How ‘split-ticketing’ can slice up to 30% off your rail fare – and there are websites out there to help you
- There are a number of fare splitting websites that will work out any saving
- These include Split Your Ticket, TrainSplit or SplitMyFare
- Alternatively, you might try to do the cost-saving exercise yourself
Train users can beat rising fares by buying separate tickets for a single journey, often cutting the cost of travel by a third. Experts estimate that the average saving is 20 per cent.
This little known trick is called ‘split-ticketing’. There is no need to pass through ticket barriers mid-journey. All that is required is that the train stops at the station from where one ticket journey ends and the next begins.
In the past the only obvious way to find all the ticket options available to you was to download an app.
Train users can beat rising fares by buying separate tickets for a single journey, often cutting the cost of travel by a third. Experts estimate that the average saving is 20 per cent
But now there are a number of fare splitting websites that will work out any saving from buying several tickets, such as Split Your Ticket, TrainSplit or SplitMyFare.
Alternatively, you might try to do the exercise yourself – looking at how much it would cost if you broke the journey up between stations you travel through.
For a recent trip from Bishop’s Stortford, Hertfordshire, to Hebden Bridge, West Yorkshire, a poker-faced Greater Anglia ticket seller charged me £216.70 for a same day off-peak anytime return.
If I had taken time out to explore split-ticketing, I would have discovered that I could have reduced the cost to £149.80 by buying four separate tickets – a saving of £66.90 or 31 per cent.
The tickets would have been Bishop’s Stortford to Tottenham Hale return, £22.60; Tube Tottenham Hale to King’s Cross return, £6.10; King’s Cross to Leeds return, £113.50; Leeds to Hebden Bridge return, £7.60.
The savings really can be spectacular. For example, a single midweek fare from Cheltenham to Edinburgh can cost £164.60.
But if you buy three tickets for the same trip – Cheltenham to Birmingham, Birmingham to Preston, Preston to Edinburgh – the total will be £108.75, even if the tickets are bought on the day of travel.
So by split-ticketing you make a 34 per cent saving. Darren Shirley, chief executive of the action group Campaign for Better Transport, says: ‘It is not right that rail passengers need special knowledge to work out the best way to buy the most affordable ticket. There is no reason why the ticket office at a station cannot offer you the best fare.’
The Rail Delivery Group, which represents train companies, says that trials of a ‘best fare guarantee’ scheme will begin this autumn. These should put an end for the need to split-ticket.
It says: ‘Eight out of ten people want the fares system changed – resulting in a fairer, more transparent and easier-to-use experience. One where customers always pay the lowest fare.’
Greater Anglia says: ‘Passengers tell us they would like simplified ticketing and fares. We are working with the Rail Delivery Group to help improve the current system.’
If you are looking to save money on train travel, split-ticketing is not the only option. Planning a trip in advance can generate even bigger savings.
Rail companies sell a limited number of ‘advance’ tickets up to 12 weeks before a planned journey. These can cost as little as a tenth of the price of an ‘anytime’ ticket purchased on the day of travel.