"The cheat's guide to UK Rail travel" England Transportation Tip by cheat

England Transportation: 91 reviews and 64 photos

Travelling 'sans ticket' on UK trains, you have 2 things to worry about:
1) Ticket Inspectors
2) Ticket barriers at stations.

1) Dealing with ticket inspectors.

a) Avoid ticket inspectors: This involves taking the slowest train possible, changing at all major stations, or getting off if an inspector is noticed at a distance. When heading into London, make it to the edge of Greater London and you're usually safe - there's always somewhere to change onto the very slowest trains. Follow my London Termini guide for next steps...

b) Ignore ticket inspectors: two ways of going about this, either pretend to be asleep (choose a window seat for this) - often they won't wake you. I have travelled from one end of the country to the other and back solely depending on this method. Alternatively, you can ignore their presence totally - don't be nervous, just look out of the window or fixedly at the back of the seat in front - choose a window 'airline-style' seat for this. It's possible to get very good at this with practice.

c) Placate ticket inspectors:
You'll have to pay, but you can both minimise the cost and avoid fines. DON'T pretend not to understand/speak english. I often carry a used ticket - if the inspector's not examining them, just glancing to see you have one, this'll work. If he notices, say you got the wrong one, then rummage frantically for your 'ticket'. Many will give up.
If he's checking them all carefully, or if he doesn't give up, give a friendly smile, apologise, and ask for a ticket to your destination starting from the last station you stopped at. If an attempt is made to fine you, ask to see the inspector's warrant - if he doesn't have one, you're ok. Buy a ticket. Otherwise, leave an address...

These can be used cumulatively, of course. If a) fails, move to b); if b) fails, rely on c).

2. See my 'London Termini' guide for information on how to dodge barriers.

Note: Someone's commented hiding in the toilets is good. In my experience, this is such a cliche it no longer works AT ALL....

Type: Train

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  • Updated Jul 11, 2005
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