With the help of our knowledgeable advice, you can save money on your train trip while getting the best bargain possible on tickets for both peak and off-peak train travel.

1. Book in advance

81 percent

We were able to find Advance tickets for a voyage from Birmingham New Street to London for the price of £25, which is 81 percent less expensive than the price of a single ticket purchased at any time.

When looking to save money on train tickets, booking in advance is almost always the best option.

A predetermined quantity of “Advance” tickets with a discounted price are allotted to particular trains and are made available for purchase on a first-come, first-served basis. Therefore, you’ll want to get a head start right away if you want the best selection of discounts.

There are few exceptions, but if you have a vacation planned more than three months in advance, it may still be worthwhile to look for tickets and see if advance fares are still available to purchase at that time. Advance fares may normally be purchased up to 12 weeks before departure.

Even while Advance tickets have typically been made available for purchase up until the day before travel, some rail operators are now selling Advance tickets on the day of travel, and customers can purchase them up until ten minutes before departure.

If you go to the website for National Rail, you will find future release dates for advanced bookings as well as the latest time that you can book. This will allow you to make sure that you are at the front of the queue for the most affordable advanced prices.

In addition to this, certain train companies, such as Avanti West Coast (avantiwestcoast.co.uk), CrossCountry (crosscountrytrains.co.uk), and LNER (lner.co.uk), offer ticket-alert emails, which means that you will be the first to learn about any new ticket releases. You can also register with Trainline to receive these announcements (trainline.co.uk).

The table that follows demonstrates some of the potential cost reductions that are available when purchasing an Advance ticket for one of three common journeys.

Travelling Anytime fare Advance fare saving
King’s Cross Station in London to Leeds Station £187.50 £73.50 61%
Manchester Piccadilly Station to Glasgow Central Station £84.20 £27.10 68%
To get to London Euston from Birmingham New Street £132.40 £25.10 81%

The prices were determined on November 12, 2021, based on the first train that left the station after 9:00 am on February 2, 2022.

2. Plan your trips around off-peak times.

£78.30

If you travelled from London to Swansea outside of typical rush hour, you could save £78.30 on your train fare.

During less busy hours, like the early afternoon, you can purchase tickets referred to as “off-peak” or “super off-peak.” They are not as affordable as purchasing tickets in advance, but they do provide some freedom (unlike with advance tickets, you are not required to get a certain train) and save you money compared to the price of totally flexible “anytime” tickets.

Within a range established by the Department of Transport, train operators have the ability to determine their own “peak” and “off-peak” hours for service. This has led to a great deal of misunderstanding because the phrases can refer to a variety of different times across the train network and even for a variety of different routes within the same train operator.

You can pretty much always count on seeing peak hours throughout morning and evening commute times as a general rule. You will be able to determine which categories of tickets are accepted for a specific train service regardless of whether you purchase your ticket in-person at a train station or online.

It is important to plan your trip so that you are aware of when the off-peak clock will chime. The price of a ticket that can be used at any time for the 18:18 departure from London to Swansea is £182.10. After waiting an additional hour, the price of a ticket for the off-peak 19:18 service is £103.80. This equates to a total savings of £78.30.

If you are planning to travel during a peak travel period, you should think about dividing your ticket (see below) to determine whether or not any of your journey may be completed during off-peak hours. It is also important to investigate whether there is an alternative route that may be taken during off-peak hours.

3. Make two copies of your ticket.

43 percent

By splitting your route between Ipswich and Sheffield at Peterborough and Doncaster, you might cut your travel expenses by 43 percent and save more money.

You do not need to purchase a single “through” ticket for your travel; rather, you can buy many tickets to cover its component sections. These tickets will cover the exact same route and will not alter in any way.

Using this trick for purchasing tickets, you will be able to acquire the least expensive fares for various segments of your journey by taking advantage of advance tickets and off-peak fare fluctuations.

Your train must get off at each of the stations that are listed on your ticket; this is the only requirement you need to keep in mind.

For instance, if you divide your ticket between Peterborough and Doncaster on the way from Ipswich to Sheffield, you can save £39.35 on the total cost of the ticket. You would have to pay £90.80 for a ticket that could be used at any time directly, but you would just have to spend £51.45 for a ticket that included these two splits.

How to locate individual tickets

Train employees are not likely to inform you about a certain type of split ticket unless you know to specifically ask for it. Having said that, after you have determined what route to request, you may purchase these tickets either online or at the station.

Utilizing a website that specialises in split tickets, such as Trainsplit (trainsplit.com) or Split Ticketing, is your best chance when searching for split routes (splitticketing.co.uk).

4. Receive a rebate on the money you spend on tickets

5.25 percent

In the month of November, TopCashback was offering a payback rate of 5.25 percent on tickets purchased by new customers through Trainline.

Cashback services such as Quidco (quidco.com) and TopCashback include listings for a variety of railway companies and websites that sell train tickets among its merchant partners (topcashback.co.uk). If you buy your train ticket from a website that offers cashback, you should have a tiny proportion of each purchase paid back into your cashback account. This might be anywhere from one percent to ten percent.

During the month of November, TopCashback was providing a cashback discount of 5.25 percent on all Trainline tickets purchased (thetrainline.com).

5. Get a national railcard

33 percent

If you have a National Railcard, you may be eligible for discounts that can cut the price of your trip by as much as one-third.

If you take a few of trips on the train outside of peak hours each year and are qualified for a railcard, it will more than pay for itself in savings.

The majority of national railcards have an annual fee of £30 and provide discounts of one-third on both ordinary and first-class train tickets. The Disabled Persons Railcard and the 16-17 Saver are two notable exceptions to this rule. The former costs £20 a year and provides a discount of one-third on train tickets, while the latter costs £30 and provides a discount of fifty percent.

It is not possible to use some railcards to make specific journeys on weekdays during peak travel hours. Weekends and statutory holidays are exempt from the application of these restrictions.

On the website for the National Railcard, you will be able to both view the different types of railcards that are offered and purchase them (railcard.co.uk).

6. Search for a railcard that serves your region.

These are not as widely known as national railcards, but they typically cost less and offer additional benefits. They also offer significant reductions, which can range anywhere from a third to a half of the original price, but these deals are only valid for travel inside specific regions.

They are as follows:

Cambrian Railcard
Railcard for the Cotswold Line
Dales Railcard
Devon & Cornwall Railcard
Esk Valley Railcard
Connecting Students Through Thameslink
Railcard for the Heart of Wales
Railcard for the Highlands
Railcard for Pembrokeshire County
Senior Railcard for the Valleys
Valleys Student Railcard

You can obtain additional information regarding these railcards by visiting the websites of the relevant rail operators or by visiting railway stations in your area. It is possible that you will not be able to purchase them online but rather have to do so in person at a ticket office.

7. Invest in a ticket package.

£798

When compared to purchasing five individual return tickets at any time, the cost of a seven-day season ticket between Bristol Temple Meads and London Paddington is £798 less. This is a savings of £798.

If you travel the same route to and from work every day, then an annual season ticket is almost probably going to be the most cost-effective choice for you.

There are also weekly and monthly season tickets, which, if you plan to make several return trips within a certain time period, can work out to be more cost-effective than purchasing individual tickets. There is also the option of purchasing season tickets that cover a period of time greater than one month but shorter than one year.

8. Consider purchasing a Flexi season ticket.

46 percent

If you commute two days per week, you may save 46% on your transportation costs by purchasing a Flexi season ticket.

It is possible that purchasing a Flexi season ticket will be beneficial for you if you just commute to work for a portion of each week.

However, when we checked in June, we found that travellers only saved between 7 and 8 percent using these tickets on several routes, despite the fact that they are supposed to save riders at least 20 percent.

On the other hand, there are some routes that offer savings that are even greater than this. The price of a season ticket for travel from St. Albans to London per year is £3,808. The price of a Flexi season ticket for a year would be £2,049.60 for commuters who travel two days a week. That is a savings of £1,758.40, or 46%, compared to the original price.

People who want to travel on the same route two or three times per week may find that flexi season tickets are the best option for them. However, if you are willing to travel for two days, you will be able to save more money. For commuters who take the same route from St. Albans to London three times each week, the annual cost is $2991.60. That amounts to a savings of £816.40 (a 21 percent discount).

Flexi season tickets are only offered in England, but other networks often provide discounts for passengers who commute to work only a few days per week.

For example, ScotRail still offers a 10-pack of tickets at a 10% discount, which may be redeemed on any of its 28 routes and must be used within one month.

9. Travel with other people.

If you are travelling in a group, you can get a discount on your train ticket at many different railway companies.

Through the use of the Groupsave programme, adult groups of three to nine people can receive a discount of one third on off-peak tickets when they travel together.

10. Take advantage of the low cost of travelling to London.

If you are travelling around London, it may be to your advantage not to make any plans in advance, although this may seem paradoxical. When you use the public transportation in London, you will only be charged for the journeys that you take, up to a daily or weekly cap, because of the ‘pay as you go’ system that TfL uses.

TfL will determine the total cost of your combined journeys and bill you for the amount owed after you tap a contactless card or Oyster card every time you take a bus, Tube, Overground, DLR, or Thameslink within Zones 1-9. This option is available to you if you have an Oyster card. This may be a more cost-effective option than purchasing a London Travelcard ticket all at once, depending on the number of trips you want to take.