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Cheap Train Tickets

The Train System in the United Kingdom

The train system that runs in the United Kingdom is the oldest the entire world. Currently, the UK rail system is 18th largest network in the world. In addition, the system is one of the busiest in the world offering 20% more train services than the country of France and 60% more services than those found in Spain and Italy.

Passenger Train

The passenger train services offered in the United Kingdom are run by private companies and the services are divided by regions. The private companies bid for contracts in order to run their franchises.

In the year 2002-2003 the franchised train services provided over 950 million journeys that totalled almost 25 billion travel miles for passengers. In 2011, the number of passengers increased by almost 6% and this number is expected to continue to rise as the number of people using trains for their travelling needs in the UK is increasing.

The Public Performance Measure is used to assess the train performance for passenger trains. In the year 1998 nearly 90% of trains arrived on time. This figure dropped down to 75% during the early part of 2001. As of the fall of 2006 the performance has rebounded and nearly 87% of the trains run on time in the country.

One of problems that some people have with the train’s services in the United Kingdom is the price of tickets. Britain has some of the highest fares for rails in the world. For example, as of the summer of 2013 the cost for a yearly ticket from London to Brighton, which is an 87 km trip, is €3,532. In comparison, the cost for a yearly German BahnCard that allows a year of travel on the entire rail network in Germany costs almost the same amount at 4090 Euros. The rail operators in the United Kingdom point out that the increases in prices are far less than the increases seen for the price of petrol needed for private motoring.

During the 1970s the high speed rail was introduced to the country. However, services were not offered to passengers until the year 2003. The first phase of these trains opened in 2003 and they linked the British side of the Channel Tunnel in Folkestone with the Fawkham Junction located in Kent. This is an international only passenger train provided by the Eurostar service. The line has since been extended to London.

Local Rail Systems

Most of the cities and towns throughout the United Kingdom have some type of rapid transit system in place. London and Glasgow both have heavy underground systems that are used throughout the cities. There are light rail systems that have underground sections located in the centre of the city in places such as Newcastle-upon-Tyne and in the area of the London Docklands. The rail systems located in Birmingham/Black Country, Croydon, Manchester, Sheffield, and Nottingham all use combinations of street running as well as some of the conventional rail lines if located in the area. There is one traditional tram system running in Blackpool. There are also miniature railways, heritage tramways, funiculars, and monorails that exist in many of the cities. The majority of major cities all have some type of commuter railway in place. These cities include Sheffield, Manchester, London, Liverpool, Leeds, Glasgow, Edinburgh, Cardiff, Bristol, Birmingham, and Belfast.

Finding Cheap Train Tickets

For those travelling in the United Kingdom, train travel is likely going to be a part of your travel plans. As mentioned, the cost of train tickets is somewhat high throughout the United Kingdom. However, there are certain things that you can do to find cheap train tickets. Here are some tips for getting the best prices for your train travel.

Plan your travel smartly – Book early to save more!

Ideally, you will want to get your train tickets at almost 12 weeks exactly before your departure date. The reason for this is because the Network Rail is contractually obligated to set their timetables at 12 weeks in advance. If you buy early, you will be able to save lots of bucks and on the other hand, late bookings may lead to the unavailability or higher fares. If you already know where you want to go you can join the train lines alert system. This will send you an email the moment that advance tickets are available for a specific trip. Make sure to think twice before making any decision, as ticket cancelation is not available sometimes.

Avoid peak times – Smart planning required

To save money not only on tickets but other expenses including accommodation as well, plan your travel smartly. Avoid peak times because everyone tries to travel in peak times and the fares are generally very high during such rush hours.

Travelling to London – Buy a Travelcard

When you are looking for cheap trains, Travelcards are one of the most cost-effective ways. Passengers travelling to London for the day, add Travelcard while booking the ticket and avail discount as well as other benefits.

Travelling long distances – Avail discount with coupons

Where advance booking is done, save your money by using coupon, which can reduce the costs by up to 30% or more. Railcard is one of the best solutions to get discounts on train fares.

Unlimited train and bus travel – Add a PLUSBUS ticket

PLUSBUS tickets are available at about 300 towns and cities on the National Rail network in Britain. It offers a tremendous way to get around the city and town. When you add PLUSBUS ticket to your train ticket, it enables unlimited bus travel in almost every bus service in that city or town.

Special or Seasonal offers – Keep your eye wide open

Plenty or seasonal or special offers are available all over the National Rail network, such as -
  • Weekender tickets on National Express East Coast - provides discounts on your journeys that start on either a Friday or Saturday and return within four days.
  • Family Travelcards - from various railway stations in East Anglia to London. In this offer, you need to pay a flat rate for children usually just £2.
  • ‘Kids Go Free’ on several routes in Scotland through Scotrail and many other operators all over the UK. Travelling to same destination frequently – buy a season ticket
Passengers, who are travelling to the same destination for more than two or three time in a week, can save by purchasing a season ticket. It is a great value ticket for the frequent travellers. If you buy annual season ticket, it costs equivalent to 40 weeks’ travel and you get further three months at no extra cost.

Travelling in groups - Buy 'Groupsave' tickets

If you are travelling with family, colleagues, or friends (more than three people), Groupsave tickets are easily available on many routes. Its offers great savings on ticket costs for three or more people travelling in a group.

Buy Split Tickets

This is one trick that many people do not think about. For some reason, it is likely cheaper to buy separate tickets for separate parts of your journey. Buying tickets for each section of the trip can save you a lot of money overall. It is important to make sure that the train stops at all the stations that you purchase tickets for.

These are just a few ideas for getting cheap train tickets when travelling in the United Kingdom and even throughout Europe.
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