Two split-ticketing tools to help you find cheaper train tickets

‘Split ticketing’ has been a niche topic in rail circles for some years – you can save a lot of money on your train travel by using it correctly.

What ‘split ticketing’ means is that, instead of buying a rail ticket from A to C (with the train stopping at B on the way) you can save money by buying a ticket from A to B and B to C.

It works best when you are travelling on the edge of peak periods.  If all trains from Kings Cross are peak until 9.30, for example, a ticket on the 9.28 to Edinburgh would be at a peak price.  If you split-ticket the journey, you could instead buy a ticket on 9.28 from Kings Cross to Peterborough and then a ticket from Peterborough to Edinburgh – which, by the time you reached Peterborough, would be classed as off-peak.  Note that you remain on the same train at all times.

The problem with split ticketing is that it was very difficult to do the analysis.  You need a lot of data to run all of the combinations.  An early website which tried to do this failed, if I remember rightly, because it was charged per quote for access to the central pricing system.

Something seems to have changed in the way that third party companies are charged for the data, because there has been renewed interest in this sector in the last year.

TrainSplit

TicketySplit is run by moneysavingexpert.com.  When it launched it could only handle ‘same day’ pricing but the tool has now been expanded and now covers advance tickets.  You are limited to five searches per day and it can only deal with trips involving one split.

As an example, I looked at Exeter St Davids to Sheffield on the 9.24 on February 2nd.  This is a £112.90 ticket in standard class.  The tool recommended that I split the trip at Bristol Temple Meads, paying £8.90 for Exeter to Bristol and £78 from Bristol to Sheffield.  The saving is £26.

If you want to book via TicketySplit, you need to use The Trainline and pay their fees.  Nothing stops you writing down the details and buying directly from another site of course.

TrainSplit is the new kid on the block, supported by train booking site Raileasy.  This site has improved substantially since I last looked at it.  It is now better than TicketySplit because it can handle multiple splits.

TrainSplit has an interesting revenue model.  If you book via their site, your order is processed by Raileasy who charge no card fees and no booking fees.  There is a £1.50 postage fee if you choose not to collect your tickets at a station.  However, TrainSplit adds an extra fee based on 10% of the saving found.

When I ran the same test on TrainSplit, it found a £60.40 combination.  That is a lot cheaper than the £86.90 combination found by TicketySplit.  With the 10% ‘saving’ charge, the total was £65.65.

The reason TrainSplit was cheaper is that it looks for multiple splits – TicketySplit restricts itself to one.  The ticket they were selling me from Exeter to Sheffield was actually FIVE tickets:

  • Exeter to Bristol
  • Bristol to Cheltenham
  • Cheltenham to Birmingham
  • Birmingham to Derby
  • Derby to Sheffield

Remember that you stay on the same train at all times despite having five tickets!

Both of these tools are worth checking next time you book a long distance train ticket.  You could make a considerable saving.

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Comments

  1. Oh now look what you’ve set off Rob. Lots of talking about fares on the news today, now Radio 2 is currently discussing split ticketing (it doesn’t make great radio btw)…

  2. Thanks very much for this. Just saved £120.