Money saving National Rail oddities


I’ve encountered some money-saving oddities on National Rail, and I thought I’d list them here. They can be extremely handy if you travel across the country a lot.

  • London to Edinburgh is sometimes cheaper via Liverpool.
    The reason is that you can completely avoid Virgin Trains via this route, and instead use the following train companies:
    book with London Midland – London Euston to Liverpool Lime St (1 change at Stafford or Crewe)
    book with First Transpennine Express – Liverpool Lime St to Edinburgh (1 change at Preston, via Northern Rail)
    A hell of a journey, but you can get this down to as cheap as £20.
    Basically, extending your journey to avoid expensive train companies and going with cheaper, local companies can save you a lot of money.
  • There is a hidden first class advance ~£55 Virgin Trains West Coast ticket from London Euston to Edinburgh, usually daily.
    There’s a fairly hidden ticket here, and it’s usually cheaper than standard class. It is completely hidden from the Virgin Trains East Coast site, TheTrainLine and sometimes Virgin Trains West Coast’s own site.
    To find this ticket, use the ScotRail booking site and search for tickets from London Euston to Edinburgh at around 10:00am.
    Some companies have hidden or difficult to find tickets, that you won’t find on their website. I can’t explain why, but I think it’s because they are required to sell the ticket, but try to hide it on their own booking websites. Perhaps they are allowed to do this (?).
  • There is no proper verification for a 16-25 railcard. You can generate a random passport number to get past the age verification to apply for a 16-25 railcard. I have no need for this, as I’m young enough, but there are sites that can generate a passport number that is convincing enough (and I doubt any country allows National Rail to actually verify/check them).
    This is probably against the terms of conditions are possibly fraudulent.
  • (Valid until the end of May 2016) Virgin Trains East Coast Plane Relief. If you make a convincing enough entry before end of May, you can get a £15 standard class one-way or £30 first class on-way ticket from Edinburgh to London. Follow the instructions here.

All of these oddities were valid as of April 2016. Leave a word if one of them helps you!