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How we find some of the cheapest train tickets

By sophie on
In: Cheap Train Tickets

How we find some of the cheapest train tickets

ticketclever: a quest for the cheapest train tickets

We knew there was an easier way to find the cheapest train tickets than by trawling booking sites comparing prices. So we built a clever system. And it finds more of the cheapest train tickets than most other sites. We don't have booking fees or credit/debit card fees either. A bit of British Rail backstory The British railway industry is a couple hundred years old, and has moved between private and national ownership since its beginnings. By the outbreak of WWI, 123 train companies operated in the UK. This number was unmanageable during wartime, so the government took over. Can't be a hero without a crisis, after all. In WWII almost all the companies merged to become just four. The Big Four.

After World War II, around the time of the post-war introduction of the welfare state and forming of the NHS, the railways were nationalised, becoming British Railways and later British Rail. By the early 90s Thatcher's government had sold off much of British Rail. Her successor, John Major, introduced the 1993 Railways Act. British Rail was to split into 100 private companies - including train-operating companies (TOCs), freight operating companies (FOCs), companies responsible for infrastructure and companies who built trains and lent them to the TOCs and FOCs.

Privatised UK rail today

Today the industry - private as it initially was - has no crisis to bring it together superficially, no wars or the aftermath of wars that make its nationalisation needed. Now we face a cost of living crisis.

Commuters using annual passes into London, Birmingham, Leeds, Liverpool, Manchester and Bristol pay on average, 11% of the net median salaries for those cities. Many, many, people are renting sub-standard accommodation, with a whole bunch of people they found via get-me-an-expensive-yet-dilapidated-room-with-strangers.com.

They have less of the cost of living pie to spend on rail travel for leisure.

At ticketclever we aim to help reduce the size of the cost of living pie. To disrupt things enough that we all have a little more disposable income to spend on our well-being. More gigs, cinema outings, meals out, perhaps less work. If we can give you a better overview of all the fares available, and put them together in a way that gets you the best possible price for your journey, the number of train companies will be irrelevant.

Ways To Find Cheap Train Tickets Between Train Companies

We hired some super smart physicists and data scientists (Oxford seems to have quite a few of these) to build a clever system that finds cheap train tickets. This system can, in addition to selling regular fares, split your tickets for you - giving you multiple tickets that when combined are cheaper than alternatives. So:
  • For longer journeys, tickets can be more expensive overall than if several singles are combined for the same journey
  • Our algorithm breaks up journeys into parts then puts them back together in a way that makes them add up
Most sites promote Advance tickets as the ones that will save you money on train travel:
    • Claims like, "buy cheap train tickets online and save up to 43%," really mean "book far enough in advance and your train ticket will be up to 43% less than if you buy at the station on the day of travel"
    • A lot of people do buy their tickets at the station just before their trip and at this point Advance Purchase fares are no longer available
    • On ticketclever, you can still get ticketclever deals (combinations that are cheaper than end-to-end tickets) right up until just before you go - on longer routes in particular these can save up to 60% in some cases. The average saving is 20% on routes where we can do it
If you can book in advance, Advance tickets do indeed offer fantastic savings. In fact, while British train travel is often cited as the most expensive in Europe, Advance tickets in the UK are some of the cheapest in Europe.
  • Train tickets can be bought up to 12 weeks in advance and the further in advance you book, the more likely you are to save money on train tickets
  • If you don't have a season ticket because you don't travel enough to make it worthwhile. See if you can book tickets for your commute far in advance, get them the day they're released and you can make some really good savings
  • Look at your calendar, if there are birthdays, holidays, gigs, football matches etc. you know you're going to be attending three months down the line, book your train tickets in Advance
Remember, Advance tickets are for specific trains on specific days. You must travel on the train you are booked on unless there is a train delay or another reason that the train company will allow you to travel on another train at a different time.

Advance Purchase tickets can sometimes be bought up to the day before travel.
  • ticketclever sells Advance tickets as well as ticketclever deals and will never be more expensive than elsewhere, unless there's a special deal a train company who sets the fares is running that we do not have access to be able to sell to you
  • We don't have booking fees, because we don't like them any more than you do
  • ticketclever has the option for you to donate some or all of your savings to charity
Railcards are a great way to save on train tickets, and we can (almost) guarantee you'll qualify for one of the cards out there. Railcard savings can be used on top of the savings you make with ticketclever deals. Fantastic.

We are working hard every day to make train tickets cheaper for everyone, if you have any advice for other train travellers, please share by writing to us at feedback@ticketclever.com. We'd love to hear from you.

Collectively we can make travel cheaper and easier for us all.
Sophie | 19-07-2018
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