How To Get Cheap Train Tickets As A Student | TOTUM
Holly BarrowMay 4th

We all know that spending money on public transport is painful - especially when it can be a struggle to get a seat and more often than not you’ll find yourself burdened with delays and overcrowded services. 

But to make taking the train that little bit less taxing, you’ll be pleased to hear that there are a number of ways to get cheaper train tickets as a student.

Whether you travel by train frequently to get to university or rely on them very rarely to make your way back home at the end of each term, it’s always worth knowing how to get cheap train tickets - especially given just how expensive they can be. 

Here are our top tips on finding cheap train tickets as a student… 


How much are train tickets in the UK?

As mentioned, train tickets in the UK can be pretty steep. In many cases it can be cheaper to get a flight abroad than it is to travel by train across the UK, and in March 2023 regulated rail fares in the UK shot up by 5.9 percent

While train fares vary depending on the region, how long the route is, how far in advance tickets are booked and at what time of day, a quick search on Trainline shows that an off-peak return booked one week in advance from London to Newcastle would cost at least £103.

Even short train journeys are expensive, with the Luton DART - a four-minute one-way trip between Luton Airport Parkway Station and the terminal - costing travellers £4.90, amounting to £3.70 per mile. 

With all that being said, it’s understandable that you may be looking for ways to save on your train fare. 


Can I get student discount on train tickets?

As a student, you may be wondering how you can get cheaper train tickets ASAP, especially if you’re likely to be travelling between your hometown and university on a regular basis. 

Thankfully, students can get their hands on discounted train tickets with the 16-25 Railcard. 

As a TOTUM member, you can save 1/3 on rail travel as a student when you purchase a 16-25 Railcard. This amounts to huge savings, with the average Railcard holder saving around £150 per year on train tickets. 

It’s not necessarily referred to as a student discount, but the Railcard essentially offers young people aged 16-25 the chance to save a third on off-peak rail fares - you can’t argue with that! 


The Railcard itself costs £30 for a year of discounted train fare or a three year Railcard is even better value for money at a total of £70, and this easily pays for itself if you’re a frequent train user. 

With the £30 one-year Railcard, you’ll have made the money back after taking just three or four trips. 

Some train operators such as TransPennine Express do offer a specific student discount on train tickets, which gets you 25% off dozens of routes!

London Underground Tube Train

How to get cheap train tickets 

If you’ve already got a Railcard or you’re searching for other ways to save money on train tickets, we’ve got you. 

Here are some other ways to get cheap train tickets in the UK…

1. Season tickets 


You’ll find that a number of train operators offer their own season tickets to people who regularly make the same train journey. If you make the same train journey twice a week or more, a season ticket is an excellent way to save money on rail fare. 

From monthly train passes to annual season tickets, you can easily find a pass to suit you. Train season tickets allow you to travel multiple times between your chosen stations at a fraction of the usual cost, and you can usually purchase these on a weekly, monthly or annual basis. 

You can get a Flexi Season ticket which offers 8 days of travel in 28 days, meaning once you’ve paid for the Flexi ticket you’re able to travel 8 times between your chosen stations at any point during those 28 days. 

Alternatively, you may benefit more from the 7-day Season ticket if you travel three days or more each week. 

2. Book train tickets in advance


Did you know that booking your tickets in advance is one of the cheapest ways to travel by train? By booking up to 12 weeks ahead of your departure, you can make major savings.

You’ll have to travel on the specific trains you book in advance, however this is fine if you frequently make the same journey at the same time or you know you’ll want to be somewhere by a certain time. 

As a TOTUM member, you can also bag yourself 10% off Advance train tickets with CrossCountry!

Train operators will usually release Advance tickets up to 12 weeks ahead, but if you want to be the first in the know you can set an alert up with the likes of Trainline, meaning you’ll be emailed as soon as they go on sale. This way you can be sure to bag yourself a bargain! 

3. Travel at off-peak times


This won’t always be an option, but if possible travel during off-peak time to make your train fare cheaper. 

You can even look out for Super Off-Peak tickets which are even cheaper and tend to be at the least busy times of day. Generally, off-peak hours begin at 09:30 from Monday to Friday in cities and large towns, and at 09:00 everywhere else.

Weekends and bank holidays are considered off-peak all day. 

4. Find hidden fares and split tickets


Many people don’t realise that it can often work out cheaper to split your train journey up by purchasing separate tickets. Splitting your train journey into multiple tickets can be far cheaper than buying one direct ticket between destinations, and it’s not as complicated as it sounds. 

In many cases you won’t even have to change trains, meaning there will be no inconvenience to you. 

The Trainline app will automatically find the cheapest train fares for your chosen journey, which often means finding the best split train tickets and showing you this via SplitSave

To give an example, instead of purchasing a direct ticket from Manchester Piccadilly to London Euston, it may work out much cheaper to split the journey up into separate tickets - for example, one ticket from Manchester Piccadilly to Stockport and another from Stockport to London Euston. For this journey, you’d be able to stay on the exact same train - it just works out slightly cheaper!

5. Look out for train operator promotions 

Many train operators will hold their own promotions throughout the year, and these can save you hundreds of pounds - especially on longer journeys. 

Just last month, ScotRail held a huge sale on train tickets especially for students, giving students up to 50% off off-peak tickets between March and April 2023.

Last year, the Great British Rail Sale saw the UK government partner with several train operators to provide discounted train tickets to the public. Almost a million train tickets were sold at half price! 

So keep your eyes peeled… 

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