Train ticket prices went up again in January 2015. Season ticket holders are now paying 2.5% more than last year, with other tickets rising on average by 2.2%. But there are ways to save money on train tickets…
We don’t always have to pay the most obvious and widely available price to travel by train. Because of the way the train fares system has developed since the early 80s, there are plenty of ways for passengers to save money buying train tickets.
What do you do to save money when you travel by train? Have you found any legitimate loopholes or short-cuts to reduce the cost of your journey?
Top train ticket saving tips
Here are my top five train ticket money savers:
Buy advance tickets – If you know when you’re travelling and are happy to book months early, advance tickets will usually be the cheapest way of travelling. An off-peak single from London to Edinburgh is £66, but you can cut this to £24 by buying an advance ticket. They go on sale 12 weeks before the date of travel, prices rise based on demand and you have to travel on the train you’re booked on.
Try ticket-splitting – This is where you buy two or more tickets for your journey, splitting them at a mid-point where your train stops. Entirely legitimate anomalies in the ticket pricing system mean that on some routes you’ll find that buying more than one ticket is the cheapest way to travel. For example, if you’re travelling from Reading to Birmingham, try splitting your ticket at Banbury and Leamington Spa. If you do, the price of a walk-up ticket drops from £53.30 to £29.90. And you’ll be on the same train all the way.
Buy a railcard – I travel long distance two or three times a year with my partner and we carry the two-together railcard. It costs £30 a year and cuts the price of off-peak tickets by a third for the two people registered for the card and travelling together. On a recent return trip from Preston to Milton Keynes, the railcard paid for itself, cutting the cost of our off-peak tickets from £145.20 to £95.80. We didn’t know when we’d be coming back and chose not to go for cheaper advance tickets.
Go the long way – A London to Southampton anytime ticket is £40.10 travelling from Waterloo on South West Trains. But if you go from Victoria on Southern, it takes about an hour longer, but an anytime ticket is just £29.70.
Remember GroupSave – If a whole bunch of you are travelling together off-peak, ask for a GroupSave reduction. This can offer a third-off for groups of three to nine, but you can’t then have a railcard reduction on top of this.
Delayed train refunds – Finally, if your train has been delayed, make sure to apply for a refund. Three in 10 passengers told us they were delayed the last time they travelled. Yet, three quarters of those held up for more than an hour said they weren’t told that this meant they qualified for a full refund.
Do you use any of the above tactics? Is there an astonishingly good money-saving split available on your line? Do you travel via somewhere odd to legitimately cut the cost of tickets?