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Author Topic: Keeping the price of your rail travel down.  (Read 28132 times)
grahame
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« on: January 31, 2009, 04:57:59 am »

Do you want to reduce the price you pay for your rail travel?  There is a baffling array of fares available, and you can sometimes make a very big saving if you know some of the techniques that are legitimately available to you.

The purpose of this thread is to list some of the options - I'm starting off with this introduction, then a post which will list the various areas where you can look to lower the cost.    But do be careful to consider the limitations placed on some of the lower cost tickets.

This thread will be "stickied".  And the moderators and me will come back and update the main advice from time to time. Please note that we try to make the information here accurate, but it's up to the traveller to check whether or not the suggestions made, and the rules associated with them, are appropriately for his / her needs. (i.e. we cannot accept any liability for errors).  We will also - far more that elsewhere - be splitting out discussions into other threads to keep this one fairly short and easily accessed as a reference.

Here is some of what you're up against when you look for the best value fare:



I am aware of various ways of travelling by train that may end up with you paying less, but are outside the rules.  I do not condone the use of such techniques, and I and my fellow moderators will remove any suggestions that may be made along these lines from this thread.
« Last Edit: January 31, 2009, 07:42:41 am by Phil » Logged

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grahame
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« Reply #1 on: January 31, 2009, 05:00:02 am »

Keeping the price down. Some options you may wish to look at!

Book ahead

If you can plan and book ahead, you'll find some bargains.

Examples: If you can find the right train, Taunton to London can be cut from a single off peak fare of 59 pounds to 11.50

Restrictions: Usually restricted to one particular train, and with little or no practical option to change them, even if a connecting airline flight is late to arrive.

Choose your route

If you can accept the limitation of your ticket to certain routes, you can sometimes get a bargain. 

Examples: Salisbury to Swindon - "via Bath" is 21 pounds, yet any route (including the direct train) is 50 pounds. Chippenham to Oxford - "via Didcot" 11.60 or 18.90, any route [allowed via Reading] 35.00 or 41.00. Anytime (day) single - Trowbridge to Waterloo 29.90, or Trowbridge to London 73 pounds.

Restrictions: You must travel as per the restriction of the route specified (but note that "Any Route" does not allow you to use a Falmouth to Penzance ticket via London!)

Choose your operator

On routes where several operators run trains, you may find that tickets restricted to just one operator are available at a lower price than "any operator" tickets.

Travel off peak

Peak time trains often cost more. At times there are strange rules about what is and is not a peak train!

Examples: Bath Spa to Reading - 47.50 on the 08:43, 35.00 on the 09:13 single. And if you're coming back - note - off peak RETURN 36 pounds, anytime return 95 pounds.

Restrictions: tickets cannot be used at what are designated peak times.

Split your journey

By purchasing tickets for two halves of your journey (or even doing multiple splits) you can often take advantage of more local fares, and you may be able to buy offpeak tickets for part of your journey. Ticket staff must sell you split tickets if asked - you are allowed to walk up to the ticket desk at Chippenham and ask for a single to Didcot, and a single from Didcot to London. But if you ask (as I did at Paddington) for "the cheapest way to Chippenham on the next train" you may be sold an unsplit ticket, and re-assured that there is no cheaper way to do it!

Examples: Paddington to Chippenham. Peak single 63 pounds. Paddington to Didcot 24 pounds + Didcot to Chippenham 18 pounds = 42 pounds total.  Note that in the evening peak you can use the 11.50 off peak single from Didcot, to give a total of 35.50.

Restrictions: You must normally travel on a train which calls at the splitting station, though you do not need to get off and reboard!

Single v Return

Sometimes, it's cheaper to buy two singles ... sometimes it's cheaper to buy a return. In particular, off peak returns often cost just a pound more than off peak singles, and if you're making a longer journey are likely to be valid for a month.

Season Tickets, Rovers and Carnets

If you're making just 3 return trips in a week, a weekly season may be cheaper. And if you're travelling a lot within an area, especially on varied journeys, look at a rover ticket.

Examples: Severn / Solent Rover ticket, valid for 8 days in 15. 60 pounds (is this still current?)

Restrictions: Hours may be restricted. Rovers and season tickets not transferrable (but carnets are).

Book a longer journey

There are times that booking a longer journey and joining the train during the journey is cheaper.

Examples: The 'classic' example used to be Trowbridge to Bristol, where a ticket from Melksham to Bristol was lower in cost. This has now changed. Another example was for a traveller wishing to travel from London to Melksham on the 17:30 and return on the 19:47 a few days later - a Peterborough to Melksham off peak ticket was valid on the 17:30 from London ...

Look for discount deals

If you are a traveller from outside the UK, you can purchase "Britrail" tickets.  You can sometimes get reduced rate entrance to tourist attractions bundled with your rail ticket.

Example: 15 days in 2 months, BritRail England, $579 (about 410 pounds). If you live in Baltimore but you're staying with friends in Chippenham, you can make 15 peak journeys in and out of London for 27 pounds return each during a 2 month holiday, when the local taxpayer will be sold a ticket for 126 pound for each day.  I think there's a scheme where overseas visitors can take a UK friend with them too - talk about making the UK friend feel like a naughty child who has to be accompanied!

Rail Cards and Group Saves

There are special deals for youths, for older people, for people who live in Cornwall, for members of the forces. And there are groupsaves - a bargain where 4 can travel together (and take the children for a pound each) off peak for the price of two.  I sometimes feel that just about the only group NOT considered special in this way are people like me - of working age, who make a variety of journeys and would love some sort of loyalty card to encourage me to travel by train a bit more,and by road a bit less!

Join your journeys

If you are travelling from "A" to "B" then going on to "C", check and see if a ticket from "A" to "C" is valid for a journey via "B", and if so whether a break of journey is allowed.

It doesn't have to be only rail

I can get on the local bus outside my place of work and buy a ticket which gets me to Bath on that bus, then on the train to Bristol.  (Can someone remind me of the fare name, please!)

Some rail tickets can also cover bus (Try Paddington to Bude Strand on the FGW ticket site) and I think that "Melksham Bus" train tickets can be purchased too ...

Plusbus allows you to add your bus journey to the train.

And for some journeys (e.g. Chippenham to London Heathrow), frankly it's far less hassle to use the National Express Coach all the way - and it may be cheaper than the train!
« Last Edit: January 31, 2009, 08:51:20 am by grahame » Logged

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« Reply #2 on: February 03, 2009, 02:54:11 pm »


I can get on the local bus outside my place of work and buy a ticket which gets me to Bath on that bus, then on the train to Bristol.  (Can someone remind me of the fare name, please!)

Are you thinking of bus plus?  BTW good summary
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grahame
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« Reply #3 on: February 03, 2009, 08:33:41 pm »


I can get on the local bus outside my place of work and buy a ticket which gets me to Bath on that bus, then on the train to Bristol.  (Can someone remind me of the fare name, please!)

Are you thinking of bus plus?  BTW good summary

Thanks ... I don't think it was a "Plusbus" as we don't have them to Melksham; could it have been a "Freedom TravelPass" - I know they run out at Freshford for rail, but where is the bus border?  If I have that right, it's 9.60 unlimited travel after 9 a.m. / All day Saturday and Sunday from Melksham to Bristol area.  10.20 for to include peak hour. (Map very fuzzy as to the bus boundary, but clearly shows Pilning as the rail limit)

http://www.firstgroup.com/ukbus/southwest/bristol/fares/train_bus/freedom_travelpass.php
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grahame
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« Reply #4 on: February 04, 2009, 06:56:58 am »

Here's one to add ...

Travel to a different destination

I'm flying in to Gatwick on 24th March and went online to book rail tickets back home.   Allowing for flight delays, I can get some very good deals.  Of course, I really want to get to my local station - Melksham - (a town of some 23000). However, there are far better deals to the town of Chippenham (a town of around 28000) which is just six or seven miles away.

Best fare available - Gatwick to Melksham - 28 pounds
Best fare available - Gatwick to Chippenham - 8 pounds.

With differential like this, one almost wonders if someone is trying to discourage the use of certain stations.

Perhaps this should be under "split" as I can travel to Chippenham, then buy Chippenham to Melksham for 3.10!. Or I could get a taxi which would give me a total fare less than the quoted direct best price!
« Last Edit: February 04, 2009, 07:45:29 am by grahame » Logged

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inspector_blakey
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« Reply #5 on: February 04, 2009, 11:19:17 pm »


I can get on the local bus outside my place of work and buy a ticket which gets me to Bath on that bus, then on the train to Bristol.  (Can someone remind me of the fare name, please!)

Are you thinking of bus plus?  BTW good summary

I don't think it was PlusBus because you can't buy them on the bus - if you're using PlusBus at your origin station you have to buy it ahead of time, either from the station itself or from telesales (although online sales are supposed to be available this spring).

This is a bit of a pain, but PlusBus can be an absolute bargain: e.g. Oxford unlimited bus travel on all companies ^2.50 per day; an equivalent "Plus Pass" you buy on the bus which covers Oxford Bus Company and Stagecoach costs ^6.00. And if you've got a railcard the PlusBus fare becomes ^1.65! Better still, you don't actually have to purchase the PlusBus ticket at the same time as your original ticket: ticket office staff (but not machines, sadly) will issue it on production of a valid rail ticket for the day in question.
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grahame
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« Reply #6 on: April 30, 2009, 06:09:07 am »

We will also - far more that elsewhere - be splitting out discussions into other threads to keep this one fairly short and easily accessed as a reference.

I have split off a separate thread concerning connection from Eurostar, where Eurostar is delayed and addressing the question "is my ongoing advanced / restricted ticket going to be accepted?"

See http://www.firstgreatwestern.info/coffeeshop/index.php?topic=4607.0

Also split off discussion concerning time of last train from London to Cardiff

See http://www.firstgreatwestern.info/coffeeshop/index.php?topic=4656.0
« Last Edit: May 08, 2009, 07:52:43 pm by grahame » Logged

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Chris from Nailsea
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« Reply #7 on: October 04, 2009, 01:37:06 am »

I have also split off a different topic, concerning issues of possible 'fare dodging' at ticket barriers: see http://www.firstgreatwestern.info/coffeeshop/index.php?topic=5435.0
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eightf48544
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« Reply #8 on: October 04, 2009, 04:00:12 pm »

If you are coming to London then there are several options.

If it's for one day and you want to travel round town either get a Day Travelcard or if you can't get a travel card from your station buy a pay as you go Oyster Card and use it to travel around London. Make sure you swipe it every time especialy on platforms 15/6 at Padd you only pay a maximum per day no matter how many times you use it. They are valid indefnitely so provided you keep it toppped up you can travel. Now more TOCS around London are using them they are even more flexible.

If you are staying in London then an Oyster card is probably the answer or bus and tube travel cards.
« Last Edit: October 05, 2009, 10:35:11 am by eightf48544 » Logged
inspector_blakey
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« Reply #9 on: July 16, 2010, 05:34:56 pm »

I have removed the emerging discussion about splitting fares, and merged it into the existing thread on that topic here.

http://www.firstgreatwestern.info/coffeeshop/index.php?topic=6076.0
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ChrisB
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« Reply #10 on: February 15, 2011, 04:19:15 pm »

Split your journey

By purchasing tickets for two halves of your journey (or even doing multiple splits) you can often take advantage of more local fares, and you may be able to buy offpeak tickets for part of your journey. Ticket staff must sell you split tickets if asked - you are allowed to walk up to the ticket desk at Chippenham and ask for a single to Didcot, and a single from Didcot to London. But if you ask (as I did at Paddington) for "the cheapest way to Chippenham on the next train" you may be sold an unsplit ticket, and re-assured that there is no cheaper way to do it!

Examples: Paddington to Chippenham. Peak single 63 pounds. Paddington to Didcot 24 pounds + Didcot to Chippenham 18 pounds = 42 pounds total.  Note that in the evening peak you can use the 11.50 off peak single from Didcot, to give a total of 35.50.

Restrictions: You must normally travel on a train which calls at the splitting station, though you do not need to get off and reboard!

I know this was posted over a year ago, and somewhat surprised that it hasn't yet been updated / corrected.

You need to add on to the end of 'Restrictions', that "you must also only travel on trains for which each ticket is valid" - because that Pad-DID off-peak won't be valid on most HSTs to Didcot (one an hour?) - you'll likely be on a turbo to Didcot & changing anyway.
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bignosemac
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« Reply #11 on: February 15, 2011, 04:47:29 pm »

It's fine. Graham quoted the Standard Day Single from Paddington to Didcot which was, at the time of the post ^24.00.
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« Reply #12 on: February 15, 2011, 04:59:55 pm »

Split your journey

Note that in the evening peak you can use the 11.50 off peak single from Didcot, to give a total of 35.50.

Restrictions: You must normally travel on a train which calls at the splitting station, though you do not need to get off and reboard!
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bignosemac
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« Reply #13 on: February 15, 2011, 05:11:28 pm »

Err, that's from Didcot to Chippenham where there are no evening restrictions!
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« Reply #14 on: February 15, 2011, 05:15:31 pm »

Errr. so it is. Sorry Mods, delete please.

[Note to self - Read twice before posting!]

Maybe a bit about it being even cheaper with an off-peak ticket Pad-Did but only on certain trains?
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