What are split tickets?
Knowing about split tickets, a relatively unknown quirk of the UK fare system could help customers save on average 40% on the cost of their rail journeys.
Split tickets or split ticketing, are the terms commonly used to describe train tickets that have been purchased in the form of a number of separate journeys with a ticket for each individual leg of the route as opposed to a conventional through ticket. Instead of having a ticket to take you from A-D, you might have one ticket to go from A-B, another to go from B-C and a further ticket to go from C-D as this often works out a lot cheaper.
London-Bristol journey, for example, might be split into several different sections with separate tickets from London –Reading, Reading to Didcot Parkway and Didcot Parkway to Bristol.
Splitting the train journey up in this way is perfectly permissible under the National Rail Conditions of Carriage as long as the train service you travel on stops at all the points where the ticket is split. If the journey doesn’t involve any changes there’s no need even to leave the train. Passengers who have purchased flexible tickets are fine to travel on later or earlier trains but should ensure that the alternative services they board also stop at the splitting points. If someone booked a ticket from Bristol to Birmingham for example, splitting the ticket at Cheltenham Spa and decided to travel on a different train from the one they originally planned, their tickets would only be valid on trains also stopping at Cheltenham Spa.
Split ticket savings can be found on both fixed time advance fares and on flexible fares at peak times too but they aren’t offered at station ticket machines or by any train company websites. The ticket clerk may be able to split tickets on request but station staff are not obliged to do so and in any case they will not necessarily know the best combination of tickets given the complexity of the UK fares system.
At the moment raileasy.trainsplit.com is the only place that sells split tickets online. Split ticketing savings can be found on routes in and out of London but the best savings tend to be found on routes travelling across the country.