Rail fares to be hiked by up to 2.8% next year – here’s how to cut costs now


THERE’S misery for commuters in England, Scotland and Wales who can expect to see rail fares rocket by up to 2.8 per cent from January 2020.

That’s because the amount they can rise by is capped at July’s retail prices index (RPI) measure of inflation, which has been announced today as 2.8 per cent.

Rail ticket machines
Rail fares are set to rise by xx per cent from January 2020
Getty – Contributor

The change applies to regulated fares, which makes up round 45 per cent of tickets.

This includes season tickets on most commuter journeys, some off-peak return tickets on long distance journeys and anytime tickets around major cities.

But this is a smaller increase compared to this year when ticket prices rose by 3.1 per cent.

We’ve rounded-up some top tips for cutting fares below.

How to split your ticket to unlock hidden savings

If you’re taking a lengthy train journey then you could save hundreds of pounds by splitting your tickets.

For example, a one-way advance ticket from London to Leeds later today will cost you £89. It’s a direct train so there’s no need to change.

But if you split the journey between London Kings Cross to Doncaster (£38.80) and from Doncaster to Leeds (£9.40) it will cost you £54.32, saving you £34.68.

You won’t need to change trains and National Rail let’s you split your ticket as long as the train calls at the station you buy the tickets for.

One site that works this out for you is Splitticketing.co.uk.

Buy a season ticket and saving hundreds

Regular travellers can save by purchasing either a seven day, monthly or yearly season ticket, which will allow them to make the journey an unlimited number of times as long as it’s valid.

If you’re making the same journey on three or more days a week, then a seven day season ticket is likely to save you money, compared to buying a new one every day.

You can check to see if a season ticket will save you money on your trip with National Rail’s season ticket calculator.

Book at least 12 weeks in advance

Network Rail releases its timetable 12 weeks in advance, so ticket firms usually make their fares available at this time.

Some operators release them even earlier but the key is to book early.

Just like plane tickets, the earlier you book the lower the price you’ll pay for your seat.

This is really important for peak travel times, like the Easter and Christmas holidays.

You can sign up to the Trainline’s ticket alert service and it will tell you when cheap advance tickets go on sale for a particular journey.

Also, the National Rail’s future travel chart shows the furthest advance date that you can buy tickets.

Can you save money with a railcard?

If you’re a regular traveller then a railcard should shave a third off the price of your ticket.

They cost between £20 and £30 per year. For example, the 16-25 railcard gives a third off ticket rates or full-time students of any age.

Meanwhile, the Government’s new flagship 26-30 railcard has been rolled out this year.

But there was only a limited number of them and the website crashed within minutes of them being released, leaving many people without one.

It’s similar to the 16-25 railcard, and will cost £30 and will give commuters a third off travel for the year.

If you’re travelling in a group of up to four adults, then you might be interested in the Family and Friends Railcard.

There is also a Network Railcard, which costs £30 a year, which gives anyone aged 16 or over a third off tickets, plus discounts on days out and theatre tickets.

Find tickets using a cheap booking website

Don’t pay over the odds for tickets, remember to compare prices before you buy.

Firstly, check the National Rail website as it’s a great way to get an overview of routes and travel times.

Then check RedSpottedHanky and  The Trainline to see if there are cheaper fares. They will usually charge you to make a booking – between 25p and £1.50 – so factor that in too.

It’s also worth checking Megatrain too. It has hundreds of single tickets from £15, plus a 50p booking fee.

It was revealed last year that the price of train tickets has gone up by 32 per cent in nine years but weekly earnings have only grown by 16 per cent.

In other rail news, First Trenitalia has promised more trains and seats as it takes over the West Coast Main Line from Virgin Trains

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