Five websites to guarantee a cheaper trip

Cheaper train travel in the UK
Cheaper train travel in the UK

Travel in the UK can be inordinately expensive. If you just show up at your local train station, you can be in for quite a shock when it emerges you'll need to hand over the price of a flight to Spain for a slow trip to Coventry. Fortunately, a staycation or day trip doesn't have to break the bank, because there are plenty of websites designed to find you a cheaper option. We've dug out five of the best, which can halve the price of a trip.

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The technique of splitting tickets exploits the anomalies in the rail network. If you were travelling from London to Cardiff, for example, you may find it cheaper to travel from London to Bristol and then Bristol to Cardiff. The rules state that as long as the train stops at a station, you don't have to get off and on again in order to split your journey - just show your new ticket when the guard comes round. In the past it's been a real headache to dig out the discounts, but now there are a few sites that will do this for you. Raileasy will also post the alternative price by coach.
This is a search engine, based on a clever new algorithm from a team of Oxford maths boffins. They search hundreds of millions of ticket combinations to offer cheap train fares. If multiple tickets for the same journey (split ticketing) is cheaper, it will find those too. You can search by the cheapest option, the quickest, or a 'smart' combination of them both.

So, for example, a search from Manchester to London on 6 May for the bank holiday weekend tracked down the cheapest option as £57.80 - or £65 if you wanted the quickest possible journey.

This is another great search engine, but it doesn't just hunt for cheap rail tickets, it looks across coach journeys and discount flights too. Regardless of whether your cheapest option is with Virgin Trains, Ryanair or National Express, it will find the cheapest. A search from Manchester to London on 6 May for the bank holiday tracked down the cheapest option as National Express, at just £14.
One of the best ways to get a good deal is with a railcard. There are all kinds of cards, from family cards, to those offering discounts for two people traveling together, cards for disabled people and youngsters. They can often be a great option even at full price, but you don't necessarily have to pay that much. lists current deals on cards, and at the moment has information on a disabled railcard for £10 in Tesco vouchers and £5 off a Family and Friends railcard, so is well worth a visit if you are considering buying one.
This is a fairly straightforward train travel search engine, but where it comes into its own is if you are collecting Tesco Clubcard vouchers, because you can swap £5 in Clubcard vouchers for £10 to spend on the site - cutting the price in half without any effort.