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Back in 2008/09, I used to catch a train at least once a month. I lived in Newport and my Dad lived in St Helens, so I would regularly buy an open return and make the journey up to see him. Back then it used to cost me around £30 for the ticket – which even at the time was a lot of money for me – a whole week’s EMA in fact. Having just looked to see what that same journey would cost me now, I was gobsmacked to see that it’s now £84! Can you believe that?
The cost of train travel has risen at a staggering rate over the past 10 years. Even if you’re not a regular train user yourself, you probably would have caught some of the media coverage about yet another price hike. Unfortunately, rail industry regulations stipulate that ticket prices must rise in line with inflation – so is there actually a way to save money on train travel anymore? Or do we just have to accept the steep charges and cough up when we need to travel by rail?
If you’re a regular rail user, you’ll probably save a little money buying season tickets, or you might even have a rail card of some description. But what about if you just need to make a one off trip, or don’t travel often enough to justify the expense? Well there might be another way.
If you’re money savvy, you might have already heard of the concept of split-ticketing before – traintickets.com takes this concept one step further and takes all the legwork out, simply finding you the cheapest tickets available for your journey.
Split ticketing basically means buying more than one ticket for a single journey. So for example, say you were travelling from Cardiff to London – you might buy a ticket from Cardiff-Bristol, and Bristol-London. How does this save money? Well sometimes a shorter journey has a cheaper fare, and by split ticketing you’re searching for the most cost effective combination of tickets available for that specific journey.
So does it mean that you’ll need to change trains? No, you can stay on the same trains you would’ve with one ticket – you’ll just save money over the journey as a whole by buying the segments of the route separately.
Sound too complicated? Well, if you’ve tried split ticketing yourself before, you’ll know that it can be quite a labour intensive exercise and you’ll have to spend a lot of time trying different combinations of stations and seeing which works out cheapest. traintickets.com performs this search for you, finding you the cheapest available fare and saving you the time and effort of searching yourself.
Buying tickets through traintickets.com doesn’t cost you anything – there are no booking fees. They make their money by taking a 10% cut of your saving. So say a ticket should’ve cost £50 and they find you the same journey for £45, they’ll take 10% of the £5 saving, meaning you’ll pay £45.50. If they can’t find you a cheaper fare, you’ll pay the same price as you would do anywhere else.
It’ll obviously depend entirely on your journey, but since it isn’t going to cost you anymore but there’s the potential to make a saving – it’s definitely worth a look. I did a search on traintickets.com and Nationalrail.co.uk to see if split ticketing could save me money on a theoretical journey.
As you can see, traintickets.com found this journey cheaper than booking through Nationalrail.co.uk – so overall this journey would cost you £66.27, instead of £106.30 – a huge saving of £40.03
If you’re going to be taking a journey by train anytime soon, then I would definitely recommend checking out traintickets.com
At worst, you’ll pay the same price anyway and if not, you could be looking at some fantastic savings.
It’s also worth checking out this article for other great tips for how to save money on train fares.
I started Katie Saves while on Maternity Leave to document our adjustment to living on less. Now back in work - I blog about all things money with a little life organisation thrown in for good measure. Join me!