General Information on the British Fares System and buying tickets

Who sets our fares?

It varies depending on the destination and this explains why terms and conditions are different between routes and destinations.

Fares from Exeter may be set by First Great Western, Cross Country, South West Trains, Southeastern, Arriva Trains Wales, Greater Anglia or Virgin Trains! For some destinations FGW may set fares via Paddington, whilst South West Trains set those via Honiton.

It all makes for a complicated system.

Buying tickets

Traditionally tickets have been bought from station booking offices but more and more tickets are now being bought over the internet. Beware of websites that make administration charges over and above the cost of the tickets, like or

National Rail Enquiries
First Great Western

or other operator’s sites.

Advance fares are sometimes discounted if bought through the website of the operator concerned, for example First Great Western and East Coast Trains. Also some operators will have Advance tickets that are only available through their own websites. An operator selling tickets for its own services directly to the public means that it doesn’t have to pay away 9% to another seller.


Look carefully at your tickets as routing restrictions may apply. Examples of these are ’Not London’, ‘Taunton’, ‘Honiton’. Frequently tickets will say ‘Any Permitted’ but that doesn’t mean that you can necessarily travel by some lengthy obscure route. If in doubt enquire, or try entering one or more ‘vias’ on the web site.

Note that non-Advance tickets from Exmouth (and Avocet Stations up to and including St James’ Park) to London are routed ‘Any permitted’ which means that travel via Taunton or Honiton is allowed. Tickets from Exeter are however route specific, so will either be via Taunton or via Honiton but not both.

Breaking Journeys

You may wish to break journeys for one of these reasons:

a)       To change trains

b)       To visit a location before proceeding to a final destination

c)       To stay overnight as it is impossible to reach one’s destination on the same day

Reason a) is always allowable, as in changing at Exeter to go to or from another station. This is the only option available to holders of Advance tickets.

Reasons b) and c) are allowable on outward and return legs of Anytime and Off-Peak tickets with the exception of some tickets priced by Virgin Trains where a break is not allowed on the outward leg of an Off-peak return ticket. Journeys must be resumed the same day or, subject to any applicable time restrictions, the following day. The latter easement does not apply to Day tickets. No further breaks of journey (other than to change trains) are allowable on journeys which recommence on ‘day 2’.

When journeys are broken the resumption of travel must be in the direction of the final destination; put another way, you can’t back-track.

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