‘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 yourself. You need a lot of data to run all of the combinations.
When we first looked at split-ticketing there were only two websites dedicated to this topic – TicketySplit (run by moneysavingexpert.com) and TrainSplit.
TicketySplit has since closed and TrainSplit has added more tools. There are also a number of new websites, so we decided it was time to take a fresh look at split ticketing.
TrainSplit is supported by train booking site Raileasy. This site has improved substantially since we last looked at it. It can now handle multiple splits, returns and group bookings but it does not display open returns and anytime fares.
TrainSplit also has an app to make on the go bookings easier.
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.
As an example, I looked at Exeter St Davids to Sheffield on the 09.24 on 26th September (one day after writing this article). This was a £132.90 ticket in standard class when booked via Trainline.
Booked via TrainSplit the price was £74.34 (including the extra fee of £10.34). The tool recommended that I split the trip into six individual tickets.
Exeter to Bristol Temple Meads: £14.70
Bristol Temple Meads to Cheltenham Spa: £9.10
Cheltenham Spa to Birmingham: £22.40
Birmingham to Derby: £8
Derby to Chesterfield: £4.40
Chesterfield to Sheffield: £5.40
The saving is £58.56.
Remember that you stay on the same train at all times despite having six tickets!
A further website claiming to sell cheaper tickets is Ticketclever.
Ticketclever claims that its customers save an average of 58%. But, as you will see in my example, this isn’t always the case.
When I ran the same test booking on Ticketclever going from Exeter St Davids to Sheffield on the 09.24 on 26th September, it found a £118.20 combination splitting the trip into three tickets. That is £14.70 cheaper than the standard fare from Trainline BUT £43.86 more expensive than TrainSplit.
The reason TrainSplit was cheaper in this case is that it looked for multiple splits – Ticketclever seems to restricts itself to a smaller amount of tickets.
Looking at the same trip for 29th October, based on prices I found on 25th September, you pay £132.90 on Trainline, £118.20 on Ticketclever and £61.10 on TrainSplit. However, when you book the £61.10 trip on TrainSplit, you need to physically change trains by travelling to Paddington and taking the tube to St Pancras before continuing to Sheffield.
On 24th October the same trip was £68.40 on Trainline as well as on Ticketclever. On TrainSplit the ticket is split into six tickets – with no change of train – for a total cost of £52.25.
Both TrainSplit and Ticketclever are worth checking next time you book a long distance train ticket, but based on my limited testing TrainSplit seems to be the better tool to split your tickets and save some money.
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