Hints and tips for finding cheap train tickets.
- Book in early – Advance tickets are the cheapest train tickets. The earlier you book the greater the saving, up to 80%. If you see a deal, then grab it now!
- Be flexible – Avoid the busy peak travel times 0630 – 0930 and 1530 – 1830
- Get Single – 2 singles can be better value than 1 return journey
- Split your journey up – Instead of booking one ticket for your journey, try splitting the journey into differant stages with a ticket for each stage.
1. Book early
Book up to 12 weeks in advance for great savings.
For some journeys, where the train companies estimate demand will be low, they release a limited number of tickets 12 weeks before the date of travel at a significant discount. So just like booking flights, it pays to get in the habit of booking your train travel well ahead.
The earlier you book the better your chance of getting a discounted ticket. Our Best Fare Finder allows you to search and see whether they’re available for your journey. If you can be flexible have a look at several dates; they don’t sell out in order.
Advance discounted tickets are only available as single (one-way) tickets, so if you need to book a return journey, book two singles. The tickets are specific to the date and train they are booked for and can only be bought online. Although they are non-refundable you can amend the date and time up to 18.00 on the day before departure (booking fee may apply).
Put your journey into the Best Fare Finder widget to see how much you could save and if you find tickets at silly cheap prices BUY THEM before someone else does.
Note: If you need to make your journey soon, don’t panic. You can sometimes get advance rates up to midnight on the night before travel. Worth checking.
2. Avoid the commuters
Try to avoid travelling between 0630 -0930 and 1530 – 1830, which is the peak of commuting. Instead, try to travel Off Peak as these tickets are much cheaper than flexible Anytime tickets.
Use our Best Fare Finder widget to see what difference this makes to the cost of your journey. You may find early booking Advance tickets (limited number released 12 weeks before date of travel as explained above) or Super Off-Peak tickets (available later in the day) are available and offer even better rates that standard Off Peak.
3. You might be better off single
Sometimes two singles are cheaper than a return.
Check the theory for your journey by using our Best Fare Finder widget.
4. Split your journey up
Instead of booking one ticket for your journey, try splitting the journey into differant stages with a ticket for each stage. Crazy though it may seem, you can often achieve great savings by doing this.
A few things to note before using our Best Fare Finder widget to see whether this wheeze applies for your route:
1. The train must stop at all the stations you are breaking your journey at (you don’t have to get off but it must be possible to do so).
2. If you split your ticketing at stations where you are changing trains, be aware that if your first train service is delayed and you have a time-specific ticket for your second and miss it, you may need to pay extra to catch a later train.
3. Split ticketing savings can be made on singles and returns
4. If you are making a long journey and the first part of your journey is in peak time, try making the journey split after the rush hour (i.e. minimise the expensive part of the journey).
To find the best deals, you’ll need to work out where your train stops and spend some time on our Best Fare Finder widget . Get to it!
Here’s how you might split tickets for a journey from xxx to Plymouth:
Put this journey into the Best Fare Finder. Make a note of the cheapest ticket option (taking into account all previous tips).
Click on the ‘i’ icon at the bottom of the results (see image above), and then click on Calling Points which will show you all the stations the train stops at, for example Derby. Now play around with the options for splitting your journey, e.g. xxx – Derby + Derby – Plymouth, to see whether you can get a better deal.
If you’re crossing London with a shorter journey at one end (i.e. within the Travelcard Zones) it is definitely worth considering ticket plus Travelcard versus one ticket for the whole journey.
5. Get a Railcard
Finally, see if you are eligible for a railcard– it’s definitely worth checking out the savings you would make by using one.