Heritage rail travel scheme relaunched

The long-standing Heritage Railway Association reciprocal travel scheme for working volunteers and staff has been relaunched with a new look, and a new name. 

HRA Privilege is the new name for the scheme that has been providing free or discounted travel and entry for heritage railway volunteers and staff on more than 100 railways, cliff railways and tramways across the UK for more than 25-years, providing a valuable opportunity to visit and learn-from other railways, and make new contacts and connections across the sector. 

Formerly known as InterRail, the scheme - operated by the HRA - is the biggest scheme of its type in the world, covering 113 railways and museums, most of which generously offer free travel to HRA pass holders, with the remainder providing substantial discounts. The HRA Privilege identity has been deliberately designed to reflect the use of the term ‘privilege’, which originally described a series of passes issued by the national rail network. 

The new name has been accompanied by a new online presence that allows working volunteers and staff to purchase the HRA Privilege pass directly online, as well as through their own railway. All passes are still sent to railways for distribution and are available to purchase at heritagerailways.org.  

Heritage Railway Association Policy and Communications Manager, Mark Pearce, said: “We wanted to make the reciprocal travel scheme more accessible, but at the same we found the name wasn’t widely understood. That’s why we’ve relaunched with a new identity and the ability to purchase online for the first time. 

“I know from personal experience as a young working volunteer, that having the HRA pass made all the difference when I was looking to visit other railways and learn from how others did things. It’d be great to see more people from HRA members visiting each other’s railways and creating new opportunities to share their experiences and knowledge.” 

Many HRA member organisations that take part in the reciprocal travel scheme also receive a percentage discount on their annual corporate membership fees, meaning that railways and tramways benefit directly, as well as through visitors using their pass. 

Originally set-up to support some of the HRA’s work, the scheme still funds significant parts of the organisation’s engagement, advocacy, communications and business support work, meaning that all HRA members benefit significantly from the scheme. 

Far from extracting revenue at the ticket office, research has found that more than half of visits made using the reciprocal travel arrangements would not have been made at all if the scheme didn’t exist. It also found that the average secondary spend by a pass holder in catering and retail outlets is £13 per visit.   

A full list of participating railways is available at heritagerailways.org together with more information on how to buy a HRA Privilege pass, either directly or through a participating railway. All working staff or volunteers at participating railways are eligible for the HRA Privilege pass.