Transport User Voice – March 2023 – Getting the best deal

28 February 2023

Tips for saving money

Cost can be a big worry for people when deciding how to travel, especially at the moment. We know that passengers want to get the best deal on fares. Our most recent research with passengers confirms that that fares and ticketing are among the most important things they consider when planning their journey.  

But buying a 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 in early in March, there’s a host of things that could save passengers money.  

Here’s our top money saving tips:  

Be flexible about when you travel. Being 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. 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. Buying directly from the train company can have its benefits. They might 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, ticket alerts or easy refund arrangements.  

Get season ticket savings. If you make the same journey multiple times a week a season ticket may save you money. Season tickets are a big investment so to keep the costs down it’s important that you renew before the price rise in March. Check whether your employer offers a season ticket loan to help you spread the cost, interest free. 

Take advantage of flexible commuting. New national flexible rail tickets could save passengers hundreds of pounds. The flexible 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. Train companies across Great Britain have also introduced a range of flexible tickets aimed at commuters and workers who’ve seen their travel patterns change post-pandemic.  

Go single and save. 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. Railcards are a great way to save when buying tickets. Although they have an initial cost there are different nationalandregional 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. 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.


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