Buying a rail ticket can be confusing with so many choices, types, and prices. With the cost of rail fares in England rising by 5.9 per cent on 5 March 2023, there’s a host of things that could save passengers money.
Transport Focus’s most recent research with passengers confirms that they want the best deal on ticket prices, and that fares are among the most important things they consider when planning their journey.
Here’s our top money saving tips:
Be flexible about when you travel. Being flexible and willing to travel at less popular times and avoiding peak periods could be a money saver for some travellers. Trading speed for price might also save money. Sometimes, where there is a choice of train companies on a particular route, the slower trains may be cheaper.
Booking in advance if you can. No crystal balls needed for predicting your next trip! If you are willing to tie yourself down to a specific train, then booking an Advance ticket will usually save you money. Train companies usually start selling tickets up to 12 weeks before the journey. Passengers can sign up for alerts from train companies telling you when these types of tickets have been released.
It pays to shop around. Be a bargain rail fare hunter! Train companies sometimes have temporary or promotional fares that are only available on their websites so always check before travelling. Booking fees can add to the cost of fares and most train company websites do not charge extra for buying tickets from them. Also check out any loyalty or reward schemes that could mean extra discounts. Some retailers also offer services such as ticket alerts or easy refund arrangements.
Get season ticket savings. Let’s get season ticket savvy! If you make the same journey multiple times a week a season ticket may save you money. Check whether your employer offers a season ticket loan to help you spread the cost, interest free. Use the season ticket calculator to see if you can save.
Take advantage of flexible commuting. Working from home is the new commute, and we need our rail tickets to flex for when we need to travel. New national flexible rail tickets could save passengers money. Flexi Season tickets will allow travel on any eight days in a 28-day period, with no need to select the days of travel in advance. Again, use the season ticket calculator to see what the best option for you may be.
Go single and save. Calling all money savers! When you are booking your journey, it’s easy just to book a return journey and not think about the cost. Checking to see whether it’s cheaper to buy two single tickets might save you money.
Use a Railcard. There’s a railcard for almost everyone. Railcards are a great way to save when buying tickets. Although they have an initial cost there are different national and regional railcards to choose from with a range of discounts and fares available. You should always ensure that the railcard you buy is valid for the journey you want to make and make sure you always have it with you when travelling.
Three’s not a crowd. Planning a weekend away with your mates? If you are travelling in larger groups of three to nine adults, the group can often qualify to get 1/3 off Off-Peak tickets when travelling together. The group must always travel together, and no other discounts (using railcards, for example) can be used for any of the passengers in the group.
Split your journey. Splitting your journey isn’t as hard as it sounds. Splitting your journey into multiple tickets could be cheaper. If you do this, then the train you are travelling on must stop at all the stations detailed on the tickets, or they are not valid. Look online at websites/apps that will work all this out for you and remember that some charge a fee for doing so.