10 ways to cut the cost of your rail fare

Train fares remain high and are set to rise above the rate of inflation again at the start of 2012 - however, in most cases, there are cheaper options to choose from. Here are 10 ways you can cut the cost of train tickets.

1 Book early

You can book cheaper tickets online up to 12 weeks before you travel. Even booking the day before your journey, up to 6pm, will cut the cost of your fare, compared with buying a ticket on the day.

2 Season tickets

You don't have to buy a yearly ticket: monthly tickets are available and can be cheaper depending on your circumstances.

3 Look around

Booking fees vary across websites. New site redspottedhanky.com has no booking or credit card fees.

4 Be flexible if you can

Trains that run during peak hours will always cost more. To save money, change your schedule, if you can.

5 Get a railcard

Railcards are available from £26 and offer a third off journeys for a year. Go to railcard.co.uk to find out if you're eligible for one.

6 Two singles?

A return isn't always cheaper - when booking online view the available single tickets first.

7 Split ticketing

Don't buy one ticket for a long-distance journey as train companies often charge a flat fare. Break down the journey into multiple smaller ones.

8 Carnets

First Capital Connect allows you to buy 10 single tickets, for peak and off-peak travel, which last for three months. Most of the bigger train companies offer their own versions of this deal.

9 Megatrain

Megatrain (megatrain.com) sells online tickets for hundreds of single journeys across England and Scotland. Tickets are released 45 days before sale.

10 Alternatives

Coach travel offers great value for money, although travelling times will be longer. National Express and Megabus fares start at £1 to selected cities.

Did you know...

Pregnant mothers in full-time employment can get a free upgrade to first class. Rules vary depending on the train line.

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Your Comments

Re Railcard savings.
You can save a further £13 if you buy a 3 year one, even student ones

Both Redspottedhanky and Megatrain only travel to and from a very limited number of centres.

Suggestion 7 is very valid. But beware. I got caught out on one trip as my split ticket was affected by the 9 or 9-30 start. Some regions let off peak start at 9 am, others at 9-30 which can make problems.

Senior railcards cost £28 from rail stations but can be obtained from our local council office (Exeter) for £21. I am sure this is possible from other council offices. ID and proof of address are needed.