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Minimum age for children to travel unaccompanied on a three hour train journey.

(43 Posts)
user1463153886 Fri 13-May-16 17:25:37

Hi all - new to MN would really appreciate some advice. My children are 13 & 9. Ex husband now says they are old enough to travel alone (3 hours on a train) to see him alternate weekends.
I say no way - national express will not let children under 14 travel unaccompanied. But British Transport police have no such policy.
I fear for their safety- what if they argue & one gets off at a random station? What if a paedophile sits with them? My lists of "what if's?"are endless!!
Anyway - to cut a long story short, he's threatening legal proceedings & I'm scared! He can't make this happen.... Can he? 😢

BertrandRussell Fri 13-May-16 17:30:33

How do they feel about it?
Do they get on?
Do they have to change trains?

Because I have a similar age gap and mine often did journeys like this to visit grandparents.. BUT. They got on very well, it was a journey they knew and they actively looked forward to doing it.

Fourormore Fri 13-May-16 17:31:45

I'd perhaps let the 13 year old but definitely not a 9 year old.
He'd need to attend mediation before taking you to court so I'd let him make that move before worrying about court. No one can really know what a court would order but my instinct is that it would be very unlikely.

Jinglebells99 Fri 13-May-16 17:36:26

Hmm I just googled, and red hanky.com not sure who they are say under 12's can only travel when accompanied by an adult over 16. So sounds like your older one could go alone but not with their younger sibling.

bigTillyMint Fri 13-May-16 17:37:43

Have you asked your DC? Is it just one train, no changes?

DS was travelling about an hour on one train 70miles to PIL at 13. He was also getting 2 trains to footy training and back twice a week in the evenings on his own at 12 (still is!) - about an hour too. DD wouldnt have had the confidence to do that on her own till she was about 14.

user1463153886 Fri 13-May-16 18:10:00

Thanks for taking the time to reply,
My 13 year old says he wouldn't mind - I think he's sensible & would prob be ok. I don't trust them both together - they'll fight or be silly & it won't be safe.
The 9yr old is nervous - but that's prob my fault, for ranting about how unsafe it is!
Can I refuse to go to mediation? I don't want to pay any costs incurred & I certainly don't want to be summoned to court over it.

BertrandRussell Fri 13-May-16 18:12:43

Seriously- what harm can com to them on a train??

user1463153886 Fri 13-May-16 18:28:03

I've imagined all sorts.....
Mainly I think they'll have a falling out (regular occurance) & then one of them will flounce off & be stuck at some random station in the dark, or maybe some "big kids" will pinch my eldest's phone , my ex might get held up on route to the station & then they'll be there on their own, then I worry about paedophiles.... Blimey I really do sound pathetic I know. I'm aware I need to cut the apron strings eventually- but this is a big deal to me I'm scared they'll come to harm.

Fourormore Fri 13-May-16 18:33:01

You can refuse mediation but if he then took it to court you'd be on the back foot.

123rd Fri 13-May-16 18:47:58

No, I wouldn't be ok with DC travelling on their own. Loads COULD happen -probably won't but COULD!

titchy Fri 13-May-16 18:51:00

Under 12s need to be accompanied by an adult:
http://www.redspottedhanky.com/frequently-asked-questions/assisted-travel-and-minors/

Write to him advising that as the rail companies will not accept them there's no point him even asking for the next three years.

JellyBabiesSaveLives Fri 13-May-16 18:55:41

No to the 9yo - your 13yo isn't competent to babysit and therefore you're sending a 9yo alone.

The 13yo - how long is the journey? My worries would be, what if the train is seriously delayed / part of the route gets swapped for buses? And leaving their bags/ missing their stop / finding reserved seats / coping when strangers chat to them.

Popocatapetl1234 Fri 13-May-16 19:14:46

1000s of 11 year ols travel to school by train. So the under 12 thing is a bit odd imo.
Like all of these things it depends on the Dc and the journey. If they have a mobile and a plan to deal with the unexpected they will be fine.

20thcenturybitch Fri 13-May-16 19:23:28

All going well you have no major safety concerns, other than them bickering. However, I have done a lot of long UK rail journeys and if they are going to be doing this regularly there is a very high chance of at some point being abruptedly dumped off the train at a random stop, with minimal info and expected to wander around trying to find help/info/replacement bus.

This happened to me while heavily pregnant and with a toddler and wasn't pleasant, no help was forthcoming other than from a few nice passengers. I wouldn't like to leave kids to cope with this. Both being over 12 sounds right to me as it's not fair for the older one to cope with the younger one in that situation.

And I got the local bus alone aged 10 but it's not the same, I could always have walked home at worst.

fryingtoday Fri 13-May-16 19:46:55

Don't be worried about mediation or court. Mediation can truly help and may open up communication in a way that benefits the kids.

PattyPenguin Fri 13-May-16 20:05:18

Even once the elder one is 16 (assuming he's still willing to travel to see his father by then), who's going to pay for the tickets?

I don't know that you can rely on cheap tickets as those are usually only for specified services. What if the kids were to mess up a connection, for instance in the case of a platform change? I've had to try and help out young teenagers before now when the announcements were inaudible because of locomotive noise and / or crap speakers - in one case the poor kids were going to have to wait almost two hours for the next train to their destination.

If your kids' tickets were for a specified service and they missed it, they might have to buy additional tickets, so you'd have to give them extra cash or a card they could use in such a situation. Or buy Anytime tickets, which can be very expensive, depending on the route, the day and the time, even with Railcards.

cdtaylornats Fri 13-May-16 22:54:12

Redspottedhanky who sell train tickets will not supply tickets to anyone under 12 unless accompanied by someone over 16. They also say if they suspect someone is doing this they will call the Transport Police.

Tell your ex to take you to court I don't think he will get very far.

user1463153886 Sat 14-May-16 10:13:45

Thank you - I'll send him the link grin

user1463153886 Sat 14-May-16 10:16:22

It's a real minefield isn't it?
I think he has to pay for the tickets - he knows where we live, could easily stay nearby & see his kids (he's got local family) so it's his choice to have them travel to him!

user1463153886 Sat 14-May-16 10:21:29

I can see your point - I think you are right.
I'm not entirely sure I can look his smarmy face without wanting to slap it. I'd rather send emails & ignore him when he collects the kids!
Having read that back to myself - I can see I need to talk to him sensibly. I should be an " adult" and a parent - not a wounded ex wife still furious at being replaced by a younger (but NOT more beautiful) woman!!!

freddiethegreat Sat 14-May-16 10:28:59

I took my son, aged 12, up to my brother/SIL by train last summer, left him overnight, the plan was he would travel him by train (2 hours, no changes) the next day, as I had to work. I had a horrible journey back, one train cancelled, a change needed at Birmingham New Street, chaos running from platform to platform & inaudible announcements at BNS. I was stressed, son would have been terrified. So I rang the train company (might have been Virgin) to see if I could pay for an 'unaccompanied minor' service & they said absolutely not, their policy is no unaccompanied U16s. I had a complete meltdown, I was in bits. Eventually he did come back on the train, no problems, but I don't think I will be doing that again & certainly not with a 9 year old.

Trills Sat 14-May-16 10:31:55

I'd say secondary school if the child is sensible.

But two siblings together are often much LESS sensible than each on their own would be.

Zampa Sat 14-May-16 10:35:41

I think he has to pay for the tickets - he knows where we live, could easily stay nearby & see his kids (he's got local family) so it's his choice to have them travel to him!

I think this might be where the problem lies. Does he currently do both journeys to and from you to collect the children? A compromise to this and also the train journeys, might be for him to pick the children up and for you to collect them. An alternative (as with our family) would be to meet halfway.

Expecting him to stay nearby and not see them in his own home is unreasonable.

ClashCityRocker Sat 14-May-16 10:44:01

A sensible thirteen year old who knew who to ask for assistance (ie train staff, not a randomer) and to keep his mobile charged and with him at all times, possibly.

But not with a nine year old in tow.

BertrandRussell Sat 14-May-16 11:24:55

"Redspottedhanky who sell train tickets will not supply tickets to anyone under 12 unless accompanied by someone over 16. They also say if they suspect someone is doing this they will call the Transport Police."

The Transport Police would be busy round our way every school day.............

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