Ride the rails for less: five insider tips to slash your train ticket costs
Fares are due to rise at a time when many passengers are suffering from the recession.
The average increase of 5.9% comes as a result of rising prices and poor rail services, according to the Office for National Statistics.
Commuters often buy train tickets in advance to avoid higher prices, but here are five tips on getting the best deals at any time of the year.
Plan ahead to purchase items at a discount
Advance train tickets are usually available up to 12 weeks before departure, but some can be bought as far as 24 weeks in advance.
These types of tickets are often the cheapest way to travel on the railways if you're willing to commit to a specific time. You can buy them up to an hour before your journey.
Money Saving Expert reports that London North Eastern Railway (LNER) often releases advance tickets up to six months ahead for routes from stations north of York to London.
Some ticket purchasing apps alert users to new sales immediately, so you can buy tickets before they sell out.
Split your fare to save money
Split ticketing is a money-saving alternative to buying a single ticket for your journey, as it allows you to take the same number of trains you normally would for your trip but at a reduced price.
Some websites, such as Split My Fare and Split Train Tickets, do the maths for you.
Split My Fare can save you up to 26% on your journey, although this is not always possible on some journeys.
It may also be cheaper to buy two single tickets rather than a return.
Consider using a railcard to save money on train tickets
Railcards offer discounts when booking, but they must be purchased in advance and carry an annual fee. This service is ideal for frequent travellers.
There are various types of railcards available: national, regional, student and pensioner.
For example, the Cotswold Line Railcard costs £9.95 and is valid for one year. It provides a 34% discount on off-peak single and return tickets.
Group discounts are available for parties of three to nine adults travelling together.
Group rail tickets can only be purchased when all members of the party are travelling together. Individual rail cards cannot be used to purchase group tickets.
Large groups of people can also get discounts when travelling by train. Contact the train company directly for more information about group off-peak day travelcards for London, which must be purchased at an origin station in fare zones 1 to 9.
National Rail Tickets
The National Rail Passenger Survey by watchdog Transport Focus has revealed that the national flexible rail ticket could save passengers hundreds of pounds.
The flexible season tickets allow travellers to choose the days they travel within a 28-day period.
Train companies have introduced a variety of flexible tickets aimed at commuters and workers whose travel patterns have been affected by the pandemic.
National Rail has announced a new Flexi Season ticket, which it says will offer a minimum of 20% discount on an equivalent monthly season ticket.
A season ticket can be cheaper than daily or weekly tickets. You can also check with your employer about loans to help you spread the cost of a season ticket, which may be interest-free.