Can we get a refund for our train tickets to Scotland now it has closed its doors?

7 mins read


Me and my partner booked non-refundable train tickets from London to Edinburgh earlier this year to do Christmas shopping in December.

We have now found out that Scotland is shutting its borders to those travelling from England.

As we booked before lockdown and before we knew this information, will we be able to get our money back?

Travellers looking to enter Scotland will no longer be able to as of today, due to coronavirus

Travellers looking to enter Scotland will no longer be able to as of today, due to coronavirus

Grace Gausden, This is Money, replies: Scotland has announced it will now be illegal for anyone to cross the Scottish border as the country locks down to prevent more coronavirus cases. 

This means those in England are unable to travel to the country without a reasonable excuse and if they break the rules, they could face fines of £60.

The plans are due to remain in place until 11 December – but could potentially be extended.

For people, such as yourself, who have already bought train or plane tickets to travel to the country, this could prove costly.

You have booked a non-refundable ticket, which are usually cheaper than refundable ones.

However, in this circumstance you would hope you would be able to get a refund as you would be breaking the law if you used your tickets. 

London North Eastern Railway, which operates many trains from London to Edinburgh, said that although advance tickets are not usually refundable, it has made some changes given the circumstances.

If you are not able to make the journey due to coronavirus, it will offer you an eVoucher to the same value of your original purchase, unless you bought your ticket before the announcement of coronavirus restrictions on 31 October.

Your eVoucher will be valid for 12 months and you won’t be charged the standard £10 admin fee.

Many train lines have fortunately said they will refund the cost of train tickets no longer usable

Many train lines have fortunately said they will refund the cost of train tickets no longer usable

A spokesperson for Avanti West Coast replies: If customers purchased an Advance ticket to or from an affected area by travel restrictions before the changes were announced, they may be entitled to a Rail Travel Voucher.

Any Advance tickets purchased on or after 1 November 2020 for travel between 1 November 2020 and 2 December 2020 will not be eligible for a refund as per normal terms and conditions.

Customers can amend their Advance ticket to travel on another day without an admin fee.

Any Advance tickets purchased on or after 1 November 2020 for travel between 1 November 2020 and 2 December 2020 will only be eligible for an amendment as per usual terms and conditions, with the admin fee applied.

A spokesperson for Trainline replies: In line with our train operating partners, Advance tickets remain non-refundable, however, customers who booked tickets to travel to or from an area in Tier 3 or higher, before an announcement was made that those areas would be entering into those restrictions, can now change them for another date and time, without the standard admin fee. 

A spokesperson for the Rail Delivery Group replies: Rail companies are working together to ensure that when people take the train they can continue to travel with confidence. 

Following the government’s decision last month, people with a non-refundable Advance ticket bought before the latest restrictions were announced no longer have to pay a fee to change their journey. 

Retailers are continuing to process claims for refundable tickets that are no longer needed, on top of the hundreds of millions of pounds paid out since March.

Brian Brown of Defaqto replies: I would hope in the first instance that the train company would refund the ticket, since it might actually be illegal for the passenger to travel.

If the train company won’t give a refund I would then try the credit card company.

Failing both of those, it’s possible that a travel insurance policy might pay out, provided the customer had a policy which covered UK travel, and had pre-booked some overnight accommodation.

I would be surprised if anyone had bought a single trip policy for a trip to Scotland, but it is possible they might have an annual policy, many of which cover UK trips.

There is though the issue of Covid – most, if not all, policies purchased after 13th March won’t cover cancellation claims arising from Covid where the passenger doesn’t have the disease.

The tickets would also have to have been bought before 13 March too.

So the only people who might have insurance cover would be those with an annual policy, which covers cancellation arising from Covid, and had bought their train ticket before early March.

Grace Gausden, This is Money, adds: Luckily it seems you can get your money back this time. 

Next time you book, if you do so with Trainline, customers can choose to pay an extra £2.50 for insurance on their tickets to ensure they get a refund. 

The cover includes a full refund if you have to cancel for emergencies, disruptions to your journey covered up to £250 and personal possessions insured up to £500.

However, it will not pay out for any claims relating to coronavirus under policies bought on or after 19 March.

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