Hello friends, we all know that buying train tickets in advance is the way to make savings in this stupid country but is there some kind of sweet spot for the ultimate discounts? Like if you try too far in advance it looks like you tend to get uniform placeholder prices but if you leave it too late they skyrocket innit. When do the prices usually start actually going down a bit?

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I get everywhere by Hot Tug these days.


I’ve always assumed they are the cheapest as soon as they go on sale and then it’s all uphill from there, unless they have an offer on or whatever.

Also, using thetrainline to buy your tickets is a mug’s game…




Its generally 12 weeks in advance but sometimes it can be 10 weeks. Weekend prices rocket pretty much within days so you have to be quick.


I bought some advance tickets a while ago, the day after they launched a sale and slashed the prices. I asked if I could get refunded the difference or cancel and re-buy them, they basically laughed in my face.

Renationalise the fucking railways.


Where’s good to buy tickets? Educate this poor Irishman please. (And, by proxy, Ant as well.)

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Booking from the train company directly tends to be better as you avoid fees. The actual price of the tickets are usually identical though.


Tickets are cheapest (or rather the availability of cheaper tickets is the greatest), as soon as they go on sale.

I wouldn’t use it to buy tickets, but is a good one to use to track when advance tickets go on sale for the different operators (see table below the form):


Different train companies have different timescales for their offers. I remember GNER used to put cheap tickets onsale 3 months, 6 weeks and 4 weeks before the travel date, meaning folk who booked 4 weeks and 1 day in advance usually got shafted.

The Trainline collates most of the deals, but does a pretty shitty job of explaining them. Best bet is to book directly with the company which runs the route - They occasionally do website-only deals (or in the case of Virgin East Coast, give you free wifi). They sometimes have alerts for cheap tickets on their routes too.


Use the websites of the train companies - Virgin, London Midland, Chiltern, whoever…

The trainline charge (or at least used to) a booking fee, but none of the other sites do. The train operator websites sometimes have their own special offers on their services - When I was at uni, Cross Country and Trans Pennine used to do extra discount for people with railcards, etc, have their own little sales and that too.

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Thank you very much @roastthemonaspit , @marckee , @AtTheBorderGuy and @urbanfox ! This is handy to know!

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Should have clarified - Most companies put them on at full price initially, then knock down the prices later. Also, they usually don’t bother making any cheap tickets available for peak-time weekend services. As a bonus, though, you can sometimes find advance first class tickets that are cheaper than standard class.

Train companies are dicks.


You can use any operator’s website to book any journey in the country, even if they don’t operate the route themselves. I use GWR to book anything because they offer nectar points


So much this.


have booked these before and then got on the train to find out there is no first class section. can never figure out who’s been done in this situation.


Yup to reiterate others: TheTrainLine for information but use the actual train company’s website to buy tickets otherwise you’ll pay a booking fee.


Also, some train operators have periodic sales as well.

We’re off up to Newcastle for the weekend at the beginning of September for the weekend and we got first class tickets for £30 return each in the Virgin sale.

Can’t you just turn up at the train station and see if they’ve got any spare seats