Top tips when travelling by train

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You’ve got plenty of reasons to travel by train these days. First, you get to avoid the misery of rush hour traffic, expensive parking and general stresses that come with driving a car. Second, you’ll likely find it the quickest and easiest way to get into a city centre or take a long journey. Third, public transport is making a comeback as the general population becomes more eco-conscious, so you’ll be doing your bit for the environment by travelling on the tracks.

If you’re new to life by train, there are a few things you need to be wary of that will help you save money, time and hassle. Here are some top train-based tips.

Avoid the rush

OK, one bad thing about trains – they’re not much fun during rush hour. Head into London, Manchester or any other major city at 7.30am and you might well find yourself in a rather tight spot. This is, of course, necessary for most people trying to get to work on time, but if you afford to avoid the busier periods, you’ll also find an opportunity to save some money.

Depending on the line, most trains offer peak, off-peak and sometimes even super off-peak times. The less “peak” the train is, the less you’ll pay – plus you’ll also likely enjoy a bit more space and a bit less stress on your journey.

You can find peak and off-peak information on your train provider’s website. Say, for example, you were looking to secure a cheap ticket back to London after a holiday, you could head to the Gatwick Express website to book your ideal slot from the airport back to the centre. 

Book a seat

As above – trains can get awfully busy. If you’re on a busy train, it is almost always significantly better to be sat down so you can relax and look out of the window. Likewise, if you’re travelling with a family, it’s nice to get a four-seater with a table so you can enjoy your trip together.

All you need to do is ensure you book seats in advance, so they’re reserved for your arrival. You should be able to choose between table, window and aisle seats, meaning you can choose your ideal set up.

By the way – if you get on and someone is in your seat, the ticket inspector will have no problem moving them if you have your reservation ticket.

Book in advance

The earliest bird catches the cheapest worm when it comes to trains. Don’t think you can leave your booking until the last minute – it’s not a flight situation why you might be able to bag a last-minute deal.

Turn up and pay on the day and you’ll be shelling out top dollar. Book well in advance and you should be able to snipe some seriously reasonably priced fares.

Grab yourself a Railcard (if you can)

Not everyone can get a Railcard, but you should if you can and travel by train regularly. The good news is, Railcards aren’t just for 16-25-year olds and OAPs anymore. Check out the Railcard website and you’ll see all sorts of different options for different travellers.

If you can get one, you’ll enjoy up to a third off each journey you take, which certainly pays dividends if the train is your primary method of transport.

Other than that, make sure you turn up and the right station and don’t get on the wrong train and you’re pretty much golden. As trains become more popular again, just make sure you’re being savvy with your approach to travel.

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