Buying train tickets in the UK can be a little confusing at times. If you've ever been stuck at a ticket machine or online purchase screen, wondering which ticket option is best for you, then don't worry, you're not alone.

That's why we’re stepping in to help sort out the Advance tickets from the Anytimes, the Peaks from the Off-Peaks, and in general, the wheat from the chaff. So, the next time you buy train tickets, you can do it knowing you’re getting the best possible ticket for you!

Ticket types in the UK

Want to know the differences between all of the UK train tickets? Have a look through our handy overview of each ticket type below. Before long, we’re sure you’ll be clued up and ready to save money on your travels.

Advance train tickets

We all know how expensive travel can be, but you could secure great deals on your long-distance rail journeys by booking in advance. Advance train tickets are, of course, tickets that you can buy before the date of travel. They're Single tickets sold for both Standard and First Class seats, usually made available 12 weeks before departure.

You can mix and match Single fares for the cheapest possible return journey. Just be aware that Advance train tickets aren't flexible. In other words, once you buy your Advance tickets, you’re usually tied to the exact trains and dates shown.

As a bonus, you can use your Railcard for further discounts. So, if you have a student, senior, child’s or disabled person’s Railcard you can look forward to even cheaper train tickets to a range of wonderful destinations.

Learn more about Advance train tickets

Anytime train tickets

Perfect for when your schedule isn’t quite set in stone, Anytime train tickets are flexible train tickets that let you take full control of exactly when you’ll be making your journey.

Anytime tickets are split into four types — Anytime Day Single, Anytime Day Return, Anytime Single and Anytime Return. These tickets let you travel either on a specified date or multiple dates. You can book Anytime train tickets in advance, right up to the same day of travel.

Learn more about Anytime train tickets

Flexi Season tickets

If you’re commuting to work twice a week, a Flexi Season ticket is the perfect option for you. Benefits of buying a Flexi Season ticket include:

  • Unlimited travel between two stations
  • Flexibility to travel when you need within 28 days
  • Travel at any time of day
  • No need to get a Smartcard if barcode tickets are available on your route

Find out more about Flexi Season tickets.

Off-Peak train tickets

Off-Peak tickets are an excellent option for passengers who can be flexible with their travel. Journeys are restricted to certain time slots, normally avoiding the busier morning and evening commuting periods.

If you're a bargain hunter, this is the ticket for you. Weekends and bank holidays give you the chance to buy Super Off-Peak tickets for many of your favourite destinations. You can even use a Railcard for an extra 1/3 off the price, or enjoy First Class seating for less by booking an Off-Peak train!

Find out more about Off-Peak and Super Off-Peak train tickets

First Class train tickets

The ultimate way to travel. Arrive in style with a First Class train ticket. There are so many perks in store for those who upgrade, from extra-wide seats with extended legroom, to complimentary snacks and drinks. And, although not all services offer all of these perks, you may even get access to free WiFi, plug-in points and hot meals, as well as First Class lounges at certain stations.

Onboard, you’ll often have a table with space for your laptop, making on-the-go work a breeze, while the quiet atmosphere makes for a relaxing experience whether you’re travelling for business or pleasure. So, use your time productively or kick back and relax with our First Class train tickets.

Learn more about First Class train tickets

Return train tickets

Return tickets combine your two train journeys, outward and return, into a single ticket. You can either choose to depart and return on specific dates or opt for an Open Return ticket, which gives you more flexibility on travel dates. Day Return tickets require you to travel back on the same day, and First Class Return tickets allow you to sit in the First Class carriage for both your outward and return journey.

Find out more about Return train tickets

Season tickets

Ideal for commuters, Season tickets offer unlimited travel between two given stations on a weekly, monthly, 28 day (Flexi) or annual basis. You can even specify a custom duration for a Season ticket if none of those periods fit your schedule. Using a Season Ticket can save you over 1/3 compared to buying peak daily return tickets 5 days a week. All you'll need to get started is a valid Photocard.

Use our Season ticket Calculator to see how much you could save.

Cheap train tickets

Our top tips for securing cheaper train tickets include keeping an eye on when Advance tickets are released and booking as far ahead as you possibly can. Alternatively, you can sometimes secure a cheaper fare by booking two single journey tickets rather than a return ticket.

Find out more about how to get cheap train tickets

GroupSave train tickets

GroupSave is a type of train ticket discount for those travelling in groups of three to nine people. They're ideal if you want to travel with friends or family (excluding child tickets), as they could help you get as much as 34% off the cost of your fares. Score!

Find out more about GroupSave train tickets

Last-minute train tickets

Ever found yourself scrambling for a last-minute train ticket and wondered if you’re paying over the odds? Well, worry not! With our nifty money-saving tools there’s no need to fret about ticket prices, even if it’s at the last possible moment. Use our Journey Planner to search for tickets, and we’ll always highlight the cheapest fares for the time you’ve selected. Alternatively, with the Trainline app, you can save money right up the last second by using our advance purchase on the day feature.

Learn more about last-minute train tickets.

Find out more about train travel in the UK

Once you’re clued up on UK train ticket types, why not check out our guides to train travel around the UK? We’ll tell you how to book and collect your train tickets and provide general information about the British train network. Whether you need info on train companies, popular routes, tips for getting cheaper tickets or how to travel to Europe from Britain by rail, we’ve left no stone unturned.