How to find Cheap Train Tickets

How to find Cheap Train Tickets

Tips & Tricks on Booking Cheap Train Tickets in the UK

Travelling across the UK by train is the preferred and most convenient method of travel for a large majority of the population. However, you’d be forgiven for being slightly aghast at some of the prices you may be confronted with. Salvation is here; there are some handy tips and tricks to ensure you get the cheapest train tickets possible. Not only that, we’ve thrown in some research to back up some of our claims to make the decision process that little bit easier.

Below, we have outlined some great ways you can start getting the cheapest train tickets now: Search, book and buy cheap train tickets today! Spoiler alert: You can save up to 73% on your train ticket by booking 90 days in advance rather than leaving it until the last minute.

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1. When to Travel? Train Times and Ticket Types Explained

When to travel by train can be a somewhat baffling idea to approach, with all the different ticket types and consequential extra fines if these are not adhered to. The ticket types below will shed a little light on why passengers should avoid travelling during peak times and how it might cost you more money

Train times will vary during the day and services often run more frequently during peak times when most train passengers will be making journeys by railway. In addition to more frequent trains, prices will increase. Peak train times in the UK vary according to the individual train provider and the route being travelled. They're usually timed according to train times to and from a large city or major destination. For example, peak times in London generally include trains arriving or leaving a capital station between 9:00 - 11:30 a.m. and 3:00 - 7:00 p.m.

Off-peak tickets are mainly concerned with the time of day you’re travelling. Generally, off-peak tickets are valid at all times on the weekend and public holidays and from 9.30am on weekdays and are the cheap train fares. There are some weekday services that don’t allow off-peak tickets; these are generally on commuter trains.

Anytime Tickets are the most flexible of the 3 ticket types as they allow you to travel at any time and on any train on a selected route. However, with that freedom comes the burden of them also being the most expensive. These are best purchased if you’re uncertain of your day of your travel plans as the outward journey is valid for 5 days following your date of purchase and the return is valid for up to one calendar month.

When Should I Book to get the Cheapest Train Tickets?

Using our very own data, we have compiled a list of the most popular train journeys that are consistently cheaper than you might expect them to be when booking in advance. These have been chosen based on popularity and the prices reflect a single ticket.

Main Provider Journey Duration Booking 1 day in Advanced* Booking 30 days in Advanced* Booking 90 days in Advanced*
Trains from Brighton - London 1 hour From £16 From £13 From £5
Trains from Manchester - London 2 hours From £75 From £40 From £25
Trains from Liverpool - London 2 hours 15 mins From £75 From £45 From £30
Trains from Edinburgh - London 4 hours 30 mins From £99 From £54 From £49
Trains from Oxford - London 1 hour From £24 From £14 From £11
Trains from London - Manchester 2 hours From £70 From £41 From £25

*Price based on average single ticket

The table above clearly illustrates, based on GoEuro's average prices, that train tickets decrease the further you book in advanced. Based on the popular journeys displayed, the data tells us, on average:

  • Its is 31% cheaper to book a train 30 days in advanced as oppose to 1 day.
  • Its 45% cheaper to book a train journey 90 days in advanced as oppose to 30 days.
  • Finally, it is a whopping 73% cheaper to book a train journey 90 days in advanced as oppose to 1 day!

What exactly is an Advanced Ticket?

Advance tickets are, simply put, train journeys that are purchased prior to the day of departure. These tickets are subject to availability, and the logic dictates that the earlier you purchase these tickets the cheaper they will be. Important things to consider while booking an advance ticket is that they cannot be refunded, are only valid on the specific train that is in line with the ticket purchased and are sold as singles.

2. Why not try the bus?

While its fairly common knowledge that booking a bus ticket, rather than taking the train for a journey usually results in cheaper fares; its often assumed that this price reduction comes at the expense of discomfort and lasting twice the time. This, however couldn't be further from the truth as on more journeys than you would think, it's both cheaper and faster to complete your journey by coach. Not only this, you are always guaranteed a seat and National Express and Megabus both provide WiFi on board; which is something that escapes most train companies. Here are just some of the example of popular routes that are faster and cheaper by bus.

Route Potential Savings
Buses from Glasgow to Aberdeen From £5
From £19
Buses from Coventry to Peterborough From £15
From £44
Buses from Exeter to Plymouth From £2
From £5
Buses from Leeds to Nottingham From £4
From £8
Buses from Edinburgh to Glasgow From £5
From £9
Buses from Newcastle to Middlesbrough From £7
From £12
Buses from Sheffield to Leeds From £3
From £5
Buses from Newquay to Plymouth From £6
From £10
Buses from Cardiff to Bristol From £7
From £10
Buses from Manchester to Chester From £8
From £11

3. How Can I Get Cheaper Train Tickets with a Railcard?

Railcards are cards issued by National Rail that, in many cases, save cardholders 1/3 off train tickets (officially 34% to the nearest £0.05). They must usually be carried during the journey in order for any discounts to be considered valid. The purchase of a Railcard also gets you discounts on a whole host of things, from restaurant deals to plusbus savings, as National Rail have secured deals from select partners. Railcards are devised to ensure that the majority of the population can benefit from owning such cards; which include 16-25 Railcards, Senior Railcards, Two Together Railcard, Family and Friends Railcard and Disabled Persons Railcard. For more information about purchasing railcards visit, the official website.

Railcard Annual Price 3 year Price Legibility Annual Savings
Friends and Family Railcard £30 £70 Those travelling with children aged 5-15 £130
16-25 Railcards £30 £70 Ages 16-26 or mature student aged 26+ in full time education £187
Two Togather Railcard £30 N/A 2 named people travelling together £130
Senior Railcard £30 £70 Aged 60+ £118
Disabled Persons Railcard £20 £54 Disability that makes travelling by train difficult £123
Network Railcard £30 N/A Those travelling in the South East £196

4. Split Tickets: What are They and How do They Save you Money?

Split ticketing is one of these phenomena that you hear on the street and have been told will get you some cheap rail fares, but are unsure of how it works and why it might benefit you. In simple terms, it is the bizarre consequence of splitting your ticket, or buying two singles for the same journey, and this resulting in saved money; despite the fact you are travelling on the exact same train. One of the issues that you might come across when using this method of saving money on cheap rail tickets is that you have no insurance if the train on the first leg of your journey is running late. Therefore, it is vital that you ensure there is enough time while you are changing trains. It may sound complex, but luckily someone else can do the calculations for you.

Biggest Split Ticket Savings

Split Ticket at York and Save up to £219

Split Ticket at York and Save up to £57

Split Ticket at Crewe and Save up to £220


5. Why be Flexible to get Cheap Train Tickets?

Somewhat related to previous points on the list, being flexible is key to acquiring cheap train fares. This flexibility can manifest itself in different forms. Searching for various different train times or even days of week is a good place to start. This is due to a greater allocation of cheap train tickets at certain times of the day and week. Checking alternative routes also has a chance of having cheap rail fares due to operators providing the same route at competitive rates. GoEuro offers an ideal environment for such comparison ensuring you get the cheapest train tickets possible!

Popular International Destinations

Searching for trains outside the UK needn't be a chore, check out the lastest train ticket prices below

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