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Thursday, 08 June 2017 18:19

Rail travel is a rip off - here's some top hacks to save you a few bob

Rail travel – everyone knows it for being one of the worst ways to get out and about. Most of the time workers are on strike because of pay and conditions, but the worst complaint is the ever-increasing cost of train travel and the justifications for heaping misery after misery on commuters’ year after year.

For a lot of people, rail travel is the only method to see loved ones, get from a to b and commute to work, yet they are stuck paying thousands every year for a service that isn’t improving. It should never be the case that people have to pay up to £5,000 annually simply to get to work. People are actually getting off their backsides and holding down a full- time job and the rail industry is doing its level best to put people off doing this by charging extortionate amounts of money simply to use their service.

It would certainly put us off working.

As you can probably gauge, the cost of rail travel really grates on us so we thought it would be in our best interest, and yours, to vent that frustration through words of advice and tips that will help to keep rail costs down as much as possible.

The biggest piece of advice that we can give is if you know you will be going on a train journey, buy the ticket in advance. If, for example, you know that you will be visiting relatives in a couple of months for a family member’s birthday, buy the ticket now. If you leave it and get a ticket on the day you will be charged ten-fold compared to if you bought the ticket in advance.

This method also applies to workers. The up-front cost of a yearly train pass is eye-watering, there is no denying that, but buying an annual pass will save you money in the long term.

Booking online is also a good way to get hold of tickets, especially if you are flexible about what day you can travel. Some days may be cheaper to travel on than others and if you book online you will be able to see the variation in costings. Whilst you are online you will also be able to scour any discount deals available and/or check other service providers and whether they are cheaper. When it comes to saving money in this way, the internet is your best friend. Information about prices and deals tends to be in one place and you have the ability to be made aware of discounts as soon as they are announced. It has also been brought to our attention by many savvy train users that if you sign up to news alerts from some of the big rail providers, they instantaneously will give you a quarter off the price of your next train journey. Things like this are surely worth a try.

Also, have you ever thought about another mode of transport? A lot of the time there are bus options that go the same route as a train alternative, yet people are more inclined to pick the train because it is faster and more direct. If the cost of this travel is by far more expensive than the bus option, however, you have to ask yourself whether a slightly longer journey time may be worth it to save the pounds.

Another little hack that you could try that may save you a little bit of money is buying two singles instead of a return ticket. People, naturally, have the opposite mindset and think that if they stump up the money for a return ticket, they will be saving themselves a little bit of money straight away. This could be the kind of lax mentality that the train providers are hoping for. In actual fact when it comes to train tickets, so long as you know the train you will be returning on in terms of time, you will be better off buying two singles. Train fares are probably the only fares that work in this backwards kind of way. So just watch out for that.

As with any kind of money saving exercise, you will need to be prepared to make changes to your behaviour. With this it may mean changing the day you travel by a couple of days or getting a later train. If you are able/willing to be flexible it will work more in your favour. If you find that you are unable to be flexible, you will need a lot of patience for scouring online for the best deals. They are out there, you just have to be prepared to find them.

It has to be said, the rail industry is a rip off, so you will more than likely pay more than you would ever want to anyway, but if you can at least save a couple of pounds from entering the rail provider’s pockets, surely, it’s a job well done and well worth it?