How to save on the train

The price of train tickets continues to soar, with some season tickets costing nearly a third more than they did in 2010. But it’s not just commuters paying the price. Fare hikes affect everyone wanting to travel by rail. To make sure your budget doesn’t slide off the tracks, keep these travel tips in mind.

Split your tickets

It can sometimes work out much cheaper to buy two or more tickets for different stretches of your journey on the same train, rather than one ticket for the whole trip. The train has to call at a station named on the ticket, but there’s no need to get off or change. Check out websites such as Trainsplit to see what you could save.

Time it right

Tuesdays and Wednesdays are the cheapest days to travel by train, while Friday to Monday are the most expensive, according to train travel website Loco2.

If travelling at peak time is unavoidable, only pay for the part of your journey that will actually happen during peak time. So if you’re travelling from Birmingham to London in the morning, for example, have a look at how much you can save if you pay for a peak ticket to Milton Keynes and then get an off-peak ticket for the rest of the journey.

Get your fare back

If your train is delayed, usually by at least half an hour, you should be able to get some of your fare refunded under the Delay Repay scheme. If it’s over an hour late many train companies will pay back the whole single fair. Each train company will have individual rules on refunds, so check out their websites for details.

Set an alert

Train companies have to release their timetables at least 12 weeks in advance and it’s usually a week or so after this that the cheapest tickets are released. To make sure you don’t miss out on that limited number of cheap tickets, set up an alert with Loco2 or thetrainline.com, or with the individual train companies, which will let you know when those tickets are available.

The chart on the National Rail site shows how far in advance you can book with each company.

Take the route less travelled

If there’s more than one way to get to your destination by train, the chances are that the slower route will be cheaper.

This works with airport transport too. A slower train to Gatwick Airport, for example, could save you a packet compared to taking the Gatwick Express. For Heathrow, buying a single tube ticket from central London on the day of travel works out £18.90 cheaper than taking the Heathrow Express. Although if you book the Express well in advance, the price also falls.

Get a railcard

You can get a railcard for (almost) everything these days. Whether you’re under 25, over 60, have kids or have a companion you travel regularly with, you can buy a railcard costing £30 and get a third off fares. There are regular savings to be had on buying railcards themselves. Keep a look out on sites like moneysavingexpert.com.

Following these simple train tips will help you stay on track with your railway savings!