A new 16-17 railcard which ensures half-price train travel for teens aged 16 and 17 across the UK has gone on sale and can be used from 2 September ahead of the start of the new academic year.

Priced at £30, the new railcard will ensure 16 and 17-year olds pay same as the child fare and unlike other railcards it will cover season tickets. It will be valid in England, Wales and Scotland.

The Department for Transport (DfT) said that 1.2 million potential railcard users will make an average saving of £186 every year and the new railcard will “boost education opportunities, communities and businesses with young people able to travel more affordably,” the DfT said.

This new railcard will be valid for a year or until the customer turns 18 – whichever comes first, and discounted season tickets can be used up to four months after the user turns 18.

Previously, 16-year-olds could get the 16-25 railcard which only offers a 30% discount and does not cover season tickets. Those who qualify for the new railcard but currently hold the 16-25 railcard can get the 16-17 saver card for £25 instead of £30 to benefit from the 50% discount.

On the announcement of the new railcard, rail minister Chris Heaton-Harris, said: The brand-new Saver means that a generation of rail passengers can now benefit from cheaper fares, keeping money in their pocket and helping them get to school, college and work.

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“We want to create a railway system that’s fit for the 21st century and provides a reliable, punctual journey. It’s tempting to say fares should never rise, but the truth is that if we stop investing in our railways then we’ll never see it improved.”

“Through the Saver, the 26-30 Railcard, and a record £48 billion investment in the railways, we are focused on providing passengers with the frequent, reliable and affordable journeys they deserve,” said Heaton-Harris.

A National Rail spokesperson said this move was aimed to “make rail accessible for young people because they are required to stay in education or training until their 18th birthday in England, but until now, only had access to half price child rail fares until their 16th birthday.”

“The 16-17 Saver is designed to bridge that gap and provide an additional two years of child fares to support young people.

“In addition to the 16-17 Saver and family of Railcards offered by National Rail, some train operating companies and local authorities offer other discount products to support students getting to school and college,” the spokesperson said.

However, despite the railcard being aimed to support teens in higher education, it has faced some criticism for being unavailable to students aged 18.

Director of transport watchdog, Transport Focus David Sidebottom said: “It would be better if this card also covered the entire sixth form period.

“As it stands, students turning 18 early in their second year of studies will lose this valuable discount.

“With regulated fares set to go up again next January, it’s absolutely critical the rail industry delivers a more reliable day-to-day service,” Sidebottom said.