How to Save Money on Train Travel

I use the trains every week. And I try to save wherever possible. My classic go to way of saving is to use my Network Railcard and ensure that I only travel after 10am. This works when I can determine the meeting time, 11 am or later. Not so much when a meeting starts at 10am in London, or earlier. But it does mean I can save 1/3rd on the rail ticket cost travelling after 10am, with a minimum charge of £13.

The railcard costs £30 and lasts for one year. Well worth it for my weekly day in London. Also handy for other train trips to places like Brighton and Cambridge, other places that we like to visit as a family. 

But when it comes to saving in other ways, I am a bit clueless so I thought I would ask my fellow Money Blogger community what they do to save money on train travel. So many good ideas here and things that I didn’t know!

Occasionally I need to do long distance journeys to Penzance or Bristol where I have lot of family and friends. I always leave the booking too late, or don’t do it in the right way. It always end up being cheaper to drive, hopefully these tips will help me to work the best way to get a train ticket!

How to Save Money on Train Travel

Split Ticketing

Several of my fellow money writers, including Claire from Daily Deals Blog and Helen from the Complaining Cow recommended split ticketing. This is where you split your journey into different ticket purchases. So maybe you are getting the train to Edinburgh, you might check a price from King Cross to York, and then York to Edinburgh. But how do you work out a good deal? 

Easy use a split ticketing website such as Train You just pop in your train journey and they work out the best prices tickets for you including split ticketing options. I did some playing.

I wanted a return ticket from Knebworth to Penzance on Thursday 5th Sept, returning on Sun 8th Sept. Here is the split ticketing option. There was a £3 saving by splitting the tickets and Traintickets take a 10% cut of the saving they have generated. And no other fees.

How to Save Money on Train Travel

Plan Ahead

As you can see with the above train ticket to Penzance, this journey is just 2 weeks away and £134, is a lot of money. Particularly when I know I could drive it and back for £70 to £80.

So lets redo the journey for mid November. 7th Nov to 10th Nov. This return journey is £84, there are two single advance tickets available for the Knebworth to Penzance and the Penzance to Knebworth legs. Much more acceptable and actually I would consider this as I would much rather sit there on a 7-8 hour train journey than focus on driving for 6 hours.

Faith from Much More with Less recommends that you plan well ahead, ask to be emailed when cheaper advance tickets go on sale. Advance fares usually go on sale 12 weeks before travel, so this works for occasions when you know the dates well beforehand, such as visits over Christmas and Easter. 

Use a Friends and Family Railcard

Naomi from Skintchef and Penny from Penny Travels both have family and friends railcards. But it didnt cost Naomi anything. A friends and family railcard will save you 1/3rd when travelling with a child and friends. She had Tesco Clubcard vouchers to use up. Every £1 in vouchers is £3 towards the card, so used £10 in loyalty points in exchange for the railcard and cheaper travel for a year. 

How to Save Money on Train Travel

A Brilliant Tip from Bronni that I now use EVERY time I get on a Thameslink train

Bronni says that the 1st class carriage at the back of the Thameslink is declassified, so you can use the plugs for free! More train stuff on this link.

Another New Tip for me – Save on Oyster card travels

Laura from Thrifty Londoner suggested another brilliant tip that I di not know and will now use! You can add your railcard to your Oyster card in London to get 1/3 off off peak tube travel! Feel like lots of people don’t know this 😅

Take Your Own Snacks for Long Journeys

Simon from Pennies for the Piggybank has a simple money saving angle for a long train journey, and is a point well made! Take a packed lunch and your own drinks for long journeys to avoid ludicrously expensive train food.

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Lynn Beattie

Aka Mrs MummyPenny

Personal Finance Expert

I write about personal finance made simple, lifestyle choices that will save you time and money, as well as products and services that offer great value.

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3 Responses

    1. Long distance is definitely expensive!! But travelling in the south east with the Network rail card is often cheaper than driving.

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