It seems every time we turn on the news there’s a complaint about the cost of rail travel in the UK. What’s worse ticket prices are set to rise again in 2015?
With all this talk of HS2 (high-speed trains) it’s not unreasonable to assume prices will continue to increase; probably beyond the budget of most of us and we’ll all end up on shank’s pony!
How to Book Cheap Train Tickets…
It is possible to find cheap train tickets, but you’ll have to be prepared to do some research, it’s not a difficult task just time-consuming.
The name of the game is flexibility, be flexible and you’ll definitely make savings. Look upon budget train travel as a game, when you find a great deal you win!
Here’re our tips for saving money on train tickets:
Buy a Disabled Persons Railcard –
Frequent train users can save money with a disabled person railcard, it’s a fact!
This has got to be the quickest and easiest way to reduce the cost of your tickets. With railcards available for young people, students, couples, families, disabled people and seniors there’s a railcard for you.
The initial cost can be recouped on your first journey and a railcard often offers special discounts on travel-related partners saving you more money! Here’s a list of Railcards and eligibility
Book in Advance –
We generally know well in advance where and when we want to travel, this enables us to save money with advance tickets.
National Rail requires train operators to publish timetables 12 weeks in advance and this often motivates them to sell cheap advance tickets. They don’t all cut prices straight away and could discount tickets at 11 or 10 weeks but you have time on your side so can be ready to pounce when the price is right.
On the same theme, register a free account with ( The Trainline ) and set up ticket alerts. They’ll send you an email when your chosen train ticket price has been reduced. National Rail also has a helpful chart which shows you the latest time you can buy advance tickets for each operator.
Travel Off-Peak –
We all know train operators make more profit on business travellers and commuters, we also know these passengers generally travel during peak hours.
To save money “Don’t Travel During Peak Hours”, better still travel at weekends. The one thing you need to be aware of when travelling at weekends especially to cities is events. If a city is hosting a big event inevitably, the train tickets will be at a premium so it pays to do your homework.
Another good reason to travel off-peak is you can often get cheap upgrades, imagine travelling first class for the price of a standard ticket … bargain! If you do upgrade eat and drink as much free stuff as you can to save spending on food and drink at stations.
Use Travel Comparison Sites –
The Internet has spawned a whole host of deal sites, some good some not so! From our point of view, the Internet was made for train travel because it enables us to find the cheapest train tickets at the click of a button.
Now, not all deal sites are the same or the cheapest so it is good advice to compare them against each other. Here’s the pick of the bunch:
- Train Genius
- Take The Train
- Red Spotted Hanky
And don’t forget the train operators themselves who often have special deals for customers who book directly through them.
Check the National Rail Promotion Guide –
Not a lot of people know this, but National Rail has a very helpful guide which has promotions and deals from all major train companies. Check them out here
Buy a Bundle –
This is one that’s often overlooked, use the train operator to book your accommodation!
Believe it or not from time to time train operators provide heavily discounted tickets if you book an additional service through them. These can include hotel rooms, ferry crossing even full-blown city breaks.
The Trainline is heavily into this type of marketing so we’d check them first. Keep an eye out for these deals or sign up for their newsletter so they can send deals via email.
This also works the other way round where hotel chains and ferry companies offer discounted travel when you book through them, it’s always worth checking.
Bonus Tip –
Business love loyal customers and train operators are no different. Most of them have reward schemes which offer free travel, hotel discounts, 2 for 1 attraction tickets and a whole host of other goodies so make sure you join reward schemes.
Cheap Train Tickets …
Not all of these tips work all of the time but if they work some of the time you save money.
Travelling on a budget is never easy, it can take time doing the research and be frustrating when you can’t find the deal you want, but it’s still worth the effort.
We like to shop around and usually start with Train Genius because they seem to find the cheapest train tickets, but always check a few comparison sites and direct with the train companies.
Don’t forget to share your money saving tips with us below…
This post contains affiliate links. If you buy a train ticket using our link we earn a few pennies to help us maintain the blog. It doesn’t cost you any extra – Thank You.