Four ways to save money on train travel
Filed under: Holidays
However - if you plan ahead and think outside the box, there are several things you can do to offset these price rises. Here are four ways to save money on train travel...
Book in advance
'Advance' tickets are usually the best value for money. However, even these tickets aren't released that far in advance! You usually won't be able to buy one until 12 weeks before you travel.
At that point, you should grab your ticket as soon as possible (ticket prices generally rise as availability falls). Just be aware that these tickets are often released in batches, rather than all at once. So if there are no more shown as being available, it's worth checking again a day or so later.
Avoid online booking fees
The cheapest tickets are often available to customers booking online. However, be aware that not all train ticket booking websites are created equal.
Some will charge booking fees (typically £1-£2 per transaction) and/or a credit card fee. On the other hand, sites like East Coast are completely free to use, and will even give discounts for online booking.
(The name is deceptive by the way; East Coast actually lets you buy train tickets to anywhere in the UK).
If you travel by train more than once or twice a year, a discount railcard is likely to pay for itself several times over. And nowadays, there's a railcard to suit pretty much everyone. For example:
16-25 Railcard: This is for people under 26, or who are full time students. It costs £26, and entitles you to one-third off fares across the UK.
Family & Friends Railcard: You'll be able to get this if you're travelling with an least one child aged five to 15. Pay £26 and it will let you save one-third on adult fares - and 60% on child fares.
Senior Railcard: Everyone over 60 (with a valid passport or driving licence) can get one of these. Pay £26 and make an average annual saving of £86.
To find out about all these options and more - and to apply for one - visit the Railcard website.
All aboard the megatrain
Megatrain is a budget rail service operated by East Midland trains. Seats start at just £1 (plus a 50p booking fee) so if you're planning a trip, it's well worth seeing if megatrain runs to that area of the country.
Bookings can be made up to 45 days in advance, and close at 3am on the day of travel. At the moment, megatrain operates between London and Leicester, Loughborough, Nottingham, Derby, Chesterfield and Sheffield.
It also runs from Norwich and Peterborough to Nottingham, Chesterfield and Sheffield.