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Rail fares to increase by an average of 2.7% from January

Rail fares to  increase by an average of 2.7% from January

Train ticket prices across Britain are set to increase by an average of 2.7% in the New Year. 

The announcement by the Rail Delivery Group (RDG), which represents train companies, confirms unregulated fares such as off-peak leisure tickets are set to rise on Thursday 2 January.

The actual increases will vary from company to company – for example, London North Eastern Railway's fares will go up by an average of 1.2%, while South Western Railway tickets will go up by 2.8%.

In August, it was confirmed that regulated fares, including season tickets, would go up by 2.8% from January.

The latest increases don't affect Northern Ireland, where the railway is managed differently from the rest of the UK.

What can I do to avoid paying more for my train ticket?

Anyone who books single or return tickets now for travel next year will pay the revised rates, though season ticket costs don't go up until Thursday 2 January.

We've a full round-up of all the tips and tricks to save money in our Cheap Train Tickets guide, but in brief...

  • Buy in advance. Most firms put tickets on sale about 12 weeks ahead. So the earlier you book, the more chance you have of getting cheap advance tickets, plus you can get a free alert when they go on sale.

  • Spend over £90/year? Consider a railcard. Those aged 16-30, the over-60s, those with disabilities and adults who travel with kids may all qualify. Most railcards cost £30 a year (£20 for disabled people) and get the holder a third off many fares.

  • Split your ticket. Imagine you're travelling from London to Sheffield. If the train stops at Derby, check whether it's cheaper to buy a ticket from London to Derby and a second ticket from Derby to Sheffield. It's perfectly legal as long as the train stops at the intermediate station. Use a free split-ticketing tool to find out if you can get a cheaper walk-on single fare by breaking down your journey.

  • Singles can beat returns. If you're booking a return journey, check if two singles are cheaper. It may not always be the case, but it's worth a try.

  • Look for hidden promos. Lots of train companies have hidden promotions buried on their websites – which you won't find if you're going through a ticket booking website. For a full list of hidden promos, see Cheap Train Tickets.

Season ticket holders could renew early to save

If you're a season ticket holder, check if you can still pay 2018 fares if you buy before Thursday 2 January – only a small proportion of season tickets will be up for renewal during this period, and some companies won't let you purchase season tickets so far in advance, but for some it could be worth renewing a few days early.

If renewing a season ticket in the next few weeks isn't possible for you, there are other options you could try. See our Cheaper Train Season Tickets guide for more info.

What does the Rail Delivery Group say?

RDG chief executive Paul Plummer said: "We understand that no one wants to pay more to travel, which is why train companies have for the third year in a row held the average fare increases below inflation while still investing to improve journeys.

"Passengers will benefit from 1,000 extra improved train carriages and over 1,000 extra weekly services in 2020, and the industry will continue to push for changes to fares regulations to enable a better range of affordable, mix-and-match fares and reduced overcrowding on some of the busiest routes."