We use cookies to track usage and preferences. You can view our cookies policy here.

What’s the cheapest way to get train tickets?

We all want a bargain, but the world of train tickets can be confusing and full of hurdles. So, what’s the cheapest way to get train tickets? Let us take you through the ways that you can be sure to bag a saving on your next trip.

What’s the cheapest way to get train tickets?

There are a few different things that you can do to make sure you’re not being ripped off. Whether that’s booking ahead, getting your tickets online or looking at alternative routes, let’s take a look at how it can be done.

Book online with Railsmartr

Even if you’re wanting to jump on the next train, this can still be the cheapest way to get train tickets. Booking online isn’t just for when you’re planning a trip weeks and months ahead. For example, if we want to go from Carlisle to Newcastle straight away, let’s see what we get:

railsmartr website showing the best way to book train tickets to carlisle for travel straight away

It’s £9.20 if we want to go in 20 minutes, but just £3 if we’re happy to wait another hour. By contrast, it’d be £19.70 at the ticket office. We don’t have any booking fees, either. The price you see is the price you pay.

Know when the quieter times are

When it comes to finding the cheapest way to get train tickets, it often isn’t about how far ahead you book, but rather knowing when the ‘quieter’ times are. If a rail operator knows it can fill a train with tickets at £50 each, it’ll never release tickets that are any cheaper. It often isn’t as simple as every train starting out cheap then gradually getting more expensive.

Let’s say we want to travel down to London on a Wednesday morning. We’re starting out in Newcastle:

railsmartr website showing fares from newcastle to london on a thursday

We’re looking at trains two months ahead, yet the price seems quite high. So, what happens if we look at a Friday, instead? Here’s what we find:

railsmartr website showing cheaper fares from newcastle to london on a friday

If you’re travelling to London King’s Cross or London Euston, there aren’t any peak restrictions on a Friday. So, prices are kept down as they’re effectively ‘capped’ at the price of the Super Off-Peak fare rather than the more expensive Anytime one. In general, Fridays are the quietest day to travel into London, particularly in the morning.

By contrast, we’d recommend travelling before 09:30 if you want to travel on a Saturday. Sunday mornings and afternoons can also be the busiest time of the week to travel.

Want to know more? We have a dedicated guide to finding the best time to travel.

Consider slower routes

So, the trains you’re after are too expensive. But, did you know that Railsmartr will show you slower options, too? It’ll take a little longer, but you could save a packet. Let’s say we need to go from Newcastle to Sheffield next week, early in the morning:

railsmartr website showing the best way to book train tickets to sheffield

There’s nearly an £18 saving between these two journeys. But, what’s the difference? You arrive at the same time.

You wouldn’t believe it, but all you do is leave 10 minutes earlier on an LNER train, then pick up the same CrossCountry train in York instead. Why on earth would we suggest that? Well, that’s £17.60 you could spend on something else, so why not?

Is there anything else I should know?

The final thing we’d recommend is using the Railsmartr website, as it’s one of the cheapest ways to get cheap train tickets. We’re completely independent, so we’re happy to ‘tell you like it is’ when it comes to rail fares. Not only that, but we’ll show you the slower, but cheaper options that some websites won’t.

Don’t forget that we don’t charge any fees, either. That includes if you change your mind and want to travel on a different day. If your ticket is refundable, we’ll refund it fee-free, too!

All fares stated on this page are for ONE adult with no Railcard discount and were correct at 14:15 08/06/23. All information is issued in good faith. They’re subject to change at any time and Railsmartr are not responsible for any loss or disappointment incurred as a result of the information provided.