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Save Money on Trains Amid Price Hike

Vicky Parry 4th Mar 2024 No Comments

Reading Time: 3 minutes

Commuters in England are set to lose out as the price of train tickets rise from Sunday (March 3), with rail fares confirmed to increase by 4.9%.

The upcoming fare increase is set to be capped below inflation and will see a delay from the usual January implementation.

Traditionally, fares have climbed based on July’s retail price index (RPI) measure of inflation, plus an additional 1%. However, for the second consecutive year, the Department for Transport has opted to limit fare hikes to remain below July’s RPI rate, which stood at 9%.

This announcement follows a period of service disruptions due to strikes by rail workers over the past 18 months.

Approximately 45% of fares fall under regulation, meaning they are directly influenced by the government. These include most season tickets, travelcards, some off-peak returns, and anytime tickets around major cities.

Last year, the government implemented a 5.9% increase in national rail fares, which fell short of July 2022’s RPI figure of 12.3%. Despite this, it marked the largest hike since 2012, as reported by the Office of Rail and Road.

In a recent announcement, Transport Scotland revealed plans for an 8.7% increase in rail fares across Scotland starting from April next year. The Scottish government cited the current prices as “simply no longer sustainable.”

This fare adjustment will impact all services operated by ScotRail, including the Caledonian Sleeper train.

Transport Secretary Mark Harper characterized the 4.9% rise as a “significant intervention by the government to cap the increase in rail fares below last year’s rise.”

He further explained, “Changed working patterns after the pandemic means that our railways are still losing money and require significant subsidies, so this rise strikes a balance to keep our railways running, while not overburdening passengers.”

Ways to Save Money on Train Travel

Buy quick! 

“First and foremost the hike hasn’t quite come into place yet, so if you have money in the bank and some trips in the near future, buy them ahead of Sunday and save yourself the 4.9%” 



Jasmine also reminds us that “If you don’t have a railcard already, get on it – this could be the smartest investment you make all year. 

A Railcard takes 1/3 off every train journey, on Anytime, Off-Peak and Advance tickets from any National Rail operator in the UK. It costs only £30 for a year, which you could make back in your first couple of trips, or £70 for three years. 

It’s quick and easy to apply online, at a station ticket office or over the phone.


Split ticket  

This is a big saver. Jasmine uses these on most trips and says that ‘If your train journey has a change or two, it may be cheaper to split your ticket. This means buying a ticket for each leg of the trip, instead of just one that covers it all. 


A journey from Llandudno to London could be cheaper if you bought a ticket from Llandudno to Crewe, then one to London – so long as you actually call in at these stops, it’s a perfectly legal way to save cash. 

Use SplitTicketing to see if this could help you. The apps SeatFrog and Thetrainline offer the potential to save by spitting your tickets. 

Cheap Tickets  

On National Rail Enquiries, you can enter the details of your journey and find the cheapest ticket available, a useful tool for money saving on the move. 

It will also provide as much information as possible about your journey such as stops and platform numbers – useful if you’re new to travelling by train


Where to buy 

The automated ticket machines on many train station platforms are useful and convenient for picking up pre-booked tickets but using them to buy on the day could lose you money. 

Often, they don’t provide options to select discounted fares such as family tickets, making a group journey more expensive. 

Ensure you get the best deal by booking online, calling into the ticket office, or calling up before you travel. 


Make sure you get a refund!! 

This last year has seen our train journeys in absolute disarray. So make sure you know your rights! Trains can be unreliable at the best and worst of times, and if your day is ruined by a delayed or cancelled train, you could brighten it up a bit by claiming a refund or compensation. 


According to National Rail’s website, if your train is delayed or cancelled and you choose not to travel, you’re entitled to a full refund. 


If you battle on, you could claim 50% of your ticket price back – if you arrive an hour or more late to your destination. 

So, whilst these constant price hikes are unavoidable at present and seem to be coming in thick and fast, Jasmine reminds us all to “stay savvy”, “know your rights” and to “shop around”.  

Stay tuned for more insights and strategies on managing these changes from MoneyMagpie.


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Jasmine Birtles

Your money-making expert. Financial journalist, TV and radio personality.

Jasmine Birtles

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