By train or by coach - how to get cheaper fares

Caroline Cassidy

With many UK households home to at least one car, it's no surprise that we Brits think nothing of hopping into the motor to make a trip.

Cheap train and coach travel UK
Cheap train and coach travel UK

Pic: Getty

While public transport is not known for being good value in this country, there are ways to save money, whether you're travelling by train or coach, so if you're keen to take a break from pricey petrol pumps and traffic jams, here are some tips on getting a good deal.

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Book early
As soon as you know you need to travel start looking for the best deal. In most cases booking early will save you money. It's best to try and book 12 weeks early, as this is when the rail network sets its timetable. Check your rail provider's website before booking anything. They might have a promotional discount to lower the price further. There are sites that will help you get the cheapest advance booking, such as and, although you may be charged a nominal booking fee.

And don't despair if you've left it to the last minute - it is always worth checking online as discount fares are sometimes still available 24 hours before you travel.

Train ticket splits
If you're happy to spend time doing a little extra research, it's possible to cut the cost of your train fare by splitting tickets. As unlikely as it may seem, two singles may turn out to be a cheaper option than a return, and in some cases, buying one for one leg of the journey and another for the next might turn out to be a money-saving bargain.

Helpfully, can help with this, and will let you know if you could save money by splitting tickets into singles.

Mega discounts has long been providing early birds with astonishingly cheap coach fares from as little as a few pounds if you book in advance. But they also offer discount train tickets online so whatever your mode of transport, they're definitely worth a look.

Given the bargain prices, tickets do go quickly so the earlier you can book the better, and there are a few stipulations - one being you won't be able to use railcards to bring the cost down further - so check out the website before you travel.

Buy a season ticket
If you need to make the same journey on a regular basis it's worth looking into season ticket options. Buying a weekly, monthly or yearly ticket can save you a small fortune. Many employers offer interest-free loans on yearly season tickets, so it's worth checking with your HR department. If you buy a year's ticket and find you don't need it (for example, you move house or job) you can claim back the remaining portion. Though it may take a little research, most routes offer multiple season ticket options and, by restricting your travel to a specific area, you could save a sizeable chunk of cash.

Go no frills
If you have a long coach journey ahead but aren't too worried about comfort and luxury, consider one of the low-cost operators like easyBus or Citylink. You might not get the extra leg room, but the saving might just make it worth suffering just a little bit.

Special savers
Both coach and rail operators offer discounts for certain age groups and it is always worth checking to see whether you qualify.
For instance, over-60s can travel on buses for free during off-peak times (9.30am to 11pm), while coach operators will usually offer discounts for the elderly or students, and children's fares are often 30 per cent cheaper than adult tickets.

If you're going by train, a great way to save money on your travel is to get a railcard. There are a variety of options available, from Young Person's Railcards, which save a third on rail travel across Britain, as do Senior Railcards and Disabled Persons Railcards, to a Family and Friends railcard will slash adult fares by a third and knock 60 per cent of children's fares. For more information visit