How to find the best value train fares this Christmas

A handy little hack if you're considering a last minute shopping trip to London along the East Coast Main Line (although it's likely you can find similar deals using similar methods, wherever to live). There's no chance of buying cheap singles now, but if you live in the vicinity of York there's good news. An off-peak fare booked at least a day in advance costs £59 return:

Meanwhile, a similar fare Leeds to London costs £79.20, an increase of £20.20. But if you're going to London for the day, you could buy an Off Peak Day Return on the day, and travel between Leeds and York for just £9.80; a little extra planning saves you £10.40. And depending where you live in Leeds, you might consider the short drive to York and make use of York's park and ride scheme for just £2.30.

There's better value to be had if you live in Doncaster;

Despite being 30 miles closer to London, the cheapest return ticket to London we could find was nearly 15 per cent more expensive. Perhaps it's part of a funded tourism promotion, or National Express has a need to drive custom through York; regardless, what can you do? Move out of Doncaster. I've been and it's a toilet, frankly. Otherwise, book your ticket from York. Choose a specific service for the outward journey to London; partly to ensure the service will stop at Doncaster (a basic schoolboy error), and partly so there are no issues with the train being over-crowded. If there's a quibble, point out the terms and conditions of the ticket at point of sale (online) concern the route and operator, not point of departure.

There are usually deals like this going on all over the country; operators are always running promotions that favour one station over another; the trick is to keep trying different combinations of fare, and sometimes consider different routes and methods of transport.


  • Mark
    The rather excellent National Express website can be used to book travel from and to anywhere - not just Nat Exp services - try it, put whatever stations you like in it.
  • mysterious s.
    National express have competition between York - London from Grand Central trains running old 125's. but not from Doncastor. They have 3 trains and run three services a day but are very cheap and as the train is direct with no stops it's almost as fast as National express. You *don't* have to pre-book with grand central to get their cheapest fair, and almost unbelievably you can buy the cheapest ticket on the train! OAP returns £46.50

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