Animals on public transport laws: train, bus and coach travel with your pet explained
We should all be aware of public transport etiquette - but do the rules change when you take your pet along?
Here’s everything you need to know about travelling on public transport with animals.
Travelling by rail
National Rail have certain conditions of travel when travelling by train with pets in the UK, as displayed in section 24 of their National Rail Conditions of Travel (NRCoT).
The NRCoT apply to travel within Great Britain (governed by the law of England and Wales).
“Scots law applies where a ticket is bought in Scotland for travel only in Scotland,” explained a Department for Transport (DfT) spokesperson.
National Rail Conditions of Travel include:
- Taking up to two dogs or other small domestic animals free of charge with you, unless a Train Company has set out any special conditions relating to their own train services.
In such cases these conditions will be made available when buying your ticket in advance and will be shown on the Train Company’s website.
- Animals, with the exception of blind or deaf persons’ assistance dogs, may not be taken into buffet or restaurant cars (including first class accommodation with at-seat meals service) unless specifically allowed by the Train Company that you are using.
- Animals are not allowed on seats in any circumstances.
- Animals other than dogs must be conveyed in a fully enclosed basket or pet carrier designed for this purpose with dimensions not exceeding 85 x 60 x 60 cm.
- Baskets and pet carriers must be large enough to allow the animal to stand and lie down in comfort.
- Animals which are too large for a basket or pet carrier with dimensions 85 x 60 x 60 cm may not be conveyed by train.
- Dogs must be kept on a lead throughout your journey, including any part of station property; other animals must not be taken out of their baskets or pet carriers.
- If your dog or other animal causes a nuisance or inconvenience to other passengers, you may be asked to remove it from a train or railway premises by staff.
- Livestock and non-domestic animals cannot be carried in any circumstances.
Special conditions apply to the carriage of animals in sleeper cabins. If you are considering taking an animal on a service with a sleeper cabin, you will need to contact the train company for details of these before you make your booking.
Bus and coach operators
National Express - which operates bus services in the West Midlands and Dundee only, and coach services to over 900 locations within the UK - also has its own policies with regard to animals travelling on their services.
A spokesperson for the National Express explains that the only animals they will carry on their coaches are trained assistance dogs who have been trained by one of the following charities:
-Assistance Dogs UK
- Assistance Dogs International
- Assistance Dogs Europe
- The International Guide Dog Federation
- Canine Generated Independence
They will also carry ‘Buddy Dogs’, which is a secondary scheme for Guide Dogs for the Blind.
“Owners must ensure that their dog travels with their relevant identification and evidence that they are assistance dogs trained by one of the member organisations,” said a spokesperson for the National Express.
“We do work on a case by case basis, factoring in details of how long the journey will take and whether this is suitable and safe for assistance dogs.”
Regarding assistant dogs travelling on public transport, the DfT explains that:
- The Public Service Vehicles (Conduct of Drivers, Inspectors, Conductors and Passengers) Regulations 1990, do protect the right of disabled people accompanied by assistance dogs to access services.
- Under the Equality Act 2010 operators must also make reasonable adjustments to enable disabled people to access their services. This might include reviewing their policy on the carriage of disabled people accompanied by support animals not covered by the Conduct Regulations.