how to get cheap train tickets

How To Get Cheap Train Tickets In December 2023

Finding inexpensive train tickets can be an adventure in and of itself. Understanding the nuances of train ticket pricing can significantly impact your travel budget, whether planning a trip to Manchester Piccadilly or London Euston.

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Understanding Train Ticket Pricing

Prices for train tickets vary depending on several factors. The train driver is one crucial element. Each railway, including London North Eastern Railway, sets its rates by National Rail regulations.

This means that depending on the train company you choose, the price of an identical trip can vary. The time of travel also has an impact on train ticket costs. On weekdays, peak hours are typically between 6:00 and 9:30 and 16:00 and 19:00, which are more expensive.

If you can be flexible with your travel dates, you can save money on your train tickets. Additionally, purchasing your train ticket in advance can result in savings. Purchasing train tickets in advance is typically less expensive than doing so on the day of the trip.

You must ensure your travel plans to prevent additional costs, as these tickets are for a specific train and time. Finally, the cost may vary depending on the type of ticket you purchase.

One-way single tickets are frequently more expensive than roundtrip tickets or season passes. A season ticket might be more affordable if you’re considering making several trips along the same route.

Best Websites for Cheap Tickets

You can compare train ticket costs on various websites to find the best deal. The following are some websites: National Rail, Trainline, and Raileasy. These websites allow you to compare train operator ticket prices and find the best offer for your trip.

Awareness of any booking or card fees when using these websites is crucial. What initially appears to be a cheap ticket may become more expensive due to these extra fees. So, before making your reservation, include these fees in the final cost.

By subscribing to email alerts from these websites, you can purchase train tickets at a lower price. They will let you know when affordable tickets for your preferred route become available. Doing this lets you order your ticket as soon as the discounted rates are announced.

Booking Tickets in Advance 

One of the simplest ways to get cheaper train tickets is to purchase them in advance. Up to 12 weeks before the departure date, advance train tickets are typically made available. 

By making your reservation in advance, you can benefit from lower rates before they rise as your departure date draws near.

Booking in advance is only occasionally feasible, though. You can still find affordable tickets if you need to travel quickly. Travelling off-peak, when tickets are frequently less expensive, is one option. Another option is a season ticket or rail card, which can save you a lot of money.

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Off-Peak and Super Off-Peak Tickets

Your train tickets can be significantly cheaper if you travel off-peak. Trains are less crowded during off-peak periods, typically before and after the morning and evening rush hours. 

Train operators frequently provide discounted tickets during these times to entice more passengers to travel.

Even more, savings are available with super off-peak tickets. These tickets are typically offered in the morning or on weekends when the trains are less crowded. Off-peak tickets can be a great way to get cheaper train tickets if you can be flexible with your travel dates.

Railcards and Season Tickets Discounts

Purchasing a rail card or a season ticket may be worthwhile if you take the train frequently. Railcards, like the Senior or Disabled Persons Railcard, provide discounts of up to a third on rail fares. This can result in significant savings, particularly if you travel extensively.

Season tickets offer unlimited travel between two stations for a predetermined time. If you take the train to work, a season ticket can be significantly less expensive than a daily ticket. Additionally, a Gold Card entitles you to a third of the rail fare when travelling with a friend.

Group and Family Travel Savings 

Savings on train fares may also result from group or family travel. For groups of three or more, many train companies offer discounts. For instance, when three or four adults travel together, a Friends Railcard can save you 30% on adult fares and 60% on child fares.

On the majority of train services, there are also discounts for family travel. Children under 5 typically travel for free, and children aged 5 to 15 typically pay half price. A Family & Friends Railcard entitles you to a third off adult fares and a 60% discount on child fares.

Splitting Tickets for Lower Costs

Splitting Tickets for Lower Costs

Sometimes the cost of your train ticket can be reduced by splitting it. Instead of purchasing a single ticket for the entire trip, you would purchase multiple tickets for various journey segments.

You could purchase a ticket from Gatwick to London and a different ticket from London to Manchester, for instance if you’re travelling from Gatwick Airport to Manchester Piccadilly.

This approach can take some time and needs careful planning. However, particularly on lengthy trips, the savings can be substantial. Make sure your train stops at every station for which you have tickets, and remember to factor in any booking fees when calculating.

"For those who frequently travel through the South East of England, the Network Railcard is a gem. It offers a third off rail fare for adults, and for kids, it offers a staggering 60% off."

Avoiding Booking and Card Fees

Finally, you can save money on your train ticket by avoiding booking and card fees. Booking tickets on some websites may incur a fee, and using specific credit card or debit cards may incur an additional fee on other websites.

To avoid these fees, reviewing the terms and conditions before making a reservation is wise. Booking directly with the train operator can frequently result in lower costs. This is because third-party websites frequently mark up the ticket price.

Therefore, checking the train operator’s website first is worthwhile if you are looking for the lowest fare. Locating inexpensive train tickets necessitates preparation, adaptability, and familiarity with the ticketing process.

You can reduce the cost of your train fare and improve the quality of your trip by being aware of the factors that affect ticket prices and taking advantage of special offers.

Avoiding Booking and Card Fees

Exploring the Network Railcard

For those who frequently travel through the South East of England, the Network Railcard is a gem. It offers a third off rail fare for adults, and for kids, it offers a staggering 60% off. Whether a daily commute or a family outing, your train trip will be significantly less expensive.

Since the Network Railcard is not restricted to any one train operator, you can select the most practical service for your trip. Consequently, the Network Railcard lowers the cost of your travel whether you’re leaving from London Paddington or taking a trip on the London Underground.

Additionally, having a card has benefits. You can access special discounts on theatre performances, UK vacations, and days out. A cheap train ticket that will take you on a journey full of unique experiences.

The Allure of Advance Tickets

Another excellent strategy for finding inexpensive train tickets is to purchase a ticket in advance. These tickets are sold 12 weeks before departure and are frequently significantly less expensive than day-of purchases. 

However, they are particular to a specific train and time, so knowing your travel schedule is essential.

Train operators have different policies regarding the availability of advance tickets. For release dates, constantly checking the operator’s website or National Rail is a good idea. Remember to reserve when they become available because these less expensive tickets tend to sell out quickly.

Both peak and off-peak train tickets are available in advance. So, you can still take advantage of lower rail fares whether you need to travel during the morning rush hour or would instead take a quieter route.

Splitting Tickets for Savings

Splitting Tickets for Savings

Split ticketing is a tactic that can help you get a cheaper ticket. It entails purchasing two or more tickets for distinct legs of the same trip. 

For instance, you could purchase a ticket from Gatwick Airport to London and then a different ticket from London to Manchester instead of purchasing a single ticket from Gatwick Airport to Manchester Piccadilly.

Some websites and apps can handle the tedious work for you, even though it might sound complicated. To lower your rail fare, they can find the best-split ticket options. Remember that even if you still need to disembark, your train must stop at every station for which you have tickets.

Splitting tickets is entirely legal and frequently leads to significant savings. But it necessitates some forethought and adaptability. But the benefits may be well worth it for those prepared to put in a little work.

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Meet the author

Jane Parkinson

Jane Parkinson

Jane is one of our primary content writers and specialises in elder care. She has a degree in English language and literature from Manchester University and has been writing and reviewing products for a number of years.

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Frequently Asked Questions

What is a cheap train ticket, and how can I get one?

A discounted fare for train travel is known as a cheap train ticket. You can obtain one by making a reservation in advance, travelling off-peak, using a railcard, or splitting your ticket.

What benefits do I get with an advance ticket?

Pre-purchased tickets typically cost less than tickets purchased on the day of travel. It is, however, specific to a particular train and hour. If you want to save money on rail fares and have set travel dates, it’s a good option.

What do off-peak tickets mean, and how do they affect my rail travel?

Off-peak tickets are more affordable When travelling outside the busiest hours of the day. These are typically outside of the morning and evening rush hours on weekdays. If you can be flexible with your travel dates, off-peak tickets can significantly reduce the cost of your train travel.

How does Network Rail affect advance fares?

The UK’s railway network’s infrastructure is supervised by Network Rail. It establishes the parameters within which train operators set their prices but does not directly set the fares. As a result, it indirectly impacts the cost of advance fares.


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