Book tickets now or you risk missing your train! How some routes are already sold out until September
- Presale tickets are expected to be released up to 12 weeks before travel
- But often train operators only release tickets for the next four weeks
- They then drip more seats over time
Rail passengers face a hectic race to book tickets for leisure trips or visits with family or friends this summer.
Presale tickets should be released up to 12 weeks before a trip – but research from The Mail on Sunday has found that in many cases, train operators release tickets for the next four weeks.
They then drip more seats over time. It means that once tickets become available on popular routes, they will be picked up almost immediately.
Traveling during Covid times: Due to social distance rules, only about half of the usual number of seats will be made available in the coming weeks
On some routes, tickets are already sold out for most trains departing in August and early September. The advice for customers is to have eagle eyes and be quick to avoid disappointment.
Offers and availability are constantly changing. So you should constantly check the National Railway Inquiries website and go straight to the train company and explore travel sites like Trainline to make sure you don’t miss out on tickets.
Flexibility is also needed. You should try to be willing to travel at different times of the day and dates to ensure that you get a seat.
Due to social distance rules, only about half of the usual number of seats will be made available in the coming weeks. Also, consider traveling First Class and paying extra for a seat, as the best price Advance options have probably already been sold.
Mike Hewitson, chief policy watchdog at Transport Focus, says: “Train fares are confusing at the best of times, but the coronavirus crisis has made planning worse than ever. If you want to get on the train this summer, you need to book now. ‘
It is not too late to get a subscription back
Commuters who purchased season tickets that were not used during the coronavirus blockade may have already received a refund, but it is not too late to claim.
The Rail Delivery Group, representing the railway companies, points out that you should contact the railway company where you bought the ticket. At the moment, train companies still accept ‘remote claims’ where you can email a photo of your cut season ticket – so no longer valid – but this is expected to change soon.
Applications were originally valid from March 23, but two months later this has changed to the previous 56 days from when you claim.
While people are now slowly returning to the office, maybe two or three days a week, it’s still more beneficial to just pay for the daily trip instead of buying a new subscription – but things can change.
The Rail Delivery Group has confirmed that there are proposals for three days in seven subscriptions. But unfortunately this is still in the discussion phase. Hopefully they will be offered within a few weeks.
Most people are not aware of the booking problem until they try to buy their ticket. This is because although 85 percent of trains are running, there are only a fifth of the usual number of passengers.
All this extra space gives the impression that it must be easy to get into – when the reality is that it is now more difficult than ever.
A Trainline spokeswoman said, “Each operator’s booking horizon and reservation constraints to ensure social distance are maintained pose challenges for travel plans – and these vary between different train operators. Customers must plan well in advance. To help you, consider signing up for the ‘Trainline tickets alerts’ mobile app – and this should notify you as soon as tickets are available in advance. ‘
Although prepaid tickets must be released up to 12 weeks before departure, in many cases this is reduced by a third under lockdown rules. And while they once allowed you to pay just one-tenth the price of a daily fare, you may be lucky enough to even be able to find a full-price seat.
An example of the travel problem can be found if you try to book on Thursday September 10 for an LNER trip from Yorkshire train station in Northallerton to take you to King’s Cross in London.
Using the Trainline on Friday website, The Mail on Sunday found ‘limited availability’ at £ 32 – including ‘only one left’ – but ‘not available’ all day for most options.
But the week after – on Thursday, September 17 – a blank page with ‘not available’ appeared on the website. National Railway Inquiries seems to show that there are more seats for sale, but when you try to reserve the seats are often not available either.
Another example is if you want to travel from Bristol Temple Meads to Leeds on Saturday 15th August you have ‘limited availability’ for £ 61.80 on the Trainline website. But the following week – Saturday, August 22 – is “unavailable” all day for the same route through CrossCountry, owned by Arriva.
If you are just showing up for a long journey, you may be sent away from the gate if too many people already have a seat for the journey. You should check the details of your specific journey before traveling using National Railway Inquiries.