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Tricks for Buying Cheap Train Tickets

Travelling by rail is often faster, less stressful and more relaxing than driving, particularly when taking very long journeys across the country. However, train tickets don’t often come cheap, and you can easily find yourself paying hundreds of pounds for a standard ticket. These 3 simple tips for buying cheap train tickets might just help you make some impressive savings.

Buy in advance
Although some trips are unavoidably last minute, if you’re planning a trip in advance you should book your train tickets as soon as possible to get the cheapest rates. You can usually book trains up to 12 weeks in advance of your travel date, and the earlier you book, the more likely you are to find cheap train tickets. Booking in advance also often comes with the advantage of seat reservations, which is a massive bonus on long journeys or busy lines where seating may not be guaranteed.

Even if you do make a last minute train journey, you could still book an ‘advance’ ticket online the night before you travel, or sometimes even the same day, and it will be cheaper than buying your ticket at the station or on board the train. It’s always worth checking to see if advance tickets are available, no matter how soon you need to board the train.

Travel off-peak
Travelling during peak times – usually from 8am to 10am and then from 4pm to 6pm – tends to be more expensive since that is when everyone needs to be on the train to get to and from work. Many train companies will offer cheaper off-peak tickets to encourage those with more flexible schedules to take the train at quieter times in order to alleviate the rush hour crush.

Providing that it works with your schedule, off-peak train tickets can save you a lot of money, but make sure to read all the small print so you know exactly when you can travel. Official peak times may vary between stations or rail services. If you inadvertently travel during peak times with on off-peak ticket, you could be fined to the amount of a full peak time ticket.

Split your tickets
The little known technique of splitting tickets can save you a significant amount of money for long train journeys. Look into the route your chosen service will take; does it stop at any other stations along the way? If it does, buying several tickets for each leg of the journey could be cheaper than a single ticket which takes you from A to B, even though you’ll be taking the exact same service.
For example, if you’re travelling from London to Edinburgh on a train which makes a stop in York, it may be cheaper to purchase a ticket from London to York, and another from York to Edinburgh, than it is to buy just one ticket from London to Edinburgh. Spend a little extra time investigating this when booking and it could pay off in massive savings.

Get a Railcard or season pass
Buying a Railcard you can save usually 1/3 up to 60% off the price for the ticket. There are even greater discounts, so the annual price of £30 will be paid itself after 2-3 trips by train. If you're planning to go the same trip several times for more than a week or for a month, it is a good idea to buy a seasonal pass.

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