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A million half price rail tickets go on sale

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More than one million rail tickets offering passengers up to 50% off trips have gone on sale today.

A government and rail industry initiative – the ‘Great British Rail Sale’ – has launched today offering discounted tickets on journeys taken between 25 April and 27 May.

Tickets need to be booked online by 2 May, and the discounts apply to selected advance tickets, or off-peak tickets where a train company doesn’t offer advance tickets. They aren’t available to buy at ticket offices unfortunately.

The Department for Transport (DfT) confirmed 80% of the tickets will offer 50% off. The majority of tickets are singles, but some return tickets are available.

If you have a Railcard giving a third off travel, you can use it in conjunction with this offer.

However, not all routes and train companies are taking part in the rail sale. These 17 DfT franchised train operators in England are participating:

  • Avanti West Coast
  • C2C
  • Chiltern
  • Cross Country
  • East Midlands Railway
  • Grand Central and Hull Trains
  • Great Northern
  • Great Western Railway
  • Greater Anglia
  • London North Eastern Railway
  • London Northwestern Railway
  • Northern
  • South Western Railway
  • Southeastern
  • Thameslink
  • TransPennine Express
  • West Midlands Railway.

These are excluded from the offer:

  • Gatwick Express
  • Heathrow Express
  • London Overground
  • Lumo
  • Merseyrail
  • Stansted Express
  • TfL Rail.

Tickets need to be bought at least one day in advance, are subject to availability (first-come, first-served basis) and booking fees apply. With some operators, you may be able to pay for a first-class upgrade.

One point to note is that if you’re unable to travel on the date and time specified on the ticket, you won’t be able to get a refund unless the train is delayed or cancelled and you choose not to travel.

But, the T&Cs state you may be able to change the time or date of travel before departure of the first reserved train.

Savings include:

  • York to Leeds: was £5.60, now £2.80
  • London to Edinburgh: was £44, now £22
  • London to Cardiff: was £47, now £25
  • Wolverhampton to Liverpool: was £10.50, now £5.25
  • Manchester to Newcastle: was £20.60, now £10.30
  • Birmingham New Street to Bristol Temple Meads: was £25.30, now £12.60
  • Portsmouth Harbour to Penzance was £45.70, now £22.00

TIP: If your journey includes different train operators, you’ll likely see a “No Discounts found” message when searching. Use a train split ticketing site such as which will split the journeys for you and include the discounts.

Transport secretary, Grant Shapps, 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% off more than a million tickets on journeys across Britain.

“There’s no better time to visit friends, family or just explore our great country, so book your tickets today.”

Jacqueline Starr, CEO of the Rail Delivery Group, said: “We want everyone to be able to benefit from travelling by train because it’s more than just a journey, it’s a way to connect everyone to the people, places and things they love.”

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