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How To Use The Train in the UK – Top Tips!

If you’re travelling to the UK for the first time, then using the train is a fast and convenient way to get around – but unfortunately, not a cheap one! Nevertheless, it’s important to know how to use the train in the UK, so keep on reading to find out everything you need to know!

How Does Train Travel in the UK Work?

how to use the train in the UK

How does train travel in the UK work? Travelling by train in the UK is a convenient and efficient way to get around the country. It is generally considered to be a safe and reliable form of transportation.

When travelling by train, the first step is to purchase a ticket. Tickets can be bought online, in person at ticket offices or ticket machines, or on the Trainline App.

Depending on the type of ticket purchased, it will either be a single journey ticket (good for one journey), a return ticket or a season ticket (good for multiple trips). It will also be an off-peak on an on-peak ticket. The on-peak ticket is usually more expensive as it allows you to travel at any time.

In the UK, it is essential to know that the trains are privatised; therefore, when buying a ticket, you can only travel with the company the ticket is purchased from…or you might face paying a lot more than initially planned. For example, my friend was travelling from York to Birmingham a few weeks ago, but her original Cross Country train at 10 am was cancelled, so she decided to get the next train 10 minutes later. When she boarded, she didn’t realise the company was different – and they ended up charging her around ยฃ150 for a ticket to Birmingham!

Once the ticket is purchased, it is time to board the train. Trains in the UK all have designated platforms which should be stated on the departures board. Boarding takes place a few minutes before the train departs.

Trains usually feature both reserved seating and seating for those who have not reserved ahead of time. However, there are sometimes times when you can’t find any seats at all due to it being busy – so be prepared.

Most trains are equipped with wifi, air conditioning, and comfortable seats. Depending on the type of train, some also offer additional features, such as charging points for phones or laptops and even food to buy onboard.

How Do You Pay For Trains in the UK?

how to use the train in the UK

How do you pay for trains in the UK? Paying for trains in the UK is pretty straightforward, as there are multiple ways to pay.

The best way to pay for trains in the UK is on the Trainline app. This is because it has all of the departure times, and you can get split fares, making it cheaper. It also shows you the connection information if your journey requires them. Just make sure if you’re travelling with someone to send them a screenshot of the digital ticket, in case your phone dies!

If you buy a train ticket on the app, make sure you purchase it at least 10 minutes before the train departs, as otherwise, you won’t be able to buy it.

The second best way of paying for trains in the UK is at the ticket machines or at the ticket office if this is your first time, as it can be a little bit confusing sometimes.

If the worst-case scenario happens, then you can sometimes pay for tickets onboard the train if there are no ticket barriers at the departure station. This is risky, though, as you can face paying a ยฃ100 fine depending on the mood of the ticket inspector.

How Do You Get Cheap Train Tickets in the UK?

railway station

How do you get cheap train tickets in the UK? As you may know, trains in the UK are well known for, unfortunately, being expensive. Luckily, there are a few ways to get the fare cheaper sometimes.

Firstly, try to book in advance. This can be hard, but you can be able to save a lot of money by doing this usually.

Secondly, try to split your ticket. As previously mentioned, Trainline sometimes has this feature, and when it does – it can also help save a lot of money. How split ticketing works is that it splits your journey into multiple tickets, thus making it cheaper.

Lastly, you can sometimes also purchase a railcard; however, this option isn’t recommended if you are visiting only for a short amount of time.

How To Use The Train in the UK:

Travelling by train in the UK can be confusing for some people, so read on for all you need to know about how to use the train in the UK:

how to use the train in the UK

1. Know your connections

Knowing your connections when travelling by train can help you save time and money, as it can help you avoid delays and allow you to plan your journey more efficiently.

In the UK, I would recommend having at least 15-20 minutes for each connection as the trains often get delayed, and this can cause a lot of stress.

2. Be prepared for delays or strikes

Travelling by train in the UK can be a convenient and enjoyable experience; however, travellers should be prepared for delays or strikes.

This is especially true during peak times, such as the summer holiday season or bank holidays. Strikes and service disruptions can cause delays and disruptions to the service, so it is important to be prepared for this eventuality.

It is advisable to factor in additional wait time for unexpected events or delays and be aware of alternative routes and connections to ensure a successful journey.

Interrail pass

3. Consider an InterRail/Eurail pass

When travelling by train in the UK, a Eurail or InterRail pass is a great way to save money and make the most of your journey – seriously, when I went Interrailing, I made most of the money from my pass back just from using it to get out of the UK!

Passes are available for different types of trips, such as continent-wide rail journeys or trips around the UK. They provide a cost-effective way to travel, as they allow unlimited travel on certain routes with discounted fares.

These passes can be extremely flexible and can be used to take advantage of cheap tickets and bypass expensive point-to-point tickets. The passes also offer peace of mind, as they cover any interruptions or changes in travel plans.

Passes are available for both short and long trips, allowing travellers to travel without stress and worry.

Related Post: 12 Things to Know BEFORE Interrailing!

4. Make sure you’re on the right train

This may sound simple, but in the UK, many trains depart from the same platform just a few minutes apart from each other, so it is always worth double-checking if you are on the right train.

In the UK, many trains have the places they’re stopping at on the front of the train, or if you step inside, there are sometimes boards inside the train that will have this information.

how to use the train in the UK

5. Consider buying a Railcard

Railcards are a great way to save money on rail travel in the UK. They provide discounted fares on certain train journeys all year round.

Railcards can be bought through a range of providers, including Network Rail and the National Rail website. They can be especially useful for those who use train services frequently, as they provide discounts for multiple journeys.

Pass holders can also benefit from special promotions such as family tickets. Railcards are an easy and convenient way to save money on rail fares, allowing travellers to enjoy reduced fares while discovering all that the UK has to offer!


Train Travel UK FAQ:

Why are UK trains so expensive?

UK trains are generally considered expensive due to the high cost of operating the rail network, including maintaining the infrastructure, employees’ wages and the cost of railcar leases.

Is it cheaper to buy train tickets on the day UK?

Ticket prices generally increase on the day of travel, so it is usually cheaper to buy tickets in advance online or from the ticket office.

What is cheaper, bus or train UK?

The cost of both bus and train travel varies depending on the location and route, however, buses are typically cheaper than trains.


How To Use The Train in the UK – Conclusion

After reading this post, you’ve hopefully learnt more about how to use the train in the UK! What about how to use the train in the UK surprised you the most? Is there anything about how to use the train in the UK that wasn’t covered and you think it’s important for others to know? Feel free to reach out and contact me if you need any help or advice. If you liked this post, and would like to read some other similar posts, then this is what I’d recommend:

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