How to get cheaper rail travel

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 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, 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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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)…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!…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.
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