/ Money, Travel & Leisure

Saving money on train tickets – what do you do?

Train ticket in pocket

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?

Comments
Guest
Mike from Raileasy says:
16 February 2015

On Trainsplit we are finding that 42.5% of searches are finding a split ticketing saving. The average saving across advance and walk on fares is around 23%.

Guest
Maria says:
18 February 2015

I looked up the fare from Banbury to Bath Spa a few week’s ago and was astonished to find that the cost was £72.00 return. When I pulled up a map of the network, I discovered that this route went from Banbury to Reading, change at Reading to Bath Spa BUT I would travel through Didcot Parkway and back again. Nonsense! So I split the fare and bought return tickets from Banbury to Didcot and Didcot to Bath and I saved £45.50 on the cost of a return ticket – quite a substantial saving. I’m happy to say that all the trains ran to time on the day in question and I got to my medical appointment in Bath on time. I also managed to sit in my reserved seats and I found the FGW staff to be excellent. Shame about the confusing pricing, though.

Guest
Mike from Raileasy says:
18 February 2015

The Code of Practice the ORR are due to issue next month is supposed to be putting an end to the “inconsistencies” in prices depending on where you buy your tickets. It will be interesting to see if it can clarify the “confusing pricing” you mention.

Guest

I book in advance online and use a Senior Railcard. I’m not a frequent user. The journey I make most frequently takes an hour and there is no alternative route.

Guest

I use a two-together railcard for long journeys and try to buy in advance.
For shorter trips out of London I use my TfL Travelcard to cover the part of journey covered by it.

Guest

You can check all possible fares here
http://www.brfares.com

whether they’re available or not is a different matter, but at least you know what you are aiming for.

Guest

People who are hearing impaired and got a battery booklet from the NHS can apply for disabled persons railcard. This railcard works also during peak hours.

Guest
Thomas says:
18 February 2015

Another really important tip is to buy direct. All the train companies, as well as third-party sites, sell precisely the same range of tickets at the same prices, but by buying direct from one of the train companies you’ll be using, you can benefit from no booking fee and occasionally a small discount. Never, ever use third party sites such as thetrainline.

Guest
Mike from Raileasy says:
18 February 2015

You won’t find split ticketing savings on train companies’ sites.