15 ways to save money when travelling by train

15 ways to save money when travelling by train

Train prices can make your eyes water but these tips will save you a few quid (at the very least) but hopefully loads more.

Railcards

You can often get discounts codes on top, to save between 10-50% on the cards. These cards then give you 1/3 off train travel for 1-3 years, here are your options:

You might be able to save extra on these buy buying them via the Tesco Clubcard website, TrainLine app or via the VoucherCodes website.

Ticket Splitting

A crazy idea at first but a genius one after you’ve realised how simple and amazing it is. An example, lets say you’re travelling from Manchester to London it can be cheaper to buy a ticket from Manchester to Crewe, together with a ticket from Crewe to London.

Why? We hear you ask:

  • Your journey from Manchester to Crewe could be at a peak time (e.g. 8.55am departure). But once the train arrives at Crewe (9.35am) it’s now off-peak. If ANY part of your travel is during peak time the WHOLE journey will be classed as a peak ticket. So the second ticket from Crewe to London at 9.45am departure is now off-peak so you pay this lower rate for the rest of your travel.
  • Because less people will be travelling from Crewe to London the ticket prices could be lower.

wales-trip

Book well in advance (12+ weeks before travelling is ideal)

You should all be well aware that buying a train ticket early will give you a good price but the optimal date is around 12 weeks prior to travelling,

Train operators / National Rail legally have to have their schedules live 12 weeks before and train operators normally release their advanced tickets at the same time (or not long after), however, some will go as early as 24 weeks prior (with the caveat the time may change slightly).

Unlike some flights you WILL NOT get cheaper train tickets on the day or just before.

Remember EVEN if it’s the day before you travel you will probably save money by buying online the night before (last tickets are normally at 6pm), in fact you might even save if you book 10 minutes before vs buying at the station so be sure to double check on your way to the station.

Remember, advanced tickets are normally non refundable so if your plans are subject to change you may want to consider that (or get some travel insurance).

train2

Train ever arrive late? Time for a refund!

You’re entitled to a partial refund if your train was delayed due to a fault from the train operator (minimum they HAVE TO offer is 20% refund per hour of delay).
To claim keep your train tickets, find a form in the station or search the train operators website (you have 28 days to claim).

You’re NOT entitled to a refund if the delay was due to something out of the train operators control, e.g. the weather, strikes, maintenance on the tracks etc.

damaged-track

Sign up to alerts

Some websites (National Rail & TheTrainline) will alert you once it’s possible to buy tickets.

travel-often

Group travel is often cheaper (roughly saving 20%)

If you and some mates are all going in the same direction then ask about a group ticket. Generally not cheaper than using student cards but a good alternative if you don’t have one.

group

Watch out for peak times as prices can skyrocket!

Another great reason to use split ticketing, lets imagine you’re taking a long trip across the country, if it just so happens to include some peak travel time your whole journey will be classed as a peak trip.

So just in case you didn’t know Off-Peak fares are cheaper tickets for travelling on trains that are less busy (generally between 10am and 4pm, then after 7pm until 6am, each train operator & route will have their own times however generally these are the times:

Off-Peak:

  • (Mon-Fri) Not valid for arrival into London before 11:30am
  • (Mon-Fri) Not valid for leaving London before 9:30am and between 3pm and 6:45pm
  • Valid on all trains at weekends and on public holidays

Super Off-Peak:

  • (Mon-Fri) Not valid for arrival into London before 1pm and between 3pm and 8:30pm
  • (Mon-Fri) Not valid for leaving London before 11am and between 1:30pm and 8:15pm
  • (Weekend) Not valid for arrival into London before 12pm and between 5:45pm and 8pm
  • (Weekend) Not valid for leaving London before 10:30am and between 4:30pm and 6:30pm

people-trains

Buying two singles often is cheaper than a return

Cheapest advanced tickets are often singles, so by buying two singles you can save a ton

train-conductor

Sit in first class on the cheap

Often trains with a first-class carriage will have a dining area, these first-class dining cars often will allow anyone to sit in them if you’re ordering food. You will pay more for your food but you will have the ‘luxury’ of sitting in effectively first class. You may however be kicked out after you finish your meal but if the train isn’t super busy you will most likely be fine to stay.

OK, so it's not going to be the Hogwarts Express but dining in style

OK, so it’s not going to be the Hogwarts Express but dining in style on the cheap isn’t bad

Avoid travelling

More valid for business commuters but if possible do you really have to travel? Can you not setup a conference call or video chat?

go-to-meeting

Book on the cheapest websites

Quick rule of thumb… any company that advertises on the TV charges you high rates to book but here are the places.

Watch out for card fees,

 

 FeeDeliveryRatingNotes
LNER£0 feesFree to collect, £1 if no collection machine, otherwise £6.40 special deliveryNo fees on all trains, basically the best of the bunch so use these for 99.9% of the time.
East Midlands Railways£0 Booking FeesFree to collect, £6 special deliveryNo fees. Does sell other train operators tickets but not all locations covered.
RedSpottedHanky£0 booking fees.Free to collect, £1 if no collection machine, otherwise £10 special deliveryYou can use Tesco Clubcard Vouchers to double up their value
TrainLine£0.25-£1.50 per ticket
+ 2% credit card
Free to collect or use the ticket option, £2.50 Postage or £7.50 special delivery.Their tools like the ‘best fare finder‘ are useful however generally you’re better off buying elsewhere
RailEasy£2.50 per booking
+ 4.5% credit card
Free to collect, £1.50 postage or £7.50 special deliveryDue to the fees there are better places to buy
National RailN/A / £0N/AN/AThey don’t sell tickets but they do list fares and they do link through to train operator websites (most don’t charge fees)

Don’t use trains at all – use car-sharing schemes etc

Websites like BlaBlaCar are ready to split car trips, you pay the driver a fixed rate and they get part of their fuel paid by you. Everyone’s a winner.

carsharing

Travel often? Season ticket time

If you and some mates are all going in the same direction then ask about a group ticket. Generally not cheaper than using student cards but a good alternative if you don’t have one.

train-tickets

clubcardGot any Tesco Clubcard vouchers?

You can sometimes spend them to buy train vouchers from sites like RedSpottedHanky or get discounted railcards and you can even spend them on railcards

 

Look out for £1 deals

Sites like MegaTrain (same owners of MegaBus) often do special promotions to drum up business.

 

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