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How to score the cheapest train tickets


There’s no better season for travelling than summer, and with it fast approaching NOW is the time to start thinking of awesome places around the country to visit with your friends. Don’t fret about expensive train journeys though – we have the low down on how to score the absolute cheapest train tickets and get you buckets of savings.

1. Start looking in advance

The standard, best time to start looking for train tickets is exactly 12 weeks before you travel. This is when train companies put their tickets live and, since there’s usually only a certain quantity of cheap tickets available, you’ll be able to grab the best deals before anybody else!

2. Heard of splitting your ticket?

It seems most people don’t know about this little trick but sometimes it works out cheaper if you buy tickets for your journey in parts, rather than as one whole. Before you ignore us because it sounds like too much effort, hear us out! You can stay on the same train and actually save A LOT (for some bizarre reason!) by just booking two tickets for one train ride.

Here’s an example to help break it down for you:

Cheap train tickets graphic 1 (1)

Looking at travelling from London to Durham today, a Super Off-Peak ticket would cost you £123.30 but if you buy a ticket from London-Peterborough and another from Peterborough-Durham you can save £11.50 without even changing trains! And if you’re willing to change, or are booking in advance, you can save more more more. Have a little browse of ticket splitting sites like Tickety Split and Split Ticketing before you travel and watch the savings roll in!

3. Check for advance tickets

These are ALWAYS the cheapest tickets on sale, though they do have their drawbacks. If you 100% know what time train you want to get then you can book an advance ticket, but you can ONLY use it on that specified service. If you miss the train of your own accord then you’ll have to pay again though, so make sure you’re on time!

Some trainlines and services don’t offer advance tickets but if you’re making a journey with at least one change, you might be able to cover part of it by splitting your ticket with one advance fare and one on-the-day fare.

Here’s another example:

Cheap train tickets graphic 2

If you wanted to travel from Nottingham to Castleford next week (which requires two trains) this would be perfect, saving you almost 50%! If you straight up try to buy a ticket between these two stations, you’ll be directed to buy an off-peak single for £27.80 but by purchasing an advance ticket between Nottingham-Sheffield at £5.50 and an anytime day single between Sheffield-Castleford at £9.80 you can cash a saving of £12.50! The same principles apply to many, many journeys.

4. Feeling flexible?

Given all you now know about how completely random train prices seem to be, you might find with certain journeys that it can be cheaper to travel somewhere if you take the long way there. Does it take longer? Yes. Can it save you money? Absolutely! So don’t just look at what the fastest train to your destination is, take a look at advance tickets and split tickets and plain old cheap tickets to see what can get you there for the least amount of your precious pennies.

5. Megabus don’t only do coach journeys

We’ve all heard of the famous Megabus coach service which can get you from A to B for as little as £1.00 (plus 50p booking fee!) but did you also know they run a train service? It’s pretty secretive because they don’t have trains emblazoned with their infamous yellow company logo but what they DO have are cheap tickets for less-popular East Midlands and South West train services. From London St Pancras/Waterloo you can travel to 19 destinations for ridiculously low prices. Where do they go? Check out this updated map created by the the team at moneysavingexpert and if you see anything you fancy, book your tickets on the normal megabus site.

6. Make savings with a railcard

National Rail offer two railcards which might be of interest to you: the 16-25 and the Two Together. What are they you ask? Well they both cost £30 for the year, or £70 for three years, and they’ll get you 1/3 off your rail fares (excluding before 9.30am on weekdays). If you’re between the ages of 16 and 25 and spending over £90 on the train every year then this will save you money in no time. Alternatively, it might be more cost effective if you always travel with the same person to get the Two Together card, that way you can split the price of the railcard! Find out more or buy your railcard here.

Damn, with all these savings now you won’t have to feel so guilty about spending your money on a Starbucks and snacks for the train ride.

Did you find these tips helpful? Tweet us and let us know @maximumpop!

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