How to Find Cheap Train Tickets for Your Commute

As lockdown restrictions ease, we are adjusting to our new working lives, and for many, flexible and hybrid working has become the new normal. How could travelling to the office be any easier? Cheap train tickets! From Railcards to flexible season tickets, travelling by train is more affordable than you think, so we’ve rounded up the best ways to save money and find the cheapest train tickets.

1. Ride with a Railcard

What is a Railcard?

If you haven’t already purchased a Railcard, now is the perfect time to buy one! A Railcard saves you money on almost every journey you take, whether a long or short journey, you’ll save money on every trip! 

With a Railcard, you can get 1/3 off the price of most train fares. Most Railcards are priced at just £30 for 1 year or £70 for 3 years (roughly £23.30 a year), making it a great way to secure cheap fares.

Types of Railcards

There are nine main types of UK Railcards available. These are:

  • 16-17 Saver
  • 16-25 Railcard
  • 26-30 Railcard
  • Disabled Persons Railcard
  • Family & Friends Railcard
  • Network Railcard
  • Senior Railcard
  • Two Together Railcard
  • Veterans Railcard

In addition to the Railcards above, It’s also worth exploring the range of local Regional Railcards which offer savings within a specific region, these include:

  • Cambrian Railcard
  • Esk Valley Railcard
  • Cotswold Line Railcard
  • Dales Railcard
  • Devon & Cornwall Railcard
  • Thameslink & Great Northern Student 16/18 Connect Card
  • Heart of Wales Line Railcard
  • Highland Railcard
  • Pembrokeshire Railcard
  • Valleys Senior Railcard
Type Price (1-Year Railcard) Price (3-Year Railcard)
16-17 Saver £30 N\A
16-25 Railcard £30 £70
26-30 Railcard £30 N/A
Disabled Persons Railcard £20 £54
Family & Friends Railcard £30 £70
Netword Railcard £30 N\A
Senior Railcard £30 £70
Two Together Railcard £30 N/A
Veterans Railcard £30 £70

2. Always Book Early!

Buying train tickets in advance might sound like a time-wasting pain, but if you know when you plan on travelling and where, buying your train tickets in advance can help you save a bundle!

Advance train tickets are available from train operators up to 12 weeks in advance before your date of travel. They offer great savings on single tickets for specific trains and routes and if you’re making a return journey, make sure you mix and match by buying a ticket for each direction.

Update: From Monday 21st June 2021 until December 2021, you are able to request a fee-free change of journey on any advance ticket however, your destinations must stay the same and you will still be required to pay any fare difference.

Plus, if you’re a Railcard holder, you can get ⅓ off your ticket!

Can I claim a refund on my advance ticket?

Your train ticket is non-refundable however, if the train you purchased a ticket for is cancelled or delayed and as a result you decide not to travel, a refund will be offered on completely unused tickets.

From 21st June 2021, you can receive an eVoucher for the face value of your advance fare when you turn it into the original retailer. Although, you must use the voucher by December 31st 2021.

Just remember the longer you leave it until you book your train tickets, the more expensive they tend to be. Numbers are limited so you’ll need to be quick!

3. Flexible Season Tickets

If you already commute part-time, then you’ll be happy to hear that the Flexi Season ticket has now launched and this is all part of the Government’s major rail shake-up. Now there’s a cheaper way to do part-time commuting, and thousands of people are taking advantage of it!

What are Flexi Season Tickets?

Flexible train tickets are valid for 28-days and allow travel on any 8 days within that period. Another Flexi Season Ticket can be purchased at any date and time for a further 28 days if all 8 days are used before the end of the 28 days. They’re only available for standard class, but can be used for both peak and off-peak travel, including weekends.

Why should I use Flexi Season Tickets?

  1. They allow you to travel on any 8 days within 28 days
  2. There is no need to select the days of travel in advance
  3. They are paperless – all you need to do is tap your ‘smartcard’ at the station you travel

How much can you save with Flexi Season Tickets?

Flexi Season Tickets are now available across England and could save you 100’s a year compared to daily returns if you commute 2/3 days a week.

Let’s take a look at some examples of how much you can save.

Route Annual Season Ticket Cost Flexi Season Ticket Cost* (Two Days) Discount (£) Discount (%)
St Albans City to London Terminals £4,040 £2,049.60 £1,990 -49%
Weston-Super-Mare to Bristol Temple Meads £2,108 £1,084.80 £1,023 -49%
Southampton Central to Winchester £1,288 £691.20 £597 -46%
Chelmsford (Essex) to Stratford (London) £4,088 £2,215.20 £1,873 -46%
Sutton (London) to St Albans City £4,124 £2,236 £1,888 -46%
Bromsgrove to Birmingham £1,296 £704.40 £592 -46%
Woking to London Terminals £3,528 £1,977.60 £1,550 -44%
Liverpool to Manchester £2,760 £1,730 £1,030 -37%

See if Flexi Season tickets are the best option for you with the National Rails season calculator –

4. Miss the Crowds and Save Costs

Looking to avoid rush hour? You’ll save MONEY, TIME and STRESS! If you’re flexible with your travel times, off-peak train tickets can be a good way to save money on your rail fares.

Why travel at off-peak times?

Generally speaking, try and avoid travelling between 6:30 am – 9:30 am and 15:30 – 18:30.  This is when the work rush takes place! Catching a train at off-peak times on the day of travel offers you the opportunity to travel at less crowded times when train seats are available in abundance. You can now travel with peace of mind knowing that your train seat is waiting for you. 

However, this isn’t the only benefit, by travelling off-peak, you’ll avoid some of the most expensive train travel options and this is a super cost-effective way to travel by train. By using the Trainline app, you can select off-peak and peak options so you can compare the cost difference of your planned journey.

5. Split Tickets to Split the Cost

When you’re looking to save money on your travel budget, split ticketing is one way you can trim your spending. When you think about splitting fares, you don’t need to worry about train changes and at the same time, you’ll be saving money! Rather than buying one rail ticket, you should consider booking two tickets for the same journey.

Split ticketing is legal, with the only condition being that your train must stop at all destinations listed on your tickets

How much can I save by splitting my ticket?

As opposed to buying a single ticket from Manchester to Edinburgh for £59.90, you can save £17 by buying split tickets from Manchester to Chorley and Chorley to Edinburgh for a total of £42.90. The amazing thing about this is, you stay on the same train!

6. Golden Train Tickets!

Are you looking for your golden ticket? Train operators are running a competition to give away 12 ‘golden tickets’ which is run to influence workers to take a day off work to travel after what’s been a very restrictive year for travel during the Covid-19 pandemic.

Click here for your chance to enter – Just fill in the form before 23:59 pm on 7th October to enter.

7. Trainline Cashback Offers

Do you book your train tickets online via Trainline? Here is a tip you may be missing out on.

Get up to 5.25% / £7.35 of your purchase back when you shop with Trainline

A number of train companies are listed on Cashback websites such as TopCashBack. This includes Trainline who offer discount codes and offers when you purchase online train tickets in advance and you can save an average of 61% compared to purchasing daily tickets.

Trainline Offers Cashback
New Trainline Customer – Railcard Rate £7.35
Existing Trainline Customer £2.10
New Customer Online Ticket Purchase 5.25%
Existing Customer Online Ticket Purchase 0.52%

8. Take Advantage of Annual Season Tickets

If you know that you’ll be travelling between the same two locations year after year, it’s worth looking into buying an annual season ticket. It is perfect for frequent travellers who want to save money on train travel. 

 How much do Annual Season Tickets cost?

Its convenient pricing and multi-trip features make it the smart choice when travelling over the year. It’s so much cheaper than buying monthly, weekly or daily train tickets! On average, an annual season ticket is the equivalent of 40 weekly tickets with 12 weeks free. This means you can save a great 20% on your train travel for the year! 

Plus, with a year of uninterrupted seat reservations, you can plan ahead and book trips without worry! 

9. Claim a Refund for Train Delays

If you’re taking train journeys regularly, why not start claiming back the cost for deals? If your rail journey is significantly delayed or cancelled, you can request a refund for the journey that has been affected. Relief right? Some companies will even provide compensation if your train is more than 15 minutes late! 

How much can you claim for a delayed train?

The majority of train companies use a system called Delay Repay. If your train is more than 30 minutes late, you will always be able to claim a quantity of your money back. One aspect to bear in mind is that not all companies use Delay Repay, so your train may need to be delayed longer than 30 minutes for you to be entitled to a refund.

Typically, you’ll receive 50% of the cost of a single ticket or 50% of a relevant part of a return ticket if your train is 30 minutes late. In the worst-case scenario, if your train is cancelled, you’re entitled to a full refund regardless of what type of ticket you purchased.

10. New Veterans Railcard

As part of the UK Government’s pledge to provide lifelong support for those who have served in the Armed Forces and Merchant Marines, the launch of the Veterans Railcard aims to strengthen family ties and increase Veterans employment prospects through discounted travel.

The Railcard holder and a companion will receive ⅓ off most train travel and a further 60% off for up to four children aged between 5-15 years old. To respect those who have served, the Railcards are designed to resemble the Veterans flag to signify the three armed forces: army, navy and air force. The first-ever Veterans Railcard was presented to Sir Captain Tom Moore.

Click here for further information.

Do you need cheap train tickets?

Whatever your return to work plans are, there are many resources available to help you save money on your train ticket costs, as travelling by train can be expensive. This guide highlights some of the best ways to make your commute to work affordable. We would love to hear how you cut the costs of your train travel

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