How to save money on train tickets and get the best deals on rail fares

Tuesday, 15th May 2018, 11:59 am
Updated Tuesday, 15th May 2018, 12:03 pm

While rail travel can offer both speed and convenience for commuters (when there are no engineering works that is), the travel fares can be costly.

And with a variety of different ticketing options available, from peak-time fares and 'split ticketing', narrowing down the cheapest can be a tricky business, with commuters often being left short-changed.

In response to the confusing fares, rail companies in the UK recently announced plans to overhaul the system in an effort to make ticketing both fairer and easier to understand.

Booking rail tickets in advance can help commuters save on money (Photo: Shutterstock)

To help make sense of the confusing system and ensure you find the best money saving options, Trainline has some top tips for making train journeys that little bit cheaper.

Be organised and book ahead

Purchasing rail tickets in advance is a great way for commuters to save money on fares.

"Advance rail ticket pricing can be complex and customers may miss opportunities to save," says Fergus Weldon, Head of Data Science at Trainline.

Tickets are generally released 80 days ahead of the journey and can begin rising in price from then on, with some changing by more than £100.

Try price prediction tools

Price Prediction tools offer an easy way to determine when ticket prices are likely to rise, showing users the cheapest price for their route, when it could sell out, along with a list of incremental price changes depending on the date of booking.

According to Trainline, travellers have saved almost £9 million using such tools to discover when prices begin to rise, with those in Yorkshire being some of the biggest savers in the UK.

"Our Price Prediction tool tells customers when prices are likely to rise, helping them make savvier purchasing decisions," adds Weldon.

Timing is key

Do you really need to travel during peak time?

Planning to travel just an hour later can make a considerable difference on travel savings, so keep an eye out for off-peak and super off-peak tickets if you can afford to miss the busiest times.

Equally, if you're planning long distance travel, taking a more scenic route can save you money. If you have the time, look into longer routes with more stops.

Travelling off-peak where possible will ensure a cheaper deal, while investing in a railcard can save you up to a third off fares (Photo: Shutterstock)

Invest in a railcard

Railcards can save you up a third off fares, so it is worth exploring your options.

From the new 26-30 railcard and the Two Together card for couples, to cards for Family and Friends, and Senior and Disabled Persons, the relatively small annual fee will pay for itself in the long run.

Stay alert to when tickets go on sale

Advance fares tend to become available 12 weeks before the day of travel and can rise in price from then on, so being aware of exactly when tickets go on sale can help you bag the best price.

Sign up for a Ticket Alert on Trainline to be the first to know when you can get your hands on Advance train tickets for your journey.

Look at alternative ways to reach your destination

Considering alternative routes to get to your destination can help to save on the pennies.

There are a host of great deals for coach tickets online departing from a variety of places around the UK and to neighbouring destinations, such as Dublin or Paris, and you can also get to places that other transport might not be able to reach.

If you are travelling last minute, journeys by coach could also be a much cheaper option.