Councillors welcome decision to extend 16-17 railcard to Grand Central services from Sunderland

It has been announced that a new railcard which is available for sale from next week offering 50% off train fares for 16 and 17 year olds will now be able to be used on Grand Central services to and from Sunderland.

The Government has announced today (14th August) that a new railcard for 16 and 17 year olds which offers a 50% discount will be available for sale from 20th August.

The rail card costs £30 a year and is valid on services in England and Wales.

When the 16-17 saver scheme was announced by the Government back in January it wasn’t clear if it would be valid on Grand Central services.

At the time Liberal Democrat councillors in Sunderland asked Lib Dem MP Layla Moran to raise their concerns in Parliament, prompting the MP to ask Transport Ministers about the issue in the House of Commons.

Responding in January, Railways Minister at the Department for Transport Andrew Jones told Ms Moran that “the 16-17 railcard will offer savings of 50 per cent on all rail journeys run by franchised train operating companies managed by the Department for Transport. We will announce further details in the summer.

That would have meant that the discounts wouldn’t be available for young people on Wearside using Grand Central services because it is an ‘open access operator’ and not a rail company which has been given a franchise by the Government, like Northern or LNER.

But after Lib Dem city councillors raised the matter, the Government have now announced that the new 16-17 saver rail card will be valid on all services in England and Wales, and those going from England into Scotland. It won’t be valid on ScotRail services north of the border.

Commenting, leader of the Liberal Democrat group on Sunderland Council and councillor for Millfield and Thornholme Niall Hodson said:

"It is absolutely right that young people in Sunderland will now be able to use this 50% discount on rail fares on Grand Central services from the city – whether that’s for regular travel down to places like Hartlepool or for days out to York, London or further afield.”

“It’s something local Liberal Democrats were determined to make sure happened and I am glad the Government has seen sense and listened.

“We’re continuing to push the Department for Transport to extend this discount until people finish college or sixth form, as at the moment the discounted rate will stop as soon as students turn 18 which doesn’t seem entirely fair.”