Train tickets are so expensive these days that many people are put off travelling by rail. However, it’s still a popular method of transport, especially for long distances where driving can just seem far too much of a chore.
Fortunately there are ways to lower the cost of your train travel. Try using some of the hints and tips below.
Use the internet rather than the station platform
If you know you need to make a journey by train within the next week, it’s unlikely you are going to find any incredibly cheap advance bargains. However, it’s always worth looking online and purchasing your tickets there, rather than turning up on the day. You are still likely to make some sort of savings by buying a ticket off the train operator’s website, or by using a site which pulls together the cheapest fares for the journey you are trying to make.
If buying at the station use the desk, not machine
If you really have to buy at the station, maybe because you need to make the journey last minute, then always go to the desk (if it is open) to purchase your ticket, rather than go to the machine. By talking to a person you are far more likely to be able to find out what the very best fare that day is and have all of your options explained to you. Machines are often unclear about what would be the best ticket for your situation and can cost you more than you actually need to spend.
Try to book well in advance
The very best fares can be found around 3 months in advance, though there can still be some great bargains two weeks to a month before the journey departs. For long journeys such as London to Manchester or London to Edinburgh you can find some fantastic deals in your buy train tickets in advance, with some off-peak fares only costing around £10. You obviously need to be pretty flexible with what time you can travel to get this kind of price however.
Use set-time trains rather than open tickets
In addition to the above point, purchasing an Advance fare ticket will usually mean that you will be subject to travelling on a particular train at an exact time as mentioned on your ticket. This is where you will need to be pretty flexible to ensure that you are going to get the best price for the trip you need to make. You must be able to travel on the exact train that you have bought a ticket for, otherwise it becomes invalid and you may become liable for the full, on-the-day fare cost.
Another method which has been covered in the media fairly recently is split ticketing. This is where you buy two tickets for your journey instead of one. So, for example, instead of buying a ticket from London to Edinburgh, you could buy one from London to Leeds, and then another from Leeds to Edinburgh. As they are on the same line, you wouldn’t need to get off the train, or even move from your seat! It’s well worth playing around with this if you need to buy your ticket at short notice.