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How to buy cheap train tickets

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Travelling by train can be a joy. It's great to leave the car behind and reduce your carbon footprint. However train travel can be expensive. However, it is possible to get some very low cost train tickets.
What you'll need: 
A computer with internet access
Your credit / debit card
A notebook and pen
Plenty of time
1: 
The key to getting cheap train tickets is booking 2 or 3 months in advance and being flexible about the time of travel.
2: 
If you are travelling on South West Trains, East Midlands Trains or on Virgin Trains, go to www.megabus.com first. Although megabus is mainly for coach journeys, they do have a limited number of train tickets on the routes mentioned, some for as little as £1.
3: 
If you can't get what you want through megabus, try www.southwesttrains.co.uk. They cover the whole country and don't charge a booking fee.
4: 
Firstly input where you are travelling from and to, the date and approximate time. Select the railcard option if you have one and the discounts will be reflected in the prices.
5: 
A table of trains and prices will be shown. Single fares are often the cheapest on offer - two singles may be cheaper than a return. If you can be flexible with times check later trains or earlier trains for even cheaper fares. Make a note of the cheapest fare.
6: 
If your journey involves changing trains, do searches on the individual ticket prices from and to each change. This can be cheaper. If there are alternative routes, try those. Make a note of each result so you keep track of the cheapest tickets.
7: 
Check the terms and conditions of the type of ticket you have chosen. The cheaper tickets are often non refunable. Many tickets are only valid on the particular train you have booked so consider if you will definitely be able to travel at that time.
8: 
Once you have found the best fare, book straight away. A ticket price available today may not be there tomorrow.
9: 
You can have the tickets sent to you in the post, or you can collect them from the station of your choice.
Conclusion: 
It is very rewarding travelling by train on a low cost ticket. I recently travelled by train from Exeter to London for just £1 through megabus.
Tips: 
Be prepared to spend some time looking at options.
Keep a note of the reference numbers of your booking.
The megabus reference number is your ticket so keep it safe.
Warnings: 
Check the Terms and Conditions before you book.
If you travel on a different train from the one you have booked, you may be liable for the full fare.
References: 

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