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If you have questions about your pension, or need support, don't worry – we're here to help.

Below is a collection of our most frequently asked questions, which might help to answer some of your queries. You can find more on our frequently asked questions section.

If you still need assistance, and are logged into your myRPS account, you can ask a question using the form at the bottom of the page. Alternatively, you can contact the Helpline at csu@railpen.com or telephone 0800 012 1117.

Frequently Asked Questions

A workplace pension is a way of saving for your retirement organised for you by your employer while you work for them. It is sometimes called a ‘company pension’, an ‘occupational pension’ or a ‘works pension’.

It's tax efficient - as the money you pay in, or contribute, to your pension is taken from your salary before tax is deducted, reducing the overall amount of tax you will pay on your salary. Your employer also has to contribute to your pension, so together you and your employer are saving for your future.

Put simply, a pension is a savings scheme that you pay into while you are working to help make sure you have regular money coming in when you retire.

Having a pension has always been important but never more so than now, with life expectancy getting ever longer. If you are hoping to retire at 60, or even 68, you could be looking to support many years without the regular income you had when you were working, with lots of people now living well into their 80's and beyond. Many of us don’t want to have to compromise our lifestyles in retirement, so taking an interest in your pension planning is a great way for you to do something positive for the future.

If you stop working through ill-health, you may be able to access your Scheme benefits early.

The Trustee must receive medical evidence from a registered practitioner that you are, and will continue to be, unable to carry out your job.

If you suffer from a serious illness and your life expectancy is less than 12 months, you may be able to take all your benefits as a lump sum. Please contact Railpen for more information on 0800 012 1117.

Additional Voluntary Contribution (AVCs) are tax-efficient ways for pension scheme members to save a bit more towards their retirement. As the name implies, these are contributions you make from your pay (before tax is taken) on top of the normal contributions you make as a Scheme member.

AVCs can be a way of making up the shortfall (if there is one) between the pension you will get in retirement and the income you decide you will need to sustain the lifestyle you want after you stop getting a salary from your employer.

With AVCs, you decide:

  • How much you want to contribute (which is tax-free subject to certain limits – see here for details)
  • How you invest your contributions
  • When you start and stop the additional contributions

Whether you join an AVC arrangement is up to you, but it may be something you want to consider if you:

  • have earnings that don’t count towards your RPS pension, such as bonuses or overtime;
  • are thinking about taking your benefits early (if you are eligible); or
  • want to save a bit more towards your future retirement income

Please note that you have to take your AVC benefits at the same time as your normal Scheme or IWDC benefits.

You can learn more about AVCs here.

A pension works by taking all the money paid in – by you, your employer and the government (in the form of tax savings) – and investing it for your future. Different schemes work in different ways, but the idea is that the investments will grow over time to give you money to support you when you retire.

With some schemes, you choose how to invest your money and these are usually referred to as 'money purchase' or ‘defined contribution’ pension schemes. This means you have your own pot of money which can be used to provide an income when you retire. The size of the pot mostly depends on how much has been paid in and how well your investment funds have performed.

Other types of pension schemes work differently, and the amount you get when you retire will depend on things like how long you've been a member, your final salary when your retire, or the average of how much you've earned over your career. These pension schemes are commonly referred to as ‘defined benefit’ or ‘career average’ arrangements.

The Railways Pension Scheme (RPS) Shared Cost Sections are defined benefit sections, while the Industry-Wide Defined Contribution (IWDC) Section of the RPS is defined contribution. Regardless of which section you are in, once you're a member, you will have access to all the information you need to help you understand more about your pension.

Like many things in life, saving is a whole lot easier if you don’t have to do it alone. With a pension it isn’t just you saving for your retirement; it’s you, your employer and the government (in the form of tax relief).

The money paid into your pension pot* is known as 'contributions'. Contributions can come from:

  • You
  • Your employer – which is a benefit you're unlikely to get with other savings schemes! 
  • The government – through tax relief. Whilst there are lots of ways to save money for the future, a pension can often be the most tax-efficient one while you are working, as your pension contributions will receive tax relief from the government.

*Other than administration charges, all your money will be used for your retirement pot.

Take the time to think about what you might want or need for your retirement. By planning ahead, you can keep your pension savings on track for the future you want.

Your Annual Pension Estimate or Annual Benefit Statement shows the income you're estimated to receive from your rail pension. You can also check this by logging into your myRPS account (or registering if you haven't already).

You can also find some guidance on how much income you might need when you retire to afford different lifestyles by checking out the Pensions and Lifetime Savings Association (PLSA) 'Retirement Living Standards'.

If you are a member of one of the defined benefit arrangements, the benefits you get when you retire will depend on the rules of your section. The benefits are typically  based on your salary and service at retirement. 
You can find out your section’s rules in the ‘Guide for members’ booklet which you'll find in the 'My Library' section when you log into your myRPS account.

If you are a member of a defined contribution arrangement, you have several options when you retire. You can learn more about these options at  MoneyHelper.org.uk

The amount of total benefits you’ll get depends mostly on:

  • how much has been paid into it
  • the rules of your section of the RPS; and
  • for defined contribution schemes, like the IWDC section, how well your investments have performed.

You are currently allowed to take a tax-free lump sum when you retire. Your regular income will then be calculated from your remaining pot.

You can also ‘top up’ your pension by paying additional voluntary contributions (AVCs). Your employer will be able to tell you more about how to do this if you want to save more.

Once you’re a member, you can register to use the myRPS area of this website. Here, you’ll find information about your benefits, the rules of your section as well as handy tools to keep an eye on things and make changes as you need to.

You can log in or register for a myRPS account.

Financial products don’t always get a good press. It’s comforting then to think the pension scheme has a group of people called the ‘Trustee’ who are responsible for looking after the scheme and all the money invested on your behalf. The Trustee is made up of employer and elected member representatives.

Their job, with the help of pension and investment specialists, is to regularly check how the Scheme administration and investments are doing and keep you informed of important information. Learn more about the RPS Trustee.

Although investment decisions made by the Trustee are still subject to stock market fluctuations, their experience and expertise ensures that the scheme investments are appropriate for members. They can’t, however, make investment choices for you personally.


There are lots of places where you can get more help and advice. Some really useful websites include:



MoneyHelper, from the Money and Pensions Service (MaPS), brings together the support and services of three government-backed financial guidance providers: Money Advice Service, The Pensions Advisory Service and Pension Wise. 

It offers free support on a wide range of financial matters, online and over the phone. This covers a variety of pension topics, including:

  • Auto enrolment
  • Building your retirement pot
  • Pension problems
  • Pension basics
  • State Pension
  • Taking your pension
  • Tax and pensions
  • Pensions and retirement

For more information visit https://www.moneyhelper.org.uk/en/pensions-and-retirement


For help with independent financial advice or finding IFAs in your local area.
Department for Work & Pensions:



For information about pensions, tax and retirement planning.

Your NRA is the age from which you can take your full pension benefits without any reduction factors applied for early retirement. NRAs vary between sections, but most are between 60 and 65 for members of the final salary sections of the RPS. You may be able to take your benefits earlier than your sections NRA, but these will be reduced depending on how early you take them. You may also have an option to take your benefits later than your NRA up to age 75, if you prefer.

If your pension savings in the RPS are greater than either the Annual Allowance (AA) or the Money Purchase Annual Allowance(MPAA), then we will send you a pension savings statement which will detail the benefits savings for the relevant period.
Your Annual Benefit Statement (ABS) will give you an indication of how much of the AA you have used in respect of your savings in the RPS.
Please remember you will need to factor in the amount of any savings you have built up in any other pension schemes that you are a member of.

You are responsible for reporting any excess in your pension savings over the AA (after using up any carry forward) via self-assessment.

The amount of AA charge will be included in your tax calculation and you would normally have to pay any charges by the usual self-assessment payment deadlines. You can pay the required tax charge either directly to HMRC or by using the Scheme Pays option (if you qualify for this option).

You can find more information in the guide in the Read as you Need section​.

Railpen, as the ​Scheme administrator, must inform HMRC that a pension savings statement has been issued to individuals whose pension savings in the RPS exceed either the AA or the Money Purchase AA. 

The decision you make should be right for your needs. Neither your employer, Railpen nor the Trustee can give you financial advice. If you’re unsure about what to do, you may want to consider speaking to an Independent Financial Adviser (IFA) regulated by the Financial Conduct Authority.

You can find IFAs in your local area at www.unbiased.co.uk 


The LTA is the maximum amount you can save into all your pensions throughout your working life.

If you exceed the LTA - currently £1,073,100 - you may be liable for an excess tax charge.

In line with the Budget announced in March 2021, the LTA is expected to remain at £1,073,100 until April 2026. 

You can learn more about pension tax allowances at www.gov.uk/tax-on-your-private-pension

The Annual Allowance is a limit on the amount of your pension savings that can benefit from tax relief (up to age 75) in any given tax year. If you exceed this limit, you will be charged tax on your pension savings that are over the Annual Allowance. The most that you can save tax-free towards all your pension arrangements is the lower of 100% of your earnings over that period and the Annual Allowance. 

For most people, the Annual Allowance is currently £40,000 (although this could change in the future) but it will be lower if your ‘adjusted income’ is over £240,000. This reduced allowance is known as the ‘Tapered Annual Allowance’ and, for this purpose, your ’adjusted income’ is your taxable income plus your level of pension savings for Annual Allowance purposes (called your ‘Pension Input Amount’).

You can learn more about the Annual Allowance in the guide available in the Read as you Need section. 

There’s no ‘typical’ scheme member who might be affected by the AA – this tax limit could potentially affect anyone who makes pension savings. However, there are circumstances that increase the likelihood of a person exceeding the AA and, potentially, being subject to a tax charge. These include:

  • the member receiving a large increase in their level of pay during the Pension Input Period.
  • the member making a large additional contribution into their pension savings during the Pension Input Period.