**MEGATHREAD** How to get the Cheapest Train Tickets in the UK
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**MEGATHREAD** How to get the Cheapest Train Tickets in the UK

194
Refreshed 21st Feb (Posted 11th Feb)
Here is a comprehensive thread of how to save money on train tickets alongside other random oddities you can exploit I have put together I have put the link to GWR as you can get Nectar points. I have also put this thread in deals section as there are deals within this thread (e.g Skyscanner offer, Railcard discounts etc...) and you obviously have to buy tickets. Anyway on with the thread

1) Get £4 off tickets using code - £2 per transaction, min spend £10 per transaction

Easy saving here, you just need to download the app and purchase as normal. Expires 31st March. Works for all tickets and all operators

2) Rovers & Day Passes

If you are using the railway a lot in a short space of time, particularly in a certain area a rover may work out considerably cheaper, especially because most railcard discounts can also be applied to them. Different options are available such as daily, 3 day, weekly and monthly, and a full list (too many to discuss here) can be found on the National Rail site here.

3) Railcards

Not suitable for most commuters as most often allow you to travel after 09:30 / 10:00. Railcards tend to knock 1/3 of the full price of fares, and can normally be used against advance fares for further discounts. Railcards often cost £30, although there are normally discounts available which can reduce the price to £25-£27.

  • A 16-25 railcard can be used before 10:00 if you are spending > £12 or anytime during weekends
  • Disabled railcards can be used at anytime
  • Two Together railcards can be used after 09:30 Mon-Fri only & anytime at weekends
  • Network railcards can be used only after 10:00 Mon-Fri & anytime at weekends
  • Family & Friends and Senior railcards are not valid when travelling between two stations inside London and the South East area during morning peak time. Restrictions vary by route so you should check online / at a ticket office before purchasing
  • 26-30 Railcard. Similar to 16-25 railcard. Newly introduced.
  • 15-17 railcard. Launching September 2019. Will give 50% of all Adult fares.

Additionally, you can also use Tesco Clubcard points to purchase railcards. It doubles up your credit, so you can get a £30 railcard for £15. Credit and thanks to @ommytbone1


4) Groupsave

Groupsave can be used in some cases (normally 3 or more people), particularly if you have a large group. This tends to knock around 1/3 of the total ticket price, and is useful if no-one in the group has railcards. Off peak only typically. Not normally valid on Cross Country services.

5) Split Ticketing

Still underused in many cases, split ticketing can often save a small fortune, for example the total ticket price for an Adult from Southampton Airport Parkway to Leamington Spa can be cut by around 40% [See image below] . Similar, and even greater discounts can be found elsewhere. Split ticketing exploits fare oddities within fare databases which often results in getting 3 seperate tickets from your origin to your destination (splitting at intermediate stops e.g London to Reading, Reading to Oxford, Oxford to Banbury) cheaper than buying a direct ticket (e.g London to Banbury). Sites such as splitticketing.com can be used to find possible savings. There are a couple of important notes to consider though before purchasing:

  • You should never actually book through sites such as splitticketing.com, they take both a share of the savings, and charge a booking fee (similar to the trainline, which you should NEVER use), instead, collect the information about the journey details (see image below) and book through other rail operator sites, the best ones are typically ones which offer nectar points such as GWR, SWR etc...
  • You must make sure that your train STOPS at the station where you have purchased your split ticket from and to, if not, although unlikely, you may be liable to pay a penalty fare.

3180573.jpg
6) Megatrain (East Midlands only)

Unfortunately, this is only used by East Midlands trains now so is only relevant if you are planning on travelling to East Midlands Parkway, Sheffield, Loughborough, Derby and other areas in the region to and from London. I had a play around, and there are plenty of one way tickets available between London and Sheffield for £5.

7) Advance Tickets

Booking in advance can save you significant amounts of money, and you can normally book upto 12 weeks in advance for most operating companies. Normally, off peak services are the cheapest, although at weekends you can often find tickets cheap throughout the day. The furthest you can book in advance for each operating company can be found.here.

8.) Two singles?

Normally works well when combined with purchasing advance tickets. It is normally worth checking to see if two singles work out cheaper compared to a return. Although this is not normally the case, you can often make big savings where you can exploit this.

9) Go a slower way?

If you have the time and want to save money why not go a slower way? An example is London to Birmingham where a single with Chiltern Railways costs just £5.50 (£3.65 with a railcard) compared to fares which often exceed £30-£40+ There are many other examples of this working around the country too such as Southampton Central to London Victoria (Southern). Often, on most ticket sites there is a button which allows you to search for slower, cheaper trains.


10) NEVER book through the Trainline, use sites such as GWR

Although the Trainline is often a site people first look to when purchasing rail tickets, you can save money by not purchasing tickets through the site. Why? They charge a £1 booking fee per transaction which can be avoided. Instead, use any of the rail operator websites, which do not charge booking fees (although some operators charge £1 to collect tickets from a ticket machine, again this should be avoided). Furthermore, some sites such as GWR and SWR offer the chance to get Nectar points (2 points per £1) although there are often opportunities to get even more. Where possible, try to pick up your tickets at the station (ensure there is a ticket machine!) as this saves on delivery costs

11) Where possible, do NOT use the Heathrow Express, use TfL Rail

I believe the Heathrow Express is the msot expensive per mile railway for the consumer in the country, so where possible this should be avoided as it is a tourist trap. Singles are £16.50 for 17 minutes, although they can be had for £5.50 if you book in advance. TfL rail takes just 10 minutes longer but is £9.50 cheaper at £6.95. Of course the underground is cheaper still (£3-£5) but this takes almost an hour so the saving will not be worth it for some


Other

12) Delay Repay

Many companies now offer delay repay for just a 15 minute delay. For example SWR offer a 25% refund on a single price for a 15 minute delay, and 50% for a 30 minute delay. The %'s refunded vary significantly between company so check on your operators website to check if you are entitled to a (partial) refund if you have been delayed. Typically the refund threshold is either 15 or 30 minutes for most companies, although for some it is an hour.

13)Declassified 1st class (London mainly)

Principally in London there are several trains which have a 1st class section designated, although on the timetable the train is not listed as having a 1st class service. If this is the case you can sit in first class on the train for no extra cost. Ensure on the timetable that there is not a 1 icon (indicating 1st class) for your service, if there is DO NOT sit in 1st class. Please do this at your own risk, if you are unsure please just sit in standard class, or ask station staff or the conductor if one is present.

14) Nectar Points

Mentioned already, but if you have not linked your Nectar card to sites such as GWR, you can often get a 300 point bonus via the Nectar website. Typically, you receive 2 points per £1 spent.I hope you enjoyed the page (I presume you have if you've read this far!) and if this is popular I will consider doing a bus/coach thread alongside a aeroplane thread in the near future

15) Gold Card benefits (thanks @goonertillidie )

If you have a gold card (i.e season ticket) there are also additional benefits:
  • 1/3 off Off-Peak Day Travelcard Zones 1-6
  • 1/3 off Oyster Off-Peak pay as you go single fares and the pay as you go daily price cap
Participating companies:
Transport for Wales; c2c; Chiltern Railways; CrossCountry; East Midlands Trains; Gatwick Express; Great Northern; Great Western Railway; Greater Anglia; Heathrow Express; Island Line; London Overground; South Western Railway; Southeastern; Southern; Thameslink; West Midlands Trains;

16) Train Company Offers and sales

From time to time some companies have offers e.g half price advance tickets. Examples include GWR's annual christmas sale and currently Virgin Trains (credit @mb1 )
Community Updates
As per my posts yesterday and today,.

1 Skyscanner does not show all discounted sale tickets, it charging an extra £5.40 each way on some Northern trains.
2 £5. Sheffield to London seems to be Megabus, not Megatrain. Megatrain shows both bus and train, only fully differentiating by reference to departure and destination points.
.

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Top comments
Kalidoscope11th Feb

Comment deleted


You joined to post this comment!?

This site seriously confuses me sometimes
Cheap + train can never go in the same sentence heat for the effort though
rhysccfc312 m ago

Cheap + train can never go in the same sentence heat for the effort …Cheap + train can never go in the same sentence heat for the effort though


If you purchase advance tickets it can be cheap I went from Bristol to West Wales last year for £10, 4 hrs in 1st class!
Kalidoscope11th Feb

Comment deleted


Not true, trains are massively overpriced in the uk and the op is giving tips to get the prices lower.. I still think even the cheaper prices are overpriced so the heat is for helping people who have no choice but to use trains
194 Comments
Cheap + train can never go in the same sentence heat for the effort though
rhysccfc312 m ago

Cheap + train can never go in the same sentence heat for the effort …Cheap + train can never go in the same sentence heat for the effort though


If you purchase advance tickets it can be cheap I went from Bristol to West Wales last year for £10, 4 hrs in 1st class!
I used ticket splitter to travel from Swansea to Birmingham, I bought tickets 12 weeks before date of travel and used my 16-25 railcard. I had my tickets for ridiculously cheap, cheaper than paying for petrol and parking.
Edited by: "AnnieLey" 11th Feb
On the split ticketing subject, I use raileasy.trainsplit.com as it searches more than 1 split, seems to be a variation on yours?
Edited by: "windym" 11th Feb
windym1 m ago

On the split ticketing subject, I use https://raileasy.trainsplit.com as …On the split ticketing subject, I use https://raileasy.trainsplit.com as it searches more than 1 split.


Yeah there are several sites which all work well
reindeer33352 s ago

Yeah there are several sites which all work well


Yes, some only do one split. I posted (and since edited) that yours seems to a variation of the one I use, so I'm guessing splits more than once.
Im soon to be travelling from Liverpool to Sheffield. A return ticket worked out around £50 bought in advance. Looking at the journey the train stops at Manchester so instead I bought singles from LP>MCR & MCR>SHEF. this saved me over £20. The return journey was actually cheaper to get a direct train from Sheffield to Liverpool, however the whole thing taught me to look at singles as I have been buying returns for years and undoubtedly paying more. HEAT for the post
Edited by: "Pusher" 11th Feb
Split ticketing can save huge amounts, but some of the prices aren't available more than 2/3 months in advance. I was recently looking at a £149 standard off peak return - split ticketing gave me the same journey for around £80, and that includes the percentage the split ticketing web site takes. So could have got it cheaper still if id have booked it all myself directly.
Kalidoscope11th Feb

Comment deleted


You joined to post this comment!?

This site seriously confuses me sometimes
Kalidoscope11th Feb

Comment deleted


Not true, trains are massively overpriced in the uk and the op is giving tips to get the prices lower.. I still think even the cheaper prices are overpriced so the heat is for helping people who have no choice but to use trains
Split tickets seem like a great idea. Until you meet the inevitable delay on the first train. Then the next stop has a service on a different route that isn't delayed, so you can't get compensation on that bit. Or you change your plans slightly and find that instead of getting on the next train, you need to wait an hour for one that stops at the right intermediate station.

Advance tickets are not always cheapest. I often see advance tickets for more money than a normal off peak ticket.
Add to that the slight problem that even 3 months ahead, GWR have no peak time advance tickets on some trains.

I find the best way to deal with train ticket prices is to bend over and use lubrication.
Thanks. Some useful info there
Cheaper to fly from Exeter to London than take the train on all but the most last minute trips.
rhysccfc3110 m ago

Not true, trains are massively overpriced in the uk and the op is giving …Not true, trains are massively overpriced in the uk and the op is giving tips to get the prices lower.. I still think even the cheaper prices are overpriced so the heat is for helping people who have no choice but to use trains


Totally agree, valuable post and credit to OP. Its shameful that we can fly to Europe and beyond cheaper than a 60 minute train journey. Theres something wrong, trains should be really efficient, other countries can do, so whats wrong with UK trains ! Thanks OP for effort to make them as cheap as possible.
Shame Megatrain is now only limited to East Midlands now, I used to remember buying £1 tickets from London to Portsmouth a few years ago. Was cheaper than driving down!
@reindeer333 Nice thread

Also if you have a gold card nationalrail.co.uk/tim…spx you can get 1/3 off various deals like

  • 1/3 off Off-Peak Day Travelcard Zones 1-6
  • 1/3 off Oyster Off-Peak pay as you go single fares and the pay as you go daily price cap

Participating companies

Transport for Wales; c2c; Chiltern Railways; CrossCountry; East Midlands Trains; Gatwick Express; Great Northern; Great Western Railway; Greater Anglia; Heathrow Express; Island Line; London Overground; South Western Railway; Southeastern; Southern; Thameslink; West Midlands Trains;

Also poss worth adding hotukdeals.com/dea…857
rhysccfc3127 m ago

Cheap + train can never go in the same sentence heat for the effort …Cheap + train can never go in the same sentence heat for the effort though


Taking a train can often be much cheaper than driving.

For example next week I'm making a 180 mile round trip for less than £9.
It's cheeper to fly to destinations in Europe than is to buy a train or coach ticket . Unbelievable rip off Britain. More people would use public transport than cars if the cost was so extremely high, last time I used train was 3 years ago.
Dealier2 m ago

Taking a train can often be much cheaper than driving.For example next …Taking a train can often be much cheaper than driving.For example next week I'm making a 180 mile round trip for less than £9.


Absolutely. I travel regularly from Liverpool to Birmingham by train, friends who drive and live a lot closer than me pay more especially when you factor overnight parking fees
Pusher30 m ago

Im soon to be travelling from Liverpool to Sheffield. A return ticket …Im soon to be travelling from Liverpool to Sheffield. A return ticket worked out around £50 bought in advance. Looking at the journey the train stops at Manchester so instead I bought singles from LP>MCR & MCR>SHEF. this saved me over £20. The return journey was actually cheaper to get a direct train from Sheffield to Liverpool, however the whole thing taught me to look at singles as I have been buying returns for years and undoubtedly paying more. HEAT for the post


So do you have to get off the train, then back on for each ticket?
goonertillidie17 m ago

@reindeer333 Nice thread Also if you have a gold card …@reindeer333 Nice thread Also if you have a gold card http://www.nationalrail.co.uk/times_fares/prc08c7ad3f74ac88236c9cef703a96b.aspx you can get 1/3 off various deals like 1/3 off Off-Peak Day Travelcard Zones 1-61/3 off Oyster Off-Peak pay as you go single fares and the pay as you go daily price cap Participating companies Transport for Wales; c2c; Chiltern Railways; CrossCountry; East Midlands Trains; Gatwick Express; Great Northern; Great Western Railway; Greater Anglia; Heathrow Express; Island Line; London Overground; South Western Railway; Southeastern; Southern; Thameslink; West Midlands Trains; Also poss worth adding https://www.hotukdeals.com/deals/virgin-trains-tenner-tickets-between-london-and-birmingham-on-mondays-11-feb-15-apr-2019-11am-1pm-after-8pm-3179857


Thanks will incorporate these offers too
Gollywood3 m ago

So do you have to get off the train, then back on for each ticket?


No.
You just have to be on the right train, and the train has to stop at the station where you change tickets.
Sometimes the train doesn't even have to stop there, with certain types of tickets - but the splitting websites won't tell you about those tickets.
Gollywood3 m ago

So do you have to get off the train, then back on for each ticket?


No your train just has to stop at each of the stations you have a ticket to/from
Gollywood7 m ago

So do you have to get off the train, then back on for each ticket?


I switch trains at Manchester, the difference from arrival and departure to Sheffield is 13 minutes which allows for a toilet break or slight delay, that and the walk between platforms. I'm happy to add 13 minutes to the journey to save around £20


I should add I didn't have to do this, it's possible to buy separate tickets for the same train as stated above but that didn't work out much cheaper at all.
Edited by: "Pusher" 11th Feb
reindeer3334 m ago

No your train just has to stop at each of the stations you have a ticket …No your train just has to stop at each of the stations you have a ticket to/from


So the ticket inspector won't give you any grief? I don't use train due to scamming extortionate costs. This splitting might work for me on the odd occasion I need to travel far
Edited by: "Gollywood" 11th Feb
Good post OP
Shame on the uk for letting our trains become the ripoff they are, poor service and value for your £ is an understatement They should be made to offer the lowest possible fair split ticket or not, if found for less by us then they should be made to double the difference on any overpriced ticket they sell us
Think they would then buck up, take notice and do the job we pay them for
Great post @reindeer333
Another deal to note when buying Railcards is to use your Tesco Clubcard points. It doubles up your credit, so you can get a £30 railcard for £15.
Sometimes the savings is even more too... well worth it
The best way I found to get cheap tickets is to work for the parent company of your local train operators
Gollywood17 m ago

So the ticket inspector won't give you any grief? I don't use train due to …So the ticket inspector won't give you any grief? I don't use train due to scamming extortionate costs. This splitting might work for me on the odd occasion I need to travel far


Well you have perfectly legal tickets for all parts of the journey, so they shouldn't.
Gollywood17 m ago

So the ticket inspector won't give you any grief? I don't use train due to …So the ticket inspector won't give you any grief? I don't use train due to scamming extortionate costs. This splitting might work for me on the odd occasion I need to travel far


No, splitting tickets is completely legal To be honest most of the time inspectors just glance at your ticket and that is if they are even inspected at all!
tommytbone18 m ago

Great post @reindeer333 Another deal to note when buying Railcards is to …Great post @reindeer333 Another deal to note when buying Railcards is to use your Tesco Clubcard points. It doubles up your credit, so you can get a £30 railcard for £15. Sometimes the savings is even more too... well worth it


Thanks. Will add this in with credit
tommytbone112 m ago

Great post @reindeer333 Another deal to note when buying Railcards is to …Great post @reindeer333 Another deal to note when buying Railcards is to use your Tesco Clubcard points. It doubles up your credit, so you can get a £30 railcard for £15. Sometimes the savings is even more too... well worth it


I just bought a Friends & Family Railcard using Clubcard £10 worth of points few days ago
Gollywood1 m ago

I just bought a Friends & Family Railcard using Clubcard £10 worth of …I just bought a Friends & Family Railcard using Clubcard £10 worth of points few days ago


Awesome, so 3x the points at the mo? Was double when I did it.
Heat for all Your work
"You should never actually book through sites such as splitticketing.com, they take both a share of the savings... "

Well this is questionable. Basically, use the service but deny them their revenue. If everyone was this much of a leech the sites wouldn't bother. Thankfully they aren't!
Kalidoscope11th Feb

Comment deleted


Bingo! "Heat for effort" is probably the least intelligent thing I've seen written here.
Splitticketing doesn't seem to recognise a journey I've split myself at least 20 times, so don't assume it is correct.
any deal Lancaster to oxford ???? any friday - sunday ?? thankyoux x x x
reindeer3331 h, 58 m ago

No, splitting tickets is completely legal To be honest most of the …No, splitting tickets is completely legal To be honest most of the time inspectors just glance at your ticket and that is if they are even inspected at all!



No need to inspect tickets because tfl inspectors carry handheld scanners, so they just scan your oyster/contactless cards.
- Unless you're carrying a paper ticket, which would cost more money.
Edited by: "johnsmith1997" 11th Feb
reindeer3332 h, 30 m ago

there are plenty of one way tickets available between London and Sheffield …there are plenty of one way tickets available between London and Sheffield for £5.


The cheapest I can find is £7, and there aren't many of those.

Were you looking at the coach prices instead?
The website shows results for the coach and train on the same page unless you set a filter. There are a lot more coach tickets available than train tickets.
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