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Cheap Train Tickets and Flexible Fares

I know, I know, rail tickets have a not undeserved reputation for being complicated and difficult to understand and let’s face it – it’s not the most exciting topic on the planet. Fortunately, you’ve taken the right first step – using takethetrain.co.uk to buy your tickets. Being a ticket expert (please excuse my ego but when it comes to trains...) I do all the hard work for you to help you buy the best ticket. During the booking process I'll automatically show you the lowest fare, then as you enter more specific criteria I'll filter the tickets to show the ones that give you enough flexibility for your required journey.

This means you can find the best ticket for your journey without holding a degree in Train tickets.

However a little knowledge can go a long way and it’s always good to know where you stand should your requirements change for example and you aren’t sure which trains your ticket is valid for. Therefore, please find below a brief overview of the features of each ticket type.

Advance Tickets

Advance tickets are excellent value but are only valid for the date and train they are booked for.

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A common scenario is that you know which outward train you will catch, but aren’t sure how long your meeting/event/shopping trip is going to be so don’t know which return train to catch. Remember, you can still buy an Advance Single for the outward train and simply buy a more flexible ticket for the return journey.

Key features of Advance tickets

  • Advance tickets are always sold as Single (one-way) tickets. You can simply buy two to make a return journey or mix with other ticket types
  • You must book in advance and they have limited availability. This means their availability will depend on how popular that particular ticket is - sometimes there will be some left the day before travel, others sell out a lot earlier
  • The earlier you book the lower the cost
  • Advance tickets are non-refundable but can be amended before departure

For more information on amending your Advance ticket see Cancellations & Refunds.

Off-Peak

Off-Peak tickets lie somewhere between Advance and Anytime tickets. They still give you the flexibility of not being tied to a particular train (unlike Advance tickets) but aren’t quite as flexible as Anytime tickets in that they are only valid on trains during off-peak less busy times and sometimes certain days. What is defined as 'Off-Peak' varies according to each station and operator - usually you won't be able to travel before 9.30 am and if you are departing from a London station 4 pm to 6.30 pm can also be classed as peak so you may not be able to travel then either.

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If you are not sure what time you can travel try doing a dummy search. If you can buy an off peak ticket at all the times you want to travel, it is valid on all of those trains. If you cannot buy an off peak ticket at a certain time it means it is not valid for travel on that train.

Off-Peak Single & Day tickets must be used on the date shown on the ticket. For Off-Peak return tickets, outward journeys must be made on the date shown on your ticket and return journeys must be made within one calendar month.

Example: You buy an Off-Peak Return for the 5th August. You could, of course, make the outward & return journey on the 5th August, but the ticket allows you to travel as follows:

You must travel out on the 5th August but you can travel back anytime between the 5th August and the 4th September.

You can buy Off-Peak tickets any time before travel and availability is not limited, they will always be available. Sometimes there are tickets available with a few more restrictions for an even lower price; these are simply called 'Super Off-Peak tickets'.

Off-Peak tickets are eligible for refunds. For more information see Cancellations & Refunds.

Anytime Tickets

The clue is in the name! Anytime tickets give you the ultimate flexibility as you can literally travel on any train all day! Of course, you can’t catch a train anywhere; it must be trains on the routes permitted by your ticket and on a day valid on your ticket. You can buy Anytime tickets anytime before you travel and their availability is not limited, they are always be available. Bear in mind that the additional flexibility of an Anytime ticket means they are significantly more expensive than some other ticket types.

Anytime Single & Day tickets must be used on the date shown on the ticket. For Anytime Returns, the outward journey must be made within 5-days including the date on your ticket and return journeys must be made within one calendar month.

Example: You buy an Anytime return for the 5th August. You could of course make the outward & return journey on the 5th August, but the ticket allows you to travel as follows:

You can travel out on the 5th, 6th, 7th, 8th or 9th August.

You can travel back anytime between the 5th August and the 4th September.

Anytime tickets also allow you to break your journey at stations along your route, this means you can get off the train at any station along the route and continue the journey later.

Anytime tickets are also eligible for refunds. For more information see Cancellations & Refunds.

Tickets We Don't Sell

Please note that takethetrain.co.uk does not sell the following tickets but these are readily available from the relevant train companies:

  • Railcards
  • Season Tickets
  • Sleepers
  • Ferries
  • Tickets in exchange for warrants
  • Railway staff tickets
  • Cycle or car parking reservations
  • Groupsave tickets