How to beat the impending rail fare price hikes

A familiar sight - fare rises and delays but there are ways around it.

With train ticket prices set to rise again, many of Britain's commuters are bracing to squeeze their finances even further.

The latest increases will see some fares increase by almost 3% from January 2020.

Season tickets will increase by £125 for some travellers, with commuters from Brighton to London set to take one of the biggest hits.

For the first time, a season ticket for one specific route will break the £6,000 ceiling.

But it is possible to avoid the hikes - here's how you can do so:

Read more: A 700 mile trekker to a man who swims to work, meet UK's most extreme commuters

  • When is the best time to travel?

Off-peak day return tickets can help savvy travellers save cash. Credit: Ben Birchall/PA

Avoiding travelling at peak times can reap rewards.

Train companies sell cheaper off-peak tickets that can be used when services aren't so busy.

But commuters don't always have the luxury of being able to pick a time to travel.

If that's the case, it's worthwhile looking at Advance tickets, released up to 12 weeks before departure.

Failing that, try a season ticket.

  • Got spare time? You could also have spare cash

Taking a slower route to your destination could save you cash. Credit: PA

If time is on your side, it's sometimes possible to take a slower service and avoid a premium charge.

For example, a single ticket with Virgin Trains express service from London Euston to Crewe will set you back £80.50.

Pick a slower West Midlands Trains service from the same station and an on the day ticket will cost just £32.00.

The difference in travel time is a mere 48 minutes.

Read more: Why do rail fares go up?

By planning ahead, you could save further - bagging a cheap Advance return for this route for less than £12.

Similar savings are available on other routes.

Travelling from Bristol Temple Meads to London Waterloo via Warminster, savings of more than £20 are available over the traditional more direct route to Paddington.

Several rail ticket comparison websites have cheapest fare finders to help savvy travellers.

  • Making a regular journey? Consider a season ticket

Season tickets can be an expensive venture - even more so that the £6,000 ceiling for one specific route is set to be broken. Commuters from Southampton Central to London Waterloo face forking out the fee to get into the capital.

However, they can bring saving with many commuters able to benefit from buying a season ticket.

People who make the same journey at least three days a week can see the results from buying tickets in bulk.

Buying an annual pass offers a year of travel for the price of nine months.

But time is of the essence.

To avoid the fare hike, buy your pass in the days immediately before fares increase.

Rail fares increase generally happen ever year, with certain fares set by Government. But why do they increase, and what does that mean for your pocket?

How your pound breaks down. Credit: PA Graphics
  • Can you get a railcard?

Many people can save one third off rail fares by getting a railcard.

The discount cards are available for a range of people, including those aged between 16 and 25, 26 and 30, the disabled, people in the armed forces, people aged 60 and over, families and people travelling with another person such as a friend, partner or colleague.

The Government has announced it is introducing a new railcard, for travellers between aged 16-17 to give them up to 50% off the cost of rail fares.

  • Is it cheaper to travel in a group?

Groups of between three and nine adults can save a third off the price of off-peak tickets with most operators on certain journeys.

  • What about split ticketing?

Rather than buying one train ticket from your departure station to your destination, it is sometimes cheaper to break the journey down into multiple tickets.

Several split ticketing websites exist to show passengers if they can save money this way.

Break the journey down with multiple tickets. Credit: Louisa Collins-Marsh/PA
  • Do you claim compensation?

Passengers can claim compensation if journeys are delayed or cancelled.

Payouts vary depending on the type of ticket, the length of delay and the operator.

Some firms begin paying compensation if a train is delayed by 15 minutes.

Passengers will sometimes need to claim manually as the payouts are not always automatic.