Thinking about visiting family? You may be taken aback by how expensive taking the train is these days. If you shop around though you can save yourself a fortune on train tickets. Follow our tips below for the cheapest train tickets in the UK.
UK Train Tickets Promo Codes
Download and purchase your train tickets via the Skyscanner App*, and get £4 off tickets with promo code SKYRAIL.
Works for all tickets and all operators, £2 per transaction, and there is a minimum spend of £10.
Expires 31 March 2019.
Rovers and Day Passes
Planning many journeys by train, over a short space of time? Purchasing a rover or day pass may just work out much cheaper than buying individual tickets.
If you have a railcard, then you're in luck - most railcard discounts can be applied to day rovers and passes.
Find out about daily, 3 day, weekly and monthly passes and rovers here*.
If you travel for leisure, or outwith peak times then a railcard is a brilliant way to save money on train tickets. Most railcards offer a third off, which really tots up the savings over the year.
Initial costs of railcards vary depending on the one for you, but are generally around the £30 mark.
***Tip - Look out for promotions on railcards and you can get a year's worth of discounts for £25-£28.
Here are some of the different types of railcard:
- 16-25 railcard: can be used before 10am if the cost of your ticket is under £12, or use it anytime over weekends.
- 26-30 railcard: one of the newer railcards. Can be used before 10am, if the cost of your ticket is under £12, or use it anytime over weekends.
- Two Together railcard: can be used Monday to Friday after 9.30am and anytime over weekends.
- Network railcard: can be used Monday to Friday after 10am and anytime at the weekend.
- Family & Friends railcard: up to four adults and four children can travel on one card. Cannot be used when travelling inside London and the South East, between two stations, during morning peak time.
- Senior railcard: cannot be used when travelling inside London and the South East, between two stations, during morning peak time.
- Disabled railcard: can be used at anytime, on any day.
Coming soon... 15-17 railcard: this will allow teens with a railcard to save 50% off adult train fares.
Collect Tesco Clubcard points? Your vouchers double in value when used to purchase a railcard.
It may not seem logical, but buying several tickets for one journey on the one train can be much, much cheaper, than purchasing one ticket.
Here's an example...
I want to travel from Aberdeen to London Kings Cross. A single ticket for one-way travel may cost me say £120, whereas if I split ticket my journey it's cheaper...
My first ticket is £15 from Aberdeen to Dundee, then the second ticket is from Dundee to York costing just £28, and finally another ticket for York to London Kings Cross at £40. This adds up to just £83 - thus saving you £37!!!
It can be time consuming when planning your split ticket journey, but it is worth it for those expensive journeys.
There is one main rule when it comes to split ticketing and that's that your journey starts and ends where your ticket stipulates. If not then you may be subject to a penalty.
Buy single train tickets
It might seem rather bizarre, but a return ticket isn't always your cheapest option. Always check before purchasing because sometimes it's more cost-effective to opt for two singles.
Buy train tickets in advance
Don't buy your ticket on the train or even at the station. This is a sure fire way of paying full whack.
Book in advance and you can save a hell of a lot of cash. Most train operators allow you to book tickets up to 3 months in advance.
Normally, off peak services are the cheapest, although at weekends you can often find tickets cheap throughout the day.
Travel in a group of 3 or more people, and you can use Groupsave to save around a third off of the total ticket price.
Generally, it is for off-peak travel and not on Cross Country services.
Delay Repay for late trains
Did you know that if your train runs late that you can claim for a delay repay? Many operators will refund the partial to full cost of your ticket should your train arrive at your destination later than it should have.
For example, LNER offer a refund of 50% for journeys 30-59 minutes late, anything later than that and you get the full cost of your ticket returned.
Buy tickets straight from the operator
Think about this... train ticket booking sites like the Trainline don't work for free, they add on a booking fee of £1 per transaction for a start.
Book straight from the operator you're travelling with, for the best rates, and no extra add-on charges.
Take it slow
Have a look at taking a different route, a slower one and the price difference in the fare can be huge.
A good tip is to go with regional operators over the cross-country ones, who seem to be more expensive.
Declassified First Class
Some trains have a first class section, but the timetable doesn't have it listed that there is a first class service available. In this instance, you can travel in first class at no extra cost.
If the timetable has a "1" icon, then this indicates that there is a first class service operating on this set train/journey - this is when you CANNOT sit in first class, unless you wish to pay extra.
This can be a risky one, which you may need to point out to the conductor.
You'll have heard of Megabus before, but did you know that Megatrain* exists? It operates with East Midlands trains only, so handy for those travelling from the capital to the likes of Derby, Loughborough and other East Midlands stations.
Earn Nectar Points
Link your Nectar card to certain train operator sites, and you can accrue points when you book. Sometimes, you get bonus points too via the Nectar website.
Use TfL Rail
Heathrow Express is one of the priciest railways in the UK. Opt to travel TfL rail and although your train journey will be longer, it'll be a heck of a lot cheaper.
Train company special offers and sales
Sign up for newsletters with train operators and you'll be the first to know about any special offers or sales that they are running.
For example, Virgin Trains* are currently running a deal where you can get £10 tickets between Birmingham and London.