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When are train tickets cheapest?

It’s something we all want to know. We want to be there when the best fares come out, so we can grab a bargain on our next trip. So, we’re here to answer the question: ‘when are train tickets cheapest?’

When are train tickets cheapest?

This can depend on a number of factors. Train tickets can be cheaper depending on when you’re booking, when you’re travelling and who you’re travelling with. Let’s take a look at a number of different ways that you can sniff out the best fare.

How do I know when train tickets are available?

Before we can answer ‘when are train tickets cheapest’, we need to know that cheap train tickets are available in the first place! On the Railsmartr homepage, we’ll keep you up to date with when some tickets are available for the main rail operators:

railsmartr website showing when cheapest train tickets are available

If you want more detailed information though, you can take a look at the National Rail website. It’ll also tell you if certain days aren’t yet open for booking.

Usually, the best time to book is as soon as these cheaper fares are available. As it gets closer to the date of travel, the fare will gradually go up.

What’s the cheapest day to travel by train?

These days, it can often be busier on the weekend than on weekdays. Plus, the cheapest day to travel by train can vary. Many people only commute on certain days of the week, too. So, it isn’t as clear cut as ‘it’s more expensive in the rush hour’.

Friday mornings are often the cheapest weekday to travel from Edinburgh and Newcastle to London, for example. This is because there aren’t any peak-time travel restrictions on a Friday, so it keeps prices of cheaper ‘Advance‘ tickets lower.

Leisure travel has recovered a lot faster than business travel. This means that travelling on a weekend can be more expensive. In particular, you might find it cheaper to travel before 09:30 on Saturdays, and after 17:00 on Sundays.

However, if you’re travelling on Greater Anglia or Thameslink for example, the cheapest day to travel by train is a Saturday, Sunday or Bank Holiday. This is because they offer cheaper singles and day returns that are only valid on these days.

I’m booking far in advance, but it’s still expensive!

Unfortunately, not all trains have their fare start at the lowest possible price. In fact, train companies don’t have to offer any cheap ‘Advance’ tickets if they don’t want to.

If a company thinks it can still fill a train with more expensive tickets, then they’ll do it. Of course, you should also make sure that reservations have opened on your train. It could be that you’re too early! If you’re only able to buy a ‘flexible‘ ticket and it’s a while until you’re travelling, come back a little later to check again.

Are there any alternatives for me to get a cheaper fare?

Sometimes it might be cheaper to go a different way or to choose a particular train operator. Our guide to cheaper alternatives is a great start.

Travelling to Manchester, Edinburgh or York? Take a look at our useful information on bagging a cheaper fare. Just click on the name of the city to get started.

Is there anything else I should know?

Now that we’ve helped with when train tickets are cheapest, did you know that Railsmartr can help you to travel smarter in lots of ways? Whether you want to know how to get to London Airports, or which train has the best First Class, every page is filled with handy tips.

Ready to book? You can book it all with Railsmartr. We’ll be sure to show you even the slower and cheaper options, so you can get the best value fare for your journey.