Train fares - how to get the best deal

Recent figures show that rail fares will increase by an average of 1.1 per cent this year. That will mean a fare of £5.05 will now cost £5.11 - an increase of 6p. It may not sound a lot but with many of us feeling the pinch any kind of increase will hurt. So how can you save on your fare? With a little research you can shave valuable pennies off that trip...

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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. Try as your first port of call. Here you can research your ticket in advance and look for the cheapest deals. Don't despair if your trip is a bit last minute. Some advance tickets may still be available even on the day of travel.
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.

Be flexible
If you are flexible with your travel then avoid weekends and travel after 10am. Try splitting your tickets. Check your journey and see if two different providers are carrying you. You may find it cheaper to buy a ticket from each provider for each leg of the journey than one overall ticket.

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.

A great way to save money on your travel is to get a railcard. Especially if you travel regularly.

16-25 Railcard - available to 16-25 year olds or students aged 26 and over. These cards will save you a third on rail travel across Britain. Look out for savings on hotels and restaurants. Cost £26.00 per year.

Family and Friends - save a third on travel and 60 per cent off children's fares. Up to four adults and four children can travel on one card. Cost £26.00 per year.

Senior Railcard - aged 60 or over? Save up to a third on rail travel. Cost is £26.00 per year.

Disabled Persons Railcard - save a third of rail travel in Britain. Accompanying adults travel at the same discount. Cost £18.00 per year.

Network Railcard - save a third on travel in the South East. Take three adults and they will get the same savings. You can also travel with up to four children and they receive a 60 per cent discount.

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