Easy ways to avoid expensive train tickets

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Train tickets are about to get more expensive. Again.

Prices are going up twice as fast as wages, according to the TUC union. The government claims that's no longer the case.

And the rail industry says it's spending £50bn on improving the rail network to make it more reliable and more comfortable.

There are ways to pay much less for the same seat on the same journey.

Here are some tips for hacking the cost of train travel, without getting into trouble.

Split ticketing

Splitting your journey into multiple tickets can lower the overall cost.

Your tickets must, of course, cover the whole journey.

And wherever you split your ticket, the train has to actually stop at that station.

Mark Smith, who writes the train blog Seat61, says this works best on "obscure cross-country journeys" rather than trains in and out of big cities.

You can do it yourself on National Rail, or there are websites which can work it out for you. Search for "split ticketing".

Watch this video from BBC Three's Watchdog Wednesday...

media captionWatchdog looks at how to cut your train fares in half.

Book early

Sounds basic, but it often works.

"The earlier you do it, the better. York to London can be £11," says Mark Smith.

Train companies release their timetables at least 12 weeks ahead and some even earlier.

National Rail keeps a list of the earliest you can book for different train companies.

Get a railcard

You can get a 16-25 railcard if you're under 26 or a full-time student of any age.

It costs £30 for a year and for most journeys you can get a third off the price.

Shop around

"You can always save a few quid by booking with a rail operator, not a third party website," says Mark Smith.

Ticket prices are the same across all websites, but some add a booking fee on top.

If you go directly to the train company, you can avoid it.


If your train is delayed by more that an hour you are entitled to a minimum 50% refund.

Lots of train companies will give a refund if it's half an hour late - check with the firm you're travelling with.

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