How to Buy Cheap UK Train Tickets

National Rail Enquiries has always been a pretty good source of information for finding out about UK train fares. Recently, they introduced a 'Cheap Fares Finder' which makes this process even easier.

Provided you are relatively flexible in the time of day you want to travel, you should be able to find a good price for your chosen journey, and be able to compare costs between different operators.

Entering your Journey Details:

Head over to the National Rail Enquiries Cheap Fare Finder. Enter your chosen origin and destination town/city, and then click on the 'Show Me' button.

The page will then display the different operators that run trains between your origin and destination. From here, you will already be able to see which operator offers the cheapest fare, so click on that operator.

The next step is to enter your dates of travel. In order to find the cheapest way of making your journey, select the 'Flexible on Dates?' box. Don't worry if you have to travel on a specific day, just don't select that box and it will still be able to find you the cheapest fare on your particular day of travel.

Next, you need to select a time range for your journey. Generally, to get the cheapest fare, try to avoid travelling in peak hours (e.g. before 09.30am). You can always change this time range later in order to see how much more/less expensive it is to travel at an alternate time.

The final step is to enter details for the people travelling. Don't forget to add railcard details for anyone that has one. If you don't have a railcard, I would definitely suggest buying one as they can save a third off rail ticket prices, and if you make just a few journeys, you should make your money back.

Once that is all done, click on the 'Find Cheapest Fares' button.

The Results Page:

The box on the left will show you the cheapest available fare for your chosen time range on your day of travel (and the days around your chosen day of travel if you indicated that your dates were flexible).

Depending on fare availability, you may be able to select earlier or later trains on the right-hand box. In order to get a good idea about all your possible options, feel free to change the operator (at the top, if applicable) in order to see whether they have a greater range of available fares.

Once you have found your chosen journey, click on the 'View Ticket Summary and Buy' button.

Buying UK Train Tickets:

National Rail Enquiries doesn't actually sell train tickets directly. Instead, it redirects you to one of the operator's sites (you may get a choice of operators).

Most UK rail operators allow you to buy tickets for other operators' routes. Some companies (like The Trainline and RailEasy) charge a small booking fee on top of the normal ticket price.

International customers can buy UK train tickets as long as they opt to pick up their tickets from a station, rather than have them posted. After completing payment, you will be sent a 'Fast Ticket Reference', which you should keep safe, along with the card you used for payment.

In the UK, go to the station that you selected to pick up the tickets from, present your card or confirmation code, and your tickets will be printed.


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