Pupils who turn 18 during their studies will lose some of the benefits of a new railcard, a watchdog has warned.

The 16-17 Saver goes on sale next week and enables 16 and 17-year-olds to get half-price rail travel in England and Wales.

David Sidebottom, director at watchdog Transport Focus, welcomed the launch of the railcard, but claimed its benefits could have gone further to ensure all holders get discounted daily tickets for the duration of their studies.

He said: “The new railcard will take some edge off the cost of commuting to school and college.

“It’s good that the 50% discount that this offers will apply to peak period and season tickets, but 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.”

Railcard holders will not be able to buy discounted tickets after their 18th birthday, but season tickets will remain valid for up to four months after that date.

The railcard will cost £30 and goes on sale at 9am on August 20.

Discounted tickets can be bought from September 2, ahead of the new academic year.

Up to 1.2 million young people will be eligible for the railcard, which the rail industry believes will save young people an average of £186 per year.

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.”

David Hughes, chief executive of the Association of Colleges, said: “This rail discount for 16 and 17-year-olds is a huge step in the right direction and will help to alleviate the financial pressures facing young people and their families across the country.

“Many from disadvantaged backgrounds find themselves making difficult choices about their future based on how much their journey to college will cost, increasing the pressures of staying in education.

“Travel costs should never be a barrier to education. Today’s announcement will give a much-needed helping hand to thousands who rely on rail travel to access education and training.”