As much as I love train travel, there is a downside to it. Which is it can be quite expensive, especially if you travel long distance. While there are railcards you can buy which can bring the cost down, unfortunately not everyone can buy a railcard.
So unless you are aged between 16-25, are a senior, travel together with someone, disabled or have a small family, you will unfortunately have to pay full price your your train ticket. For the last 10 years I have enjoyed a third off rail travel with my 16-25 railcard and have saved hundreds over the years. As they say ‘all good things come to an end,’ so unfortunately full price fares for me. I sure do miss that card.
There is fortunately a way of getting your fares even cheaper, it’s not advertised by train companies, but this loophole in the system is completely legal and is allowed by the National Rail Conditions Of Carriage . It’s called split ticketing and has been known for some time. As I said train companies don’t tell you about it, but can’t actually stop you splitting your ticket if you ask for one at the station.
So what is split ticketing. Say you are traveling between Cardiff and London, you split your tickets between stations on the line buy buying the tickets separately. When the fares are added up they can be cheaper than buying a straight through ticket. So you would buy a return between Cardiff-Bristol, Bristol-Reading and Reading to London. Funny enough it does actually save you money.
I actually managed to try this out for myself earlier this week. I travelled between Cardiff and Taunton. A return between the two stations was £40. I saved around £10 by splitting the ticket at Bristol Temple Meads. So instead of £40 I paid £30.50 return.
Here some examples of how it works. Note I wanted to travel at 8.30 which means paying the £40 fare. I’m basing this split on the £40 fare and not the £26.60. Although a split fare on the later train would have still been cheaper than £26.60 and cost £25.20 instead.
A straight through ticket, Cardiff Central – Taunton
Split ticket. Cardiff – Bristol Temple Meads. Bristol Temple Meads – Taunton
So there you have it, by paying £12.90 and £17.60 separately saves you £10. When I got to the station I asked the woman in the ticket office to split a ticket and she did it for me. The staff won’t tell you it’s cheaper to split, but they can’t refuse you if you ask for it. There was a programme a while back on tv about train fares and a reporter went undercover posing as a staff member. The manager actually told the staff not to tell customers about splitting as it was cheaper. What a cheeky person he was.
I split mine through the National Rail app as I had heard about splitting before. There is a website that will split tickets for you called: http://www.splitticketing.co.uk
You can book your tickets online with them and have them delivered or you can pick them up for free at the station.
And its not just £10 you can save, people have actually saved hundreds by splitting their ticket. An off peak fare between Birmingham and Leeds costs £58.10, a split fare only costs £37.90, a saving of £20.20. You can save on advance, flexible, standard and first class tickets.
Some examples of savings made:
Trainline claim to offer cheaper fares than the train companies, but they seem to be the same price. I’ve never once saved with Trainline and not to mention they charge you a £1.50 booking fee, so that makes them dearer than the train company to start with. If you really want to save, forget Trainline, it’s split ticketing you want. Train split provides this really good comparison of how much you can save splitting, compared to booking with Trainline or a train company.
Tips for split ticketing:
For split ticketing to work you have to get on a train that stops at where your ticket is split.The train can’t just pass through the station, it does actually have to stop there. I cannot stress how important this is as if the train doesn’t stop at that station you will have to buy a new ticket. I have read about people who have been charged for it.
For example if traveling Cardiff to London and your split is at Bristol Parkway, the train you are getting on must stop at Bristol Parkway. You don’t have to actually get off and get back on. The train only has to stop at that station.
I have no idea why split ticketing is cheaper, it just is. Although i’m not going to research why, i’m just happy that it exists as you can really save a lot of money. So while you may be carrying more tickets around with you, that also means you will be carrying more money with you, because of the savings you have made. So all that is left for you to do is to just sit back, relax and enjoy the train journey.