The UK rail system has many pricing structures often varying in rules between the different train operators. We take a look at some of the best ways to save you money when travelling by train in the UK.
How to get cheap train tickets?
Book in Advance
A universal way to save money when booking train tickets is to book in advance. When tickets are released (normally 3 months in advance) there are often many discounted ‘Advanced’ tickets available. These tickets can be brought online, by phone or at your local train station.
Use a railcard
There is more than a likely a railcard out there to suit your circumstances and situation. Anyone between 16 – 25 can apply for a ’16 – 25 Railcard’ providing 33% off train fares across the UK. There is a small fee of £30 for a year’s railcard but this can soon be recouped from discounts whilst some bank accounts also provide the card for free. If a ’16 – 25′ railcard isn’t for you, there are a whole host of others including ‘Network Railcard’, ‘Two Together’, ‘Armed Forces’, ‘Disabled’ and more offering similar discounts.
Travel as a group
Some train companies provide discounts for travelling as a small group known as ‘Groupsave’. This allows your group to get a third off your rail tickets when you stay together as a group. You need to remember to always stay as a group for your journey and ensure the train company you are traveling with accepts these tickets.
Megatrain is part of Megabus and works in a similar way except you travel by train instead of bus. The key to getting a cheap ticket with Megatrain is to book early. If you book early, you can bag yourself a £1 ticket (plus 50p booking fee). As Megatrain is part of Stagecoach, it only operates on certain train companies but even if it only works for some of your journey, that can still be money saved. If you miss out on the £1 fares, the price will continue to rise until all the tickets have been sold in the same way as Megabus. Megatrain is not a separate train and you will not notice any difference once you board the train so it’s definitely worth checking out.
Buy a season ticket
If you travel by train on a particular route more than 2/3 times per week, it can be cheaper to buy a season ticket. Season tickets can be brought in Weekly, Monthly or Annual increments and can be refunded pro rata if your circumstances change. With the increasing use of smart technology on trains, it is likely there will be more flexible smart ticketing making its way to you soon.
Buy a rail pass
This is mainly applicable to international visitors but it can be worth buying a rail pass if you plan on traveling across the country. This can either be part of an ‘inter rail’ pass or a separate country pass.
Remember whilst the tips above can save you money, the rail system is not the simplest to understand with multiple private operators, generally with different rules, ticket types and time restrictions. Having the wrong ticket for your journey can result in a fine or court appearance. There are lots of websites to help you including: