What ShowMeTheJourney has set out to provide is some CONTEXT for the tickets and journey options you SHOULD encounter when making a booking either online or at the station.
Most train operators have temporarily changed aspects of their specific ticketing policies in response to the pandemic.
Though when travelling long-distance the typical scenario is that you will still save money by booking Advance tickets ahead of the travel date.
How the train services are managed affects both ticket prices and how they can be used:
Trains in Britain are operated by separate companies and not a national rail company, there is no equivalent of Amtrak, DB, SNCF or Trenitalia.
These British companies are referred to as Train Operating Companies, which tends to be shortened to 'TOC's - hence its frequent use on this ticketing guide.
A key point worth knowing is that each TOC manages how tickets are sold and can be used on its services.
This can impact of what types of ticket will be offered, both generally and on specific departures on the route you will be taking - and whether facilities such as seat reservations will or won't be available.
When travelling by train in other European countries, the types of train service can often impact of the type of tickets that can be booked, such as whether you will be traveling on a Frecce train, or an ICE train.
However in Britain, the company (the TOC) which is providing the service you will be travelling by, has a similar affect on how tickets can be used.
Because each TOC sets its own ticketing policy there are also multiple instances when a TOC deviates from how tickets are USUALLY sold, and the key examples of this have been included on this guide.
So when looking up a journey online, or booking at the station, you might encounter a special offer, or some other type of ticket not mentioned below.
When a journey involves a change of train:
There are many contenders for the most negative aspect of how train tickets can be used in Britain, but SMTJ's top pick is that making connections between trains often (but not always) has a negative impact on prices.
Primarily because when taking more than one train is required - and each train is operated by a different company, the discounted Advance ticket prices aren't typically made available across the end-to-end journey; the discounted Advance price may be available only on the first train or none of them.
Though when booking such journeys on Trainline, it is typically able to use its split-ticketing tech to offer the discounted price on each train - so using it can be a money saver.
Presumably the TOCs want to avoid the risk of having to re-issue tickets in the event of a delay to a preceding train, when they are not the operator of the first train in the required chain.
Or when travelling from large cities, the delay risk is greater for the local journey within the city, so Advance tickets can only be available from the city centre stations.
As a result, when travelling long-distance, it can be cheaper to split the bookings into separate bookings per train, because the Advance tickets may be available for the direct journeys on each stage of the trip.
If you will be setting off from a large city, particularly London, avoiding this scenario for saving money can be as simple as booking and Advance ticket from the city centre station, and booking a separate ticket or using a pass, to travel into the city centre, to board a long-distance train.
However, for long-distance cross-country journeys, the means for saving money can involve splitting the booking into separate tickets for each stage of the journey.
A key impact for travellers is how each TOC (train operating company) uses time and days of the week as a tool for offering tickets.
For example, you will see multiple references on this guide to peak business hours (rush hours), because when travelling to and from cities and large towns, British train tickets are nearly always more expensive at those times.
The limited numbers of cheaper tickets, which are placed on sale for longer-distance departures, at those peak business hours, also inevitably sell out particularly quickly.
But each TOC decides what those peak business hours will be, there's no set periods of time for them which apply nationally, but they're typically between 07:00 and 10:00 in the morning and 16:00 and 19:00 in the evening.
As those peak business hours are only a factor in how ticket prices are calculated when Mondays - Fridays are working days, if you can travel at a weekend, there will typically be a comparatively wider choice of cheaper departures.
So if you want to make a long-distance day trip such as London to Bath, Bristol, Cardiff, Manchester, Liverpool or York and save money, try to travel on a Saturday or Sunday - but check that no works on the route will affect your trip.
How websites manage the sale of Return Tickets can be one of the most confusing aspects of booking British train journeys - so here are SEVEN key things to be aware of when booking return tickets for British train journeys:
(1) A return journey and a return ticket are not the same thing.
(2) That's because what the websites are striving to achieve is enabling travellers to choose between the different types of ticket available for travel in each direction, particularly for journeys when Mondays to Fridays are working days.
The cheapest option when making a return journey can often be booking a different type of ticket for each direction of travel.
For example, if you know days or weeks ahead you will need to be somewhere at specific time, you can book an Advance ticket for an outward journey, but you will then be able to book an Off-Peak or Anytime ticket for the return journey, in order to have the flexibility of a choice of departures.
Booking Advance tickets for a return journey
(3) If Advance tickets are available, the most typical scenario is that you will initially be asked to select a departure for your outward journey, then having done so, you will be asked to choose a departure to return by.
But if you select Advance tickets for both directions of travel, you will actually be purchasing two single tickets, but paying for both of them in one transaction.
The discounted Advance tickets are marketed as being single (one-way) tickets, because the price charged for them isn't affected by whether you will be making a single, or a return journey.
(4) What will impact on the price of return journeys is the popularity of the train and/or date, on which you travelling back to your starting point; high demand will push up prices.
So when booking Advance tickets for a return journey it can be cheaper OR more expensive, to return later the same day, or a few days later, or even weeks ahead.
Making Day Trips
(5) Particularly check the prices and tickets if you will be making a return day trip; and won’t be travelling at business hours when Monday to Fridays are working days.
‘Day Return’ tickets can be often be an option on SHORTER-DISTANCE routes and they tend to be much cheaper than booking two single Off-Peak tickets for each direction of travel - and can also be cheaper than booking Advance tickets for the outward and return journeys.
These ‘Day Return’ tickets are usually sold at a fixed price, so they can be a good option if you’ll be booking in a station at the last minute.
Also worth knowing is that some TOCs seemingly won't offer single (one-way journey) Off-Peak tickets at all on Mondays to Fridays, but will offer Off-Peak Day Return tickets at less busy times of the day.
If you will be travelling back at a later date
(6) Some TOCs sell 'Open Return' tickets for journeys on which you will be travelling back on a later date to your outward journey; though this type of ticket will typically only be available on routes on which those Advance tickets aren't an option.
Booking an 'Open Return' ticket will be cheaper than booking two single (one-way) 'Off-Peak' tickets, but the savings don't tend to be particularly substantial, especially if you will be making the return journey on Mondays to Friday.
Or another scenario is that a TOC may have a policy that the return journey will need to be made within a set period of time, usually within 30 days of the outward travel date, without the need to book 'Open Return' tickets.
Check the booking info and prices you'll see
(7) The different options you can be offered on booking screens for return tickets can be particularly confusing.
Look out for the prices for each type of ticket and be aware of the TOTAL cost for making the Outward and Return journey; it can be worth checking the different options to see which will be cheapest.
For example if you will be making a day trip a Day Return ticket can be cheaper, or more expensive, than travelling each way with Advance tickets.
There are in effect three different types of online ticket booking services for British train journeys.
Book direct with the train operator
Each TOC (Train Operating Company) operates its own independent ticket booking site - through which it sells tickets for journeys by its trains, AND they usually also sell journeys nationwide, regardless of which TOC is operating the service.
When a TOC does also sell tickets for journeys online that it doesn't operate, don't be surprised if its own services aren't highlighted.
You may see faster and/or cheaper services for sale that are not operated by the TOC whose website you are using.
The key positives of booking direct with a TOC for travel by the trains it operates, are:
Booking direct with a TOC is a particularly good option when you’ll be making a direct long-distance journey and the cheaper/cheapest ‘Advance’ tickets are still available.
Each TOC also manages special travel requirements, so booking direct with a TOC can also be a good option if you will be travelling with an ordinary, non-folding bicycle, or want to use an Assisted Travel service.
However, if you’ll be looking for Advance tickets only a couple of days ahead of your travel date, you might save money by using the alternative ticket booking services described below.
Booking on the National Rail website
National Rail is the organisation which manages most aspects of the UK rail network, apart from operating the trains.
It offers an online ticketing service, which is in effect a targeted search engine for the booking services managed by the TOCs.
You enter where you want to travel from and to, then having done so, it will direct you to the booking site of the TOCs which operate the service(s), so it’s a highly useful tool if you don’t know which TOC operates a particular route.
Once you’re connected to the relevant TOC’s booking website, you can book as though you’d gone directly to the TOC in the first instance, so can access features such as choosing seat preferences etc.
Though you will have to register with the TOC in order to complete a booking.
You also won’t pay a booking fee, either to the TOC or to Nationalrail.co.uk.
By using the service you also don’t have to know which types of ticket will be available for the journey you will be taking.
For example, if it only lists Off-Peak tickets when you look up a journey, you can be sure that Advance tickets either weren’t ever available on that route, or that they have sold out.
It’s also a particularly useful tool when multiple TOCs provide DIRECT services between destinations, over the same or different routes.
You can compare departure/arrival times, length of journey and prices.
It also often shows alternative indirect routes, but on NationaRail.co.uk, the prices for these indirect routes tend to be more expensive than you'll find on the other ticketing services, but that isn’t always the case.
Booking with a train ticket specialist
Tickets are also sold by independent companies such as Trainline, which sell tickets nationwide - in other words they sell journeys regardless of which TOC (Train Operating Company) is providing the service you will be travelling by.
The positives of using these services are;
The core negative is that this type of website usually charges booking fees, and these additional charges can be avoided when booking direct.
Generally tickets for train journeys in England, Scotland and Wales are placed on sale 12 weeks ahead of the travel date, but as is the case with so many other aspects of buying British train tickets, this can be variable.
So the eight key things worth knowing when looking for Advance tickets are:
Not all of the Train Operating Companies offer Advance tickets, those which do for longer-distance journeys are: Avanti West Coast; Chiltern Railways; CrossCountry (not all journeys on Monday to Fridays); EMR; Grand Central; GWR; Greater Anglia; Hull Trains; LNER; LNWR; Northern; ScotRail; South Western Railway; Southern; Southeastern; TPE and TFW.
There is no fixed period of time at which Advance tickets will become available, it depends on the TOCs and circumstances such as whether services have been confirmed.
Advance tickets are usually placed on sale 12 weeks ahead, Avanti West Coast and London Midland sell weekday journeys from 24 weeks ahead, but Northern places its Advance tickets on sale only 6 weeks ahead; but it's also fairly common for them to be made available around 8-10 weeks ahead.
If a TOC (Train Operating Company) is running a promotion it may release Advance tickets for sale more than 12 weeks ahead.
Advance tickets aren't placed on sale until a TOC can be sure that it will be able to provide its usual train service.
If works on the line require a bus substitution service to be provided, Advance tickets may not be made available at all; and these works are much more likely to be carried out at weekends.
Off-Peak and Anytime tickets will usually be available from 12 weeks ahead regardless of whether the Advance tickets have been placed on sale,.
Off-Peak and Anytime tickets can be available more than 12 weeks ahead.
Some TOCs including GWR and LNER will also sell Super-Off Peak tickets, at a mid-price between the Advance and Off-Peak rates, but in common with Advance tickets they don't have fixed prices, so can be cheaper when booked ahead.
If you will be travelling at an Off-Peak time and when looking up a journey more than a couple of weeks ahead, you can only see Off-Peak tickets, don't rush into booking them.
Because of the fixed price of Off-Peak tickets, you won't end up paying more if you wait and see if the Advance tickets will be released.
But if the Advance tickets haven't been made available less than a couple of weeks ahead, you can be fairly certain that they won't become an option on your travel date.
So the rule = if you look up a journey ahead of the travel date and want to save money, don't book any type of ticket other than Advance tickets (or Super Off-Peak tickets when available).
Generally if you'll be booking tickets for a long-distance journey before 23:59 on the day before your travel date, you can use a ticket counter to obtain tickets for the same rate as the online price.
Meaning that if the discounted Advance tickets are available on the route you wish to take and at the time you want to travel, you can buy them at the station if you book prior to the end of the previous day (the time limit for Advance tickets for travel by GWR, Southern and Scotrail is 18:00).
Though as each TOC (train operating company) sets its own policies for when Advance tickets, for journeys by its trains, will be taken off sale prior to departure, this 18:00 (6pm) the day before your travel date time limit doesn't apply when booking Advance tickets for direct journeys for travel with:
Though when booking at station ahead of your travel date it can be worth making the effort to be precise about the specific train(s) you'll want to take; so it can be a good idea to use the National Rail app, to plan your journey before heading to the station to book a ticket.
Then when making the booking, you ask for Advance tickets on these specific trains and also check whether other departures that day will be cheaper.
If your request is more vague, such as, "I need to be on a train which arrives in Manchester by 10:00", the clerk may then sell you a 'flexible ticket' which can be more expensive than the price of an Advance ticket; which you may be offered if you were to ask for a ticket on the 07:43 train to Manchester.
Booking tickets just before travelling long-distance:
If you will be making a long-distance British train journey and buy walk-up tickets outside those time limits listed above, you will have to pay the Off-Peak or Anytime prices.
When Mondays to Fridays are working days, if you'll be buying tickets at peak business hours, the more expensive Anytime price will be the only price available on the next train(s) to leave.
Despite being (much more) expensive than Advance tickets, seat reservations usually WON'T be typically be available if you book an Anytime or Off-Peak ticket at the last-minute.
That's because reservations aren't automatically included when Anytime and Off-Peak tickets are sold just prior to travel at stations.
So if you will be travelling with a TOC that does offer reservations for online advance bookings and book last-minute walk-up tickets at a station, not only will you be paying a higher price than those travelling with Advance tickets, unlike them you won't have assigned seats either.
And this double jeopardy is what fuels much of the resentment at the cost of travelling by train in Britain, but with a modicum of advance planning, it's a scenario that can be avoided.
Also worth knowing is that when multiple train operators provide services over the exact same route, one company may offer the journey at a cheaper rate than another
So when booking tickets at a travel desk you can be issued with a ticket(s) which can then only be used on a specific operator's trains.
Therefore it can pay off to check that you're being offered the cheapest possible price, the ticket agents can assume that you'll want to take the next train to depart, even if it's being operated by a company which charges a higher price than another.
Or the reverse scenario can occur, you may be offered the cheaper ticket price and then be restricted to travel by only that operator's trains, when you preference may have been to take a faster, but more expensive alternative service.
If you'll be booking a return journey and won't want to be restricted to returning by the trains only operated by one company, check whether you're being issued with 'flexible tickets'.
If the booking clerk asks whether you'll want to return at the cheapest price, it can be worth confirming whether you'll then be restricted to taking the trains only operated by one company.
It can be worth checking to see what (if any) the price difference of 'flexible' tickets will be.
Popular journeys between cities, on which multiple operators offer direct trains over the exact same routes, include:
Booking last minute tickets for shorter distance journeys:
If you will be travelling when Monday to Friday are working days on shorter-distance routes, the price you will pay will also depend at which time of day you will be buying tickets at the station.
If you WON'T be travelling at morning business hours, usually 07:00 - 09:30*, you will be in effect be purchasing Off-Peak or Super Off-Peak tickets.
*Off-Peak tickets also may not be available between 16:30 and 19:00 especially when travelling away from London at these times - note that each TOC manages its own periods of time when Off-Peak tickets will and won't be available, there's no national standard for this.
But if you will be making a day trip, check to see if Day Return tickets are available, particularly when using a ticket a machine.
They'll be more expensive than single tickets, but don't get fixated by the price.
If you won't be travelling at peak-business hours, a Day Return ticket will be cheaper than buying a single ticket for your outward journey; and then another single ticket at the station you will be returning from.
Though if you will be travelling at peak business hours on Monday-Friday, be wary of the fact that a ticket machine may offer you an Off-Peak ticket, despite the fact that you won't be able to use it on the next train(s) that are leaving.
Off-Peak Day Return tickets also won't be available at peak business hours.
Buying last minute tickets for shorter-distance journeys at a station during weekends, or on national holidays, is simpler because only the Off-Peak, or cheaper Super Off-Peak rates will be offered, so you can just hop on the next train to leave.
There are only three main types of tickets that are placed on sale online for British train journeys, but what can be a source of confusion is that it's common for only one or two of these types of tickets to be available, depending on the route you will be taking and the time of day you will be travelling.
(1) Advance tickets, which are cheaper, but are not available on all routes, though they will be placed on sale in limited numbers for most LONG-DISTANCE journeys.
(2) Anytime tickets, which can be used on any train on the route you will be taking, including departures and arrivals at peak business hours.
(3) Off-Peak tickets, which are cheaper than Anytime tickets, because they can only be used outside peak business hours - so when Advance tickets aren't available, these Off-Peak tickets will be the cheapest type of ticket.
You can often combine these types of ticket when booking a return journey, so it's possible to travel one way on an Anytime ticket and then return with an Advance ticket etc, but note that if you do so, you will be booking 2 x one way tickets and not a return ticket.
This type of ticket lives up to its name, because the further ahead you book ahead of your travel date, the cheaper the tickets will be.
Avanti West Coast; Grand Central; Hull Trains; LNER and TransPennine Express are the TOCs which offer discounted Advance tickets on all of their routes.
Cross Country offer discounted Advance tickets on most of its long-distance journeys daily, but they may not be available on Monday to Friday for exceptionally long journeys.
Chiltern Railways; Greater Anglia; EMR; Great Western Railway; Northern; ScotRail; Southern; Southeastern and South Western Railway are the TOCs which offer Advance tickets on most of their longer-distance routes.
Knowing when Advance tickets will be placed on sale is a fairly crucial piece of information, but there are no fixed rules for this, it's up to the train operating companies, which typically offer Advance tickets, when they will make them available.
Advance tickets are usually placed on sale 12 weeks ahead, Avant West Coast and London Midland sell weekday journeys from 24 weeks ahead, but Northern places its Advance tickets on sale only 6 weeks ahead; but it's also fairly common for them to be made available around 8-10 weeks ahead, CrossCountry tends to do this.
ScotRail is another exception, as it places Advance tickets on sale 8 weeeks ahead.
However, Off-Peak and Anytime tickets are typically placed on sale 12 weeks ahead, regardless of the availability of Advance tickets.
Also worth knowing is that Advance tickets are released in limited numbers, and are typically priced according to demand. so the less popular the train you will be taking, the cheaper the price you will pay.
The most heavily discounted tickets inevitably sell fastest, so prices will be rising between the time that they are released and when they come of sale.
However, when looking up journeys only a couple of weeks ahead of your travel date, it won't be unusual for a couple of trains per day to have Advance tickets available at around 50% of the cost of other departures.
So you won’t USUALLY have to book months ahead to find a good price, IF you can be flexible with your departure times.
But if you want to travel at peak business hours, it's best to book as soon as possible, as the price difference between Advance and Anytime tickets can be extreme.
You may be able to book Advance tickets on your travel day...
...each TOC (train operating company) sets its own policies for when Advance tickets, for journeys by its trains, will be taken off sale prior to departure.
...Or purchase Advance tickets at the station
You don't have to book Advance tickets online, they can also be purchased at stations - and if you can book at a station, you'll be advised on which train to take at the optimum price.
Advance Tickets are departure specific; which usually impacts on exchanging them
Advance tickets will only be valid on the departure selected when making a booking and usually they can't be refunded if you subsequently don't board the train, either because you have changed your travel plans, OR because you miss the train in circumstances not to do with a TOC, such as a taxi getting stuck in traffic.
Assigned seats are included with Advance tickets
Aside from being (much) cheaper, the other big plus of Advance tickets is that seat reservations are always included if* a TOC offers this facility, so you'll often have the peace of mind of an assigned seat(s) for your journey.
*Some TOCs including Chiltern Railways; Greater Anglia; Southeastern; Southern and South Western Railway will sell train departure specific Advance tickets for some journeys without seat reservations; because they don't offer seat reservations on all, or most departures.
A return journey requires two Advance tickets
One final thing to be aware of is that Advance tickets are only sold as single journey tickets, for travel in one direction only.
So if you will be making a return journey on which Advance tickets are available, the cheapest option can be booking two single tickets for each direction of travel.
Also be aware that when booking a return JOURNEY, the fact that you have booked 2 x single Advance tickets for travel in each direction and NOT a return ticket may not be particularly obvious.
The plus of using these tickets is that unlike Advance tickets they typically aren't restricted to travelling on a specific departure.
(Though one notable exception is that Off-Peak tickets for the Southeastern 'hi-speed' services are departure specific).
So it's worth always confirming the T&Cs of how these tickets can be used, as they can vary, depending on which TOC (Train Operating Company) is providing the service you will be travelling by.
The departure times matter
The key restriction is that these Off Peak tickets live up to their name - because unlike Anytime tickets, they cannot be used for journeys which involve departing from, or arriving in cities by train during peak business hours.
However, travel outside of those peak times and you'll USUALLY have the freedom to choose the departure which suits you - though check the terms and conditions.
So if you will travelling long-distance at a WEEKEND you'll often have a choice between Off-Peak and Advance tickets - save money by booking the Advance tickets and being committed to taking a specific departure - or opt to have the freedom to choose which train to take on your travel date, by using Off- Peak tickets.
On the routes and services on which 'Advance' tickets are NOT available, you can save money by using these Off Peak tickets and avoiding those peak business hours.
Also worth knowing about Off Peak tickets
How Off-Peak tickets are sold varies; it depends on the TOC which will be providing the service AND whether you will be booking single or return tickets.
These tickets are not typically discounted if you book ahead, but if you do book them online, you can avoid potential last minute queues for ticket desks or ticket machines at the station.
Although, LNER is a TOC which takes a different approach, because it also offers 'Super Off-Peak' tickets on its long distance routes and they are discounted if you book in advance.
It's also worth knowing how seat reservations are managed when booking Off-Peak tickets for longer-distance journeys - you can use the Content Menu to jump to the Seat Reservation info.
Off-Peak tickets are typically more flexible than Advance tickets, because they can be refunded prior to travel if you subsequently change your travel plans - and they can also be exchanged to a different departure outside of peak hours, but the exchange MAY require the payment of a £10 admin fee.
Another difference with Advance tickets is that Off-Peak tickets allow a stopover on the outward OR return leg of a journey at no extra charge, so for example, you could stop over in Bath on the way from London to Bristol.
However, if you can book ahead for such a long-distance multi-destination day trip, you'll save by purchasing those separate Advance tickets for the longer journeys.
'Super Off-Peak' Tickets:
These TOCs: c2c; Chiltern Railways; EMR; Great Western Railway; Greater Anglia; Southern; Southeastern; South Western Railway and Thameslink are TOCs which offer 'Super Off-Peak Tickets; in effect they have sub-divided certain periods of time, during which tickets will be offered at a cheaper rate than the Off-Peak tickets.
So when travelling on a Monday-Friday some departures may be cheaper than others, because they will offered for sale at a Super Off-Peak rate.
But on the flip side of this, holders of Super Off-Peak tickets won't be able to board some departures.
'Super Off-Peak' tickets tend to be available on a wider range of departures at weekends, meaning that it can be easier to find cheaper prices when travelling on a Saturday or Sunday.
Though this distinction between Off-Peak and Super Off-Peak rates isn't always particularly obvious when looking up journeys online, you may be automatically be offered an Off-Peak OR a Super Off-Peak price - but the T&Cs for using each of these two types of ticket are pretty much the same.
It is the departure time which impacts on how these tickets can be used.
Anytime tickets also live up to their name, because one of the key advantages of using Anytime tickets is that once purchased, they can be used on any departure on the date(s) you'll be travelling - some TOCs will allow a choice of departure over more than one day.
Meaning that they can used on trains leaving at peak business hours, the departures on which off-peak tickets aren't valid.
The benefits of using Anytime tickets for British train journeys
So in common with Off-Peak tickets, by booking Anytime tickets, you remove the need to be at the station in time to catch a specific train.
However, unlike Off-Peak tickets, you won't have to be concerned about what time the train will be leaving.
The other key advantage of Anytime tickets is that they refunded or exchanged to a different travel date(s), with no additional fees to pay, regardless of exceptional circumstances; and they also allow for a break of journey in both directions of travel, if you will be booking return tickets.
So they are the most flexible type of ticket for British train journeys, but that flexibility comes at price, because Anytime tickets are the most expensive type of British train ticket.
If you purchase walk-up tickets at a station during peak hours, for the next train to be leaving on a long-distance route, you will be typically be paying the Anytime price.
Anytime tickets are not typically discounted if you book ahead, so you won't usually save money by purchasing these tickets online.
Using seat reservations
It's also worth knowing how seat reservations are managed when booking Anytime tickets for longer-distance journeys - you can use the Content Menu to jump to the Seat Reservation info.
These tickets aren't sold online, but if you will be travelling on a route shared by multiple different TOCs (train operators) if you ask for a 'flexible' ticket, when booking last minute at the station, you can then travel on any train to and from your destination.
So they can be particularly useful if you will be making a day trip on routes when 'Day Return' tickets aren't available, as they give the freedom to take the first suitable train, when you'll be back at the station and making the return journey.
If you typically take more than two long-distance train journeys per year in Britain, check to see if there is an annual Railcard which will suit you.
The most popular Railcards are
Friends and Family
Senior (for those aged 60 and over)
26 - 30
16-17 Saver (a newly introduced Railcard)
UK residents can purchase these Railcards online or at a staffed ticket desk at a station, while visitors to the UK can purchase them at stations.
You will have to do some maths, to see if a combination of purchasing a card and savings on the ticket price will be an overall money saver, but based on SMTJ's experiences, you'll be making savings once you have made more than two trips of around an hour each way.
What is this based on?
A Two Together Railcard costs £30
A journey from my local station to Brighton takes 1hr 10 mins and the Off-Peak Day Return fare = £22
So when two people are booking tickets with this particular card, the cost per person is reduced to approx £15 = a total saving of £14.
Meaning that two trips with the Railcard would save £28, so once a third trip is made, the total saving, even when factoring in the cost of the card, becomes £12.
11 Things that are particularly good to know
In summary these are the elven things to be aware of if you want to save money on long-distance British train journeys:
Avoid peak business hours if you can
Avoid travelling by train when services will be particularly busy, because at these peak business hours when Monday - Friday are working days, the discounted Advance tickets either won’t be available, or will have sold out (if you typically haven't booked months in advance) - AND the cheaper Off-Peak tickets won’t be available either.
Anytime tickets MAY be the only option and this type of ticket can be more than 5 x more expensive than the cheapest Advance tickets - and typically cost twice the price of Off-Peak tickets.
When travelling FROM London, the times of day when Anytime tickets can be the only option still available for a LONG-DISTANCE train journey, TEND to be:
Between 07:30 and 09:00 on Monday - Friday*
and between 16:30 and 18:30 on Monday – Friday*
*National holidays are an exception.
So keep this in mind if you will be setting off on a day trip by train, particularly a long-distance trip such as London to Bath, Bristol, Cardiff, Manchester, Liverpool or York, you'll typically have a much wider choice of departures at cheaper prices if you travel at a weekend.
If you do want to make such a trip to more distant destinations on a Monday to Friday, with the cheaper Advance tickets, then it's best to book these Advance tickets as soon as they are released for sale
In addition to the peak hours, the cheapest Advance tickets also tend to sell out particularly quickly on trains departing at these times:
Between 14:30 and 16:30 on Fridays*
Between 09:00 and 14:00 when travelling towards the coast on Summer Saturdays
Between 15:00 and 19:00 on Sundays.
*National holidays are an exception.
Avoid booking walk-up tickets at stations when going long-distance
A scenario definitely to be avoided if possible, is having to book walk-up tickets last minute at a station, if you will be travelling on a route on which cheaper Advance tickets are made available.
Because if you book tickets at a station just prior to boarding, it can be the case that Advance tickets won’t be an option.
Though many TOCs don't know automatically take Advance tickets off sale before the end of the previous day; these TOCs:
So before heading to the station:
1: Look up the journey to see if any Advance tickets are still available (they will have sold out on popular departures)
2: Check to see if Split-Ticketing will save you money.
Book as soon as you know your travel plans
Book Advance tickets as far ahead as possible, as prices will rise between when they are placed on sale and the date of travel.
Avanti West Coast; Chiltern Railways; CrossCountry; EMR; Greater Anglia; Great Western Railway and LNER are among the TOCs which offer particularly large discounts on Advance tickets.
A good time to look for Advance tickets is 10 weeks ahead of your travel date; the other types of tickets may have been placed on sale a couple of weeks sooner, but often Advance tickets are held back from sale until 10-11 weeks ahead.
On long-distance routes, the limited numbers of Advance tickets for peak business-hours departures typically sell out particularly quickly, because at those times the only other option will be the much more expensive Anytime tickets.
So if you want to travel at business hours and save money it's best to look for Advance tickets at least 8 - 10 weeks ahead, though there's no fixed 'rule' for this, the price per departure will depend on the demand.
Be as flexible as possible re: departure and arrival times
When making a booking try and be flexible with your arrival/departure times.
The cheapest Advance tickets inevitably sell out fastest on the most popular trains, and when they have done so, there can be big price differences per specific departure on your travel dates.
You will nearly always be offered a choice of train times and it can be worth scrolling through them to see if you can save money; some TOCs will flag the cheapest price available per day on their booking pages.
Take care to look at the earlier departures BEFORE the time you have chosen, as well as later trains.
Could a slower journey be a money saver?
In Britain trains between destinations can follow different routes, a legacy of when competing companies built the nation's railways back in the 19th century.
When trains do take different routes one can be slower than the other, because it is less direct, or because the fast express trains take one route and not another.
Different TOCs typically provide the services on each route and this can affect the price of tickets.
One operator may offer discounted Advance tickets on its route, while on an alternative route, Advance tickets won't ever be available, but the Off-Peak or Anytime prices might be cheaper.
As a result, if you can book tickets ahead, it can be possible to save both time and money, by targeting the faster trains.
In contrast, when booking last-minute tickets at a station, one route, typically the slower option, can be cheaper than the alternative.
Between these cities, trains operated by different TOCs take different routes - click the name of the route, when available, to access guides to taking those journeys.
Comparing the ticket agents:
If you will be travelling long-distance and want to pay the cheapest price for a train journey, it's often a good idea to look up your journey on different types of ticketing services.
Particularly if you’ll be booking tickets for and/or travelling by departures, when the more heavily discounted Advance tickets are no longer available.
So this scenario is likely to apply if you will be booking less than a couple of days ahead of your travel date, or travelling at peak business hours.
Making these comparisons between different ticket services is also recommended by ShowMeTheJourney if:
Make the comparison by looking up your journey on the websites of...
(1) the TOC; to see what price it is offering for your journey - Discover which routes are operated by each TOC
If you can find Advance tickets at a heavily discounted rate, you won’t have to make the effort to look for better deal.
(2) the National Rail website, as it enables easy comparison when different TOCs offer alternative services between destinations – and it can occasionally also offer cheaper alternative routes.
(3) Websites which specialise in 'split-ticketing' such as TrainSplit.com and Splitticketing.com
ShowMeTheJourney has looked up more than 100 journeys and there is no definitive ticketing service, which always offers the best price.
The lack of a British national train operator can lead to discrepancies in ticket pricing and it's often possible to take advantage of these by purchasing multiple different tickets for an end-to-end journey; this is known as Split-Ticketing. and multiple ticket booking services, including TrainSplit.com or TrainPal specialise in enabling travellers to book these separate tickets in one transaction.
The key thing is having a valid ticket for each part of the journey, so that when the train conductor inspects each ticket, you'll be meeting the terms and conditions of using that particular ticket.
Split-Ticketing can most often apply to these three scenarios:
(1) Completing the end-to-end journey on a direct train
You will pay in one transaction, but you will be booking and using multiple tickets that are valid for different sections of the journey.
One ticket will be valid for the first part of the journey from your starting point to an intermediate station along the route, then another ticket(s) will be valid on the same train that you are travelling by - but this ticket will be valid to travel on from the same intermediate station that's along the route.
What you will need to do is show your second set of ticket(s) to the conductor, when they repeat the ticket inspection later in the journey.
The ticket valid from your starting point will open any ticket gate at the station at which you will be commencing a journey, and similarly the ticket valid to your destination will open the ticket gate, so that you can exit the station.
The big plus of this scenario is that your journey time won't be any slower than if you'd booked a conventional ticket valid for the end-to-end journey.
The disadvantage of using split tickets to travel on one train is that you may not be able remain in the same seat(s), or even the same coach, for the entire journey - though this isn't always the case
The ticket for each part of your journey will also likely have seat reservations, but the seat you will be assigned for the initial part of the journey, MAY then have been reserved by another traveller for the second (other parts) of your journey.
So if that is the case, you will have to give it up and move to the seat(s) you have been assigned with the ticket that covers the next part of the journey.
The trick to avoiding this change seat scenario is to see if an unreserved seat (s) will be available for your entire journey - if it is then you can occupy it, because you won't have to travel in the specific seat(s) you have been assigned for your ticket(s) to be valid.
(2) Completing the end-to-end journey on multiple trains, despite direct trains being available
Particularly when different TOCs offer services along sections of a route, it can be possible to save money by changing trains between those alternative services.
In the one transaction you will be in effect be purchasing separate tickets for each train you will be travelling by and you will then show each respective ticket to the conductor on the train.
These tickets will also open the ticket gates at each station where you will be changing trains, if you want to make full use of its facilities between trains.
The advantage is of course the potentially significant savings, but the disadvantages are:
(3) When direct trains aren't an option
Having to make connections between trains managed by different TOCs is often inevitable when making British train journeys, particularly if you won't be travelling to or from London.
Major cities which aren't connected by direct train include:
On routes like these, using the likes of TrainPal or TrainSplit.com or Splitticketing.com can help track down the best price for each leg of a route and also enable the payment for the necessary combination of tickets in one transaction.
Trainline also now typically offers Split-Tickets as an option when looking up journey, if doing so will be a money saver.
Then making the end-to-end journey, will typically be no more complicated than booking and using the tickets issued by the other types of booking service.
Five things to look out for when using split-ticketing
(1) Keep an eye on the departure and particularly the arrival times, it can be easy to focus solely on the price and not realise that the journey time is double that of a more expensive option.
(2) Watch out for connecting times between trains, as you can’t assume that the train(s) will arrive on time, though the ticketing sites will do so.
It's highly likely that many or all of the tickets you will be booking and using for each section of the journey will be Advance tickets, so they will only be 'valid' on the specific departure you have been booked on to.
Though in the event of train delays causing connections into booked trains being missed, you will be able to take an alternative train to your destination at no additional coast - as confirmed in the National Rail conditions of travel.
(3) NationalRail.co.uk can offer particularly expensive prices when it comes up with alternative indirect routes, but avoid assuming that these prices will be what you have to pay - the other websites can often offer this type of journey at a reduced rate.
(4) You will be charged a fee for using a split-ticketing service, Splitticketing.com is particularly open about the fact that it retains a percentage of the money it has saved you, by working out the cheapest combination of tickets.
However, if you can be confident that you can make separate bookings for all the suggested trains yourself, you can avoid paying this percentage.
You'll need to
(5) Splitticketing.com can omit departures from its journey search results, if it can’t find a deal AND the cheapest Advance tickets have also sold out - so it doesn’t provide a comprehensive list of every journey and ticket option.
A definition of shorter-distances would be helpful, but there is no fixed rule for this, so here is some necessarily broad advice which will hopefully be useful.
If you can book ahead of your travel date, it's worth looking up any journey online to check whether the discounted Advance tickets will be available.
But on many routes, if you will be travelling shorter distances, the time of day you will be travelling can have greater effect on the ticket price than if you book in advance.
On routes and services when Advance tickets are NOT available, the Off-Peak tickets become the cheapest option; and this type of ticket won't typically be cheaper if you book ahead.
c2c; Chiltern Railways; EMR; Great Western Railway; Greater Anglia; Southern; Southeastern; South Western Railway and Thameslink also offer 'Super Off-Peak' tickets, which are cheaper than Off-Peak tickets.
The prices of 'Off-Peak' and 'Super Off-Peak' tickets are influenced by the time of day when you will be travelling, in theory if you can travel when trains will be least busy, you can save money.
So on Monday to Fridays avoid travelling into large cities, particularly London, before 09:30/10:00 and sometimes it can also be cheaper to avoid travelling away from them between 16:30 and 18:30.
But on Mondays-Friday each TOC (Train Operating Company) sets its own times as to when it will offer Off-Peak tickets and how they will be sold generally - on some routes the Off-Peak rate won't be available if you book single tickets.
However, when travelling at weekends the cheaper Off-Peak or Super Off-Peak tickets become the default ticket.
In Northern England some routes are shared by multiple operators and when that is the case one company's trains can be cheaper than another; even when buying tickets last minute at the station.
Something to watch out for if you will be making a day trip, especially if you have previously booked Advance tickets, so are used to travelling each way with single tickets, is the potential availability of Day Return tickets.
If you will be travelling outside of business hours, so typically WON'T be heading off on a train between 07:00 and 09:30, you'll be able to obtain Off-Peak Day Return tickets, which won't cost any more when booked at the station, compared to the online price.
These Day Return tickets wil typically only cost up to £1 more than the price of a single Off-Peak ticket for a one-way journey, so they can be the easiest means of saving money on routes on which Advance tickets aren't available.
Though when looking up journeys online they can be listed simply listed as ‘Return Tickets’ so it’s the price difference that can be worth looking out for.
When looking a return journey on the same day online, a Day Return ticket can be cheaper than booking 1 x single Advance ticket and 1 x single Off-Peak ticket.
When booking online, the search results may highlight the cheapest 'ticket' price and an Advance single ticket will be cheaper than a Day Return ticket - so an Advance ticket(s) can seem like the best deal - but check to see if that is the case.
The Day Return tickets can also be listed beneath the Advance tickets in the Outward Journey column and if that is the case, they will be more expensive - but the Advance ticket price will only be valid for travelling in that one direction.
Particularly check whether single (one-way) Advance tickets will be offered in both directions when making a day return trip, especially if you will be travelling on Monday-Friday.
If they won't be offered for both the outward AND return journeys, it's likely that a Day Return will be the cheapest option.
Also look out for how the prices of Day Return tickets are displayed, on some booking websites the tickets will be separated into two columns, one for the booking of outward tickets and the other for return journeys.
However, the Day Return ticket can be solely in the Outward journey column, despite not being a single ticket.
In the return journey column, you may see a sum of between £0 - £2 and If you do see £0, it doesn't mean that the Day Return tickets aren't available.
Instead the message that's being conveyed, is that there is no charge for the ticket for the return direction - because BOTH directions of travel are being included in the Outward journey column.
This is another aspect of booking British train tickets, which is dependent on which TOC (Train Operating Company) is operating the service you will be travelling by.
According to the National Rail website and the general ticketing information you can find at stations, tickets should be released for sale 12 weeks ahead, but there are multiple exceptions to this.
Avanti West Coast places tickets on sale up to 24 weeks ahead for journeys on Mondays to Fridays.
Other TOCs will release Off-Peak and Anytime tickets more than 12 weeks ahead, so if you look up a journey more than 12 weeks ahead, don't assume that these more expensive types of ticket, will be the only option for making your journey.
If you will be travelling long-distance on train services provided by Chiltern Railways; CrossCountry; EMR; Grand Central; Great Western Railway; Greater Anglia; Hull Trains; LNER; Northern; ScotRail; Southern; Southeastern; South Western Railway and TransPennine Express; how far ahead that that the cheaper Advance tickets will be placed on sale can vary from 6 - 24 weeks ahead of the travel date
Around 10 weeks ahead can be a good time to book a long-distance train journey in England, Wales and Scotland, the cheapest Advance tickets will more than likely have been placed on sale and be still available; and the price can be compared with the Off-Peak and Anytime prices.
Though if you only see Off-Peak tickets, hang back and don't book them, keep checking back to see if the Advance tickets have been placed on sale
If you will be travelling on a Monday - Friday outside peak business hours and don't see any Advance tickets when looking up a journey 3 -12 weeks ahead, it can be a good idea to sign up to the TOCs ticket alert service, becasue the discounted Advance tickets may be released at a later date.
If you will be travelling at weekends and can't see any Advance tickets, see the notes below.
When the TOC releases its tickets for sale is when they will also become available on the National ticketing services.
Travelling on a Saturday or Sunday:
If you will be travelling LONG-DISTANCE on a Saturday or Sunday and look up a journey LESS than 10-12 weeks ahead, you may not see any Advance tickets available.
That's because the TOCs usually won't release Advance tickets for sale if works on the railway line will be impacting on a route.
The companies tend to wait until plans for works on the lines have been confirmed, so Advance tickets can often be released for sale sale around 3 - 4 weeks ahead.
So the lack of Advance tickets when looking up a journey less than three weeks ahead can be a red flag; not only will the cheaper tickets not be available, but making the journey will ALSO be more awkward.
However, take care, because the TOC will still usually offer non-discounted Off-Peak tickets for sale up to 12 weeks ahead, regardless of whether there will be works occurring on the line.
In those circumstances check back a couple of weeks ahead of your travel date to see if the Advance tickets have been placed on sale, or sign up to the TOC's Ticket Alert service.
Don't book the more expensive 'Off-Peak' tickets until you are certain that they will be the only type of ticket available for your journey.
Details of nationwide future works on the railway lines can be looked up HERE.
When looking up a journey pay special attention to the connecting time between trains.
You can be offered tickets for sale when the connecting time between trains is less than 10 minutes – but making the connection is NOT guaranteed in the event of a train being delayed.
Also extending the connecting time to alternative later trains is NOT normally an option when booking online, so in these instances the best option can be to book at the station - because that can provide for more options.
Although if you do go ahead and book an end-to-end journey with a tightly timed connection, then tickets will be valid on a later departure IF the connecting train has been delayed - as stated in the National Rail condtitions of travel.
Though you won't be able to re-arrange any seat reservations, so will have to hope that spare seats will be available on the alternative train.
However, if your journey involves connecting between trains operated by different TOCs then it can be cheaper to book separate tickets for each part of the journey, on the websites of the TOCs operating the trains you will be travelling by, or to book the end-to-end journey with split tickets on Trainline.
Though in this scenario be particularly wary of the connecting times between trains - a plus of this method is that you can extend the time you'll have in which to make connections.
Despite it being one of the key objectives of opening up UK rail travel to multiple operators, travellers often won't have a choice of TOC (Train Operating Company) when making a long-distance journey; particularly for journeys with similar travel times
However, when competing TOCs operate trains on different routes, there can be compromises available between ticket prices and journey times - meaning that it can matter which TOC you choose.
For example when travelling between London and Birmingham you can choose to travel with
Avanti West Coast: typical journey time = 1hr 22min
Chiltern Trains: typical journey time = 1hr 46min – 1hr 53min
London NorthWestern Railway: typical journey time = 2hr 4mins
However, the difference in journey times is due to the fact that each of these TOCs uses a different route between the two cities.
Between these other cities, trains operated by different TOCs also take different routes; click the name of the route, when available, to access guides to taking those journeys.
In contrast, the longer-distance routes, when trains operated by different TOCs take the exact same path, INCLUDES these journeys:
When travelling on these routes, the different TOCs can be compared on the national independent ticket booking services or on National Rail's online ticketing service
If you will be booking Advance tickets, you may be able to save money by comparing the prices charged by the different companies.
These are the key five things worth knowing if you're considering travelling First Class on a British train.
(1) If you will be travelling long distance by express trains, First Class Advance tickets are usually cheaper than Standard Class Off-Peak and Anytime tickets.
Also the most heavily discounted First Class Advance tickets can still be available on a specific departure when the cheapest Standard Class Advance tickets have sold out.
So when looking up a journey it can be possible for First Class to be cheaper than travelling Standard Class.
(2) It’s also possible to travel in one direction in First Class and the other in Standard Class.
(3) When comparing the price of First Class and Standard Class tickets for long distance journeys consider the complimentary benefits of travelling First Class - all First Class passengers on each departure receive the same benefits, irrespective of the price paid for the ticket.
Some Train Operating Companies (TOCs) including: Avanti West Coast and LNER offer First Class passengers complimentary restaurant car style meals* on some departures.
*At weekends meals can be replaced by a choice of complimentary sandwiches and other snacks.
(4) Avanti West Coast; Grand Central; LNER; ScotRail; South Western Railway and TransPennine Expres offer 'Weekend First' services.
Meaning that if you will be travelling on a Saturday or Sunday with Standard Class tickets, you can board and occupy unreserved, available seats in First Class and then pay a supplement to the train conductor - with the price depending on the length of the journey
(5) First Class is not available on some fairly lengthy regional express services operated by Transport For Wales; Northern and ScotRail.
The four key things worth knowing about seat reservations for train journeys within England, Scotland and Wales are;
(1) They're not mandatory; you don't have to reserve seats on any British journey by train
(2) They're only available on certain journeys/routes.
If you'll be travelling long-distance on trains operated by: Avanti West Coast; CrossCountry; EMR; Grand Central; Great Western Railway; Hull Trains: LNER; ScotRail and TransPennine Express, then seat reservations will be available.
Seat reservations are not available when making journeys on trains operated by c2c; Chiltern Railways; Great Northern; Greater Anglia*; London NorthWestern Railway**; Northern***; Southern; Southeastern; South Western Railway** and Thameslink.
*Reservations are usually available on the London <> Norwich route;
**Seats are assigned when booking tickets online, but are not marked as being reserved on the trains.
(3) If you have a reservation you don't have to travel in those assigned seats for your ticket to be valid.
(4) If you want to add a reservation, to an existing booking*, or because you will be travelling with a rail pass, including Britrail or Eurail passes, there is no is no charge for doing so.
*If you buy an Advance ticket either online or at a station, the reservation(s) will automatically be included on the specific departures you selected when booking.
Because Anytime and Off-Peak tickets allow the freedom to choose between departures, they don't 'include' reservations.
When booking these types of ticket online for journeys by: Avanti West Coast; CrossCountry; EMR; Grand Central; Great Western Railway; Hull Trains; LNER; Scotrail and TransPennine Express you will have to select a specific departure.
Having done so you will be typically be given the opportunity to add a complimentary reservation(s) on that particular train, but you won't be committed to travelling by it, you can take any train permitted under the T&Cs of your ticket.
If you will be buying an Anytime or Off-Peak ticket at a station, for a journey provided by those TOCs listed above, prior to departure, you can request a reservation on a specific train.
Though are cut-off times for adding these reservations and they can vary between operators.
When travelling by Cross Country (some routes); Great Western Railway; Hull Trains and Scotrail, seat reservations can't be added for trains departing within around 2 - 3 hours; though this isn't fixed.
For journeys by Avanti West Coast; CrossCountry; EMR; Grand Central; LNER and TransPennine Express, the time limit for reservations will be between 15 mins and an hour prior to departure.
Or having already booked your ticket online, or at a station, you can subsequently request a reservation on a specific (different) departure at a later date
You won't be able to book the reservation(s) separately online, but they can be arranged at an Advance Travel desk or by contacting the TOC you will be traveling by, either by email or social media.
If you will be travelling with a rail pass, including Britrail or Eurail passes, you won't typically be able to arrange seat reservations at stations, shortly before boarding; though as with so many aspects of British train travel, there can be exceptions.
So if you want to set off in the morning, you will usually need to make reservations by the end of the previous day; and it can be a good idea to do this regardless, stop by the ticket desks when you arrive at a station.
There is no charge for booking a rail pass reservation at stations, but you will need to use a staffed ticket desk (at an Advance Travel desk when available) and not a ticket machine.
Though you can often avoid having to book reservations at stations, many TOCs will enable reservations to be booked by using direct messaging on their social media services.
Thanks to the lack of mandatory reservations, and no fees to be paid if you do want to make an optional reservation, Britain is a relatively uncomplicated country in which to travel with an InterRail pass or Eurail Pass, particularly when compared against the depth of knowledge required to travel by train with the optimum ticket.
How can child tickets be booked and used?
Children aged 5 – 15 travel at a 50% discount on any UK train, and those aged 4 and under can travel for free when accompanied by an adult ticket holder – though the terms for how those 4 and under can travel, can vary between the TOCs, you either will or won't have to travel with the child on your lap
Though if you will be traveling as a family and make two or three long-distance journeys during a year, it can be worth investing in a Friends and Family RailCard.
... And tickets for Senior Travellers?
There is no national train ticket policy for senior travellers (aged 60 and over), but it's possible to save money on rail tickets by using a RailCard.
So if you’re visiting from outside the UK no discounts are available if you’re 60 and over; unless you purchase this Railcard at a station.
If you're booking train tickets online from outside the UK, the best ticket collection and delivery option is usually to collect your tickets from a ticket machine at a station just before boarding.
It will save the costs and hassle of having tickets posted abroad - and some TOCs don't offer international postage as a delivery option
To collect your tickets from the machine, you will need to use;
(1) your card that you used when making a booking – you won’t be charged again, it’s for I.D. purposes,
(2) the reference number that you will have been sent on your ticket booking confirmation email
Using Railcards when visiting Britain
If you will be making multiple journeys by train during a visit to Britain, or making repeated visits over a 12 month period, it can be worth purchasing one of the Railcards which are valid for train travel in Britain - because you don't have to be a British citizen to buy and use them.
So it's worth checking if you or your travelling party meet the criteria, though if more than one person will be travelling together, there will be the POTENTIAL to save money, even when you have factored in the up-front cost of purchasing the Railcard at a staffed ticket desk at a station.
Each Adult using a railcard receives a discount of a third of the cost of booking pretty much any UK train journey and child fares are reduced by 60%.
If you will be traveling by train from outside the London area to the capital in order to connect into a Eurostar, special discounted tickets are available, which are known as tickets to 'London International CIV'; the CIV ensures that they offer the protection into a subsequent Eurostar departure in the event of the train to London being delayed.
Though they can only be booked at station ticket desks; if you go to the station and book in advance (shortly after you have booked your Eurostar ticket) they will be cheaper, though they can also be booked on the travel date.
This information was gleaned from the ever fabulous Seat61.
Tickets that CAN be booked on the Eurostar website:
(1) Direct trains to Bourg St Maurice, Bruxelles, Calais, Lille, Lyon, Marseille, Moutiers and Paris.
(2) Journeys to SOME major cities in France not served directly by Eurostar– including Avignon, Bordeaux, Montpellier, Nice, Nantes and Rennes.
Tickets to other destinations in France which involve making only connection in Lille or Paris can be booked on SNCF Connect.
(3) Any station in Belgium tickets; the key feature of these tickets is that they live up to their name, so how distant your Belgian destination is and the journey time doesn't impact on the ticket price.
When on the Belgian train, your Eurostar ticket will be valid if you’re using it within 24 hours of your original departure.
Though these tickets cannot be used on Thalys trains between Bruxelles and Antwerpen or the ICE and Thalys trains between Bruxelles and Liege.
(4) Journeys to Amsterdam and Rotterdam – but only those which;
(5) Journeys to destinations in Germany that are served by direct ICE and Thalys trains from Bruxelles, including these cities - Aachen, Cologne/Koeln, Dusseldorf and Frankfurt (Main)
When booking these tickets to destinations in Germany, Eurostar will in effect re-direct you to the B-Europe booking site.
Tickets that CANNOT be booked on the Eurostar website:
Eurostar’s booking site does not sell tickets for journeys to other destinations in The Netherlands or Germany.
If you want to book train journeys to other destinations in Germany or The Netherlands, between Britain and other countries including Spain and Switzerland you can use RailEurope (formerly known as Loco2) or The Trainline.
Though RailEurope will charge a booking fee for all international journeys and The Trainline will also charge a booking fee on some routes.
When travelling to Italy you may have to split the booking between London to Paris and Paris to Italy tickets.
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I wanted to share my passion for train travel and explain how anyone can take the fantastic journeys I have taken.
This is one of more than 100 train travel guides available on ShowMeTheJourney, which will make it easier to take the train journeys you want or need to make. As always, all images were captured on trips taken by ShowMeTheJourney.
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This second version of ShowMeTheJourney is exciting and new, so we are genuinely thrilled that you are here and reading this, but we also need your help.
We’re striving not to let anything get in the way of providing the most useful service possible, hence a facility has been set up with DonorBox which can be used to support the running costs and make improvements.
Instead of advertising or paywalls, your financial support will make a positive difference to delivering an enhanced service, as there’s a lot of ideas which we want to make happen.
So if you have found the info provided here to be useful, please consider saying thank you.