Finding cheap train tickets for your journey can sometimes feel like searching for a needle in a haystack but thankfully there are lots of ways you can bring down the cost. Here are our top ten tips.
1. Book in advance
Advance type tickets, with discounts of up to 80% on the cost of day of departure fares, are released in limited numbers up to 12 weeks in before the travel date. Tickets are sold on a first come first served basis so you need to get in quick to get the best price.
|Journey||Advance Price||Usual Price||Advance Saving|
|London – Brighton||from £5.00||£17.20||£12.20|
|Liverpool – London||from £16||£65.40||£81.40|
|Norwich – London||from £9.00||£51.20||£42.20|
|Newcastle – Leeds||from £11.50||£50.20||£38.70|
|Manchester – Glasgow||from £17.00||£69.00||£52.00|
|Hull – Birmingham||from £19.20||£79.10||£59.90|
|Oxford – London||from £6.90||£24.90||£18.90|
*The fares above are all advance singles sold up to 12 weeks in advance, subject to availability
compared to a mixture of off-peak and super off peak singles
2. Split your train tickets
Splitting train tickets often works out cheaper than buying a conventional through ticket especially at peak times or on routes where there are no advance fares. Split ticket savings are found on both advance and flexible fares and the savings can be combined with railcard discounts to get you an even cheaper fare.
3. Book with a railcard
If you’re aged 16-25 or in full time education, over 60, have a disability, travel regularly with another person or are a member of HM forces and spend £90 or more a year, a railcard normally costing £30 a year could save you up to a third on the cost of travel. Regional railcards are also available for residents in particular areas of the country making journeys locally and for those on jobseekers allowance.
4. Compare different routes
If there’s more than one way to get between your departure station and destination, going via or avoiding London if you’re travelling in southeast England for instance, one of the routes will often work out cheaper than the other.
5. Compare different train companies
In cases where more than one train company operates passenger services along the same line, it’s worth checking the prices carefully as you’ll often find differences in the cost of tickets on the route due to the competition.
6. Claim for delays
If your train is delayed by 30 minutes or more you’re entitled to compensation either in the form of a cheque or rail travel vouchers so make sure you claim it! The exact amount of compensation you receive will depend on the length of the delay and the delay repay arrangements set out in the train company’s passenger charter.
7. Travel off peak where possible
Whilst you many not be able to commit to travelling on a specific service, travelling at less busy times of the day is normally a good way to find cheap train tickets. Peak periods vary by train company but as a rule peak period is normally defined as trains leaving after 9.30am or arriving into London before 10am. Some routes also have an afternoon peak time period between 4.30 and 7pm.
8. Be flexible with travel times
If it’s more about the money and you’re able to be flexible with the times you travel, you’ll often find cheaper tickets available at different times of day. The site is only only able to display a limited number of journeys for each search so make sure you search a variety of times.
9. Advance fares are available until 6pm the night before travel
Whilst very cheap train tickets do tend to get snapped up quickly, advance fares are sold until 6pm the night before travel, so even if you’ve left it late to book, it’s still worth checking before travelling to see if you can bag a last minute bargain.
10. Check for slower/overtaken trains
If you don’t mind travelling for longer for cheaper, select the slower/overtaken trains buttons option. Just click the ‘advanced options’ button on the bottom left hand side of the booking engine and then check the relevant box. The booking engine will then search for cheap train tickets on trains that are normally overlooked because a faster option is available.