Child take train alone?

(48 Posts)
CURIOUSMIND Wed 16-Oct-13 13:36:36

Is there a legal age for this?
If there is not a legal age, how old do you think is old enough for them to take train alone?
The regular journey I am thinking about will last about 2 hours and 20 mins, including one stop.
What is the best discount card for a child alone?

Many thanks.

Periwinkle007 Wed 16-Oct-13 13:41:53

I am not sure if there is a legal age. I caught the train to school on my own from 10 but that was only 20 minutes. For a journey that length I would be inclined to say older though. A lot can happen in nearly 2.5hrs and if there was an accident or illness then it would be a long time before a parent/known adult to get to them. I couldn't imagine putting my kids on a train to London unaccompanied (that would be about 2 hrs from us) until they were at least teenagers

Periwinkle007 Wed 16-Oct-13 13:45:25

National Express say minimum age is 14.
train companies say 12

LIZS Wed 16-Oct-13 13:46:45

I doubt there is a legal age but that is some ask of a young child ie . under 13. They pay a child fare between 5 and 16 whether accompanied or not. Don't think there is a specific railcard.

LifeIsBetterInFlipFlops Wed 16-Oct-13 13:46:49

How old is your child?
I can't imagine letting DS travel alone on a train until secondary school.
Over two hours is a very long time.

sassytheFIRST Wed 16-Oct-13 13:48:46

That's too long IMO - my dd is 11 and I could just about put her on a half hour train journey if she were being collected off the train at the far end.

Unexpected Netherlands Wed 16-Oct-13 13:53:27

Are you considering putting a primary age child on a train to school (i.e. each day) for 2 hours 20 mins? I'd like to be sure what we are talking about here before I say what I think of that idea! grin

Ladymuck Wed 16-Oct-13 14:03:49

Ds took the train from 11, but not for a journey that long.

I'm assuming that this isn't a twice a day journey? I wouldn't do that length of commute even as an adult!

The situations that the child would face would include delays, missing their connection, losing their ticket, and dealing with unwanted attention from other people or animals on the train (ds still remember the day a pigeon flew into his carriage!). At the end of the school day that journey will be in the dark too.

mummytime Belgium Wed 16-Oct-13 14:05:49

Periwinkle007 - well that can't hold around here as a very large number of children commute to school by train from 11. (Up to an hour is normal - but there are lots of other children commuting and even "train buddies" for some schools).

By one stop do you mean one change of train?

Have they done the journey before? Do they have a mobile? How confident do they feel? How busy is the train?

Periwinkle007 Wed 16-Oct-13 14:10:06

thats what I thought mummytime but on a quick google I have found it stated for 3 different rail companies. As I say I did it from the age of 10 and I thought it was very common from start of yr7. I would think it is at the discretion of the guards to be honest but no guard will want to take responsibility for a young child and shouldn't be expected to. School children from 11ish seems a bit different.

moldingsunbeams Wed 16-Oct-13 14:26:23

Depends on train company, a year six child caught train alone when we did the school journey but it was on 5 - 10 minutes.

moldingsunbeams Wed 16-Oct-13 14:28:52

2 hours 20 minutes is the same as train from Manchester to London, I don't think I would be happy with that until mid teens, especially is a change is involved.

bigTillyMint Wed 16-Oct-13 14:35:31

I wasn't aware there was a minimum age. My two have taken the train (about an hours journey) on their own aged 11 and 13 - put on by me and met by in-laws.

insanityscratching Wed 16-Oct-13 14:43:26

Dd from 14 has regularly traveled two hour plus journeys with changes along the way with her friends. At 11 I was only happy with her traveling half an hour or so unaccompanied. I can't imagine tagging a two hour plus commute onto a school day, won't they be exhausted?

Periwinkle007 Wed 16-Oct-13 14:46:58

I was reading it more like they would be doing the journey a couple of times a week, weekly boarding or to visit other parent/grandparent rather than a daily trip. daily would be insanity.

mummytime Belgium Wed 16-Oct-13 17:49:06

Well this is the advice British Transport police give for unaccompanied children on trains. C2C do say a child has to be 12, but that isn't in the Rail Guidelines - and I guess you would just have to use the tube instead. East Coast give the normal UK type advice of when they are mature enough to travel safely. Chiltern also state 12 as a minimium. However plenty of other lines don't list an age at all.

DalmationDots Wed 16-Oct-13 18:06:23

I'd say from when they are in secondary school. But depends, DCs schools both had hundreds of pupils catching the same trains and then walking to the school together.

HmmAnOxfordComma Wed 16-Oct-13 18:08:37

If it is a legal minimum age of 12 it's quite hilarious that the County Council give out train passes for those 11 year olds in our area who require transport to secondary school and for whom the most direct route is a train!

CURIOUSMIND Wed 16-Oct-13 20:28:28

Thank you so much for all your input!
My child is in year 5 now, but this possible plan is for secondary school, weekly boarding, very likely. Not sure about the travel safety and cost , so lots to think about.
Thank you!

Xochiquetzal Wed 16-Oct-13 20:48:38

My sister has been doing the hour and a half journey (with 1 change) to my house alone since she was 10 but I met her off the train til she was 13, lots of her friends have got the train as far to school everyday since year 7 with no one to meet them, but then theres a group of them all going to the same place whereas she was coming over on saturdays/during school holidays, so I think it depends if there are other children getting the same train regularly (or if you have more than one child that would be doing the journey) and if anyone is meeting them the other end.

difficultpickle Wed 16-Oct-13 20:54:12

That's a long journey to do twice every weekend bearing in mind they probably won't be able to leave school before Saturday lunchtime at the earliest or later on Saturday if they have matches and will usually have to be back Sunday evening. I would check that carefully as that is a lot of travelling to do every week for not much time at home.

outtolunchagain Thu 17-Oct-13 08:38:54

The other problem is that Sunday travel is rarely trouble free with frequent bus service replacements etc which can make it more complex

lagerlout Thu 17-Oct-13 09:06:49

I think people create problems and scenarios that may happen but certainly not a regular occurrence. It depends on your child and their maturity, how do they feel it and can they handle it? If so I think being given responsibility is a good thing and they will grow into a more independent teenager who can problem solve and think for themselves. Kids today are wrapped on cotton wool to the point that they reach the ages of 16 or even 18 and mums and dads are holding their hands taking them into town for work experience/job interviews etc. Madness to me. I had a four hour round trip on the tube every day from the age of 11, I coped just fine with the travelling/tiredness, delays, train changes, dealing with strangers and keeping up with school work. Often I did the journey on a weekend too so I could meet up with school friends in a town local to where they all lived. My parents quickly learnt they could trust me at a young age and didn't have to spend years taking pigeon steps with me. Kids are not stupid, if you teach them right. Whenever topics like this come up I never understand why in some peoples minds a certain age is going to endow a child with the knowledge to handle something because I don't think there is a right age you could make excuses until they are an adult by which point you have built it into something scary for them.

DowntonTrout Thu 17-Oct-13 09:11:52

My DD is 11. She does a 2 hour train journey Monday and Friday (weekly boarding.)

She is unaccompanied, but travels with others doing the same journey. We parents all book the same train and seats so that they sit together. We book up seats as far in advance as possible to get the advance fares. There is no railcard for a child under 16 as they are already child (half) price.

If an over 16 was travelling there is a 16-24 railcard or family and friends railcard. Also with East Coast they have a 3 together fare if there are 3 or more travelling together.

They also have a 4 stop tube journey at the other end. Things can, and do, go wrong. Delayed/cancelled trains etc. if they miss their booked train it is very costly. Do you mean one stop or one change? how will your DC get from station to school?

I have been doing the journey with her for a number of months to prepare her for doing it without me. Another parent is currently accompanying her child so DD travels with them. Last week did both journeys by herself though as the others were not travelling. it is working for us but many will think it crazy. Only you know your child and whether they are mature /sensible enough.

DowntonTrout Thu 17-Oct-13 09:15:35

And yes to outtolunch Sunday travel is a nightmare. Hence we do early, very early, Monday mornings. DD then gets a full weekend at home. She copes with the early start just fine.

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