It’s everyone’s favourite time of year – the time of year when rail companies announce that they’re planning to increase their fares in the new year.
Last Friday the Rail Delivery Group revealed that train fares were set to go up by around 2.3% in 2017, with increases due to take effect from 2nd January and covering both regulated and unregulated fares.
This is the biggest jump in fares since 2014, which doesn’t sound great, but here’s the good news – this is nothing new to us at Click Travel. Due to our dynamic approach to managing and reducing rail spend, as well as the immense amount of knowledge that our account managers have on the subject, we’ve been helping our clients save money on train fares for years and have actually seen their average rail spend reduce each year since 2013.
Here’s our Director of Operations, Chris Vince, to share his advice for making sure that you always secure the best train fare possible:
1. Book in advance
As a general rule the more you plan and book in advance, the more you’ll save. However, due to their favourable prices advance rail tickets often sell out quickly and so you’ll need to buy them 12 weeks in advance of your departure date to ensure that you get the best deals.
Advance tickets can be purchased up until the night before travel subject to availability, so it’s worth checking whether any are available even if you’re making a last minute trip. If your travel plans change, you can usually exchange your advance ticket as long as you are still travelling on the same route.
2. Cancel unwanted train tickets
Many people assume that, once booked, train tickets cannot be cancelled – this is incorrect! There are usually some terms and conditions attached but if you end up not needing to use your ticket then it’s always worth checking whether you’re entitled to a refund. This is something that a lot of travellers don’t do and is one of the simplest ways to reduce your travel spend.
3. Restrict the outbound journey only
Travellers aren’t always aware that they can buy a cheaper ticket and still have the same flexibility on their return journey. Seeing as you will usually know the time of the train that you need to catch on the way to your destination, it’s worth fixing that route and then booking a more flexible ticket for the journey home. Combining an Advance Single ticket with an Anytime Single is cheaper than an Anytime Return and creates a win/win situation – you won’t be inconvenienced and the ticket cost is reduced.
4. Travel off-peak
It might sound obvious, but travelling off-peak really is the best way to significantly reduce your fare. Although sometimes it can be hard to avoid joining the busiest commuting hours, asking whether a meeting can begin at 10:30, rather than 9:30, can make all the difference when it comes to the price you can expect to pay – we’ve even found that sometimes it’s cheaper to use an off peak ticket and stay at your destination overnight than it is to travel during peak times! Off-peak hours are typically any time after 0930 and before 1530 but these can vary between rail providers, so it’s always worth checking this before booking.
5. Purchase a railcard
You can save up to a ⅓ on rail fares simply by purchasing a railcard. There are various railcards available to purchase for a one-off annual fee including a 16-25 railcard, senior railcard, disabled persons railcard & Network railcard. For further information please visit www.railcard.co.uk.
Unfortunately there will always be the odd price hike here and there, but a little industry know-how can go a long way towards significantly reducing the train fares that you and your fellow business travellers pay. For more travel management advice, insight and information, click the button below: