English as an Additional Language/Rail Travel

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RAIL TRAVEL Buying a train ticket

A young traveller goes up to the ticket office in a Railway Station in England:

  • Traveller: "A ticket to Coventry, please."
  • Clerk: "Is that a single or a return?"
  • Traveller: "A return, please. "
  • Clerk: "That's five pounds seventy then."
  • (The traveller hands over a ten pound note.)
  • The Ticket Clerk takes the money and gives out a two part ticket along with some coins.
  • Clerk: "Four pounds thirty is your change. Platform 3, you'd better hurry."
  • Traveller: "Thanks"

The young traveller checks his change and hurries off as the Ticket Clerk serves the next passenger.

(Note that the exchange tends to be hurried and clipped. Flowery, extended sentences aren't needed, just the required information, a little courtesy, and a check of the coins and the tickets. Mistakes do happen, especially if you are in a hurry.)

A quick check now can save problems later:

The traveller rushes back to the ticket office, and tries to speak to the same Ticket Clerk:

  • Traveller: "Sorry, these tickets say Daventry not Coventry"
  • Clerk: "You said Daventry, sir."
  • Traveller: "I'm sure I did not. I wanted a ticket to Coventry."
  • Clerk: "Let's have a look then."
  • (The Clerk takes the tickets back and examines the two pieces of the ticket.)
  • Clerk: "OK. Return to Coventry, same fare."
  • (The Clerk prints out two new parts to the ticket.)
  • Clerk: "Here you go. Coventry, return."
  • (The Clerk passes the new ticket back to the Traveller.)
  • Traveller: "Thank you very much."

The traveller hurries off again with the correct tickets, just in time to board the train to Coventry.


There are many ways to ask the same question (or be asked):

  • "Is this the train to Liverpool?"
  • "Is this the train for Liverpool?"
  • "Does this train go to Liverpool?"
  • "This the Liverpool train?" (notice that the "is" can be left out in general speech)
  • "Going to Liverpool?"
  • "Liverpool train?"
  • "Liverpool?" (although this can be confusing, meaning many things in just one word.)

(Note that some of these sentences are technically incorrect, but are acceptable in general speech. When writing English, outside of character dialogue or quotation, be specific and grammatically correct.)

  • Glossary
    • Luggage - Bags carried by a passenger. Can be suitcases, backpacks, boxes or any bag.
    • Lost Luggage - An office where items that passengers have forgotten are taken.
    • Fare - The cost of the ticket.
    • Ticket - The token given to a passenger to allow them to travel, showing the cost and destination etc.
    • Guard - on British trains, a train company worker checking tickets and keeping passengers safe.
    • Change - The money returned to somebody who paid with more than the cost of the transaction.
    • Train - A group of carriages rolling along rails, carrying passengers or freight.
    • Passenger - A person, usually not counting the driver, riding in a vehicle.
    • Return - A type of ticket allowing there and back travel.
    • Single - A type of ticket allowing one way travel, that is just to there.
    • Destination - another word for the place the train passenger is going to.