How To Pay Less For Train Tickets
By taking heed of the following advice and using RailSaver to book your train ticket RailSaver is willing to guarantee that you should always obtain the cheapest available train ticket:-
Choose Ticket On Departure
When booking your train tickets online, opt to collect your tickets from a station and they will be available immediately for collection from any 'Ticket on Departure' station. All you need to do is insert the credit/debit card you used to book with into the ticket issuing terminal at the railway station, and enter your booking reference to obtain your tickets. Doing this will save you paying an extra £2.00 to have the same tickets posted to you.
Book In Advance
Everyone knows book early and you can get cheaper fares. A majority of rail tickets are made available 12 weeks in advance; therefore this is commonly (though not definitely) when the limited amount of cheap train tickets available are released. So if you can, try and book up to 12 weeks ahead to bag super bargain train fares.
Advance Purchase Train Tickets
Advance Purchase Tickets are normally the cheapest tickets available, so if you are flexible as to when you can travel and are able to book ahead, you can pick up some very cheap tickets. They become available around 12 weeks in advance but vary in price dependent upon availability.
Advance Purchase Train Tickets are the 'cheap train tickets' that are:-
- Single, one-way tickets available for both first and standard classes that must be purchased in advance
- If you wish to return then you need to purchase two tickets, one for your outward journey and one for the return
- They can be bought online and collected from station ticket machines or they can be delivered to the door
- They are only valid on the dates and trains shown on the tickets
- You cannot break your journey except to change to/from connecting trains
- You can get discounts on Advance Tickets with most railcards
- You may also get a reserved seat which you must occupy
Advance Purchase tickets are quota-controlled with the cheaper ones selling first so the longer you wait, the more expensive they become but they can still be available the day before travel.
Book early, the sooner you look the cheaper they are, buy them online, have them delivered or collect them from your nearest station.
TIP: Book your Advance Purchase Train Tickets use www.splitticketing.co.uk and you could more than double the savings!
Buy Two Single Tickets Instead Of One Return Ticket
Logically, buying a return ticket should be cheaper than two singles depending on the train operating company and journey you are requiring. By searching for two single fares instead of one return you may find a cheaper combined train ticket price that will not affect your travel options in any way. This is especially true when one portion of your journey is during peak times. Worth trying even if it saves you £1.
Only Pay Peak For The Portion That's Peak
Peak times are usually before 10am and between 5pm and 7pm. If at all possible avoid these times and you'll find better bargains. Yet even if not, you can still cut the cost by buying two singles instead of a return if only one part of your journey is during peak times or else by using split ticketing (see below), so that if some of your journey isn't during peak time, you're not paying a peak price for your whole ticket.
If you are not certain which intermediate train stations are 'off-peak' on your 'peak time' route do the following:
- Download a timetable for your primary route remembering to tick the 'all calling stations' option using the personal train timetable creator like the one you can find here.
- Find the first station on your route that is outside of 'peak time' and book a ticket from you primary departure station to this station and a second ticket from this station to your primary destination.
- By doing the above you can cut the cost of your train ticket by around half, perhaps more!
For example, at the time of writing this we tried this out on the Ipswich to London route and:
Ipswich 6:50am to London arriving 8:13am costs £47.50
but by booking
Ipswich 6:50am to Chelmsford and Chelmsford 7:35 to London arriving 8:13am (same train / same seat) total cost is just £27.20 representing a saving of £20 or 42% !!
Split Your Tickets
Special train fares are often available for part of the route you wish to travel. Therefore by buying several tickets which in combination make up the whole route, you'll often massively reduce the price even though you're on the same train.
A few past verified examples of the huge savings (same train / same seat) to be made by splitting your train tickets are:
- Cardiff to Newcastle - Anytime Return - Split at Man Picc - Save £145.50
- Edinburgh to Sheffield - Anytime Return - Split at York - Save £139.50
- Plymouth to London - Anytime Return - Split at Salisbury - Save £122.20
- London Pad to Swansea - Anytime Return - Split at Swindon - Save £91.00
- Leeds to Plymouth - Anytime Return - Split at Cheltenham Spa - Save £82.50
- Birmingham NS to Edinburgh - Day Return - Split at Preston - Save £31.90
- Bristol TM to Manchester P - Day Return - Split at Stoke o/T - Save £6.80
- Derby to Liverpool LS - Day Return - Split at Crewe - Save £27.40
- Exeter SD to Preston - Off-Peak Return - Split at Bristol TM - Save £11.90
- Glasgow C to Warrington BQ - Day Return - Split at Preston - Save £30.10
- Lancaster to Exeter SD - Off-Peak Return - Split at Bristol TM - Save £17.50
- Nottingham to Liverpool LS - Day Return - Split at Crewe - Save £24.80
- Sheffield to Swansea - Off-Peak Return - Split at Derby - Save £24.10
- York to London KX - Day Return - Split at Grantham - Save £11.10
Ticket Splitting is legal and within the National Rail Conditions of Carriage. This has been confirmed by the Association of Train Operating Companies (ATOC). The only rule is that the train must call at all the stations you've bought tickets for.
The dedicated Split Train Ticketing web service at www.splitticketing.co.uk is a very good point to begin when looking for those cheap split fare train tickets.
Invest In A Rail Card
If you don't have a railcard, and the train ticket(s) costs over £90, buy one. The maths is simple, the railcard is £30 and you get 1/3 off so you save at least as much as the card costs. Yet even for cheaper tickets, if you're likely to travel by train again that year it's worth considering.
Railcards aren't always valid, so if you do a regular journey, first check whether the card's applicable. And don't try and use railcards on journeys they're not valid on as there are some reports they actually add to the price.
If you're under 26, over 60 or traveling with kids you can cut a third off most ticket prices with a railcard, costing just £30 a year. These can be bought at stations or online at www.railcards.co.uk.
TIP: Railcards take around three working days to be delivered to you so even if you do not have one now, and are booking at least five days in advance you could quite safely tick the box on the booking form to get the Railcard discount and then go on to purchase your Railcard.
Choosing The Correct Cheap Train Ticket
Cheap Train Tickets are not always available during peak travel times and some train operators do not award Railcard discounts during peak times when their trains are already full to capacity.
To help you better understand the complex train ticket system used in the United Kingdom and how you can take advantage of the system to pay less for your train tickets please refer to the Rail Saver Guide To Train Fares.