A Flexi Season Ticket Could Save You Cash: Here's What We Know So Far

If you work part-time, or do a few days a week from home, this could be perfect for you.
Train fares have risen, yet again.
Supirloko89 via Getty Images
Train fares have risen, yet again.

Commuters have been left raging thanks to yet another rail fare increase – meaning that for some, the annual cost of getting to and from work could be an extra £100.

There’s a (pretty small) silver lining for users of Govia Thameslink Railway, however, who announced plans to trial flexible season tickets in the southern region, suitable for those who don’t travel every day of the week – such as those who work part-time or from home.

The move comes after demand for its weekly season tickets has dropped – so how can you get your hands on one? Here’s what we know so far.

Currently, Govia Thameslink Railway’s weekly season tickets for those travelling from the southern region expire after the seven days, making them unattractive to part-time workers. The new proposal aims to offer batches of discounted tickets that have a longer shelf life.

Unfortunately, full details of the routes for this trial and the level of discount will not be available until later this year. David Gornall, commercial director for Govia Thameslink Railway, told HuffPost UK: “We are delighted to be working with the Department for Transport on a trial of a flexible carnet-style smart ticket that, later this year, will allow part-time workers on a section of the Southern network to benefit from cheaper fares normally afforded only to season ticket holders.”

Thameslink already offers carnet tickets – where you save 10% when you buy a book of five or 10 tickets – but only from stations in Hertfordshire, Bedfordshire and Cambridgeshire. These are valid for three months, and it’s likely the new flexi season tickets from the southern region will be similar.

Despite the good news, it’s unlikely to appease the millions of commuters facing price hikes from today. Bruce Williamson, of pressure group Railfuture, claimed fares are “outstripping people’s incomes”.

“Welcome to another decade of misery for rail passengers,” he said. “How on earth is the government going to meet its climate commitments by pricing people off environmentally-friendly trains and on to our polluted and congested roads?”

How else can you get cheaper train tickets?

For those not living in areas served by such trials, or awaiting the trials to begin, there are other ways you can get cheaper tickets.

Splitting tickets, for example, could help save pennies. This means buying separate tickets for separate legs of your journey. Passengers can also save money by travelling off-peak (or super off-peak) and booking in advance, although these options are not available for many journeys, particularly those made by commuters.

For frequent travellers, especially those who travel long distances across the UK, railcards offer big savings. However they can’t be used during peak times nor on season tickets.

:: The Two Together railcard, which costs £30 a year, is perfect for couples or friends who regularly travel together. The average annual saving is £129.

:: There’s also the 16-25 railcard for those aged 16-25, which has an annual average saving of £199. It costs £30 a year to buy.

:: The Network railcard for people travelling in the South East offers an average annual saving of £191 and, again, costs £30 a year.

:: The Family and Friends railcard, where up to four adults and four children can travel on one card and children aged 5-15 get 60% discount, costs £30 a year. The average annual saving is £141.

:: The Senior railcard, for people aged 60 and over, offers an annual average saving of £125 and costs £30 a year.

:: The Disabled Persons railcard, which costs £20 a year and offers a third off rail fares, provides an average annual saving of £131.

:: The 26-30 railcard which is valid for those aged 26-30 and offers savings of one third on train tickets.

Find out more ways to save money on train tickets here.