Money Saving Tips for Train Travel with Children

I have a nearly 4 year old girl and a 6 month old baby boy and, as my family and friends live far and wide and I don’t really drive, I have traveled on the train with them both from when they were a couple of months old.  I thought I would share with you my top money saving tips;


  • Railcards

If you are travelling with another person over 16 and children under 5 (who travel free on the train) then consider purchasing a Two Together Railcard as it enables both named people when they travel together to get 33% off Standard and First Class, Anytime, Off- peak and Advanced Fares for a year for £30. However, if you mostly travel alone with children over 5 then consider purchasing a Family and Friends Railcard as it enables you to get 33% off for up to 4 adult tickets and 60% off for up to four children aged 5-15 when travelling together.  It is valid for a year and also costs £30.

  • Booking in Advance

If you know that you will be travelling at a certain time then you could save a lot of money by booking in advance.  Rail companies release their cheapest tickets 12 weeks in advance and this also enables the members of your party to book seats together and consider whether you would like a convenient table seat for your journey for you to play games on.

  • Split ticketing

If you are unable to book advance tickets, as you need to travel at short notice, then you can still save money by using a ticketing split, essentially by buying two or more tickets for your journey.  It is an annoying quirk of the system that this can be cheaper than by buying one ticket for the whole of your journey. For example, A return off peak ticket from Sheffield to Birmingham New Street costs £45.20. Whereas a separate return ticket from Sheffield to Derby costs £11.50 and a separate return ticket from Derby to Birmingham New Street costs £17.30 making the total cost £28.80 so you save £16.40 by simply buying two return tickets instead of one return ticket for the same journey on the same train. You can see whether any other train tickets can be split in this way to save you money using this helpful online tool:

  • Travel Master

If your child loves vehicles and for a treat you would like to take them to several destinations around South Yorkshire on the train, bus and tram for a day, then the cheapest way is to buy a Travel Master Ticket which enables you to travel all day on trains, buses and trams in South Yorkshire for £7.90 per adult with children under 5 travelling free.

  • Delay Repay

Most train companies now operate the Delay Repay system. Under this if your train is delayed and arrives at your destination station more than 30 + minutes late then most people can claim a refund, regardless of the reason for the delay. You will need to claim the refund from the train company which was running the delayed service, even if you booked via a different site. The amount of compensation that you are offered will depends on the train operator you travelled with, the ticket type and the length of the delay. Most claims can be made by obtaining a form from a staffed station, enclosing the ticket and posting.  This can often also be done by attaching a scan of the ticket. Details of the train operators’ websites can be found here.

Ruth McNeil

Money Saving Tips for Train Travel with Children originally appeared in issue 170 of LINK magazine.

If you have something to share about life in Sheffield or some pearls of wisdom of interest to parents and carers of small children and would like to write an article for the magazine or or blog for the website, email or submit it here.

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