travel

​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.

Buy before you board

We are making buying a ticket before you board as easy as possible - at our stations, online 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).

Travelling with an invalid ticket

If you travel with an invalid ticket you may have to pay an excess fare or, in certain circumstances, purchase a new ticket to complete your journey. 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.

If things go wrong

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.

Minors and vulnerable adults

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.

Ticket errors

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.

National Rail Conditions of Travel

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

ScotRail enforcement and loss of revenue policy

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.