With the rising cost of keeping a car on the road, you may find that taking the train could be cheaper for longer journeys. Many are choosing to travel by rail rather than road, especially when going on holiday. You can relax on a train in a way you can’t do in a car or on a coach – you’re able to eat, drink and even use your laptop or tablet on board, meaning that you can while away your journey with a good film and a bottle of wine if you so choose!
Although travelling by train may be cheaper than by car, there are still ways in which you can make it even cheaper still. Making a last minute decision to ditch the car may not be the most cost effective way of travelling – planning in advance is the best way to ensure you make plenty of savings.
Advance tickets usually go on sale around 12 weeks before the journey itself. If you buy your tickets before the 12 week window or on the day, then it’s likely you’ll be paying a much higher price. For example, a one-way trip from London to Manchester can cost just £12.50 when booked in advance, but a whopping £154 if you buy at the ticket office or on the train itself on the day. This is a huge jump, so checking the prices online as soon as you know when you want to travel could be saving you over £100 depending on your journey. Of course, these cheap tickets do get sold quickly, and the price can creep up and up until it hits the full ticket price. The earlier you can get in there, the better, particularly for busy and popular journeys.
You may also be eligible to further discounts with a railcard; holders get around one third off the ticket price, which can greatly affect how much you pay in total. You can get a railcard if you’re aged 16 to 25, if you’re travelling with at least one child aged 5-15 years (up to 4 adults and 4 children can travel on one Family & Friends Railcard), if you’re aged 60 or over, if you have a disability which means you’re unable to drive or if you live in London or the South East (leisure trips only). These railcards have to be applied for and you may have to provide evidence that you’re eligible. There’s usually a small fee to pay (around £20) for the card, but this extra cost is usually absorbed by the savings on the first journey you take.
Splitting your journey may also save you a lot of money. For example, if you want to travel from London to Durham and the train goes through York, then you could buy a ticket from London to York and then from York to Durham. Money Saving Expert applied this to a return London to Durham trip and found that instead of £301, splitting the ticket into 4 singles cost just £82 for the same journey!