Stop paying full price for train tickets with these hacks

... Credit :
Caroline Stronkhorst in Travel & Leisure

Last updated: 02 February 2020, 11:26 GMT

Why are train tickets in the UK so expensive?! Britain has some of the most expensive train journeys in Europe and they can make a fun day out very painful on the bank balance before you even start. Rest assured, there are lots of ways you can shave pounds off your journey price. We’re here to help!

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Split Tickets, Not Journeys

This is a similar concept to throwaway legs on air travel. Some stations and routes are particularly expensive due to passenger demand. An example being that journeys that start and stop at major transport hubs such as airports are much more expensive than journeys that simply pass through those stations.

This is where split tickets come in to play! You can, instead, get a couple of tickets to complete one journey that doesn’t have these premiums applied to it. Your journey is the same, you just had an extra ticket in your hand/phone.

You don’t need to be a train aficionado to work out how to play the split ticketing game. Thankfully there are lots of apps that will work out the cheapest ticket setup you need to legally complete your journey and without changing your route.

Our recommendation is to use the Trainline’s split ticket service that is already built in to their booking app - why have 2 apps when you can have 1?

train at station


There are more railcards available than you may be aware of. There are currently 8 publicly accessible railcards that you may be eligible for. The railcards available are:

  • 16-25 Railcard - get ⅓ off rail fares
  • 26-30 Railcard - get ½ off rail fares
  • Family & Friends Railcard - ⅓ off rail fares and 60% kids fares
  • Two Together Railcard - ⅓ off when two named passengers travel together
  • Senior Railcard - get ⅓ off rail fares for those 60+
  • Disabled Persons Railcard - ⅓ off for you and a friend
  • Network Railcard - ⅓ off adult fares and 60% off fares in London and SE England
  • 16-17 Saver - 50% off adult adult fares

With some exceptions, most of the railcards incur an annual fee of around £30. You don’t need to do many journeys a year to earn your money back. Note down how many journeys you have done in the last 3 months and you will soon work out if a railcard is worth it for you! If you are taking a long distance, peak-time journey then it is possible that you will make the fee back in just a single trip a year.

Avoid the maths and use this savings calculator before buying to see how much you will save with a railcard!

It Pays To Plan

Planning ahead can save you a lot of money thanks to advance fares. Tickets are typically released 10-12 weeks ahead of departure and if you get in at the start, there are a lot of discounted seats to be had.

A handy tip is to set your planned journey up in the Trainline app and request an alert for the moment the tickets are available to buy. This is a sure-fire way to get the best price if you know when and where you are travelling to in advance.

Tip: even if your plans are more last minute, you can still book an advanced ticket up to 10 minutes before departure with some providers. It is always worth checking their booking sites to see if you can grab a discounted advanced ticket rather than paying the inflated on-the-day price.

If you make the most of these 3 tips, you will never have to pay full price for train travel again!