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Please may I have some help/advise re train tickets?

(15 Posts)
mckenzie Wed 17-Jun-15 17:58:58

DD and I will be going from London to Exeter in August. (Down Saturday morning, back up sunday probably ).
We can book our tickets now.
How do I go about getting the best deal on rail fares please?


Plexie Fri 19-Jun-15 17:57:45

Look up prices, eg on Travelling from Waterloo rather than Paddington is cheaper but the journey time is longer (up to 1 hour). An off-peak return ticket is £82.50 from Paddington and £71.60 from Waterloo.

Then look at the prices of individual single tickets. 'Advance' tickets are cheaper but you are restricted to travelling on a specifically timed train (no flexibility to change your plans or if you miss your train you'll need to buy a new ticket). The Advance tickets vary in price - a certain number of tickets are allocated in each price band, so when the cheapest have sold out the price for the remaining tickets increases.

Also consider buying a Network Railcard - It costs £30 and you get a third off ticket prices and up to 3 people travelling with you can get a third off their tickets too.

If you're buying the tickets online use a site that doesn't charge a credit card fee (eg - the train providers' websites sell each others tickets too, not just their own). You can have the tickets posted to you (for a charge) or collect them from the ticket machine at a train station (for free). You'll need to take the credit card that the booking was made on. You can choose to collect them from any train station (not just the one you're travelling from) and you can also collect them in advance of the date of travel.

If you're buying the tickets at a train station try to use a big station as the staff at the ticket office will have more experience of navigating the booking system. It's helpful to know exactly the type of ticket you want and how much it costs. (I recently tried to book a ticket at my local station for a journey I make often and knew exactly what I wanted and the price. The ticket seller couldn't find it on the system so in the end I gave up and went home and booked it online. I eventually worked out that he must have input the use of a railcard at the beginning of his search and the booking system was displaying the prices after the discount, which is why none of the prices matched the ticket price I was quoting at him.)

FaFoutis Fri 19-Jun-15 18:03:29

I discovered buying individual tickets for sections of the route can save a fortune thanks to lovely helpful people on MN. If your fare seems expensive it is worth a try.

ChuckBiscuits Fri 19-Jun-15 18:07:20

It's a thing. Use it to your advantage.

mckenzie Sat 20-Jun-15 13:18:15

Thanks guys. Lots of helpful advice. I really appreciate it. Thank you very much.

PinkSquash Sat 20-Jun-15 13:21:36

Advance fares are the best bet, also look at whether you would make a good discount using a railcard such as Family & Friends.

If you don't mind a longer journey and going into Waterloo you could get the SWT which is normally cheaper than FGW but as before, its a slower journey as it's not a HST.

mummymeister Sun 21-Jun-15 12:52:35

just started taking my daughter on uni visits and we use the two together rail card which has saved us a lot of money. useful if they are too old for family and friends railcard. wouldn't consider booking a rail journey without using my card.

JeanSeberg Sun 21-Jun-15 12:55:06 has singles from £20.50 each way.

SunnyBaudelaire Sun 21-Jun-15 12:58:29

get a family and friends railcard

Madcats Sun 21-Jun-15 17:56:35

You need to take a child with you to be able to use a Family & Friends card (though we bought a card for our family before kid had to legally pay and bought her a ticket becasue it was always a lot cheaper.

I don't recommend using Thetrainline becasue they have transaction fees and credit card fees. A train company like First Great Western won't charge you and sends the tickets out first class (they often arrive the next day for me).

You can buy advance tickets 12 weeks in advance and these advance tickets only ever go up in price.

By all means look at split your ticket. I've found it useful when travelling last minute/can't fix train times more than with advance tickets.

Just to complicate things I have found that extending the journey from outside central London to the other side saved me a bomb getting out to Ipswich once (I think I bought from Reading even though I was in Westminster).

I think Network Rail are busy digging up my railway line all summer but it is worth checking whether they are doing engineering works on your stretch on the Network Rail website.

Finally i've been seriously impressed by the social media minions on the First Great Western Facebook page. They have been very speedy at answering ticket validity questions when the network was "busy going nowhere" this winter (usually within about 5 mins).

Hope this helps

mckenzie Tue 23-Jun-15 09:10:37

Thanks very much for the extra replies. It looks like there's a few of us going now so I shall definitely get the family and friends railcard.

Belleview Tue 23-Jun-15 09:25:19

Just to complicate things I have found that extending the journey from outside central London to the other side saved me a bomb getting out to Ipswich once (I think I bought from Reading even though I was in Westminster).

Please explain further? And.. How did you find this out? I plug away looking for cheap fares but never would have thought of this!

PinkSquash Tue 23-Jun-15 17:14:41

Mckenzie see if a groupsave works out cheaper before you spend £30 on a F&F railcard as that is valid for two named adults and 4 children only.

mckenzie Tue 23-Jun-15 19:24:33

thanks pinksquash. There will only be one child in the group so that will definitely be better.
I'm waiting now on everybody else to make their minds up about date of travel - I should have just booked for DD and me smile

PinkSquash Tue 23-Jun-15 19:59:36

No worries, would hate for anyone to spend money unnecessarily, but I hope you get to book soon and enjoy your visit! smile

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