Travelling by train can be an exciting and fun way to travel. When travelling with kids it’s really quite an adventure! However, the ticketing system in Britain isn’t always fair and you could end up paying far more than you need to. In this blog post, I will share some of the ways you can get very cheap train tickets.
How do I get cheap train tickets in the UK?
Get a Railcard
There are lots of different options when choosing a Railcard and they give 1/3 off rail fares. At the time of writing the disabled Railcard is £20 per year and all others are £30 per year. If you travel by train regularly or you’re making a long journey by train then you’ll no doubt make the cost of the Railcard back.
The current annual Railcards on offer are:
- 16-25 Railcard
- Senior Railcard
- Two Together Railcard
- Disabled Railcard
- 26-30 Railcard
- Family and Friends Railcard
- Network Railcard
They also have a 16-17 Railcard coming soon which will offer 50% off rail fares.
Some of the Railcards have three-year options so you can save even more to get even cheaper train tickets.
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Book advance tickets
Rail operators usually release tickets 12 weeks in advance and the sooner you book, the cheaper the tickets usually are. This means it can be much cheaper to book train tickets online in advance if you know the dates you will be travelling.
Many train operators also release tickets specifically called ‘Advance Tickets’. These tickets are the lowest fare available, but you will have to commit to travelling at a certain time on a certain train. Advance tickets usually aren’t refundable so make sure you check the terms of the tickets and only book this type of ticket if you’re sure you can travel.
Use a split tickets site
Split ticketing is a great hack that can often save a small fortune on rail fares. Instead of buying a single ticket for your journey from the start destination to the final destination, you split the tickets and buy multiple train tickets. Although it sounds bizarre, it can sometimes work out much cheaper.
It sounds complicated, but you simply need to use a split tickets site to find the fares for you. Simply enter your travel information into the website as you would on a regular train fare site and they’ll show you the best split tickets for your journey.
“If you were planning to travel from Birmingham International to Winchester, for instance, you could save money by buying two tickets: one from Birmingham to Banbury, and then another from Banbury to Winchester. In this case, you could cut the cost of your journey without even needing to leave your seat!” (source – traintickets.com)
Avoid booking fees
There are so many sites that sell train tickets and many of them will charge a processing or booking fee. Make sure you choose a site that doesn’t charge these extra fees to ensure you aren’t paying more than you need to.
Buy two single tickets
Always check the price of a single ticket, even if you need a return. Sometimes it can actually be cheaper to book two single tickets than choosing a return ticket, however illogical that might seem!
Though some train companies like the St Erth to St Ives train offer a fair pricing system with £3 for a single and £4 for a return.
By using traintickets.com to find your tickets they will show you the best fare possible for your journey including searching for split ticketing and single tickets and they won’t charge you any booking or processing fees. You can also use your Railcard so you can be sure you’re getting the cheapest train tickets for your journey.