/ Money, Travel & Leisure

All I want for Christmas is a cheap train ticket

Train in snow

Until now I’ve been banned from using the ‘C’ word on Which? Convo. But now that it’s late November, I’m afraid we all need to start thinking about Christmas travel…

It’s less than six weeks until the big day, so you’ll need to start thinking about advance train tickets for the festive period.

If you haven’t got your hands on the cheapest tickets already, you might have to be a bit savvy to bag a discount. That’s why we’ve updated our Top 10 tips for finding cheap train tickets guide.

How to find cheap train tickets

The Trainline recently compared the price of the 10 most popular advance single tickets bought at Christmas. These were tickets from London to Manchester, Birmingham, Liverpool, Norwich, Leeds and the equivalent return journeys.

It was discovered that they were £45 cheaper on average than buying tickets at the station on the day of travel – a fairly decent festive saving.

Using the likes of The Trainline, Quno, Red Spotted Hanky and the rest to hunt down advance tickets is a good start, but our other money-saving tips are worth exploring too.

For example, I was about to shell out £54 for a single to Manchester Piccadilly, before I found a journey for £1 on Megatrain.com. Split ticketing is another phenomenon which can save you a bundle. We’ve listed the best split-ticketing savings we could find online too.

Stress-free Christmas journeys

I’d recommend getting an advance train ticket home, if only to guarantee yourself a seat.

The stats gathered by The Trainline suggested that December 20 and December 27 will be the busiest days to ride the rails, so avoiding those dates would also be a good idea, if you can.

How are you getting home for Christmas? Have you snagged yourself a bargain on your train tickets? Have we left any brilliant money-saving tips out of our top ten?


I wish I could take the train to go “home” for Christmas, but I have to take the plane. My tip to save money is to buy your tickets in August if you can. From then on the prices go up and up and up until they become extortionate.

If you leave it late to book so maybe miss the limited, available advance fares, it’s definitely still worth checking for splits. You can get some big savings off walk on fares by split ticketing. And remember you won’t be offered split savings on train operator sites or The Trainline.

That’s right Mike, but for journeys home, which are probably regular events, once you know where the split points are you can buy tickets for each section separately from your local train operator and possibly avoid credit card transaction fees.

Joe – You say “It was discovered that they were £45 cheaper on average than buying tickets at the station”. I think you need to add “on the day of travel”. It remains possible to buy advance travel tickets at any railway station – it does not have to be done on-line and sometimes, if you buy from the train operating company that sets the price for the journey, there can be even better deals.

I would also recommend people to register with their own local train operating company to receive advance notice by e-mail of special deals, particularly for family or group trips and some last minute opportunities.

My local operator, Abellio Greater Anglia, makes no charge for buying tickets from their website with a credit card [which some agents do] and provides a very efficient service, including for some journeys the ability to print off your own tickets. I was able to get advance tickets for our pre-Christmas visit to London in mid-December from Norwich to London and back three days later for £18.50 each in total – and that’s first class; it was so cheap I decided we should spoil ourselves. It does mean specific trains and seats but that’s acceptable and the seat reservation can be useful if there is any service disruption and a previous train is cancelled.

I forgot to mention that the price I quoted was at the rate for use of a railcard; the price without a railcard would have been half as much again [about £28 – still good value].