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What are Split Tickets?

Railsmartr now does split tickets! Here's our guide to saving a packet with them.
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Did you know that Railsmartr now does split tickets on the most popular routes across Great Britain?* This is a great way to save even more on your journey. So, how does it work, how do you use split tickets and how can you find them when you book with us? Let’s take a look.

What are Split Tickets?

Split ticketing involves buying more than one ticket to make a journey. For example, if you’re travelling from Newcastle to London, then you could have a ticket from Newcastle to York, then another one from York to London. You don’t need to get off at York, you can simply stay on the same train! In most cases, you can even stay in the same seat.

In some cases, this is cheaper than just buying one ticket all the way to your destination. This has become an increasingly popular way of saving money on train tickets in recent years. It’s even made the media, such as the journey of the football fan who had 56 different tickets and reservation coupons for a return journey for two from Newcastle to Oxford.

Why can Split Tickets be cheaper?

There are a number of different reasons why split tickets can be cheaper. Here are some of the most common ones:

  • If you’re starting your journey during peak hours, then you might be able to buy an Anytime ticket and then an Off-Peak one for a later part of the journey once peak time has passed. For example, if you travel from Newcastle to Birmingham at 08:30 on a weekday, then this is peak time on CrossCountry trains. However, the train leaves York after 09:30, so you’re firmly in Off-Peak territory then. As a result, you’d only need an Anytime ticket for the first part!
  • Using a combination of Advance tickets? These are quota-controlled. This means that there’s only a limited number of each fare ‘tier’ available. You might find that there are cheaper ‘tiers’ available if you buy multiple tickets, while Advance tickets for the entire journey are more expensive or might have sold out entirely.
  • An Advance ticket might not exist at all for your journey! As a result, you’d need to split your tickets up in order to take advantage of the cheapest fares.

Are there any rules that I need to know?

There are a few things that you need to be aware of. Firstly, in most cases, your train must stop at the stations where you’ve split your tickets. For example, if you have tickets from London to Doncaster, then Doncaster to Leeds, your train must stop at Doncaster.

Secondly, you need to be aware of minimum connection times. If you book with Railsmartr, we’ll do the legwork and make sure that you have enough time to change trains. If you book each ticket separately and don’t leave enough time, then you won’t be entitled to any compensation if there’s a delay and you miss your connecting train.

To find out the minimum connection time for a station, click here and enter the station name.

What happens if my train is delayed?

This is one of the biggest myths around split ticketing. If you have multiple tickets for your journey, this doesn’t affect your right to compensation if there’s a delay. So long as you’ve left enough time for any connections, it’s exactly the same as if you had just one ticket.

Be careful if you’re doing this across London, though. If you have a ticket from York to London, then London to Bristol, and you use Contactless or Oyster on the Underground to get from Kings Cross to Paddington, there’s technically a gap in the journey. In this case, you’d need a ticket that was also valid on the Underground.

How can I find Split Tickets on Railsmartr?

So, let’s take a look at how you can save. As a matter of fact, it’s rather easy! Just pop your journey into the Railsmartr site and we’ll do the rest. We’ll tell you if there are split tickets available, such as in this example:

example of split tickets on railsmartr site

It’ll show as Split Single. We’ll only show this to you if it’s the cheapest option. In this example, we’re going from Newcastle to Birmingham New Street. By using split tickets, we’re saving more than 50% of the original fare, as an Advance Single would usually cost £124.20. It’s just £60.20 with split tickets!

When you’re ready, select your fare and select your seat preferences in the usual way. Finally, on the payment page, we’ll tell you how many tickets you can expect to receive.

split ticket itinerary on railsmartr site

In this example, you’ll receive one ticket between Newcastle and York and another from York to Birmingham. Of course, it’s all for the same train, so there’s no need to change.

We’ll also tell you your seat reservations. We’ll always aim to give you the same seat throughout, but this might not be possible on particularly busy services. In these cases, you might prefer to find an unreserved seat instead. Our dedicated guide to unreserved coaches will tell you where to find these.

Is there anything else I should know?

Ready to book your next trip? You can expect split tickets with no fees at Railsmartr. We’ll find you the cheapest fare and we won’t charge you any extra if you’re able to save by splitting. Changed your mind? Need to refund or change your ticket? No problem – we don’t charge fees for this either. You’ll only ever pay the difference.

We’ve also produced a handy selection of more Expert Tips to help you travel smarter on your next journey.

*At the time of writing, Railsmartr offers split tickets on the 10,000 most popular journeys taken by passengers by the number of tickets purchased. We are working on rolling this out to all possible journeys in due course.