Following yesterday’s announcement that new state-owned body, Great British Railways (GBR) will offer rail passengers a more efficient and high-quality service regarding timetables and tickets, James Andrews, senior personal finance editor at money.co.uk, shares the following tips for those looking to reduce train fare spending ahead of the planned 2023 changes:

“After more than a year of working remotely from home, many British workers – who previously paid for annual train fares for the five day commute to their office – have seen their personal savings spike.

“For these employees, along with the millions of other Brits who rely on railway services to resume their normal lives in a post-pandemic climate, the unified rail system should offer a glimmer of hope when it comes to simplifying the over complicated – and often overpriced – system.

“In the meantime, there are different options available to rail passengers concerned with the seemingly ever-rising cost of train tickets. Below are some tips to take in consideration when booking any upcoming journeys:

  • Book early: If you’re someone who likes to plan ahead for the coming months, then this could help you make significant savings when it comes to booking your travel. Securing your train tickets between one and three months ahead of time could benefit you hugely. For example, a one-way ticket to London Paddington from Birmingham New Street today would set you back more than £90, yet the exact same journey 12 weeks from now would cost just £23 if booked today.

  • Book off-peak: If possible, always try to book train times that don’t clash with rush hour periods (06:30 – 09:30 and 15:30 – 18:30).

  • Split tickets: For longer journeys, split ticketing can work out far cheaper than the cost of a conventional ticket. Put simply, it means that instead of purchasing one train ticket to take you from your departure to arrival point, the journey is divided into two or more parts and you’ll be given a separate rail ticket for each section of your journey. There are multiple websites that can assist you with splitting tickets to save financially.

  • Take advantage of railcards: If you’re a regular rail passenger and qualify for any of the railcards on offer in the UK, then it’s definitely worth considering the one-off purchase. Generally, even if you’re only planning a handful of cross-country trips over the course of the year, it’s well worth the investment to lessen the cost of different journeys. In fact, it can pay for itself in a single journey, and with new online applications, you can check to see if you’d save and apply instantly at the point of sale.

  • Check the cost of two singles against a return ticket: Often a ticket website will be able to instantly inform you which is the better deal, but just in case it doesn’t, it’s always worth checking if it’s a cheaper option to purchase two single tickets rather than a return ticket.

  • Consider different departure options: If you live in a town or city where you can easily access local train stations other than the one closest to you, it’s always worth checking if you can reach your required destination for a cheaper ticket price by catching the train from there.

  • Don’t assume the new flexible season tickets will save you money: New options are being brought in to meet the needs of the sometimes commuter who still works from home a few days a week. But be careful to work out your exact costs. It might well be the case buying daily returns or a standard weekly, monthly or annual ticket works out cheaper in your case.”