If like many people you take the train on a regular basis, you will know only too well how fares have risen in recent years. It seems that regardless of the service level, fares continue to creep up, and this can have a major impact on your finances, especially if you use the railways to travel to work every day. To help you fight back against exorbitant fees, here’s a rundown of popular ways to save on rail fares:
Planning ahead and booking early using ‘advance tickets’ can help you save on ticket costs. This is especially the case for longer journeys, such as Glasgow to London, and similar routes. A number of train operators open up ticket bookings well in advance, so you can plan ahead to get the best price. However, there are sometimes downsides to booking early, such as you may have to travel at an exact time on a specific date. And if you miss your return train, you’ll have to pay an additional fare. Still, if you are willing to be flexible on journey times, fantastic savings can be made. Even if you book only a day or two prior to departure, you may still save money, so it’s well worth considering.
Peak vs off-peak
It can be very worthwhile seeking out off-peak tickets, as opposed to peak time tickets, which tend to be at key commuting times throughout the week. You can quickly perform a search on any popular train fares website (i.e. The Train Line, National Rail Enquiries, Virgin Trains, etc.), to view a list of prices for each journey. Pay close attention to the time-slots. Off-peak can bring significant savings if you’re willing to compromise on travel times.
Use split tickets
A mysterious phenomenon, but in some cases, you can actually gain a cheaper fare by purchasing individual tickets for segments of your journey, rather than a destination to destination ticket. Split ticket discounts are more commonly seen on longer journeys, but you may still see some benefits on the shorter ones, too.
One way to save money on rail fares is to invest in a railcard. If you’re a student, you will already be well aware of railcards, but they are also available for families and adults who travel on a regular basis. A railcard can bring discounts each time you travel, so be sure to investigate this tip to maximise your savings.
Online ticket search
It goes without saying, but by shopping around for the best price, you will save money on your rail tickets. Performing a simple search on any popular ticketing website or smartphone app will return a list of prices, but it is not uncommon to find anomalies. For instance, sometimes it can be cheaper to purchase two single tickets each way rather than a return. As such, feel free to experiment with different routes – and your wallet will thank you.
Time on your hands?
Do you mind spending a little longer to get to your destination? If this doesn’t concern you, you’ll find you can often claim a cheaper fare by opting for a slower route. Of course, this is not a universal guarantee, but there are many examples of cheaper fares for slower journeys. Therefore, be sure to shop around for the best deal.
Order a package trip
If you are planning to visit a destination for a short break away, consider seeking out package deals, which can include rail fares, hotel accommodation and tickets for an event. These packages can work out excellent value for money – and you’ll save more than if you purchased everything separately. You can find a host of event providers in newspapers and magazines, or by performing a simple search online.
Take advantage of delays
Has your train been delayed? It can be a real annoyance, but thankfully, there is some good news: the Delay Repay scheme. This scheme allows you to claim compensation if your train has been delayed 30 minutes or longer. Different levels of compensation are available depending on the length of your delay. For more information and to make a claim, visit your train operator’s website.