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Train Travel - the Frugal way

Ways to get the cheapest rail fare you can !

Firstly, if you are doing a fair bit of train travel and not during peak periods, a Railcard is a very good option. On most you only need to be looking at yearly accumulated journeys of over £100 and you're in the money

*16-25 railcard
For just £28, get 1/3 off one year's rail fares across Britain.

*Family and Friends Railcard
For just £28, enjoy 1/3 off adult and 60% off kids' rail fares in Britain.

*Senior Railcard
For a mere £28, discover Britain with 1/3 off Standard and First class rail fares.

*Disabled Persons Railcard
For just £20 get 1/3 off one year's rail fares. If you're travelling with a friend they get the discount too!

*Network Railcard
For just £28, get 1/3 off adult and 60% off child fares in London & the South East

Group Travel
Most Rail Companies now offer various Group Travel options, so if you can, team up with a few others. If you're going to London for the day, try asking some others in the queue what time they're coming back!!

All be it I left the Railway ten years ago, but one thing which doesn't appear to have changed is the mystery of quickest and / or cheapest routes.

If you are purchasing a ticket from a Railway Station, you have to hope that the Ticket Office Personnel are well up on your options, if not, you will get the 'norm' ticket and you aren't to know if that is the best purchase.
Luckily most Staff who work in the Station Ticket Office have been something else on the Railway and do have that knowledge.

The thing is, if you're looking up details of a journey online, especially near London, you are going to get the 'via London' route and not the options unless that is you ask for the options in advanced searches.

This is an example of what I mean.

I wanted to get the details for someone travelling from Ashford (Kent) to Fareham in Hampshire leaving at around 10.15am.

On National Rail Enquiries, the first page comes up I get two options of route, the first means me changing at Tonbridge, train to Redhill and catch another train direct to Fareham. Journey time is 3hrs 3min at a cost of *£42.70.

The second route takes me by high speed train to St. Pancreas, tube to Victoria, train to Fratton, change and get another to Fareham. Journey time is 3hrs 40 mins, same price.

At this stage the unknowing prospective customer is going to say fair enough and book the ticket, but by doing a bit of digging around you can get the fare for *£17.10, but only if you physically ask for either 'slower trains' or manually type in via Brighton!

The *£17.10 is a journey time of 3hrs 20mins, you change only once and avoid going anywhere near London with a more scenic journey to boot!

So, by doing a bit of digging around, you can get to Fareham and back for less money than a one way trip going the suggested route!

Every time you want to check a route or fare, get a map out and look at the train lines and just type in a few 'via' options. You never know, there could well be money to save.

Taking the slower route or not travelling via London makes not only your journey more comfortable, but you see the more scenic routes as well

For Inter-City deals, not only check the National Timetables, but have a look at the Train Operators websites for any specials.

* Prices, fares and other details as at 06th.September 2011

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'Find slower routes' doesn't always mean that! From the example right, it's actually shorter than one of the more expensive options!