For those of us who are heading back into work, dreading buying our commuter passes today, or looking to buy that reasonably priced ticket – it’s a reminder that the rail ticket prices that fall under regulated regimes are going up by an average of 3.1% today.
Regulated fares account for nearly 40% of the UK rail system traffic, covering:
- Season tickets on the majority of commuter routes
- Off-peak return tickets for some long-distance journeys
- Flexible travel tickets for major cities.
Of course, getting this list is near enough impossible. You can expect fare rises on non-regulated rail ticket fares, such as
- Super Off-Peak fares
- First Class Fares of any sort
- Some Regional Fares
- Advance fares (fares booked in advance)
In a Quote
Paul Plummer, Chief Executive of the Rail Delivery Group stated in November:
“Nobody wants to pay more to travel, especially those who experienced significant disruption earlier this year.
“Money from fares is underpinning the improvements to the railway that passengers want and which ultimately help boost the wider economy. That means more seats, extra services and better connections right across the country.”
However, it seems with successive UK Governments intent on shifting the cost of the railways from the taxpayer to the rail user, fares are only going to go up.
Wonderful. Are there Any ways to save money on rail tickets?
There are ways to save money on the railways, depending on various factors:
- Advance fares – Fares which lock you to a particular train on a particular route (akin to air-travel). Good for end-to-end trips, but you lose flexibility in the process
- Split ticketing – There’s more than enough loopholes in the UK Rail ticketing system that two or more tickets can be cheaper than one. Money Saving Expert has a good introductory guide.
- Single or Return? – Returns can sometimes be pennies more expensive than single tickets. Off-Peak and Super Off-Peak tickets help in this respect. For an example, I regularly buy a Birmingham Moor Street to London Marylebone ticket. The single fare (last year) was £30.40. The return fare is £30.50… a grand total of 10p more expensive. Of course, advance ticketing can lower costs further.
- Off-Peak travel – Some routes offer peak only ticketing (e.g. Heathrow Express). Most have Off-Peak times which allow for cheaper rail travel (typically avoiding pre-10:00 arrivals and between 15:30 and 19:00). Some operators have Super Off-Peak tickets, which have very restrictive timings.
- Railcards – If you’re in the UK for any serious length of time, consider a railcard depending on certain circumstances. Each railcard has their own set of validity rules. Full details at https://www.railcard.co.uk/. Here’s the short list.
- 16-26 Railcard – Offers 1/3rd off for those between 16-25. Peak Restrictions apply.
- 26-30 Railcard – the so-called “Millennials” railcard. Officially, launched today (2nd January), however – the launch of it has been short of being an omnishambles.
- Family Railcard – Save a 1/3 off. At least one adult and one child must travel.
- Two Together Railcard – Save a 1/3 on fares when two people on the same railcard travel together
- Senior Railcard – Save a 1/3 off for over 60’s
- Network Railcard – 1/3 off fares on Off-Peak fares inside the London and South East area.
- Read the ticket machines. Some will offer options however check before you book your ticket. As some sales options can be… bewildering.
Plan and Book ahead for cheaper rail tickets
The industry argues that not all passengers will be adversely hit by the rail ticket price increases, that they are needed to improve the network and that you should book and plan ahead for the best value fares.
But we all know that isn’t possible in a lot of cases. There are some train companies that allow you book advance tickets on the day, whilst most will allow you to book the day before travel.
My biggest tip – check with which train company you’re travelling with for what is peak-time travel, and what isn’t in an effort to save some money on a rail ticket.
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