Published On: Sat, Nov 18th, 2023
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Exact dates to book cheap train tickets in time for Christmas | Travel News | Travel

With Christmas just weeks away, many people will be finalising their travel plans for seeing friends and family.

If you don’t own a car or don’t drive, you will likely be taking the train to see friends and family this Christmas.

As many commuters know, train tickets can be extortionate, especially during the Christmas period so it’s essential to plan ahead.

With this in mind, Jamie Fraser, travel expert and owner of Wild Packs, has shared the best dates to purchase an advanced ticket before Christmas as he claims “timing is integral when it comes to booking train tickets.”

According to Jamie, excluding the holiday rush around Christmas and New Year, the best time to start searching for advanced train tickets is usually around 12 weeks before your planned travel date.

The reason for this is because Network Rail legally has to finalise timetables 12 weeks in advance so train operators usually release more affordable tickets shortly after.

Some operators, like London North Eastern Railway (LNER), can offer advance tickets up to 24 weeks ahead for certain routes.

In contrast, some operators will allow passengers to buy tickets up to five minutes before departure if they’re still available.

However, it’s worth noting that advanced tickets are non-refundable unless the journey is delayed or cancelled.

  • Southeastern – Already on sale until 6 January 2024
  • Southern – Until 3 January 2024
  • South Western Railway – 27 October to 12 January 2024
  • Transport for Wales (TfW) – 12 November to 3 January 2024
  • West Midlands Railway – 3 November to 3 January 2024

Jamie also advised travellers to check whether buying two advance single tickets is cheaper than one return ticket on a train app.

He said: “For instance, a search for a return journey between London and Manchester may yield a standard anytime return ticket priced at £350.

“However, separate outbound and return advance single tickets can cost significantly less, with a total of £67, potentially saving you £283 on the same journey.”

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