Train fares: How to buy cheap British train tickets online

The British rail network is run by more than 20 different train companies under the umbrella body National Rail. National Rail co-ordinates train fares, ticketing and other information. Train tickets for all train operators can be obtained online. The tickets are usually valid on any operators’ trains. There are a number of ways to buy cheap train tickets online.

Cheap tickets online

Here we look at the different places you can buy British train tickets online and how to get discounts on train fares.

The National rail website

National rail website at www.nationalrail.co.uk is often the best place to start looking for train tickets to any part of the country. Although National rail doesn’t sell tickets itself, it offers valuable information about all available tickets for where you want to go, including all the ticket selling websites that are most relevant to your specific journey. Pick a train company from the list suggested at the top of the National rail website to be exempted from booking fees by the train operator you choose.

Independent train ticket retailer websites

There are several independent train ticket retailers in Britain, including www.raileasy.co.uk, www.takethetrain.co.uk, www.mytrainticket.co.uk, www.redspottedhanky.com, www.quno.com and www.thetrainline.com. These retailers sell tickets from all train operators for all journeys. They usually all sell the same tickets for the same price, but charge a small booking fee for the convenience of streamlined booking.

Train operators’ websites

Train operators such as Virgin trains at www.virgintrains.co.uk provide online ticket booking for all operators for all journeys on all routes. Like independent trail retailers, they sell the same tickets from all operators at the same price. However, unlike independent train retailers they normally do not charge booking fees or any other fees for that matter. You don’t even pay ticket postage costs!

Discounted fares

Occasionally, train companies give small discounts on their own train tickets and fares. For example, East Coast may offer a 10% discount on its advance fares from Newcastle and Edinburgh, Leads, London and so on if you book on its own website. To ensure you don’t miss out on such offers, it is always a good idea to choose the train operator website that National rail suggests on its website.

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