The Copmanthorpe Website

Getting the Best Deal on Train Tickets

Finding the Price

For all your Timetable and ticketing needs use the National Rail web site.

Tickets to London

East Coast offer a large array of tickets, which can make purchasing the best ticket difficult. This is a simple guide based on personal experience which I hope will be helpful. I will use York to London for my example and all ticket prices are approximate and may be rounded slightly up or down for the sake of clarity and all tickets are for standard class.

East Coast only sell three types of return ticket the most expensive and flexible is the Standard Anytime Return at £223 and there are no restrictions on this service. This is an astounding price at nearly 60 pence per mile and up from £125 in 2000 when this page was first written.

At around a third of the anytime ticket, the £84 Super Off Peak Return is the only other return ticket available. This ticket has many restrictions and cannot be used on a East Coast train that arrives in London before 11:30 or one that departs London between 15:00 and 18:30 (inclusive).

The rest of East Coast's Standard Class tickets are pre-purchase single tickets. These have to be booked in advance, and the further in advance you book the better chance you have of getting a cheaper fare. The cheapest York—London Single fare is £9.00.

Grand Central Trains

A new, independent train company started running between Sunderland and London in 2008. They run four trains a day in each direction, which all run express between Kings Cross and York. Their off peak return fare to London is £59 with the off peak single £34. If you travel on one of their two peak time services a return will cost you £93.

Getting Clever

If you do need to arrive in London before 10:30 in the morning there are a couple of ways round paying the full £223 Standard Anytime Return fare. Catch a train that stops at Peterborough and purchase a Super of Peak Return (which is valid in the peak!) from York to Peterborough (£52) and a Standard Anytime Return from Peterborough to London (£87). You can purchase both these tickets from York before you travel and save yourself £84. You must ensure that the trains you catch stop at Peterborough on both legs of your journey, but there is no need to get off your train.

With the introduction of advance purchase single fare only tickets East Coast have encouraged us to mix and match.  What they mean by this is get a first class ticket there and a standard back.  However, there is nothing to stop you buying a whole collection of single tickets to get you to London and back. For instance..

This combination could be booked on the 07:00 off York and the 18:00 off Kings Cross on which Doncaster is the only intermediate stop.

The 07:36 from York stops at Stevenage, this offers a great chance for savings as there is more chance of an advanced purchase single ticket being available than London and Stevenage to London is only £11.20.

Prepurchase tickets are only valid on the stipulated service and if you need flexibility on your return leg the York—Peterborough Saver is still your best bet.  Looking at the timetable it appears that the only service in the evening peak with a stop at Peterborough is the 17:30, but if you are prepared to change at Doncaster you can catch the 16:05 (to Leeds). On the subject of changing trains, their is nothing to stop you using one of East Coast's competitors for your journey home. Hull Trains will get you from London to Doncaster for a standard, no restrictions, buy it on the train fare of £54 and a single from Doncaster to York will cost you about £10, this makes the 16:05 a very desirable service, yes you have to leave Kings Cross 25 minutes earlier than the 16:30 (and 25 minutes on Doncaster station in winter is not fun) but a saving on the single fare of over £50 is worth it in my book.

Hull Trains run via Selby, so if you fancy a bit of a longer drive then a standard return to London with them is £123 (and their first class return is £205, nearly twenty pounds less than a East Coast standard class return from York to London). Their service is less frequent but the 07:00 off Selby arrives London at 09:18 with returns at 16:05 (Selby 17:59) and 18:50 (20:46).

The East Coast web site has by far the best system for buying train tickets and they sell tickets for all the train companies, not just their own services.

Heading West

If you are traveling to West Yorkshire or over the Pennines then you can make savings by traveling to Leeds on a Coastliner bus and then catching your train. Large savings can be made on day return trips. A recent journey to Cheshire cost me nearly £40 from York, where as a friend from Leeds paid less than £20. Even allowing for the Coastliners ticket I could have nearly halved the cost of my journey.

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