Book Christmas rail tickets now to save a fortune: Failing to buy in advance means you could pay up to TEN times as much for exactly the same seat
Rail users should book their tickets now to visit loved ones over the festive season. Failure to do so could result in them facing much higher costs.
Train strikes may have been scaled back for now – but unless Christmas travellers book an ‘advance’ ticket in the next few days they could pay up to ten times as much for exactly the same seat if they wait until the day of travel to make a purchase.
With ‘essential engineering and railway improvement work’ planned between December 23 and January 3, fewer services will be running – meaning cheaper advance tickets could soon run out. Even delaying a purchase by a week could result in ticket costs doubling.
Plan ahead: Unless Christmas travellers book an ‘advance’ ticket in the next few days they could pay up to ten times as much for exactly the same seat if they wait until the day of travel
In some cases, it will be cheaper booking a first-class ticket in advance rather than paying for a standard ticket on the day.
Train travellers, bruised by recent strikes and pared-back services on non-strike days, should also consider ‘splitticketing’ – for example, where two tickets are purchased for specific legs of one journey, resulting in a cheaper overall fare.
Websites such as TrainSplit and Split Ticketing will calculate potential savings while ticketing website Trainline will show split ticketing prices if they are cheaper. Trainline imposes a £1.50 booking fee.
The National Rail Enquiries website offers details of advance ticket discounts as well as other special deals through its ‘cheap fair finder’ tool.
Also, check the website of the train company you are travelling on for special offers.
Another good way of cutting the cost of train travel is to purchase a railcard. These cost £30 a year and can knock a third off the price of an off-peak ticket – for those travelling after 9.30am.
Offers include a 16 to 25 Railcard, a 26 to 30 Railcard, a Senior Railcard for those aged 60 and over – and a Two Together Railcard for two named people.
Families can also opt for a Family & Friends Railcard that allows up to a third off the standard price of a ticket for up to four adults and half price for children up to the age 15.
Travelling by train is not getting cheaper. Standard fares have risen by an average 4.8 per cent this year and will soar again in March with yet-to-be-decided hikes.