How to cut the cost of travel in the UK

CommuterTrain ticket prices are set to jump by 8% next year after the latest inflation figures revealed that the Retail Prices Index (RPI) hit 5% in July.

But with high petrol prices making driving an expensive option too, cash-strapped travellers are caught between a rock and a hard place. We look at ways to lessen the impact on your pocket.
Train travel
The bad news for anyone who regularly takes the train is that the government has recently changed the annual price rise formula from RPI inflation plus 1% to RPI inflation plus 3%, meaning that this price hike will hit commuters and other train users harder than those of the past few years.

Some prices will even rise by more than the 8% average, as train companies are allowed to increase certain fares by up to an extra 5%, as long as they are balanced out by reductions elsewhere.

Further ticket price pain is also expected, with the Campaign for Better Transport predicting that fares could leap by a massive 28% by 2015 – adding £1,500 to the cost of some commuters' season tickets.

However, while season ticket holders can do little to avoid the higher fares hitting their pockets in 2012, renewing your season pass in December, before the hikes come into effect is one potential way to delay the pain.

Other top tips include taking advantage of so-called carnet tickets, which allow you to buy, for example, 12 journeys for the price of 10, buying tickets for one-off trips 12 weeks in advance and avoiding peak times where possible.

Driving
Not all petrol stations charge the same amount for petrol and diesel, and there is sometimes a big difference between the cheapest and the most expensive.

While driving for miles out of your way is unlikely to result in savings, it is therefore still well worth visiting the website petrolprices to find the best value forecourt in your area.

Finding cheaper fuel is not the only way to cut your petrol or diesel costs, though. Changing your driving style can also lead to big savings.

Avoiding speeding, sharp acceleration and heavy braking, for example, not only reduces your chances of being involved in an accident or getting a fine, it also helps to keep your fuel consumption to a minimum.

Switching your engine off if you are stuck in traffic can also help you to reduce the amount you spend on petrol, as can changing up a gear before hitting 2,500 revs per minute.
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