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How To Cut The Costs Of Train Travel

How to Cut the Costs of Train Travel

As regular business travellers and Butterfly Loft hosts, we love to help our business traveller guests get the best deals going.

Recently I had to go to Exeter on business. These days I rarely drive if I can go by train, so
I cruised gently across the west country in a rather sleepy two carriage train. Far less hassle than driving.

When headed east-west I generally find that buying separate tickets for different parts of the journey is significantly cheaper than buying the whole thing. I didn’t realise it, but apparently, doing this is called “split-ticketing” (try saying that after a delicious glass of rosé!).

Split ticketing is the process of buying separate train tickets for different parts of a journey, instead of buying a ticket for the whole thing. Travel management companies recommend split-ticketing as a way of making your rail travel cheaper. Importantly, split-ticketing doesn’t breach any train company terms and conditions.

I travel north-south reasonably often. Of course you do get days when you have cows on the line, low hanging lizards, the wrong overhead cables, the wind is too slow and the leaves on the line are pink instead of green, all of which apparently cause trains to go slow or stop…….! But cynical jokes and prima donna excuses aside, generally, the west coast trains offer a pretty good service.

The west coast service is far more competitively priced that east-west, meaning that if you book far enough ahead travelling first class is cheaper than driving. In business travel, lead time (the number of days between making a booking and the date of travel) is a major factor to consider when it comes to travel management as maximising your lead time can create significant savings.

As is the case with most things in life, the further ahead you book your travel, the lower the price will be – this is certainly the case when it comes to train travel and it’s worth taking advantage of advance fares if your calendar is fairly concrete…

On this occasion one of my split tickets was a super off-peak from Milton Keynes to Birmingham. I had to ask what it meant. I did have visions of the train staff in blue superman cloaks and red tights, but sadly it wasn’t that exciting. All it meant was that I had to chug along on a slow stopping train and couldn’t hop on the faster Virgin. I didn’t really mind. So long as I have a table to put my laptop I can work anywhere, so we proceeded sedately to New Street in rather less crowded conditions than the average intercity.

You might be wondering what are off-peak and super off-peak train times, exactly? My research suggests the following.

Off-peak train times:

– Mon – Fri; Not valid for arrival into London before 11:30am
– Mon – Fri; Not valid for leaving London before 9:30am and between 3-6:45pm
– Weekend; Valid on trains at weekends and on public holidays

Super Off-peak train times:

– Mon- Fri; Not valid for arrival into London before 1pm and between 3-8:30pm
– Mon- Fri; Not valid leaving London before 11am and between 1:30pm- 8:15pm
– Weekend; Not valid for arrival into London before 12pm and between 5:45pm- 8pm
– Weekend; Not valid for leaving London before 10:30 and 4:30- 6:30pm

These are only given as guidelines by the train companies, and it would be sensible to double check this before booking. Each ticket is given a two-letter restriction code just underneath the booking reference; you can input the code on the National Rail website and it will tell you the proper off peak/super off-peak validity for that ticket.

As well as flagging train deals, we’ll also look out for local deals for our guests in Milton Keynes and Stony Stratford.

Booking accommodation in Milton Keynes couldn’t be easier. Just call us on 01908 266602 to check availability and make your reservation.

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