What you pay for a British rail ticket often depends on when you buy it and when you plan to travel. Here are the main categories of ticket prices:
- Buy Anytime, Travel Anytime Tickets with no restrictions on the date or time of travel are usually the most expensive for the particular journey. These flexible tickets include Open tickets and some Day tickets. Unless you are traveling on business or need to travel during the rush hour, they are best avoided.
- Buy Anytime, Travel Restricted Cheaper tickets are available if you are willing to accept some limits on when you travel. SuperSavers, Savers, Cheap Day Returns and, in London and the South East, AwayBreaks usually are invalid during peak times and may have to be used on specific dates. A Cheap Day Return is a round trip ticket where the outgoing and return journey are taken on the same day. It is usually the best buy for trips of two hours or less. Sometimes two Single (one-way) tickets can be cheaper so it is worth comparing.
- Advance A new Advance fare went into effect in May 2008 as part of a simplified fare structure. See Fare Structure information below
Check National Rail Enquiries, for a fuller explanation of the many kinds of rail tickets. The website also has all the information and tools you need to plan your journey along with handy links to detailed British rail maps.
New Fare Structure by September 2008
For the first time in 40 years, the rail fare structure is being simplified. Complicated fares are being swept away and a three-fare structure will replace them.
- Advance - Economical, one-way UK rail ticket purchased for travel on specific trains, went on sale on April 24, 2008 for use after May 18.
- Anytime - Buy anytime, use anytime - the most flexible and most expensive, on sale in September 2008
- Off-peak - Buy anytime, travel off-peak, available in September 2008