Booking cheap rail tickets

Christmas might still seem yonks away, but if you want to travel the country by train this festive season, you need to start booking now
Christmas might still seem yonks away, but if you want to travel to the country by train this festive season, you need to start booking now.

Since Network Rail sets the train timetables exactly 12 weeks ahead, booking tickets for Christmas and New Year now will give you the best chance of securing the cheapest advance fares.

Use a booking site like thetrainline.com or raileasy.com to find the cheapest tickets, but, because they add booking fees, once you’ve found the journey you want to buy it’s best to either visit the train operator’s website or go to a station to buy direct.

To save more money, try playing around with your booking: some operators charge less for booking two single tickets than one return, for example. And if your dates are flexible, you can use the Best Fare Finder feature on thetrainline.com to find the cheapest day and time to travel.

Don’t rigidly stick to your usual company, either. The discount operator Megatrains offers journeys to Manchester, Bath, and more for upwards of £1.50.

Lastly, before you click ‘buy’, check whether you’re eligible for a railcard, which gives a discount of up to a third off ticket prices. They’re available for those aged 16 to 25, groups of up to four adults and kids with the Family & Friends card, plus the over 60s and disabled (www.railcard.co.uk or 08448 714036).

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