How to save money on train travel at uni


Train tickets are notoriously expensive, and prices don’t look to be dropping anytime soon.

So what are you supposed to do if you’re on a student budget?

Don’t despair. You don’t have to forgo the occasional trip home for a decent meal or visits to your friends at their unis.

You just need to know where to look for savings and how to keep costs down once you’re on the train!




1. Get yourself a railcard

If you’re a frequent traveller this is a must.

You need to apply online for your 16-25 student railcard which will cost you £30 per year and give you 1/3 off standard train ticket prices.

Alternatively, you can pay £70 upfront for 3 years of 1/3 off, saving you £20.

Note: You must have a valid UK passport or driving license to apply.


2. Book well in advance

The best time to book your train ticket is approximately 12 weeks before the day you want to travel.

This is when most train operators confirm their timetable for a particular day and release the cheapest tickets.

Ticket prices will rise as the day creeps nearer but booking any advance ticket, even if it’s just the day before, will be a LOT cheaper than buying on the day.

Check here for the last possible moment you can book an advance ticket for different train companies. 


3. Get an extra discount with your NUS card

Another card for your wallet now...

The NUS Extra card for students is just £12 and offers a 10% discount on all advance Cross Country train journeys.

The best bit? That’s ON TOP OF the third you’ve already saved with your student railcard.

Find out more here.


4. Split your ticket

If you’re going on a long journey, say from London to Glasgow, and you’re going to pass through major stations along the way, ‘splitting your ticket’ might just save you some money.

‘Splitting your ticket’ means getting single tickets for each leg of the journey rather than just one for the whole trip.

But don’t panic – this doesn’t mean switching trains or seats along the way.

For help doing this, try these sites:


5. Don’t buy food and drink on the train

Don’t undo all the savings you’ve just made on your ticket by buying overpriced drinks and snacks on the train.

The mark up on train food & drinks is huge, as it is on the stuff you buy in or near to the station.

So, either buy your sandwich from your local supermarket, or be next-level organised (and thrifty!) and make one at home to bring along with you.


Keep reading: Living in a big city: How to adapt (and make the most of it)