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Getting around Scotland by train

All aboard! Travelling around Scotland by train is often a rewarding way to see the very best of the country. Once aboard a train, you can sit back and enjoy your journey to some incredible destinations.


ScotRail are now increasing the number of services that they operate.

  • Wearing a face covering in stations and on trains is no longer mandatory.
  • Don't travel if you feel unwell. If you develop Covid-19 symptoms, do not go to a station or board a train.
  • Plan ahead carefully when buying tickets at a station and when boarding.
  • It might take longer to buy a ticket at the station so try and purchase your ticket in advance through the ScotRail app, website or by downloading the new ScotRail app, mTickets. This will reduce contact and your waiting time.
  • Using mTickets and the ScotRail Smartcard means you don't have to use paper tickets.
  • You can buy your ticket online or via the ScotRail app and collect it on your Smartcard.
  • There are two ways to get a ScotRail Smartcard. You can sign up online (16 and over) or download an application form (under 16's only). You'll be given the option to choose a photo or non-photo Smartcard when you apply. ScotRail will send your Smartcard by post and try to have it with you within five working days.
  • ScotRail recommend that you use your own hand sanitiser when using ScotRail trains and stations. You will find hand sanitiser dispensers at the following stations:

- Glasgow Central

- Edinburgh Waverley

- Haymarket

- Glasgow Queen Street

For more information on how to stay safe while travelling, visit ScotRail's Coronavirus Travel Information page

Where can I go by train?

There are rail connections to each of Scotland's seven cities. The rail network links many of towns and villages across the country with main lines running north and south through the east and west, but you'll find it is most dense in the central belt.

You can buy tickets at:

  • Train stations
  • From major travel agents
  • Over the phone and online with a credit or debit card.

If the ticket office at the station is closed, there is usually an automatic ticket machine, but you can also buy a ticket on board from the inspector using cash or a credit/debit card. However, the inspector cannot always issue discounted or special offer tickets.

There are seven different types of train tickets available for most journeys:

  • Anytime tickets are unreserved standard class tickets which can be used at all times of the day.
  • Off-Peak tickets allow for cheaper travel during specific hours when the trains are not as busy.
  • Super Off-Peak tickets is a great way to save on your train fare and is valid between 11:00 and 14:59, and after 20:00, Monday to Friday.
  • First Class tickets allow for travel in carriages with extra space, electrical sockets for laptops etc, and sometimes include complimentary refreshments.
  • Advance train tickets allow you to buy online or from a ticket office around twelve weeks before you travel. The earlier you book your tickets, the more money you'll save.
  • Groupsave tickets allow for cheaper travel if you're travelling with a group of 3 or more.
  • Kids for a Quid tickets are valid at the weekend or on any off-peak service. For every paying adult, up to four children can travel for just £1 return.

Be sure to check the luggage, bicycle and animal guidelines in advance if you wish to use these facilities.

Borders Railway - front of train

© Scotrail

Discount fares and passes

ScotRail trains offer ticket discounts which are available based on various categories including age, group travel, advance bookings, and time of travel.

ScotRail also offer flexible travel passes and other passes for the benefits of travellers. These include:

  • Spirit of Scotland Travelpass - gives unlimited train travel within Scotland. The pass is also valid on some buses in certain regions, on all Caledonian MacBrayne ferries and gives discounts on Northlink ferries to Orkney and Shetland.
  • Highland Rover and Central Scotland Rover - flexible tickets offering unlimited train travel and travel on other modes of public transport. 
  • Rail and Sail tickets - combines rail and ferry tickets for great value in one ticket and can be purchased from ScotRail.

Glasgow's Subway

Scotland's only subway is located in Glasgow and is known as 'the Clockwork Orange' due to its bright exterior. It's a cheap and efficient way to travel around the city and several stations also provide a park & ride facility.

Singles, returns, all day and 7-day tickets are available from all Subway ticket offices and automatic machines, whilst other tickets and passes covering multiple days can be purchased online from the Strathclyde Partnership for Transport.

Train travel around the UK and on to Europe

If Scotland is only a part of your itinerary, there are a range of passes are available that allow unlimited travel across Scotland, England, Ireland and Wales.

You can purchase a BritRail pass before you leave your own country, through local travel agents or online. Look out for various discounts available for young travellers under the age of 26 or over the age of 60, and for families.

If you've been resident in a European country other than the UK for at least 6 months, an InterRail pass, allowing unlimited train travel within Britain, could save you money, if you're visiting Scotland as part of a longer European trip.