UPDATED APRIL 2020
Our team of travel research specialists have created an independent guide to help consumers find cheaper train tickets, packed full of useful rail related information and resourceful links to help you find a bargain rail fare, with our guide you could save on average 83% of your normal rail fare.
With the worrying UK economy and mountain national debts, finding a cheaper train ticket is essential for cutting travel costs and saving money.
Below we have explained the hidden methods on how to find the cheapest fare possible for your journey, using several different techniques which you can try on your existing train route’s, whether its your journey to work or a weekend away you will find at least one method which works best for your travel requirements.
It’s now time to find a low-cost train ticket for your next journey! Let’s begin…
Tip 1 – Buying your train ticket from the customer service ticket desk
When purchasing a train ticket from the station, don’t assume that the clerk is finding you the cheapest train fare, a recent study has shown that the clerks will not tell you the cheapest fare available for the route if you don’t simply ask, many options exist for the same route so it makes sense to ask for the cheapest.
If you asked the clerk ” Can I have a Return ticket to London” you haven’t actually asked for the cheapest price, so why would the clerk give you the cheaper option? they make more money giving you the higher ticket fare right? it’s simple, they wont if you don’t ask, after all it’s making the train company extra money if they sell more high priced tickets.
Please note this situation does not always happen when purchasing train tickets, reputable and responsible companies will always let you know the cheapest fare.
Tip 2 – Book your tickets before everyone else, beat the last minute stampede
Why not beat the ticket rush? The train fare prices work similar to the airfare ticket prices, if you got wind of a special offer, lets say a… “cheap flight to Dublin for £1.99”, its a bargain right? and you might find yourself wanting to book A.S.A.P? Well the general rule is to book your train tickets early to benefit from the opening prices before the seats are taken and the prices are hyped for the more popular routes.
Tip 3 – Whens the right time to purchase your train ticket?
If you can plan your railway journey in advance, then why not book your ticket as soon as possible to ensure you get a bargain. The right time to buy your train ticket in order to get a cheaper price is around 10-12 weeks in advance of travel. Why is this? well contractually Network Rail must have the timetable set 12 weeks in advance of travel, so you can book around 12 weeks before and benefit from the opening prices. Please be aware that tip 3 is based on ‘long distance rail fares.
Tip 4 – Train ticket alerts
Many train companies have an alert system that will email you the moment a cheap tickets becomes available for a selected route. One of the firms offering this in the Train Line, they’ll notify you the moment any cheap advance tickets for any specific journey or city become available.
You can sign up and set the required travel locations and have it emailed to you right away.
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Tip – 5 Booking your train tickets last minute?
If you can’t book your train tickets in advance, you could also bag yourself a cheap fare by booking online the night before. Still thousands of seats are left empty and discounted prices are still available so make sure you check online before traveling if you didn’t manage to book in advance, you can also have the added benefit of walking straight onto the train with your printed ticket if you do find a bargain before hand.
Network Rail Special Offers
The National Rail has a nice a-z list of special offers and discounts on train train, these a from the majority of uk trains so take a look you might find something that interests you.
National Rail Season Tickets
If you are traveling the same route more than 3 times a week, like most people traveling to work, buying a season ticket can be very beneficial.
Tip – 6 Fancy a £1 train ride with Mega Trains?
Mega trains offer extremely cheap train tickets, just £1!!! and they offer cheap travel to some of the UK’s most popular destinations. You could travel to Bath, Manchester, London, Salisbury and many more big UK cities for as little as £1 plus a 50p booking fee – well we can officially say its less than the London tube. Also check out Megabus UK here if you are a frequent users of inner bus transport.
So whats the cheapest way to travel by train in a nutshell?
Their isn’t one method which always provides the cheapest train ticket! BUT so called train ticket comparison services such as The Train Line, MyTrainTicket, Red Spotted Hanky and many more just compare the same tickets from multiple OPERATORS. In SOME cases they may be able to find cheaper fares when offers and discounts are some times present.
Please note that SOME train ticket comparison websites charge excessive booking fee’s and it may cost you more than it normally would booking direct with the operator. We recommend using these websites to find the cheapest ticket then finding out the operator and booking direct with them through there own website.
Although it’s worth considering that TheTrainLine charge a £4.50 booking fee, which you could avoid by going direct and booking with the rail company, but you may not have the time to do this or be able to find the same discount if your not familiar with the proper train companies websites.
You can check Jonathan Rowles post on TheTrainLines booking fee.
Do you know about split ticketing?
Instead of buying a direct ticket which would normally be a single or return, you can buy several tickets to the stops along the main route, this is called split ticketing with train tickets, this method can save you lots and lots of cash. Checkout the link above to the guide.
How a Rail Card can save you lot’s of money!
Yes! It’s a myth, Rail Cards are not only available for students but pensioners and disabled persons, or anyone in fact can invest and make massive savings on train tickets. In total theirs five different rail cards 16-25 railcard, Family & Friends railcard, Senior railcard, Disabled Persons railcard and the Network railcard, each saves you a 1/3 of rail fares in Britain, each Railcard is around £25-£26 and £18 for disabled persons. You can cover the cost of a rail card with buying just one ticket and receiving the 1/3 discount.
Recommended travel related resources
Are you a frequent traveler on the London Rail? checkout the easy to read map with all the stops and info. London Overground network map (PDF 0.15MB)
Save money with train delays
Train operators don’t and won’t advertise the fact that passengers are entitled to reclaim some of their fare back or even a full refund if their train is delayed by more than a certain amount of time, this varies depending on the operator so please check the traveling terms. If you are a regular train user, please sign up with Train Delays, they will email you the details of the train and all the information you will need to make a claim. You can on average get back up to 20% of a season ticket. As a London Tube user you can also reclaim for delays (of over 15 minutes). Contact http://www.tfl.gov.uk
You can also check our RailRepay who have developed two apps for helping people claim back money on their delays: https://www.railrepay.com/
Checkout Rail dot co dot uk for lots of useful information, such as train companies. Find out the official train times with National Rail The Association of Train Operating Companies represents and supports Britain’s passenger railway Have you got a complaint about the rail or you are unhappy about something you can contact the passenger focus which is the watchdog for the sector. The Office of Rail Regulation is the independent safety and economic regulator for Britain’s railways
Interested in rail jobs? please visit the railwaypeople to fast track your career in rail.
Tip – 7 Making the most of train ticket comparison websites
Find the cheapest train ticket for your required journey isn’t always that simple, the internet is flooded with websites all claiming to find you cheap train tickets or the best service. We have done all the leg work for you and found the top train ticket fare comparison websites that are simply the best.
Not only does mytrainticket making finding cheap train tickets super simple they also offer airmiles for every booking you make, which no other train ticket company offer. Mytrainticket compares the leading ticketing companies such as virgin trains, east coat trains etc… They also let you add some fantastic services onto your ticket such as the plusbus option.
Tip – 8 If you book your train tickets by phone you could save money
If you dont trust buying your train tickets online and prefer booking them over the phone and speaking to an actual human then you could make some massive savings by calling the free phone number of the train ticket provider. Useful services such as SayNoTo0870 have complied an open source database of cheaper telephone numbers for a multitude of companies in the UK. Little did you know you could be paying up to 50%, %25 or even more on top of your train ticket fare if your waiting in a call queue on a premium telephone number.
Please note that licensed train operators must provide a low cost rate telephone number for customers to purchase tickets. The above tip only works in some cases for the so called comparison websites and other companies where you can book train tickers through a white label platform.
Depending on which telephone package you have sometimes 0845 numbers are free and sometimes you have to pay.
Tip – 9 Triple your train ticket buying power with the Tesco Club Card
£10 club card voucher converts into £30 available spend at redspottedhanky train booking website
This is one of the best offers we have seen in a long time, if you are a tesco club card holder then hold onto your nearest stable bit of furniture because you could triple your money and make great savings on train tickets. Simple exchange a £10 club card voucher and you will receive a £30 voucher to spend on the fantastic redspottedhanky train booking website which is fantastic for finding cheap train tickets.
£14 club card vouchers convert into a 1 year 16-25 rail card
Get converting those vouchers, tesco club card scheme will let you convert £14 worth of vouchers into a fantastic 16-25 persons rail card which will give you 1/3 of all train tickets anywhere in the UK.
So you came here looking at how to get cheaper train tickets? So after reading our guide did you learn anything new or find a discounted fare? Let us know in the comments.