My wife Helen and I frequently travel by train. However, having recently travelled around Europe we noticed that the train fares here in the UK are extortionate (there’s really no way to say it politely…)
However, on a recent booking we made between Leeds and Shrewsbury for a Wedding we found a hack that I simply had to share.
This hack involves buying split tickets for your train journey, and honestly, it’s not as scary or problematic as it might sound – allow me to explain…
The Traditional Train Journey
Our traditional train journey booking looked like this. By booking way in advance (January for May) I figured we’d be good for a discount, however, I was wrong. In fact, the journey was set to cost us £56.10 each one way.
However, notice the journey time. It’s only 2 to 2 and a half hours. It’s not going through London so I honestly, couldn’t work out why it was costing such a ridiculous amount.
Can You Get Split Tickets
I noticed that there was a change on my journey. You can check where this is by clicking on the underlined ‘1 change’.
You can see in this case we’d be changing in Manchester Piccadilly. We travel between Leeds and Manchester by train frequently.
So I figured, I’d see how much it would cost just getting the train from Manchester Piccadilly to Shrewsbury.
It’s then I found a money-saving gold mine!
If I booked the journey from Leeds to Manchester and then Manchester to Shrewsbury separately, the total cost was just £30. That’s for exactly the same journey.
A saving of upwards of £26!!!
The Bonus Of Split Tickets
In our case, we wanted to book a one-way train journey because after our time in Shrewsbury we’d be needing a flight to the Netherlands.
We didn’t know what airport we’d be flying from, however, we managed to get one from Manchester Airport.
This meant that for the Manchester to Shrewsbury leg of the trip I could buy a return ticket.
Unfortunately, we couldn’t maximise our savings with the same day return. However, we did manage to get an off-peak return within 1 month for £34.60.
Even with this added cost, we’d managed to still save almost £15 thanks to split rail tickets.
Not to mention the fact of the added savings due to convenience from being able to book a return on the Manchester to Shrewsbury leg of our trip.
Is Booking Split Tickets Legal?
When I explained my master money saving hack for train journeys to my friend she feared that booking split tickets might not be legal. However, I’ve good news – you’re not going to be breaking any laws today my friends.
The National Rail Conditions of Carriage state that you are welcome to use more than one ticket in order to complete your train journey. This basically states that split tickets are fine.
There is, however, one thing you need to be sure of when booking your split tickets. That the train you are booked onto calls at a station where you can change from one ticket to another. In our case, this was Manchester Picadilly.
Split Ticket Websites
It turns out that I’m not the only one to find that split ticket rail journey is a great way to save cash. So much so some people have set up websites assisting people in doing just that. However, I was curious to find out if they took a cut.
To make this as simple and straightforward as possible I looked to compare just the single one-way journey between Leeds and Shrewsbury on the same dates (18th May).
I compared the prices between Trainline single fare, Trainline split fare and these websites within minutes of each other to ensure the prices were as accurate as possible.
First up, SplitTicketing.com. Who would only let me look up until April 24th (3 months from today)
I decided to have a look anyway, however, keep in mind this isn’t going to be 100% accurate as it’s not the same date or the same time.
SplitTicketing.com advised that the best discount on a split ticket fare would be £28.40 for the same journey. However, unlike the journey, I’d booked it required two changes instead of just one.
This also made the total length of the journey more than 3 hours – compared to our journey which is set to take just over 2 hours.
In the terms of pricing, there are fares between £28.40 and £34.59. Which compared to the split ticket I manually managed to achieve on Trainline isn’t amazing.
In conclusion, the inability to book as far in advance as you can do manually, plus the priority to cash over time means I’d still prefer to look at doing it manually over using SplitTicketing.com
With the exact same formatting as SplitTicketing.com I’m not surprised that the results are exactly the same.
While the journeys picked up on my search for the 24th April are in a similar price range to that of SplitTicketing.com the actual journeys themselves differ.
In this case, the cheapest ticket to be found on SplitTicketing.com (departing at 16:09) doesn’t appear. – Not too sure as to why this is.
Either way, the discount and timing aren’t as good as what I managed to achieve with split tickets manually.
Split My Fare
On the outside Split My Fare looks different. This got me excited that I might find a better split ticket website.
I was especially excited when the website allowed me to input the 18th May as a departure date.
However, there was to be a flaw. Upon hitting submit I was greeted with an error message.
I didn’t continue with my search on Split My Fare as it managed to waste my time letting me input my details without correcting my error sooner.
The website went onto instead load the same interface as every one of its competitors.
It’s no secret that by splitting your rail tickets you can save some big bucks on your train journey.
However, to maximise your savings look at booking the journey yourself via a website such as Trainline.com
As always I’d love to know if you’ve saved money with split tickets? If so how much have you managed to save?
Have you found a way to do it that I’ve not featured? Let us know in the comments below.
Bonus Tip: Don’t forget, if your train journey is significantly delayed or cancelled altogether then you’re due some compensation.