Train Fares and Tickets Explained

An easy to read guide to the complex system of train ticket type and train fares in the UK
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Train Fares Explained

TRAIN TICKETING in the UK can be complex and confusing for rail commuters trying to find the cheapest available train ticket price.

Even though RailSaver always find and offers you the choice of all available train ticket types and price combinations for your rail journey, it is important that you are aware of the various train ticket formats and restrictions that may associated to them.

If you already know the time you need to travel to or arrive at your destination, you may safely select and purchase the cheapest train ticket RailSaver finds for the times you have specified and not worry about anything else.

If you require flexibility on which train you may travel and when you may travel, it is important that you know the restrictions associated with each type of train ticket and do not simply purchase the cheapest ticket that may be subject to train operator restrictions.

If you want half-and-half RailSaver now has the option to book a 'combo' fare with flexibility in just one direction. So, if you know when you want to travel on the outward journey but want your return journey to be flexible, select 'cheapest' on the outward and select 'flexible' for the return. You can also flick backwards and forwards between flexible and cheapest on the fares and timetables page making it easier to compare prices.

To assist you make the correct ticket choice click on the RailSaver Info Button icon displayed next to each ticket price (after you have initiated a ticket price look-up) and a summary listing the ticket type and any restrictions that may apply to it will be displayed.

     
 

Guide To Train Fares & Ticket Types


Using RailSaver to book your train tickets online is quick, secure, saves you time and money but it remains important that you select the correct type of train ticket for your journey.

To help you better understand the complex train ticketing system in the UK Rail Saver has compiled the following Guide to Train Fares and Ticket Types in the U.K.

There are three primary types of train tickets in the U.K.

The following illustration may be used to help you identify what type of train ticket you have purchased:

Train Ticket

Advance Train Tickets (Cheapest)

Advance Train Tickets are great value Single (one-way) tickets but they are available in limited quantity so can sell out fast!

To take advantage of these great value cheap train tickets you must book ahead and may do so up 12 weeks in advance for most train operating companies although, subject to availability, you could still get a last-minute cheap train ticket bargain up until 6.00pm on the day before you travel.

Using RailSaver displays ticket types and prices with the timetables enabling you to find the cheap Advance Fares and quickly book your cheap advance train tickets online.

Restrictions Applicable to Advance Train Tickets

Advance tickets are only valid for the specific date, time and train they are booked for, and can only be bought online.

If Advance tickets are available for both legs of a return journey this will be displayed by the RailSaver online ticket booking system.

You must travel in the Class and reserved seat(s) shown on the ticket(s).

Advance Tickets may only be used on the services of the Train Company (or geographic route where applicable) shown next to 'Route' on the ticket.

If the 'Route' also states 'and Connections', travel is allowed on appropriate connecting trains where shown on the ticket(s) or other valid travel itinerary.

If the route is prefixed with a , the ticket includes the cost of traveling across London on London Underground, Docklands Light Railway or First Capital Connect (Thameslink Route) services as appropriate to the journey.

Advance Train Ticket Railcard Discounts

34% Railcard discounts are applied to Advance Train Tickets for:-

  • Standard Class
    Child discounts, 16-25, Family & Friends, Senior, HM Forces and Disabled Persons Railcards discounts apply.

  • First Class
    Child discounts, 16-25, Senior, HM Forces and Disabled Persons Railcards discounts apply.

TIP: Railcards offer users an additional 30% discount on applicable train tickets so, even if you are traveling once a year, if your tickets cost more £90 it pays to get a Railcard. For more information on Railcards please click here.

Advance Train Tickets Conditions of Use

You must be at the departure station shown on your ticket in good time to catch the train. If you miss the first train on which you are booked for any reason, a new ticket must be purchased.

If delays occur while traveling you will be allowed to take the next available train(s) to complete your journey.

Railcard holders traveling on a discounted ticket must carry their Railcard when they travel. If a Railcard holder fails to produce a valid Railcard with their ticket, a new ticket must be purchased as if no Railcard and/or no ticket were held.

First Class Advance tickets do not always grant access to First Class Lounges at stations. Please check with the train company you are traveling with to confirm policy at specific stations.

You may not start, break and resume, or end your journey at any intermediate station except to change to/from connecting trains as shown on the ticket(s) or other valid travel itinerary.

Changes to time or date of travel must be arranged before departure of the first reserved train printed on the ticket, after which the ticket has no value and a new one must be purchased. You will need to present the ticket(s) and reservation(s) when you request a change.

Changes to advance tickets cannot be made on-board the train. If you board a train without a ticket and reservation for that service, a new ticket must be purchased. Depending on the Train Company you are traveling with, you may be liable to a Penalty Fare if you board the train with an invalid ticket.

The origin, destination and Train Company or route shown on the ticket(s) must remain the same.

For each change to a journey the difference between the price paid and cost of the next suitable fare for your journey is payable, plus a £10 administration fee per person, per single ticket. If you change to a train on which a cheaper fare is available, the difference will not be refunded.

Your Advance ticket is non-refundable but if the train you purchased a ticket for is cancelled or delayed by more than 60 minutes, special arrangements will be made to accommodate you on another train (although a seat cannot be guaranteed). If, as a result, you decide not to travel, a refund will be offered on completely unused tickets and you will not be charged an administration fee.

 

Off-Peak Train Tickets

Off-Peak Train Ticket fares are cheaper tickets for traveling on trains that are less busy.

If you need more flexibility than an Advance train fare can offer you the Off-Peak rail ticket could be for you.

Off-Peak train tickets are perfect if you are not restricted to traveling early in the morning, or do not need to arrive at a particular time.

Where there is more than one Off-peak fare for a journey, the cheaper fare with more restrictions will be called Super Off-Peak.

You can buy Off-Peak tickets any time before you travel. The travel restrictions for your Off-Peak ticket will depend on the journey you are making and will be advised when you buy your ticket.

Restrictions Applicable to Off-Peak Train Tickets

Off-Peak Single (one way) tickets must be used on the date shown on your ticket.

Off-Peak Day Return tickets must be used on the date shown on the ticket.

For Off-Peak Open Return tickets the outward journeys must be made on the date shown on your ticket, but you can make the return journey on any day within one calendar month of the outward journey.

Off-Peak tickets may require you to travel at specific times of the day or days of the week, or on a certain rail route. The travel restrictions will depend on the journey you are making, but you will be advised of any restrictions at the point of booking your train tickets online with Rail Saver.

Super Off-Peak tickets cannot be used on all trains, so please make a note of the train times that Super Off-Peak tickets are eligible for before you travel.

Off-Peak Train Ticket Discounts

Generous discounts that further reduce the cost of Off-Peak Train Tickets are available. These are:-

For Children

Aged 5 to 15 inclusive - 50% discount
Up to two children aged under 5 travel free with each fare paying adult passenger

Rail Card Discounts

Standard Class
34% Railcard discounts apply to Family & Friends, 16-26, Senior, HM Forces and Disabled Persons Railcards

First Class
34% Railcard discounts apply to Senior, 16-25, HM Forces and Disabled Persons Railcards.


Other Railcards

Network Railcard (London & South East): 34% discount on Standard Class fares
Gold Cards (London & South East): 34% discount on Standard Class fares
New Deal Photocard (England and Wales): 50% discount on Standard Class fares

Please Note: Minimum fares and time restrictions may apply to tickets bought with a Railcard or other discount card. See terms and conditions of the appropriate Railcard or discount card for details.


Off-Peak Train Tickets Conditions of Use

Off-Peak Day and Super Off-Peak Day tickets may require you to travel at specific times of day, days of the week or on a specific route.

Off-peak Day and Super Off-peak Day tickets are valid for travel on the date shown on your ticket and until 0230 on the following day.

If the route shown on the ticket has a †, the ticket includes the cost of traveling between certain London Stations (e.g. between Liverpool St and Paddington) by either London Underground, Docklands Light Railway (DLR) or First Capital Connect (Thameslink Route) services appropriate to the route of the journey being made. (Note: Tickets will only be accepted by London Underground and DLR on the date shown on the ticket and until 0429 the following day.)

Other than to change trains, a break of journey at intermediate London Underground or DLR stations is NOT permitted.

You must travel in the class of accommodation shown on your ticket.

Railcard holders traveling on a discounted ticket must carry their Railcard when they travel. If a Railcard holder fails to produce their valid Railcard with their ticket, they will be required to pay a full priced ticket for their journey as if no Railcard and/or no ticket were held.

The outward part of a Off-Peak Day and Super Off-Peak Day Return ticket is only valid for travel when accompanied by an unused return part of the same ticket.

First Class Off-peak tickets may provide access to First Class Lounges at stations. Please check the First Class on National Rail page for more information.

Break of journey is allowed on Off-peak tickets unless restricted for the journey you are making. If you intend to break your journey, please call 08457 48 49 50 to check if it is available on your specific journey.

If you break your journey and are still traveling at 02h30 then you may stay on the train to complete that part of the journey, but no further break of journey is allowed and all travel must be completed by 12h00.

If you wish to change your time of travel or class of the ticket, you can pay the difference between the cost of the ticket held and the cost of the ticket that is most appropriate for the journey you need to make. In many cases, if you are still traveling at a time when your ticket is not restricted, no additional fare is payable.

If you wish to change the date of travel, or the origin or destination of your ticket, it may be necessary to buy a new ticket and apply for a refund on your existing ticket.

If you decide not to use your ticket to make all or part of your intended journey then you can get a refund by returning your unused ticket to the ticket office or place of purchase (for tickets bought via websites, telesales or travel agents) within 28 days of the ticket expiry date. You may be required to pay an administration fee.

The refund amount will normally take into account any use you have made of the ticket and in some circumstances no refund will be paid.

 

Anytime Train Tickets

Anytime Train Ticket fares are fully flexible tickets, with no time restrictions on when you can travel. Perfect for people who need complete flexibility.

You can buy Anytime tickets any time before you travel and you can use your anytime ticket to travel on any train on that route.

With an Anytime ticket you can also break your journey at stations along the route of travel.

Anytime Single and Anytime Day (Single and Return) tickets must be used on the date shown on your ticket.

For Anytime Return tickets, the outward journey must be made within 5 days of the date shown on your ticket and return journeys must be made within one calendar month.

You can reserve a seat on many longer distance services and reservations are recommended on busy services.

Anytime train tickets are refundable if submitted wholly unused within 28 days of the expiry date. All refunds are subject to £10.00 admin fee

Anytime Tickets may not be amended but if the date of travel is to be changed all you need do is cancel the ticket and re-book. The refund for the cancelled tick will be subject to £10.00 admin fee plus (or less) any difference in fare on the new ticket.

Anytime Train Ticket Discounts

Generous discounts that reduce the cost of Anytime Train Tickets are available. These are:

Children (aged 5 to 15 inclusive)

50% discount. Up to two children aged under 5 can travel free with each fare paying passenger.

Railcard Discounts

16-25 Railcard: 34% discount on Standard Class fares
Disabled Persons Railcard: 34% discount on Standard & First Class fares
Family & Friends Railcard: 34% discount on Standard Class fares
HM Forces Railcard: 34% discount on Standard & First Class fares
Network Railcard (London & South East): 34% discount on Standard Class fares
Senior Railcard: 34% discount on Standard & First Class fares

Other discount cards

Gold Cards (London & South East): 34% discount on Standard Class fares
New Deal Photocard (England and Wales): 50% discount on Standard Class fares

Note: Minimum fares / time restrictions may apply to tickets bought with a Railcard or other discount card. See terms and conditions of the appropriate Railcard or discount card for details.

Anytime Train Ticket Terms and Conditions

Anytime Singles tickets are valid for travel on any train on the date shown on your ticket.

The outward part of Anytime Return ticket are valid for travel on any train within five days of the date shown on your ticket.

If the route shown on the ticket has a †, the ticket includes the cost of traveling between certain London Stations (e.g. between Liverpool St and Paddington) by either London Underground, Docklands Light Railway (DLR) or First Capital Connect (Thameslink Route) services appropriate to the route of the journey being made. (Note: Tickets will only be accepted by London Underground and DLR on the date shown on the ticket (or last day of validity for return portions of Off-Peak Returns) and until 0429 the following day. - Other than to change trains, a break of journey at intermediate London Underground or DLR stations is NOT permitted.- Travel restrictions do not apply on weekends and public holidays.)

You must travel in the class of accommodation shown on your ticket.

Railcard holders traveling on a discounted ticket must carry their Railcard when they travel. If a Railcard holder fails to produce their valid Railcard with their ticket, they will be required to pay a full priced ticket for their journey as if no Railcard and/or no ticket were held.

The outward part of an Anytime Return ticket is only valid for travel when accompanied by an unused return part of the same ticket.

First Class Anytime tickets provide access to First Class Lounges at stations. Please check the First Class on National Rail page for more information.

You may start, break and resume, or end your journey at any intermediate station along the route of travel.

Break of journey for an overnight stay is allowed. Where a journey continues into the next day, travel must resume before 12h00 and no further break of journey is allowed except to change trains.

The return part of Anytime Return tickets can be used for travel on any train within one calendar month of the outward journey.

Travel is allowed until 02h30 on the day following the last day of validity. If you are still traveling at 02h30 then you may stay on the train to complete that part of the journey, but no further break of journey is allowed and all travel must be completed by 12h00.

There are no restrictions on when you can travel, however you will need to buy a new ticket and apply for a refund on your existing ticket (see below) if you wish to change:

  • the date of your single ticket or outward travel (for a return ticket)
  • the route of your ticket
  • downgrade from First Class to Standard class accommodation

You can upgrade your ticket upon payment of an excess fare, if you wish to:

  • continue your journey to a station further than where you have purchased your ticket
  • upgrade to First Class

Anytime train tickets are is refundable if you decide not to use your ticket to make all or part of your intended journey. To get a refund you must return your unused ticket to the ticket office or place of purchase (for tickets bought via websites, telesales or travel agents) within 28 days of the ticket expiry date. You may be required to pay an administration fee and the refund amount will take into account any use you have made of the ticket and in some circumstances no refund will be paid.

 

Important: Readers are advised that the above guide to train fares and train tickets is merely an easy to read summary detailing the key points of the applicable fares and tickets. As such this guide should be regarded as a layman's reference and not be construed as an accurate interpretation of the National Rail Conditions of Carriage - all of which may be viewed by clicking here.

 
     

 

     
 
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