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How students can save money on train travel

Kelly 11th Jan 2016 No Comments

Reading Time: 4 minutes

Travelling anywhere, even just across the country, can put a serious dent in your bank account, which is especially frustrating if you live far away from home, or love to go and stay with friends outside uni.

However, if you travel by rail, there are plenty of ways students can save money on train travel: read on to find out how.

Get your hands on a STUDENT railcard

Railcard GraphicIf you don’t have one of these already, get on it – this could be the smartest investment you make all year.

The 16-25 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. Check out Student Money Saver’s Railcard deals page for up-to-date Railcard offers, plus a nifty loophole for when you’re over 25!


Book in advance

train ticket booking site on phoneYou can save a fortune on your train ticket by booking in advance (depending on the route).

National Rail has to set its timetable 12 weeks in advance, so if you can plan that far ahead, snap up your ticket for a hefty discount.

For example, a single ticket (with railcard discount) from Leeds to Birmingham costs £45.20 the day before travel. Twelve weeks on, however, the journey costs just £17.90. This doesn’t apply to all train journeys, but it’s definitely worth checking.


Split your ticket

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.


Find the cheapest ticket

How students can save money on train travelOn 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!


Avoid rush hour/commuter times

When you’re trying to get from A to B, there’s not much worse than being barged and hassled by the crowds, or not making it onto a full train.

Making your trip during rush hour or commuter times carries these risks, but on top of all that, your ticket could be much more expensive!

If you can, wait to travel until after 9am, when fare prices will drop.


Don’t rely on return tickets

How students can save money on train travelDon’t assume that, like most bus tickets, it’s cheaper to book a return rather than two singles.

Train ticket pricing is weird and wonderfully complicated, which means that two single tickets could actually work out cheaper – especially if you know what time you’re coming back.

This works with both advance fares and on-the-day tickets.


Careful where you 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.



unwanted presentsTrains 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.



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Jasmine Birtles

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

Jasmine Birtles

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