How to Ease the Financial Strain of Travel by Train

The Evening Standard (London, England), August 21, 2012 | Go to article overview

How to Ease the Financial Strain of Travel by Train


Byline: Lucy Tobin

[bar] ONDON rail commuters are being hit with massive fare increases for the privilege of standing nose-to-armpit on the 8.34 to Paddington. The latest fare hikes mean many workers will be forced to pay as much as [pounds sterling]100 a week for daily journeys into the capital, with season tickets from January rising twice as fast as inflation and some fares increasing by 11%.

Even the average fare is rising by 6%, but buy in the wrong way or at the wrong time and the cost can be considerably higher than it needs to be. Whether you're booking a one-off journey or season ticket, here's how to cut the cost.

1. SPLIT YOUR TICKET One of the best ways to make savings is to break up your journey and buy several tickets -- one to a place in the middle of your journey, then another from that station to your destination. You usually don't have to change trains but need to ensure your train calls at each of the stations for which you have tickets. Use the site faresaver.org/search.html and it will do the hard work for you to lead you to savings, which can be [pounds sterling]100 or more on long journeys.

2. SEASON TICKETS Buying two different season tickets covering separate legs of the same journey rather than one can trigger massive savings. It's also worth looking at National Rail's season ticket calculator, http://ojp.

nationalrail.co.uk/service/ seasonticket/search, which shows the various prices on offer. Sometimes, skipping a station at the end of your route can keep the cost down and may only require a little extra effort.

3. PICK YOUR TIMING If you're buying a ticket for a specific date, rather than a regular journey, try to book exactly 12 weeks ahead of time. That's when Network Rail sets the train timetables and will give you the best chance of buying the cheapest advance fares before they run out. Likewise, if you make regular journeys, a feature at thetrainline.com/ticketalert sends passengers a warning email as soon as the cheapest tickets for a particular journey go on sale. Even if you're not that organised or you have to make a last-minute trip, it's still cheaper to buy advance tickets online from home, the night before or even a few hours before the train departs, than it is to turn up at the station and buy that very same ticket. …

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