How do I: Get the cheapest train tickets?
If offered the choice, most of us would follow the old British Rail slogan and "let the train take the strain". Only with year-on-year fare increases hovering around the 6 per cent mark and an anytime return from Euston to Manchester Piccadilly costing £148 on the day, very often taking the train spells strain on the wallet. So how do you go about getting a cheap ticket?
It may be obvious but the earlier you book, the cheaper your ticket. Network Rail's contract stipulates that it must set timetables 12 weeks in advance. "Therefore train operators commonly, though not always, release cheap advance tickets shortly after," advises Moneysavingexpert.com. These tickets offer discounts of up to 43 per cent against on-the-day fares. TheTrainline's "new ticket" email alert is a useful tool.
Most people have heard about the 16-25 discount railcard but less well-known are the regional rail discount cards. A Network Rail card costs £28 and gives you a third off travel around swathes of the South-east and London if you travel after 10am. Similar cards are available for Cambridge, Devon, Cornwall and the Scottish Highlands.
Left it all to the last minute? Don't despair, it's still worth booking in advance. Savings on on-the-day tickets are available right up until 6pm the day before you travel, so it will still be worth booking ahead.
Don't necessarily plump for a single-ticket return if you don't have to, says Ian Hildreth, marketing director at thetrainline.com. "Consider buying two singles rather than a return," he says. A further trick is ticket-splitting. Buying tickets for the constituent parts of the same journey can often be cheaper. Moneysavingexpert.com has a handy searching tool.
If you're flexible, check out Megatrain. It covers more than 100 different routes and tickets can cost as little as £1.
- 1 Austerity has hardened the nation's heart
- 2 Tottenham to smash pay scale with £150,000-a-week contract in attempt to tie Gareth Bale to club
- 3 Strewth mate. Aussies wave goodbye to Britain as it becomes too pricey to stay
- 4 Be more professional! GCHQ staff rapped as WikiLeaks founder Julian Assange reveals messages that he says point to 'fit up'
- 5 Join Ryanair! See the world! But we'll only pay you for nine months a year
BMF is the UK’s biggest and best loved outdoor fitness classes
Find out what The Independent's resident travel expert has to say about one of the most beautiful small cities in the world
Win anything from gadgets to five-star holidays on our competitions and offers page.
iJobs Money & Business
£500 per day: Orgtel: A top tier banking client urgently requires Finance Busi...
£425 - £550 per day: Orgtel: Senior Finance Project Manager - £550 - Bristol -...
£150 - £250 per day: Orgtel: KYC Analyst - London - Banking - £150-250/day C...
£500 per day: Orgtel: A top tier banking client urgently requires Finance Gove...
Day In a Page
A modern home of almost 1,000sq ft is close to Stoke Newington's high street. £499,950
A five-bedroom bungalow in Hoveton with riverside garden and mooring dock, £550,000
A refurbished one-bedroom flat with south-facing reception and high ceilings. £579,950
A four-bedroom Grade II-listed house in Nazeing with large gardens. £550,000
A modern four-bedroom house in a converted stable within walking distance to Peckham Rye. £695,000
Three-bedroom house in a quiet residential area within close distance to Battersea Park. £450,000
A three-bedroom cottage within commuting distance of London, Norwich and Cambridge. £250,000
A two-bedroom cottage with a sun room and gardens in South Chard. £350,000.
A three-bedroom semi-detached house with original features including fireplaces and wooden flooring. £399,950
A modern two-bedroom flat split across two floors and close to several public transport links. £595,000
A one-bedroom flat with an open-plan reception/kitchen and private balcony. £315,000.
A bright two-bedroom garden flat between South Acton and Chiswick Park. £499,950.
A listed four-bedroom farmhouse with stables, set in four acres. £500,000.
A three-storey family home with four bedrooms and an extended kitchen/diner. £995,000.
A three-bedroom Hamstone cottage in the rolling Somerset countryside. £430,000.
A luxury one-bedroom apartment on the first floor of a converted Victorian house. £425,000.