Booking train tickets in advance or at the station.

What's the consensus here on whether it's better to book train tickets online in advance or just get them at the station? I bought a ticket from Chelmsford to London a few years back and found that the price was just the same, and I hadn't had to worry about getting to the station in time for a particular departure. Just wondering what people think here.

Comments

  • martindow
    martindow Posts: 10,215 Forumite
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    It depends on the ticket.  Advance tickets change in price and generally get more expensive as the date of travel approaches.  They restrict to you travelling on a specified train only.  These are the Ryanair tickets of the rail world - no refunds and useless if you miss the train.
    Tickets like peak or off peak tickets are the same price whenever they are bought including the day of travel.  On some lines you can book seats on a particular train but can travel on a different train if you like within a specified time range.  The only advantage of booking in advance is to be sure of getting a seat reservation on a busy train.
  • Chomeur
    Chomeur Posts: 2,128 Forumite
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    Yes, I'm looking at tickets from Waterloo to Cowes. I see that Advance tickets are available a day ahead, but not on the day. They are about £30. Off-peak tickets for today are about £50, which I guess is the price you would pay at the station. That's enough of a price difference for me to forego the flexibility of being able to just turn up at the station and take the next train, so I'll get an Advance ticket.
  • martindow
    martindow Posts: 10,215 Forumite
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    Are you making a return journey?  Super off-peak tickets are around £60 with a specified outward date and the return (I think) being within  month.  These would give you flexibility on trains and could be worth considering. 
    With advance fares I am always so concerned about missing the train that I end up getting to the station ridiculously early and waiting around for ages.
  • lisyloo
    lisyloo Posts: 29,610 Forumite
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    If you definitely know you are going and are happy with fixed times then getting it as early as you can makes sense.
    Downsides are - no cancellation, amendment fee, no flexibility so need to allow contingency and wait around.
    It's a trade off.
    We used to book in advance for commuting to London, but price was a big difference and we could amend i.e. were going again.
    Over a period this was a lot cheaper even with a few amendment charges, but that's not always the case.
  • Chomeur
    Chomeur Posts: 2,128 Forumite
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    edited 16 September 2021 at 12:01PM
    Great, thanks very much, that's a better idea. Presumably it would be the same price at the station as online. 

    So next time I'll look about two weeks in advance and decide if it's better to buy Advance tickets or just get a Super Off-peak closer to the time.
  • martindow
    martindow Posts: 10,215 Forumite
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    Chomeur said:
    Great, thanks very much, that's a better idea. Presumably it would be the same price at the station as online. 

    So next time I'll look about two weeks in advance and decide if it's better to buy Advance tickets or just get a Super Off-peak closer to the time.

    Yes, the same price at the station or online.  It's a good strategy to compare prices ahead of time but only if you are certain you will be travelling on that date.
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