How can you travel by train through Scotland?
Trains connect all 7 of Scotland’s cities. The extensive network also connects a number of smaller towns and villages.
The network is densest within the Central Belt; the City of Glasgow has the largest suburban railway network in the UK, outside of London.
Check out our XXL Scottish Travel Handbook, where we provide you with all the links, tools, secrets, and information you will need to research ideas and plan your amazing trip to Scotland. Click HERE
Types of train tickets
Three types of train tickets are available for most journeys in Scotland:
- Off-peak tickets are restricted to only certain times of the day, they are not permitted for use outside of morning peak and evening peak. Please note that in Strathclyde (West Central Scotland) evening peak is not applied; it is everywhere else in the country. These tickets do not reserve seats.
- Anytime tickets can be used all of the time. These tickets usually are a little bit more expensive than off-peak, and these too, do not reserve seats.
- First Class tickets are usually far more expensive than the above but offer a raft of benefits like extra space, curtains, power sockets and even sometimes…free refreshments. These usually reserve a seat. However, on Abellio ScotRail trains, especially on longer distance routes, there are very little extra First Class seats.
Advance Singles offer significant price reductions and are available on the following long distance routes:
- Glasgow-Oban/Fort William/Mallaig
- Inverness-Wick/Kyle of Lochalsh
There are a number of special tickets which benefit travellers by allowing unlimited travel within a said period.
Spirit of Scotland Travelpass
Spirit of Scotland travelpasses offer unlimited rail travel throughout Scotland and also a number of benefits for other forms of public transport.
- Four days unlimited travel over eight consecutive days for £134.00
- Eight days unlimited travel over 15 consecutive days for £179.00
The pass even includes the Northern England cities of Berwick upon Tweed and Carlisle.
Train and ferry links
Every Caledonian MacBrayne ferry on the west coast of Scotland is accessible through the pass; Argyll Ferries also offer their services between Gourock and Dunoon for pass users.
NorthLink Ferries to the Orkney and Shetland Islands.
Buses can be travelled on for free on select Citylink, First Bus and Stagecoach routes in the Highlands, Skye, Argyll and the Scottish Borders.
The Highland Rover whisks travellers off across the most splendid of landscapes in Scotland.
Four days unlimited Highland travel across eight consecutive days costs a mere £81.50. It is free to travel on the following Abellio ScotRail routes:
- Glasgow to Fort William/Mallaig/Oban
- Inverness to Kyle of Lochalsh
- Inverness to Wick/Thurso
- Inverness to Aberdeen
- Inverness to Aviemore
It is also permitted to travel between Oban and Mull, and Mallaig to Skye on Caledonian MacBrayne sailings.
Argyll Ferries also offer their route from Gourock to Dunoon.
Bus links between Inverness and Fort William (Scottish Citylink & West Coast Motors) and Stagecoach Highland services between Thurso and the Port of Scrabster for Northlink sailings to Orkney.
It’s also worth mentioning that NorthLink Ferries offer a 20% discount for their ferries to the Northern Isles.
Central Scotland Rover
Central Scotland Rovers allow users to travel unlimitedly for 3 days out of 7 consecutive days on Abellio ScotRail services across the central belt of Scotland and Scotland’s only underground railway: the SPT Subway.
The following ScotRail routes are included in the price:
- Glasgow to Alloa/Dunblane
- Edinburgh to Alloa/Dunblane
- Glasgow to Edinburgh via Shotts, Bathgate and Falkirk High
- Argyle Line routes to Lanarkshire (Stations East of Partick)
- Glasgow to Cumbernauld/Falkirk Grahamston
- Edinburgh to North Berwick
- Edinburgh to Fife services (as far as Markinch)
- The newly opened Borders Railway is not available for travel using a Central Scotland Rover. Morning peak restrictions apply
How to buy Rovers and Travelpasses?
- From the ScotRail Rovers and Rangers Form at http://www.scotrail.co.uk/form/rangers-rovers (UK Residents only)
- Overseas customers can purchase from britrail.co.uk
- By calling 0344 811 0141
- From ticket offices at staffed stations
Smaller-scale exciting tickets
There are also a number of smaller-scale exciting ticket options to choose from:
- Strathclyde Daytrippers offer so much for so little in West Central Scotland. They cost £11.60 for 1 adult and up to 2 children and £20.50 for 2 adults and up to 4 children.
Daytripping in Strathclyde is one of the best ways to spend a day in the region. There’s unlimited travel on the train, the Subway, certain buses and certain ferries in the region.
If in doubt about whether or not your service is included as part of the ticket, be sure to refer to the back side of your ticket. A full list of operators is provided here.
Daytrippers can be bought on the day or in advance from staffed railway and bus stations. It’s just a case of rubbing off the year, month, date and day on the day of your travels.
Tickets must be used on the day displayed on your ticket or else it is invalid, and no refunds or replacements will be issued once expired.
Tickets are valid after 9am on weekdays, all day at weekends and on public holidays.
- Glasgow Roundabout is a day ticket valid for use on trains and the Subway in the Greater Glasgow area. Over 110 railway stations are included in your ticket.
Much like the Daytripper ticket, tickets are valid after 9am on weekdays, all day at weekends and on public holidays.
The price is £6.60 for adults and £3.30 for children.
- Rail and Sail are integrated rail and ferry tickets that can transport people to far flung reaches of Scotland, and even to Northern Ireland. If you were to buy a Rail and Sail ticket, you would be allowed to travel by train to the port of departure and then onwards across the seas to your island destination.
Rail and Sail can be bought in the following ways:
- Online, for sailings to Belfast, Dunoon, Rothesay and Brodick
- By calling 0344 811 0141
- At staffed stations
- On the train, provided that your station has no ticket offices.
It is vital that you keep up with the service disruptions on the ferry network. You can find these on Caledonian MacBrayne’s homepage
Train ‘scenic routes’
There are a number of ‘scenic routes’ in Scotland. They are:
- Glasgow-Mallaig on the West Highland Line, voted the World’s most scenic railway.
- The Kyle of Lochalsh line, which begins in Inverness and terminates at the foot of the Skye Bridge and passes some of the best coastal scenery in Scotland.
- The Far North line, for some of the Scottish Highlands’ most remote areas.
- Glasgow to Carlisle via Kilmarnock, for persistent lush green pastures.
- Borders Railway, established in September 2015, to reinstate the highly sought after railway link to the Borders.
- Glasgow-Stranraer, to visit one of the most southerly points in all of Scotland.
ScotRail is not the only operators in Scotland, there’s also the Caledonian Sleeper, Virgin Trains West Coast, CrossCountry and Virgin Trains East Coast.
There are a number of preserved heritage railways in Scotland.
ScotRail offers their unique Kids Go Free ticket throughout Scotland, allowing up to two children to travel FOR FREE with an adult. Perfect for days out!