**MEGATHREAD** How to get the Cheapest Train Tickets in the UK

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Great Western Railway

Here is a comprehensive thread of how to save money on train tickets alongside other random oddities you can exploit I have put together I have put the link to GWR as you can get Nectar points. I have also put this thread in deals section as there are deals within this thread (e.g Skyscanner offer, Railcard discounts etc…) and you obviously have to buy tickets. Anyway on with the thread

1) Get £4 off tickets using code – £2 per transaction, min spend £10 per transaction

Easy saving here, you just need to download the app and purchase as normal. Expires 31st March. Works for all tickets and all operators

2) Rovers & Day Passes

If you are using the railway a lot in a short space of time, particularly in a certain area a rover may work out considerably cheaper, especially because most railcard discounts can also be applied to them. Different options are available such as daily, 3 day, weekly and monthly, and a full list (too many to discuss here) can be found on the National Rail site here.

3) Railcards

Not suitable for most commuters as most often allow you to travel after 09:30 / 10:00. Railcards tend to knock 1/3 of the full price of fares, and can normally be used against advance fares for further discounts. Railcards often cost £30, although there are normally discounts available which can reduce the price to £25-£27.

  • A 16-25 railcard can be used before 10:00 if you are spending > £12 or anytime during weekends
  • Disabled railcards can be used at anytime
  • Two Together railcards can be used after 09:30 Mon-Fri only & anytime at weekends
  • Network railcards can be used only after 10:00 Mon-Fri & anytime at weekends
  • Family & Friends and Senior railcards are not valid when travelling between two stations inside London and the South East area during morning peak time. Restrictions vary by route so you should check online / at a ticket office before purchasing
  • 26-30 Railcard. Similar to 16-25 railcard. Newly introduced.
  • 15-17 railcard. Launching September 2019. Will give 50% of all Adult fares.
Additionally, you can also use Tesco Clubcard points to purchase railcards. It doubles up your credit, so you can get a £30 railcard for £15. Credit and thanks to @ommytbone1

4) Groupsave

Groupsave can be used in some cases (normally 3 or more people), particularly if you have a large group. This tends to knock around 1/3 of the total ticket price, and is useful if no-one in the group has railcards. Off peak only typically. Not normally valid on Cross Country services.

5) Split Ticketing

Still underused in many cases, split ticketing can often save a small fortune, for example the total ticket price for an Adult from Southampton Airport Parkway to Leamington Spa can be cut by around 40% [See image below] . Similar, and even greater discounts can be found elsewhere. Split ticketing exploits fare oddities within fare databases which often results in getting 3 seperate tickets from your origin to your destination (splitting at intermediate stops e.g London to Reading, Reading to Oxford, Oxford to Banbury) cheaper than buying a direct ticket (e.g London to Banbury). Sites such as splitticketing.com can be used to find possible savings. There are a couple of important notes to consider though before purchasing:

  • You should never actually book through sites such as splitticketing.com, they take both a share of the savings, and charge a booking fee (similar to the trainline, which you should NEVER use), instead, collect the information about the journey details (see image below) and book through other rail operator sites, the best ones are typically ones which offer nectar points such as GWR, SWR etc…
  • You must make sure that your train STOPS at the station where you have purchased your split ticket from and to, if not, although unlikely, you may be liable to pay a penalty fare.

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6) Megatrain (East Midlands only)

Unfortunately, this is only used by East Midlands trains now so is only relevant if you are planning on travelling to East Midlands Parkway, Sheffield, Loughborough, Derby and other areas in the region to and from London. I had a play around, and there are plenty of one way tickets available between London and Sheffield for £5.

7) Advance Tickets

Booking in advance can save you significant amounts of money, and you can normally book upto 12 weeks in advance for most operating companies. Normally, off peak services are the cheapest, although at weekends you can often find tickets cheap throughout the day. The furthest you can book in advance for each operating company can be found.here.

8.) Two singles?

Normally works well when combined with purchasing advance tickets. It is normally worth checking to see if two singles work out cheaper compared to a return. Although this is not normally the case, you can often make big savings where you can exploit this.

9) Go a slower way?

If you have the time and want to save money why not go a slower way? An example is London to Birmingham where a single with Chiltern Railways costs just £5.50 (£3.65 with a railcard) compared to fares which often exceed £30-£40+ There are many other examples of this working around the country too such as Southampton Central to London Victoria (Southern). Often, on most ticket sites there is a button which allows you to search for slower, cheaper trains.

10) NEVER book through the Trainline, use sites such as GWR

Although the Trainline is often a site people first look to when purchasing rail tickets, you can save money by not purchasing tickets through the site. Why? They charge a £1 booking fee per transaction which can be avoided. Instead, use any of the rail operator websites, which do not charge booking fees (although some operators charge £1 to collect tickets from a ticket machine, again this should be avoided). Furthermore, some sites such as GWR and SWR offer the chance to get Nectar points (2 points per £1) although there are often opportunities to get even more. Where possible, try to pick up your tickets at the station (ensure there is a ticket machine!) as this saves on delivery costs

11) Where possible, do NOT use the Heathrow Express, use TfL Rail

I believe the Heathrow Express is the msot expensive per mile railway for the consumer in the country, so where possible this should be avoided as it is a tourist trap. Singles are £16.50 for 17 minutes, although they can be had for £5.50 if you book in advance. TfL rail takes just 10 minutes longer but is £9.50 cheaper at £6.95. Of course the underground is cheaper still (£3-£5) but this takes almost an hour so the saving will not be worth it for some

Other

12) Delay Repay

Many companies now offer delay repay for just a 15 minute delay. For example SWR offer a 25% refund on a single price for a 15 minute delay, and 50% for a 30 minute delay. The %’s refunded vary significantly between company so check on your operators website to check if you are entitled to a (partial) refund if you have been delayed. Typically the refund threshold is either 15 or 30 minutes for most companies, although for some it is an hour.

13)Declassified 1st class (London mainly)

Principally in London there are several trains which have a 1st class section designated, although on the timetable the train is not listed as having a 1st class service. If this is the case you can sit in first class on the train for no extra cost. Ensure on the timetable that there is not a 1 icon (indicating 1st class) for your service, if there is DO NOT sit in 1st class. Please do this at your own risk, if you are unsure please just sit in standard class, or ask station staff or the conductor if one is present.

14) Nectar Points

Mentioned already, but if you have not linked your Nectar card to sites such as GWR, you can often get a 300 point bonus via the Nectar website. Typically, you receive 2 points per £1 spent.I hope you enjoyed the page (I presume you have if you’ve read this far!) and if this is popular I will consider doing a bus/coach thread alongside a aeroplane thread in the near future

15) Gold Card benefits (thanks @goonertillidie )

If you have a gold card (i.e season ticket) there are also additional benefits:

  • 1/3 off Off-Peak Day Travelcard Zones 1-6
  • 1/3 off Oyster Off-Peak pay as you go single fares and the pay as you go daily price cap

Participating companies:
Transport for Wales; c2c; Chiltern Railways; CrossCountry; East Midlands Trains; Gatwick Express; Great Northern; Great Western Railway; Greater Anglia; Heathrow Express; Island Line; London Overground; South Western Railway; Southeastern; Southern; Thameslink; West Midlands Trains;

16) Train Company Offers and sales

From time to time some companies have offers e.g half price advance tickets. Examples include GWR’s annual christmas sale and currently Virgin Trains (credit @mb1 )

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