Omio is your one-stop destination to book train tickets for all UK train services. We display daily timetables well in advance, so you can book whatever UK train time you want, be that for the next day or next month. You can either print your ticket at the station or show it on your mobile device, either in the Omio app or from your smartphone wallet. It’s easy to search for all the trains between specific stations on any given day and book them right there and then.
Omio Woman Train. Source: Shutterstock
In the UK, there are several ticket types you can choose from, which confuses even well-experienced travellers. This makes it a challenge to immediately decide on which type of train ticket you need to buy. Train fares vary depending on when you choose to travel and on the distance from A to B. If you reserve in advance, you're naturally more likely to get a better deal. It is possible to find much cheaper train tickets for the UK's biggest train companies such as Avanti West and London Midlands if you travel during off-peak or even super off-peak train times, use a railcard and book a few weeks in advance.
At Omio, we want to make navigating your way around the UK as easy as possible - that's why we created this train ticket guide to define which tickets exist, to highlight the 'pros and cons and to identify important parts of the train ticket. If you have the right information, you can buy the ideal ticket for your journey - without spending more money than you need to.
In the UK there are four types of train tickets, which vary in price depending on what time you travel and where you travel to. Below we reveal a breakdown of the four ticket types and each of their pros and cons. This way you can buy a train ticket that suits you best and is the right price.
|Train Tickets Explained|
These tickets offer the most flexibility as they are valid at any time on Peak and Off-Peak services. They are useful tickets to buy if your plans tend to change.
Pros: Travel whenever you want, valid on any service, route or provider.
These tickets are cheaper because they are only valid on a specific service, at a specific time, during Peak and/or Off-Peak times. If you have a seat reservation, you must carry the seat reservation ticket with you for your ticket to be valid.
Pros: Get much cheaper tickets booking 12 weeks in advance or even 1 hour beforehand.
These tickets are valid on trains that depart outside of busy commuting hours. Passengers must travel outside of peak times, or on exact train time printed on the ticket. If you have a seat reservation, the ticket is only valid if you also carry the seat reservation ticket with you.
Pros: Cheaper tickets during 10:00-15:00 and again at 18:35.
These tickets are always the cheapest option, but they carry the most time restrictions. This type of ticket is only offered by a some UK train companies including Avanti West and London Midland trains. Travelling with a Super Off-Peak requires the passenger to travel at very specific date, time and train. If you are flexible with your time so you can travel at around 10:00-13:00, then this ticket is for you.
Pros: These tickets are the cheapest available, great to keep costs down.
All the information about your train journey is printed on your ticket. You can see whether it’s a single or return ticket, the type of ticket, rail information including your departure and arrival stations, and the route for which the ticket is valid. Your ticket will also show your ticket number, price, class and any discounts applied or railcards used. You’ll also be able to see how long the ticket is valid.
|1.||Class: Choose either First or Standard Class carriages for your journey.|
|2.||Railcard: This part of the ticket shows you if any discount or railcards have been applied to reduce the price.|
|3.||Ticket Type: Your ticket type shows if you have any of these four: Anytime, Advance, Super Off-Peak or an Off-Peak Ticket.|
|4.||To/From Station: This shows where you are travelling to and your final destination.|
|5.||Single/Return: This tells you if the ticket is a single or a return ticket.|
|6.||Ticket Number: Your ticket number is a unique number which marks your ticket.|
|7.||Price: The cost of your train ticket for that ticket; if it's a single ticket it will be the price for each ticket.|
|8.||Validity: The validity signifies when your ticket is valid for e.g. a day or return within one calendar month.|
|9.||Type: This part means if you have purchased a single or a return journey.|
|10.||Route: Check the route you are allowed to take (e.g. via London or not) as certain ticket types may be restricted.|
Once you’ve bought your train tickets on Omio, you’ll receive a booking confirmation email. Print this out (or write the booking reference down somewhere accessible) and take it with you to the station. When you arrive, go straight to any Ticket Collection machine to print out your physical tickets. These machines are touchscreen-operated and available at all National Rail stations in the UK. Make sure to bring the same bank card you used to book your tickets, and you’ll need to enter the booking reference number from your confirmation email.
Here's a handy checklist on how to collect your train tickets in the UK.
Buy your tickets using the Omio App in just a few clicks, then collect them at the Ticket Collection machine in the station (the queue is much smaller). Or even better, buy the tickets as an e-ticket and then you can scan it as you go through the ticket barrier!
You won’t have to validate your ticket – you only need to be able to produce a valid ticket in either printed form or as an eTicket or mTicket. You can simply show this to train officials in your eWallet or Omio app. Remember that with Anytime and Super Off-Peak tickets, you don’t book a specific train ticket and time. Instead, your ticket is valid for trains within a time period, so make sure it hasn’t expired if you’ve booked one of those types of tickets.
Trains in the UK tend to stick to a fixed train timetable. If anything changes, train operators will draw your attention to this in their regularly published timetable updates., anywhere from one to three months in advance. It’s advisable also to check your train operator's timetable closer to your travel date to see if any changes are affecting your booking. Be aware that circumstances on the day can cause a delay, so keep an eye on the live timetable at the station.
You can check the times of the first and last trains by looking at the railway timetable displayed on the Omio booking page. The timetable lists all trains for the day, so you can simply scroll from the beginning straight to the end – trains are automatically ordered by departure time. In general, however, train services in the UK run from about 5am to roughly 1am. You won’t find any train services running 24/7 in the country, except for special airport shuttle trains and the London Underground Night Tube.
The most popular train timetables in the UK are the ones for routes connecting London with some of the major cities in the country's other main regions. Routes include those from London to Manchester, Newcastle, Leeds and Birmingham in the North of England, and to the hugely popular seaside resort city of Brighton. Another busy route connects England with Scotland, running from London to Edinburgh. If you are travelling from London to Scotland or vice versa, sleeper trains are also an option.
Buying a railcard is a great way to save money on train tickets in the UK. However, there are times when you cannot use them (such as peak hours) so it's best to double-check before buying your tickets. Find out more about UK railcards and how they help you get cheap tickets here.
Omio Reading Train. Source: Shutterstock
There’s so much to experience in the UK, from its ancient Roman history evident in many historic sites, such as those in the Exeter and Bath areas, to mythical Stonehenge and the country's historical battlefields like Hastings and Edgehill. The Lake District is known for its beautiful scenery, while the Scottish Highlands offer wild and rugged countryside. London is, of course, one of the world’s most famous and cosmopolitan cities, and wherever you travel in the country you’ll find the famous British pubs and inns, serving traditional food and locally brewed beers on tap.
The different UK train companies run on similar peak and Off-Peak train times, but there is some variation. GWR, Avanti West Coast (previously Virgin Train) and Hull Trains have roughly the same peak and Off-Peak times, from about 6:30am to 9:30am and 4pm to 6:30pm. Off peak times are in-between and after these time windows. East Midlands Trains has peak times from about 7am to 9:30am and 3:30pm to 7pm, while ScotRail’s peak times are from around 7am to 9:30am and 3:30pm to 7:00pm.
Great Western Railway were previously called First Great Western. They operate in the south, providing commuter services to London via Reading. Occasionally, GWR allow you to book train tickets for weekday journeys up to 6 months in advance - good to plan future journeys.
Peak Times: starting from 06:30 to latest 09:30
Off-Peak Times: 09:30 - 15:30 and after 18:34. Off-Peak tickets valid until 04:29 the next day.
With East Midland Railways you buy an Anytime ticket up to 12 weeks in advance; they are set to a fixed price and do not tend to change. Once checked by the ticket controller, it is valid only on day of travel.
Peak Times: from 06:19 -10:06 arriving into London, going out of London from 05:45 - 9:00.
Off-Peak Times: 10:06 - 16:26 and then after 19:00. Valid until 04:29 the next day.
Gatwick Express and Heathrow Express:
There are no Advance tickets available for the airport services. Although, if you travel to the airports often then you could buy a weekly ticket. Heathrow Express tickets are available with Omio, Heathrow Connect tickets must be bought at the station.
Peak Times: trains which arrive before 09:50 into London Victoria Station
Off-Peak Times: trains which arrive from Gatwick Airport into London Victoria after 09:50 on weekdays, anytime on weekends.
Advance tickets are available early; save up to 50% off an Advance ticket when booking up to 24 weeks in advance.
Peak Times: starting from 07:00 to 09:00
Off-Peak Times: 09:00 - 16:00 and after 19:00. Valid until 04:29 the next day.
First Hull: Advance tickets can be changed for a £10 fee, although not refunded. for Anytime tickets, make sure you check with which provider you are allowed to travel, as some routes may be cheaper depending on the provider.
Peak Times: starting from 06:30 to 09:30
Off-Peak Times: 09:30 - 15:30 and after 18:34.
Scotrail has commuter tickets called a 'Flexipass' (contact them for more details) so you can travel a few days a week on a season pass. There are no Super Off-Peak tickets available for Scotrail.Peak Times: 07:00 - 09:30 then 15:30 - 19:15.
Thameslink: These services vary on their times for Off-Peak Tickets as they are operating in and out of the capital. Evening Peak Services do not apply for:
- Any southbound train
- Journeys starting south of East Croydon
- Journeys starting and finishing north of West Hamstead Thameslink
- Return leg of tickets with the destination of London Thameslink
- Return leg of tickets with the destination of London Thameslink or London Zones 1-6.
Peak Times: 07:00 - 09:30 then 16:30 - 19:01.
Off-Peak Times: 09:30 - 16:29 then after 19:02.
Still unsure about train times in the UK? We get it, there's a lot to learn! Hopefully our FAQs will help you out.
It depends how much you travel. If you are a frequent traveller to the same destination, you can get a weekly, monthly or annual pass. Check with the train provider for availability to find out if it's right for you. Remember you can buy a carnet or search for Super Off-Peak tickets to save money, if you're flexible with your time.