How to get cheaper rail travel

9
Found 22nd Dec 2017
There are many ways to get cheaper rail tickets. Here I shall list some common methods, a lot of them can be combined to get cheap tickets.

1) Use a Railcard / Groupsave
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.

  • 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
  • Groupsave can be used in some cases, particularly if you have a large group. This tends to knock around 1/3 of the price, and is useful if no-one in the group has railcards.

2) Split ticketing
Still underused in many cases, split ticketing can often save a small fortune, for example the total ticket price for an Adult and Child return from Weymouth to Hereford can be cut by around 25%. Similar, and even greater discounts can be found elsewhere. Sites such as trainsplit.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 trainsplit.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 and book through other rail operator sites, the best ones are listed in section 3.
  • 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.

3) 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 categorically does not and should not be paid. Instead, use any of the rail operator websites, which do not charge booking fees (although Cross Country charges £1 to collect tickets from a ticket machine). 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. GWR also offers free 1st class postage on most tickets too, so you don't have to worry about collecting them at the station if you lose the reference code, or your phone dies etc...

4) Where possible, buy advanced tickets!
If you know when you're travelling, buy tickets as far ahead as possible. Tickets can be purchased up to 12 weeks beforehand. Massive savings can be found e.g London Paddington to Penzance for £12 instead of £57. It should be noted that not all operators and lines have advance tickets, and the discounts do vary substantially.


5) Consider other, potentially slower, other routes
Good savings can be made if you do not go the fastest possible way. Examples of this include Southampton Central to London Victoria for just £3.30 (with a railcard) rather than going to Waterloo. You can often find these cheaper routes by selecting "other routes" on most rail operators websites.

6) Book two singles instead of a return (only works in some cases)
It is worth checking to see if two singles work out cheaper compared to a return. This is not normally the case, but if you are booking advanced tickets, this can sometimes work out cheaper.
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9 Comments
Very useful thank you
Never sites like trainspit not much cop in the past always end up working it out myself

You can still use your clubcard vouchers to buy Railcards/tickets at Redspottedhanky(don't forget the redeem your points before the end of the year)

secure.tesco.com/clu…cat
the problem these days of course is earning the points
good thanks for this
Thanks OP, but afraid I beat you to it just over a year ago! hotukdeals.com/dea…468
Also its worth ticking the First Class box when your searching for tickets as well as cattle class on East Coast Line as occasionally first class is cheaper than standard.
To resurrect an aging thread ... does anyone know, if a groupsave is bought through GWR/SWR for 3 people, do we get 1 ticket or 3? This may appear to not make much difference, but it does if you want a refund and are charged an admin fee per ticket!
Good points. OP!

My tupenny worth on why-o-why we have to do this:-

The millions of different rail fares is one of hundreds of bureaucrat administrative schemes which came into operation since 1990s, together these schemes sharply decrease the productivity of people in the country. It is mega mountain of effort to do sweet FA and produce F all for the wealth and well-being (except for those paid to operate this scheme).

1. You have an army of paper pushers with calculators (excel) pricers, budgetting and financial analysts, mathematicians devising and adminstering the millions of prices. ***** 55 million different types of fares ******

2. Then you have an army of people managing and fixing issues with the complexity of 55 million fares.

3. Then you have hundreds of millions of passenger journeys where the passengers spend minutes to hours on each journey unravelling or searching for the best fare, best route, splitting ticketing, best days, one of the ideas from OP's post. Like that the other day I had to work out best method to get to Stansted. The billions of hours wasted in productivity because the fare was not cheap, easy to understand and simple to manage, when people could have made some stuff useful, like a sandwich to eat.

Essentially we have put in an even bigger bureaucracy to produce nothing for the country, so called booming services industry, servicing a scheme for 55 million fares for nothing or not much.
Edited by: "splender" 31st May
gwapenut1 h, 29 m ago

To resurrect an aging thread ... does anyone know, if a groupsave is …To resurrect an aging thread ... does anyone know, if a groupsave is bought through GWR/SWR for 3 people, do we get 1 ticket or 3? This may appear to not make much difference, but it does if you want a refund and are charged an admin fee per ticket!


The last time I bought a 3 person groupsave, it was on a single ticket. However, that was on EMT.
Eden003222nd Dec 2017

Thanks OP, but afraid I beat you to it just over a year ago! …Thanks OP, but afraid I beat you to it just over a year ago! https://www.hotukdeals.com/deals/megathread-top-tips-to-save-money-on-train-tickets-2541468



That was and still is a great thread, I remember this too.
splender31st May

Good points. OP!My tupenny worth on why-o-why we have to do this:-The …Good points. OP!My tupenny worth on why-o-why we have to do this:-The millions of different rail fares is one of hundreds of bureaucrat administrative schemes which came into operation since 1990s, together these schemes sharply decrease the productivity of people in the country. It is mega mountain of effort to do sweet FA and produce F all for the wealth and well-being (except for those paid to operate this scheme).1. You have an army of paper pushers with calculators (excel) pricers, budgetting and financial analysts, mathematicians devising and adminstering the millions of prices. ***** 55 million different types of fares ******2. Then you have an army of people managing and fixing issues with the complexity of 55 million fares.3. Then you have hundreds of millions of passenger journeys where the passengers spend minutes to hours on each journey unravelling or searching for the best fare, best route, splitting ticketing, best days, one of the ideas from OP's post. Like that the other day I had to work out best method to get to Stansted. The billions of hours wasted in productivity because the fare was not cheap, easy to understand and simple to manage, when people could have made some stuff useful, like a sandwich to eat.Essentially we have put in an even bigger bureaucracy to produce nothing for the country, so called booming services industry, servicing a scheme for 55 million fares for nothing or not much.


Don't disagree with any of that however.....

I can see any reform of the system almost inevitably removing seriously discounted tickets.

and don't forget the whole selling of places/tickets in the travel/transport industry is very much getting a round peg in a square hole.
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