A survey of over 700 university students in the UK found that 99% overestimated the lowest possible price of a single ticket between London Euston and Manchester Piccadilly.*
How often do you see low priced tickets though? I did loads of train travel as a student and the long distance journeys were pretty costly. Not having enough money, I had to seek out the best prices.
The student survey, for thetrainline.com, discovered that 72% were aware that a Young Person’s (16-25) Railcard can save a third off fares, but only a quarter of the respondents knew that more savings could be made by booking ahead.
I was hot on the cheap advance tickets. Even after I found the cheapest fares, I still got another third off the price with my 16-25 Railcard.
You have to be quick to get the very best prices. Tickets for the next long holiday may not be the first thing on your mind the moment you arrive back from the last holiday, but advance legwork may be the best way to save some serious cash.
Ian Hildreth, thetrainline.com’s Marketing Director, says, “The cheapest Advance train tickets for travel in the Easter break go on sale up to twelve weeks in advance”. He advises students to sign up to their Ticket Alert email so you get the lowdown on when the tickets you want go on sale. That way, you’ve got the best chance to grab a great deal.
Another way I search for the cheapest deals is through the National Rail website, where they offer a cheap fares finder. They check the different train operator’s prices for you and they can vary a lot. Be flexible about dates if you can, because you’re more likely to find the best deals that way.
Even if you have to book at the last minute, it’s still worth seeking out a cheaper advance ticket a day or two before the journey. In fact, Martin Lewis says on moneysavingexpert.com, “Always check if advance tickets are still available, even if you’re on the way to the station”. Check out the MoneySavingExpert section on rail travel for more tips, including hardcore tactics such as splitting your tickets for even bigger savings.
*If you’re wondering, the lowest priced fare from London to Manchester is £12. I did check a date in the future to see this for myself. Those prices were available, but they can go fast. And remember, with a Young Person’s Railcard, that price goes down even further to £8. Good times!