For all of us - particularly those living in bustling, eco-friendly cities - trains are a fundamental part of every day life. Yet tickets are becoming increasingly expensive, with no sign that this is about to change any time soon. But fear not: whilst it's sometimes necessary to pay through your nose, there are small blessings to be found within Britain's rail system, and we're here to tell you how to shave some pennies off your travel budget.
Whilst our rail companies are (for the time being) in the hands of private companies, the public still has some sway in how they are operated - and you have every right to take advantage of special discounts for which you qualify.
For a full list of discounts, don't just visit the National Rail site - as they only advertise rail cards available to every region of the country. Instead, hit up your local rail operator and find out whether there's any schemes you can take advantage of (this is particularly handy if you're elderly or disabled).
Generally speaking, children under 15 and full-time students are always able to get a little money off their fares - so if that applies to you make sure you get yourself a railcard as soon as possible.
The railcard itself does carry some initial outlay - it's typically £30 (plus the cost of getting a new, passport-sized photo taken, if necessary), and valid for the entire year - but you will end up making annual savings of up to one third.
A quirk of the Great British train systems - with its multiple franchises and lack of central authority - is that it's often possible to save money by buying two (and sometimes more) tickets for the same journey instead of one.
To do this, you just need to research the route between your two stations and book tickets that take you part of the way. As long as you always have a valid ticket (i.e. don't leave any gaps between your two fares) you'll be perfectly fine.
Plenty of people online have caught onto this trend, and that makes it super easy to plan your journey and ensure you don't pay more than you need to. If you want to look into it, we recommend checking out splitticketing.co.uk.
Cashback schemes are becoming increasingly popular among clever customers looking to save money on things like air travel and accommodation - and rail passengers are now getting in on the act too.
Topcashback.co.uk - described by many as the best site operating cashback schemes for British consumers - is currently running a scheme whereby you can get a few quid off your Virgin Train tickets. All you have to do is sign up, get a code and then use it to buy your fare - they will then credit you with the amount they make via advertising commission.
If you have planned your journey ahead you can book your tickets in advance as the earlier you buy them, cheaper they are. And if possible avoid peak times and weekends to save some extra on your budget for travelling with train.
Whilst it's tempting to dive into the opportunity to make quick cash online, remember: it's important to read the site regularly and make sure you understand which journeys and code combinations are permitted together.
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