How To (Theoretically) Scam Cheap Yearly Tickets On NSW Trains

How To (Theoretically) Scam Cheap Yearly Tickets On NSW Trains

Yearly train tickets are a good way to avoid the weekly queue. They can also save you quite a lot of money, although they’re far from cheap. Depending on where you alight from, a yearly ticket can cost upwards of $1000. If you’re not concerned about breaking the law, you could potentially follow this extremely evil hack and pay a lot less.

Disclaimer: This hack almost certainly constitutes fraud and is therefore against the law. Don’t come crying to us when you get busted.

One of the major drawbacks of a yearly train ticket is that there’s a much higher chance of it going missing — unlike a weekly, you need to keep it safe for 365 days. To circumvent this, Sydney Trains will replace a yearly ticket if it gets lost or stolen, provided you still have the receipt.

Doing so will naturally deactivate the old ticket’s unique barcode, but otherwise, it will continue to look like a valid ticket to inspectors. You could on-sell the deactivated ticket to a friend at a reduced price (explaining the scam, of course).

Getting through barriers will obviously be tricky, but train tickets aren’t known for having a 100 per cent success rate — your friend simply needs to show it to the officer at the gates and he/she will likely be let through.

Again, we don’t think anybody should actually do this, not even during Evil Week. Seriously. DON’T DO IT. Outside of NSW, where you need a smartcard, it seems even less likely to succeed. If you have a better train fare-saving tactic, we’re all ears in the comments.

This post is part of our Evil Week series at Lifehacker, where we look at the dark side of getting things done. Knowing evil means knowing how to beat it, so you can use your sinister powers for good. Want more? Check out our evil week tag page.


  • I think that despite the warnings this post could amount to Allure Media promoting fraud… IANAL but if it’s not an actual offence then at the least there’s probably some kind of industry code or standard that’s being broken here…

    • Just reporting on something doesn’t make them liable.

      That’d be like me saying, yes, it’s possible to hold someone up at knifepoint. Here’s how. That isn’t conspiracy to commit or inciting or any other crime.

      • If you give instructions on how to do something illegal, you can be liable. There have been cases where media companies have been sued by people who are victims of things the media company gave instructions on how to do.

        • so SMH and Daily Telegraph can be held responsible for telling people how to steal from supermarkets…? the amount of times theyve done it is ridiculous.

  • Just fyi cityrail staff have a special magstrip reader they can put it into to check it’s validity. I’ve had mine checked at one station and we discussed what the machine did. Oh and obviously, they’re not going to give it back if it’s marked as lost/stolen

    • And you can bet that they’ll be more vigilant once they read this article…or do we assume that LH’s readership somehow excludes cityrail?

  • Just buy a ticket like everyone else. We are in a thing call “a society”. Every time I get off at Town Hall, there are at least 5 people at that moment that are getting a fine. It must be such a high value station that they seem to have ticket inspectors in peak hour every single day now. Travel cost is an annoying expense that seems to be going up every year, but you just have to factor it in to your daily budget.

    • Don’t even get me started on the amount of derros the station staff turn a blind eye to at Kings Cross! why should they get free travel?

  • I’m pleased as punch every time I walk through Town Hall station and see a team of transit cops at each exit, writing up a fine for some young international student who finally didn’t get away with using concession cards that as international students and temporary residents, they’re not entitled to use.

  • NSW tertiary international students aren’t eligible for concession? every full-time tertiary student in WA is.

  • I’m not sure if this is still the case, or how it stacks up in other states, but back in the early ’90’s when I was a student in Melbourne and got trams everywhere (and once they removed the conductors from the trams) it was cheaper to pay the $100 fine (which I only copped 2 or 3 times a year) than to spend the $5-odd per day on a ticket.
    Whenever I was caught out, I’d take the fine and pay it as if it was my fare for the year.

    • Doable, but still a bastard move. Your $100 ‘annual payment’ doesn’t cover maintenance and running costs from which you were happy to benefit. In reality you were stealing from the people who did pay.
      I wonder if you would have rationalised it the same way if everyday you had to steal 50 cents from ten people on the tram to make up the cost of the $5 ticket, which is what you were doing in a sense.

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