After an Easter break marred by transport chaos, there’s finally some good news for travellers. The Government has announced a month-long rail sale with half-price tickets available across the country from today.
Launching the sale, Grant Shapps, the Transport Secretary, said: “For the first time ever, operators across the rail industry are coming together to help passengers facing rising costs of living by offering up to 50 per cent off more than a million tickets on journeys across Britain.”
The scheme, which also aims to boost UK tourism and encourage greener travel, offers discounted journeys between April 25 until May 27 and has been billed as the largest-ever national rail sale.
Here is everything you need to know about the Great British Rail Sale.
How long will the sale last?
The sale launched today and tickets are available for journeys between April 25 until May 27, but must be purchased by May 2.
More than one million tickets are available with most discounted by 50pc. Some examples of fares on offer include London to Edinburgh down from £47 to just £22 and Manchester to Newcastle at £10.30, half the usual price.
Customers are being encouraged to buy their tickets sooner rather than later as high demand might mean some routes sell out. The Rail Delivery Group, which helped organize the sale, said: “The number of Rail Sale tickets offered by each participating train company will vary and are limited in number so we’re encouraging people to act quickly because when they’re gone, they ‘re gone.”
LNER, which runs East Coast mainline services, has announced it has “at least 75,000” rail sale tickets available, with Avanti West Coast offering a similar figure.
What type of tickets are available?
The vast majority of tickets on offer will be advance fares, meaning passengers must travel on specific trains. The likes of anytime singles and season tickets are not included and tickets must be purchased at least one day before travel.
Customers should be aware that each rail company has its own policy when it comes to the offer and that discounts are unlikely to be available at peak times on popular routes.
For example, LNER is only offering Great British Rail Sale tickets between Mondays and Thursdays and is excluding the early May bank holiday. Similarly, Avanti West Coast’s offer excludes all services between April 29 and May 3, plus services from Euston to Manchester and Liverpool on May 14 and May 22.
Sadly, first class tickets are also not included on some routes, such as Avanti West Coast and East Midlands Railways – although various on-board upgrade offers might seem more appealing with your cut-price standard ticket. LNER passengers, however, will be able to book discounted premium tickets.
Underscoring the point that this is not a blanket offer, the DfT said in a statement: “Great British Rail Sale tickets are not available on all routes, are limited and subject to availability and exclusions.”
Which routes are included?
Offers are available across the country and include short journeys between York and Leeds (available for just £2.80 down from £5.60) as well as long-distance routes. As outlined above, more popular routes may run out of sale tickets quickly.
Visit the greatbritishrailsale.nationalrail.co.uk to see what discounts are available for your destination.
Connecting routes run by different operators do not appear to be included – to make the most of the savings, customers would have to book separate tickets.