Omio is a booking and comparison site for trains, buses, flights and ferries. It specialises in finding great fares
for each of these transport types, giving you complete transparency around prices, options, destinations and more.
When searching for a cheap train ticket Omio selects all the major operators, comparing routes, times and prices to
allow you to select the best choice for your trip.
Cheap train tickets in the United Kingdom, are out there and we’ve made it our mission to help you find them.
When it comes to cheap train tickets, one rule is more important than the rest—book in advance! By doing so, you can get great prices for destinations all over the UK including London, Manchester and Edinburgh—you can even find cheap tickets to European destinations, too!
Left things too late to book in advance? Don’t panic! We’ve got plenty of other tips to help you find last-minute cheap UK train tickets.
How to find cheap train tickets in the UK
The best way to get cheap train tickets is to book well in advance. Usually the earlier you book the better the
prices you are offered. Another way to maximise your price choices is to be flexible around when you travel. If you
are free to travel on quieter days or during off peak hours you can make significant savings on train travel. There
are many travel cards available for different types of passengers that, once purchased, can create savings every
time you travel.
What types of train tickets are there?
You can buy peak and off-peak tickets for the UK rail network. Peak times are generally between 6:30 a.m. to 9:30
a.m. and 4 p.m. to 7 p.m. Monday to Friday. Off-peak tickets are any services running outside these hours and
generally have better availability and can be cheaper too. You also have a choice of standard and first class
tickets on most journeys.
Train. Source: Shutterstock
Save money: buy a railcard
On Omio you can add a railcard or discount card to your search or save it to your profile so the discount can be
factored into the ticket search. This is particularly helpful with the UK rail network as it offers a very wide
range of rail cards that secure discounts. These include youth, student and senior railcards. In addition, anyone
aged 26-30 years can save one-third of their ticket price by getting a card. Similarly, groups that travel together
can avail of the Family and Friends railcard giving children up to 60% off fare prices and four adults and four
children are eligible for each card. All railcards cost £30 per year except for the disabled persons card which is
Other ways to save money on train tickets
If you travel on the same route frequently you can save money by buying a season ticket that will cover the route or
region for a specified period of time, allowing you to make as many journeys as you need. Family tickets are also a
great way to save so if you are travelling as a family make sure and check out the discounts available.
UK Train companies
There are more than 30 different rail companies in the UK, making it a complicated network to book tickets for. Omio
simplifies this by giving you the clearest information around operators for all the routes you need to travel. The
rail network is organised on regions and routes, so particular companies service different routes such as ScotRail,
Transport for Wales and Hull rail.
National Rail then has relevance to all operators and regions. Some of the
biggest operators are LNER, which manages a large region that stretches from London through the midlands and the
east coast as far north as Edinburgh in Scotland. East Midlands Railway then would intersect with this region but
its major areas would be the cities, towns and counties north east of London. The high-speed Heathrow Express
company is one of the busiest given its destinations - Heathrow Airport and London city - but is also limited to
Each network operator is very specific. CrossCountry is another big player. Owned by Arriva UK Trains,
it manages routes from Scotland, large swathes of northern England, into parts of southern Wales and southern
England. They don’t operate in London. Each of the operators manage their own passenger amenities but there is
general equity between areas like comfort on board, ticket and railcard discounts, disability access and general
standards of UK rail.
Waiting for the Train. Source: Shutterstock
Explore the UK by train
The UK’s train network is extensive and very well resourced. You can travel to a diverse range of destinations
including the highlands of Scotland, the coast of Wales, the midlands and lakelands or the south coast and onward to
mainland Europe using the Channel Tunnel. Journeys to cities such as Edinburgh, London, Cardiff, Manchester,
Brighton and Aberdeen all offer incredible value and fantastic experiences. The UK countryside is also very well
connected by rail and the smaller market towns and villages are all easily accessed by train.
Cheap train tickets in Europe
Omio covers rail travel in the UK but also in Europe. You can book train journeys on the platform with as much ease
as if you were booking in the UK. Simply enter your travel details and Omio will provide you with detailed and clear
options around the best routes, journey times, fares and discounts available on European trains.
You can use the booking reference provided by Omio to collect your ticket from a machine in
the departure station. You may also choose to have the ticket emailed to you for use with
your phone or have it stored within the Omio app.
Bank holiday train times tend to be similar in frequency to Sunday hours. On Sundays there
are generally fewer trains and connections can take more time. If you need to travel on a
bank holiday make sure and check your train times and connections in case they change
The higher price between first class and second class purchases a more comfortable, quiet
and more attentive service. First class passengers tend to have more legroom, dedicated
staff for their carriage and a higher quality food and drink service. The first class
carriages tend to be quieter also.
Anytime train tickets are completely flexible train tickets that can be used at any time and
on any service on the route the ticket applies to. They are an alternative to peak or
off-peak tickets which can only be used during designated times. They are best for people
who are unsure of their travel times in advance and may need to change their plans.
Trains in the UK have a very wide range of ticket prices. They go up in price the closer you get
to the departure date. If you are buying your ticket for same day travel then it will be a lot
more expensive than if you bought it in advance.
A season pass suits people who are travelling in the same region or on the same route
repeatedly. It allows you to travel that route or series of routes as many times as you want
for a flat fee for the season pass price.
There’s a knack to finding cheap train tickets and luckily for you, we’re pros—from the obvious (booking in advance) to the more subtle (opting for super off-peak times), we’re here to guide you through the best hacks to finding cheap train tickets online.
What buying an Advance ticket means:
Advance tickets go on sale way before the day of travel (usually around three months).
The earlier you buy an Advance ticket, the cheaper they are, however, they are non-refundable, so be sure to book the right journey!
Advance tickets can only be bought as singles and are only valid for the train the ticket was booked for, making them non-flexible.
If you buy an Advance ticket with Omio, it means you won’t have any stress at the station as your ticket will already be on your phone. We’ll also remind you about your upcoming trip, so you don’t have to overthink it.
Off-Peak and Super Off-Peak—what’s the T(icket)?
Off-Peak tickets are available outside of commuter hours and are a great way to get discount train tickets. Their availability varies on the route, time of travel and day of the week.
Buy at any time—both in advance and on the day of travel. If you’ve bought in advance, you can change the date for a fee—this makes them semi-flexible.
Good news! You can find Off-Peak tickets during the weekend, great for day trips or weekends away.
Off-peak returns are available, too.
A rare beast, the Super Off-Peak ticket works in the same way as Off-Peak but with more restrictions on when you can travel.
Save money, buy a railcard
Choosing the right railcard can seem daunting but once you do, you can get up to 50 percent off each journey, which helps you save money in the long run. Best of all, you can use your railcards on Omio!
With many different railcards available, it’s important to find the right one for you—take a look at the different types below.
Who’s it for
For anyone between the ages of 16 and 17
For anyone between the ages of 16-25 and mature students in full-time education
For anyone between the ages of 26-30
For anyone aged 60 or over
For two people, aged 16 or over, who travel together often
⅓ off when travelling together.
Family & Friends Railcard
For up to four adults travelling with four children aged 5-15
⅓ off for adults / 60% off for children
Disabled Persons Railcard
For anyone with a disability that makes travel difficult
⅓ off for you and a friend
For anyone in London and the south-east, aged 16 or over
Explore the UK by train
Ever since the United Kingdom’s first railroad came into operation in 1825, travelling the country by train has been a popular alternative to cars. With more than 20,000 miles of track throughout the country, you can travel to both big cities and smaller towns and villages. So, leave the car at home and discover some of these UK places by train.
The UK capital needs no introduction. One of the busiest metropolises in Europe, it’s also one of the country’s most popular destinations. Well connected to the rest of the country and Europe by train, travelling to London by train means you'll arrive right into the heart of the city so you can start exploring straight away. From walks down South Bank to finding a quirky bar in SoHo to exploring popular markets such as Portobello in Notting Hill and Broadway Market in Hackney—there’s plenty to discover! And we haven’t even mentioned the many museums and theatres!
Just an hour away from London on the train, Brighton is the place to go when the sun makes an appearance. With the colourful Lanes, vegan eateries, and colourful street art, Brighton is great for alternative types. No matter what your style, you can’t help but love the seafront. The Brighton Pier is a throwback to the golden era of the British seaside holiday and is lovingly preserved, the Pier is a great place to get some fish and chips, play arcade games and watch the sunset. Just watch out for the hungry seagulls!
One of the most popular cities in the North of England, you can get to Manchester by train from London in just over two hours. This old industrial city, which is now a hub for students, is known for its warm hospitality, lively nightlife and being home to some of the UK’s biggest bands—like Oasis and the Stone Roses. Take a stroll around the small but perfectly formed city centre before heading to the Northern Quarter, where you’ll find cool shops and cafes in old factories.
With the Omio app, you don’t need to worry about getting your tickets at the train station as they’ll already be on your phone! Mobile tickets are available for all train journeys in the UK, so if you have our app, all your tickets will be saved directly to your account.
Still got a Nokia 3310? Nice but sadly, our app doesn’t support those, meaning, you’ll need to collect your train tickets at the station.
When you arrive at the station, head to one of the automated ticket machines, select “collect” tickets and enter your reference number. You’ll then need to insert the card you used to make your booking. Once the machine has found your tickets, it will print them for you.
Trains on Bank Holidays are often Off-Peak, which is cheaper than travelling on a normal weekday. However, maintenance work usually takes place on Bank Holidays so it could affect your journey. We recommend checking with the train company you’ll be travelling with before booking to see if there’ll be any disruptions to your journey.
Second class has more basic amenities, with smaller seats and fewer perks. However, you will still have access to toilets, charging stations and occasionally, a trolley service. Second Class is more affordable, so is the better choice if you’re looking for cheap tickets.
First Class is more expensive, but you also get more for your money. You’ll have more space and more benefits, such as free WiFi and snacks. Tickets are often more expensive, but it is worth taking a look if you’re booking in advance as you can usually find a bargain.
If you can travel after 9.30 a.m., that means you are entitled to an Off-Peak ticket, which is cheaper than an Anytime ticket. Also, if you can avoid popular times to travel, i.e. Friday evening, you’ll be able to find cheaper tickets.
The rule of thumb is that peak train times are similar to commuting hours, so between 6am and 10am and 3pm and 7pm.
Peak train times vary throughout the UK so it is best to check with the train company you’ll be travelling with to find out theirs.
An Anytime ticket allows you to travel on any train at any time for your desired journey. Buying an Anytime ticket means you have the utmost flexibility, but that comes at a cost. We suggest avoiding these if you’re looking for cheap tickets.
UK train companies
With 28 different train companies, train travel in the UK can be hard to navigate. The good news is they all offer the same ticket types so if you’re looking for cheap tickets, you’ll know which ones to look for. Below, you’ll find a list of the most popular train companies in the UK and what they offer.
Please note, as a safety precaution, it is now a requirement that face masks be worn on all train journeys throughout the UK.
Serves the areas of Cambridgeshire, Essex, Norfolk and Suffolk as well as some of London and Hertfordshire. Abellio Greater Anglia operates at roughly 150 stations and also operates the Stansted Express airport service from London Liverpool Street.
On mainline services, coach B is the designated quiet coach, but only on the service between London and Norwich
There are baggage storage areas on most services
Up to two dogs, or other domestic animals, can travel with passengers
All trains come with accessible toilets
Bicycles are allowed on board free of charge, space permitting. On busy routes, such as London to Norwich, a place must be booked in advance
Connects London with the south-east of England, the West Midlands, north-west England and Scotland. In terms of population and use it is regarded as the most important rail route and serves over 50 stations.
Children under the age of five travel for free. Children aged between five and 15 can travel at a discounted price
There are baggage racks for passengers to use, and a designated baggage area for larger bags
Bikes are allowed on trains free of charge as long as they have a reservation
Up to two pets per passenger are allowed free of charge
There are power sockets, free WiFi and a quiet zone in each train