KNOWING how to book the cheapest train tickets will save you a lot of cash – which will come in handy as prices are soaring.
Rail fares jumped by 5.9% last week, affecting season tickets on most most commuter journeys, some off-peak return tickets on long distance journeys, and flexible tickets for travel around major cities.
That means it will pay getting clued up on ways to save.
There are a number of price bracket fares offered for rail travel in the UK – here's what they all mean.
What are main train tickets?
To save money on rail fares, you first need to know the differences between the ticket options.
There are a number of ticket types offered by train companies:
- Anytime – These are fully flexible tickets that can be used anytime on the day and route shown
- Off-peak – These are semi-flexible tickets that may have time and/or date restrictions
- Super off-peak – They offer the same flexibility as off-peak but with further time restrictions
- Advance – Book your ticket in advance for travel on a specific service
- Season tickets – Can be used for travel on the same route on a regular basis
What does off-peak mean?
Off-peak tickets, which used to be known as saver tickets, are usually cheaper than anytime tickets as they are valid for times that are less busy.
They can be bought at any time, but are only valid within specific timeframes.
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What times can you use an off peak ticket?
The trains you can catch with off-peak tickets vary considerably depending on the journey being made.
National Rail advises the general rule of thumb for off-peak tickets is they are valid at 09:30 Mondays to Fridays in cities and large towns, and 09:00 across the rest of the network.
Weekends and Bank Holidays are Off-Peak all day.
To find out when you can use your train ticket, you can use the Journey Planner at nationalrail.co.uk.
What does super off-peak mean?
Super off-peak tickets, which used to be called super saver tickets, are issued for the quietest times of the day.
What times can you use a super off peak ticket?
Where there is more than one off-peak fare for a journey, the cheaper fare with more restrictions is the Super off-peak.
These vary depending on the route, so again, you must check when you can take advantage of your ticket.
Usually this will be stated on the ticket, or you can check online for the times your ticket is applicable.
What is an anytime train ticket?
Anytime train fares are fully flexible with no time restrictions, so can be used to board a train at any point on the day shown on the ticket.
You may have to use a specific train company or route, but the ticket will often specify this.
You are allowed to break up your journey so you don’t have to complete it all at once.
For example, if your ticket is from London to Brighton, you could stop off at East Croydon on the way and then continue your journey later in the day.
An Anytime Single ticket must be used within two days of the date shown on the ticket, and up until 04:29 after the second day.
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