7 ways to save money on train tickets

How do you cut costs on train travel?


Split ticketing is regularly brought up as a way to save money, but sometimes doing the exact opposite is cheaper: by buying a ticket for an otherwise longer journey by using something called “break of journey”. For example, I live in Crewe and have a friend in Reading. A Crewe to Reading off peak return ticket costs £83.45 not via London or £93.70 via London. However, “break of journey” combined with valid routing allows for a Crewe to London Terminals ticket to be used via Reading into London Paddington instead of London Euston direct from Crewe. This ticket is £81.50. Not a huge saving, but if you aren’t a fan of Advance tickets, every little helps.

Speaking of advance tickets, some routes (especially when several operators are involved don’t get any advance tickets, or when they do they’re not very good. Crewe to Reading is one of those routes that doesn’t get very good advance ticket deals, thus why I looked into the “break of journey” idea. However, it can sometimes be cheaper to split ticket with a non-advance (or “walk-up”) ticket for part of the route, and then an advance ticket for the rest. As long as you give enough time to make the connection, you’re good.

One episode of my anthology series “The Peter Shillito Mystery Hour” was about saving money on train tickets and general tips. If you want a listen, it’s here: https://www.mixcloud.com/mysterypeter/08th-september-2018-how-to-trains/

(fares and routing correct on 23rd January 2019)


Your first tip mentions Trainline - it is important to be very clear that the savings they advertise are from booking in advance, NOT from using Trainline specifically.

The same fares (minus the Trainline booking fee) can in most cases be obtained from the website of any train operator - or indeed by visiting the ticket office at any staffed station.

So many people have fallen for Trainline’s advertising. They do not do anything special. They sell the same tickets from the same national ticketing database as everyone else at the same prices, and often charge an extra fee on top.

So far from saving money by using Trainline, it is likely to cost you more.

However, their alerts and other functions can be useful, even if you don’t make the booking with them.


Agreed. I used Trainline’s advance ticket alert feature to know when I could book a trip to London last year, but then I booked direct with Virgin Trains as they don’t charge fees.

Trainline have advertising everywhere because they make money from booking fees, but also they sell ticket website technology to other websites such as Virgin Trains themselves (their website backend is/was all Trainline, just with Virgin branding and no booking fees).

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How do you cut costs on train travel?

Don’t pay :eyes:

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Two more tips:

  1. You can book any GB rail ticket on the Greater Anglia website and get 3 per cent cashback on Quidco

  2. South Western Railway and Great Western Railway offer 2 Nectar points per £ (equivalent to 1 per cent) on any GB rail ticket.

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for me I’m lucky I have my work schedule for the whole year so I can plan ahead, I usually travel to Birmingham and I get my tkts for £5.50 to £8.50 each way

Great way is using off peak travel and train tickets like two together or network rail cards.