More ways to save money on train fares

Tom Edwards
Transport correspondent, London
@BBCTomEdwardson Twitter

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The cost of rail fares is only going one way - up.

So following on from the piece I wrote on the old Mind the Gap blog (RIP) about saving money on fares, I've come across another way for rail passengers to save a few quid.

Many travellers will know about it, but many I've spoken to don't.

I'm talking about Carnets which are growing in popularity. Basically it's a book of 10 tickets you buy all at once. But on First Capital Connect for example you can get 10 tickets for the price of nine.

However, the real money saver is you can get peak and off-peak carnets to mix and match your tickets. So, as opposed to a season ticket, you don't always have to pay peak fares.

If you go home regularly on the train after 7pm it will save you a considerable amount of money if you get a peak-fare carnet for the morning and an off-peak one for the evening.

Just a word of warning. The train companies are currently clamping down on passengers who don't fill in the date on their Carnets.

I've had reports of inspectors not showing any discretion at all when dishing out the fines.

The Association of Train Operating Companies (ATOC) says the following companies sell Carnets:

  • Chiltern
  • Virgin
  • National Express East Anglia
  • First Capital Connect
  • First Great Western
  • Grand Central
  • Scotrail
  • East Coast
  • East Midlands

This is what First Capital Connect have to say on their Carnets:

"Carnets were introduced on the Great Northern route (Peterborough to King's Cross) in August 2009 and due to popularity was extended to the Thameslink route (Bedford to Brighton) in June 2010.

"Growth on the Great Northern route has almost trebled depending on the flow. On the Thameslink route, growth has been increasing rapidly since their introduction."

Another money saving tip is something called "Groupsave".

If two adults are travelling off-peak then another two can travel for free. All the operators do the scheme. Kids go for a quid. A rail insider told me that this is the best kept secret in national rail travel.

Let me know if I've omitted anything or if all of this is news to you.

Are you aware of other ways to save money on fares?