Plane, train or automobile?
For journeys around the UK the train is the most eco-friendly, often the fastest and frequently the most fun. But not always the cheapest.
But help is at hand on the money-front, from Dave Price, chief product officer for Trainline. Here he reveals some handy do’s and don’ts for securing sometimes startling bargains for railway journeys around Britain.
BOOK YOUR TRAIN TICKETS IN ADVANCE
‘If you have last-minute plans or there is a need to change your destination, sometimes buying a last-minute ticket can’t be avoided,’ Price says. ‘However, if you can lock down your plans in advance you can benefit from cheaper train tickets too.
Use Trainline’s ‘ticket alert’ tool and you’ll be sent a notification when advance train tickets become available for the selected journey and date
‘Buying advance tickets as soon as they’re released will allow you to secure the cheapest possible price – dependent on the operator, these can become available up to three months in advance.’
Price recommends this tip ‘especially for long journeys where the tickets can often be more expensive’.
Use Trainline’s ‘ticket alert‘ tool and you’ll be sent a notification when advance train tickets become available for the selected journey and date.
Do: ‘Book your train tickets in advance and save up to 61 per cent on your fares,’ says Price. ‘It’s a smart choice. When booking in advance, consider purchasing two advance single tickets instead of a return ticket, as this can sometimes be more cost-effective.’
Don’t: ‘Don’t wait until the last minute and book your train tickets at the eleventh hour, as prices tend to rise closer to the travel date,’ he adds.
Trainline explains that off-peak hours vary by operator, but tend to be at times when trains are less crowded and fares are more ‘wallet-friendly’
Price says: ‘Travelling during peak hours can often be busier and more expensive.
‘Opting for off-peak travel whenever possible can help you to work around this and significantly reduce your travel expenses.’
The travel expert explains that off-peak hours vary by operator, but tend to be at times when trains are less crowded and fares are more ‘wallet-friendly’.
The best way for passengers to make the most of these ‘cost-effective timeslots’ is to embrace flexibility in their travel schedule, he adds.
Do: ‘Avoid peak times and opt for off-peak travel to access cheaper train fares,’ Price suggests. ‘Being flexible with your travel schedule is a great way to control your expenses.’
Don’t: ‘Don’t travel during peak times when the trains and stations tend to be much busier, and tickets are often more expensive,’ he adds.
USE TRAINLINE’S SPLITSAVE
‘Booking train tickets without considering alternatives might mean you are missing out on opportunities to save money,’ Price says as he introduces SplitSave.
This new feature helps passengers save on their tickets by purchasing multiple tickets to make up one journey, which can be cheaper than booking a single fare.
‘This feature is particularly advantageous for routes with multiple stops, and it’s an excellent way to ensure you’re getting the best value for your money,’ the travel expert adds.
Do: ‘Take advantage of SplitSave – our handy split-ticketing feature,’ Price says. ‘It allows you to save money on train tickets by splitting a longer journey into two parts and therefore two tickets.’
Don’t: ‘Don’t rush into booking – particularly for longer trips,’ Price says. ‘Taking an extra minute to check the potential options on the Trainline app could help to save you money.’
USE A DIGITAL RAILCARD
Price recommends the 16 to 25 digital railcard as a ‘fantastic addition to your money-saving tools’
Price urges customers not to ‘underestimate the power of railcards and discount cards’ when it comes to reducing travel costs.
In particular, he recommends the 16 to 25 digital railcard as a ‘fantastic addition to your money-saving tools’.
‘With one of these cards, you can enjoy a significant one third off the cost of your train tickets on most routes,’ he says.
‘It’s a straightforward and reliable way to save money every time you travel by train. Whether you’re a frequent traveller or an occasional one, having a digital railcard in your arsenal can make a noticeable difference in your travel budget.’
Do: ‘Utilise a digital railcard to potentially help you to save an additional one third off the cost of your train tickets on most routes,’ Price says.
Don’t: ‘Don’t forget to take advantage of the various railcards or discount cards that are available,’ he suggests.
STOCK UP ON FOOD AND DRINKS BEFOREHAND
‘Avoid the expense of purchasing onboard items by planning ahead. Before you embark on your journey, stock up on your favourite snacks and beverages,’ Price suggests
Price says: ‘While onboard dining options might seem convenient, they often come at a premium price.
‘Avoid the expense of purchasing onboard items by planning ahead. Before you embark on your journey, stock up on your favourite snacks and beverages.
‘Not only will this save you money, but it will also allow you to enjoy your favourite treats without the added cost.’
Do: ‘Stock up on food and drinks beforehand to enjoy during your journey,’ Price recommends.
Don’t: ‘Don’t buy your snacks at the last minute,’ he adds.
TRAVEL IN GROUPS
‘Whoever you’re planning to travel with, taking advantage of group rates is a smart move that can result in significant savings for all travellers,’ Price says
Another way to make potential savings is by travelling with friends and family, Price says, adding: ‘Many train operators offer discounted fares of up to a third off for groups of three or more travelling together, making it more economical for everyone involved.
‘Before going ahead to buy your tickets, opt into GroupSave on the Trainline app, presented to those searching for more than three train tickets.
‘Whoever you’re planning to travel with, taking advantage of group rates is a smart move that can result in significant savings for all travellers.’
Do: ‘If you’re travelling with others, investigate whether group discounts are available for your journey,’ Price suggests.
Dont: ‘Don’t forget to explore the potential savings on offer when travelling as a group,’ he adds.