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Buying your train tickets in advance is the best way to guarantee the biggest discount, but don't worry if you've left it to the last minute.
Typically, booking 12 weeks ahead will give you the best chance of bagging a bargain advance purchase ticket.
But the train companies do offer these type of tickets for sale up to the day before travel.
If your journey is at a less busy time of the week and a quieter time of the day, then you may find the full allocation of tickets hasn't been sold and cheap tickets are still on offer.
Between initially releasing the tickets and the day before travel, the train companies will manage the numbers available to try to ensure trains are well loaded, but not overcrowded.
The number of seats available at lower prices can vary day by day dependent upon the numbers of bookings made.
That's why you may find a cheap fare is available one day, but the next time you look it's gone.
Unlike airlines, the train operators haven't developed cheaper standby tickets and generally the nearer the time of train departure you book, then the higher the fare will be.
Check online - try TrainGenius.com - as soon as you know you need to travel, don't wait until you get to the station.
You can book now and pick up your train tickets at the station. It's worth checking to make a saving.
Billy is impressed JAAAAAA! #iamtrain
Train passengers must find the cheapest fares themselves because companies are under "no obligation" to help, one of Britain's largest rail firms has claimed.
Book your train, hotel and theatre tickets in one package and save on the price of a short break in London.
Superbreak offers a variety of hotels and shows and reserved train seats both ways.
All booked and confirmed in advance. They take care of all the arrangements before you leave home. All you have to do is turn up, spoil and enjoy yourself!
Register for free at Bite and you'll receive a discount card to get 10% off food and drink at stores in railway and coach stations. The card's valid in the following outlets:
- Upper Crust
- Pumpkin Café Shop
- Caffé Ritazza
- Camden Food Co
- Delice de France
- The Pasty Shop
- Sloe Bar café
- Burger King (excluding Marylebone station branch)
- Millie's Cookies
Offer excludes, in all outlets:
- ice cream
- telephone cards
- The National Lottery and lottery products
Can't be used with any other offer
Advance train tickets are much cheaper and the best deals are available to those who are able to book their journeys well in advance. With the train companies releasing cheaper tickets on to the market up to 12 weeks ahead. But it is possible to buy these cheaper tickets at much shorter notice.
Top Tip: You can often buy advance tickets the night before so it's always worth checking if advance purchase tickets are still available and certainly before you get to the station.
Money Saving Expert Martin Lewis showed how cheaper tickets could be booked at the last minute in an episode of his It Pays To Watch TV programmes. Lewis was challenged to save a businessman who travelled to work by train most days as much money as possible.
He usually only found out his destination the day before, so booked at the station each morning.
At 5pm, Martin Lewis asked him to call for a London-Sheffield train for the next morning. He'd have paid £147 on the day, but the night before, £64 advance tickets were still around. That was an impressive saving.
Generally advance tickets are only available up to 6pm the day before, but a few train companies sell them even later so you can still check on the day of travel. But the sooner you book the better the chance of a cheaper ticket.
Top 5 train ticket booking websites for cheap train tickets and last minute train tickets...
Book your tickets online now and collect them at the station.
Top Tip: All five of these sites sell tickets for all train companies. Don't be put off by the idea of buying a ticket from Virgin Trains or TransPennine Express, for a journey which doesn't include travel on their trains. Virgin can sell you a ticket to use on a Great Western train, for example.
London is the Most Popular Destination for UK Rail Travellers - but it's still possible to find cheap train tickets. If you don't leave it too late.
With thousands of seats to fill every day, the big train operators can offer substantial discounts and cheap train tickets online through retailers like TrainGenius.com.
Virgin Trains, First Great Western and East Midlands Trains and other longer distance operators all provide fast and frequent services to the capital.
But the golden rule still applies - don't leave it to the last minute. Buying your ticket at the station will cost you more than booking in advance.
Don't get on the train without a ticket or you simply limit your options and end up paying the most expensive fare available for travel there and then.
You can avoid paying booking fees charged by some online retailers by booking through a train company's own website. For example, you can buy tickets for all train companies from Virgin Trains
Virgin's website offers
tickets for all train companies and doesn't charge booking or credit card fees. The fare you see is what you pay. Use Virgin online fare checker to see what your journey will cost.
Book online and collect your tickets at the station.
It's time to plan your rail journey if you're planning on going anywhere by train this Christmas.
If you're heading home or jetting off away from it all, it pays to get organised in good time and book in advance for the lowest fares.
Virgin Trains and the other intercity train operators are taking bookings now.
First view of the @thetrainline station ad #IAmTrain
Tickets for All Train Companies with Virgin Trains
Best known for running trains from London Euston, but Virgin's website offers tickets for all train companies and doesn't charge booking or credit card fees. The fare you see is what you pay. Use Virgin online fare checker to see what your journey will cost. Book online and collect your tickets at the station.
Cheap fare finder for Virgin services between London Euston, the Midlands, the North West and Scotland.
This is Virgin Trains search tool to find the best available fares for travel only on Virgin Trains. It will only offer fares for journeys made between two stations served by Virgin Trains.
Book Cheap Train Tickets Online
When you find a cheap train ticket, buy it straightaway.
Don't find train tickets cheap on the web and then expect to buy them at the station.
Chances are they won't be available at the ticket office.
Online fares are the cheapest and are best bought online.
With TrainGenius.com you can buy cheap train tickets for all UK National Rail destinations and save up to 80% (sometimes more!) by buying in advance through us.
TrainGenius.com is completely impartial and independent of the train operating companies, so you can be sure that we’ll live up to our mission to help you find the train tickets that best suit you – whether that means saving money, travel flexibility or a mixture of the two.
We’ve been selling train tickets online since 2008, so we’re experts at what we do. We help all our customers to find the best value train tickets, to find out when it’s cheapest to travel and to find out handy tips that make train travel easier.
We’re also accredited and licensed by the train operators. We’re not a reseller for another organisation – we do everything from helping you find the right tickets to delivery / ticket collection and after sales support. In fact, our systems are used by some of the train operators themselves to sell their train tickets online.
To help you be more train, we’re going to bust train travel myths every Monday. Did you believe this one? #iamtrain
Book ahead to get yourself a seat for Xmas travel. You know it'll be busy!
Savings of 43 per cent via @trainfarescheap #iamtrain. Sound your horn! rbl.ms/1ibsZ11
This is the noise I will make when a train arrives. Made me laugh so much. Haha. 😆#IAmTrain twitter.com/thetrainline/s…
Bananas are train. They provide energy and have a natural carry case. Greasy snacks are not train. #iamtrain
Delay repay is a quick and easy way to get compensation for delays of 30 minutes or more to your journey with Virgin Trains on the West Coast Mainline. If you booked an Advance ticket the money might be sitting pretty in your bank account already...
Autumn's here! Get away to fab destinations across the UK this season from just £34pp!
Sometimes you just connect to advertisements on a spiritual level #iamtrain
trainline - the biggest of the online ticket retailers with an easy to use website. Currently advertising savings of 43 per cent. Advance purchase tickets sometimes still available up to the day before travel.
Manchester is easily reached from rail stations across the UK and prices of train tickets compare favourably with alternative road and air travel for longer distance journeys of an hour or more.
Virgin Trains runs direct services from London to Manchester three times an hour and the journey takes just over two hours.
Regional services to Manchester are provided by First TransPennine Express, Arriva Cross Country and Northern Rail.
The city has four main rail stations - Deansgate, Piccadilly, Oxford Road and Victoria. Of these, Piccadilly is the busiest and is the main arrival point into the city centre. As well as serving Piccadilly, many trains start and finish their journeys at Manchester Airport station, conveniently located some 20 minutes outside the city centre.
For all trains times and cheap fares we recommend traingenius.com.
For travel specifically with Virgin Trains, head for the Virgin Trains website.
See Our Top five train booking websites for savings of up to 80 per cent on Manchester train tickets.
Train companies in Manchester:
Virgin Trains travel to destinations all around the UK. Journeys with Virgin Trains are faster, more convenient and more comfortable than ever before. Three trains every hour leave Manchester en route for London; a journey that takes just over two hours.
First TransPennine Express operates direct train services into Manchester from across the north of England, Edinburgh and Glasgow and direct services into Manchester city centre from Manchester Airport.
CrossCountry Trains run services to Manchester from Birmingham, the South West, Bournemouth, Reading and Cardiff.
Northern Rail enables you to travel easily between Manchester's nearby cities and the surrounding countryside in the North of England. Rail services provide direct access to National Parks, including The Peak District and The Lake District.
Generally, train tickets can vary dependent upon a range of factors, including the route travelled, time of day or the operator the ticket has been purchased through.
When booking online don't choose an "Open Return" unless you really can't commit yourself to travelling on a particular train.
An Open Return means you can travel on any train there and back, but it also means you'll pay more for the freedom to please yourself.
Usually it's cheaper to buy an advance train ticket with seats reserved on specific trains on both your outward and return journeys.
It means you have to travel on those trains, but it will be cheaper. Always put a date in the online search box for your return journey.