Rail operators have come together with the Department for Transport (DfT) to offer discounted tickets to rail travellers in a bid to ease the burden of rising costs. It is hoped that reduced rail fares can help families to see one another after the restrictions of the pandemic and help boost domestic tourism.
How does the discount work?
The discounted rail fares went on sale on the 19th of April and will be available for many off-peak journeys taking place between the 25th of April and the 27th of May, inclusively. Discounted rail tickets can be purchased between the 19th of April and the 2nd of May. Tickets will be limited and the discounts will be issued on a first-come, first-served basis. The Transport Secretary, Grant Schapps said that over a million tickets would be discounted for journeys across Britain during a period that would cover the bank holiday weekend in May.
Travellers can save up to 50%, however, the number of discounts is limited and is dependent on the route as well as demand. For example, you may not qualify for the same discount if your journey requires connections between two different rail operators. Amongst journeys that qualify for the maximum discount are off-peak rail travel from London to Edinburgh which can be purchased at £22, down from £44. However, not all journeys will attract the full discount and tickets must be booked a minimum of 1 day prior to the date of travel.
How to book the Great British Rail Sale tickets
Tickets can be booked through the Great British Rail Sale Website by entering your journey details or via a participating rail operator's website. Welsh and Scottish rail operators are not participating in this rail ticket sale. Do bear in mind that the discounts are limited so you may have to be flexible in terms of when you want to travel.
Journeys between 9.30 am and 3.30 pm qualify as off-peak, as well as journeys after 6.15 pm. Those travelling after 10.00 am can qualify for super off-peak fares too. Travellers are also likely to stand a better chance of finding discounted tickets if they are travelling between Monday and Thursday.
Is the Great British Rail Sale actually any good?
Critics claim that the rail ticket sale does little to help commuters that are struggling with the cost of living and although 1 million discounted tickets may sound like a big number, it is a small proportion of the estimated 160 million rail journeys that is likely to take place during the sale period.
With many types of tickets excluded from the sale, it is highly likely that many rail travellers will be left disappointed when searching for discounts in this deal.
Other ways to get discounted rail fares
There are a number of ways to get discounted rail fares and planning ahead will give you the best chance to make the best savings. Most rail journeys can be booked up to 12 weeks ahead of travelling, with discounts offered to those who book in advance. A number of Railcards can be purchased for a small initial fee and can help reduce the cost of travel for a number of groups including Seniors, Family and Friends and 16-25-year-old. Splitting your journey and purchasing the parts of your journey separately - often referred to as 'split-ticketing' - can often be cheaper than buying a single ticket that covers the whole journey.
At Money to the Masses, you'll find regular updates on specific rail fare deals in our Deals of the Week section too.