Long gone are the days of having to plan journeys months in advance in order to get the cheapest tickets. As train operators are desperate to get bums on seats on their services in and out of the capital after an 80 per cent drop in passenger numbers at the height of the coronavirus pandemic, they are experimenting with new offers to attract passengers back onto the railway.
One example of this is changing the rules on advance tickets. These tickets, which usually have to be purchased online at least 24 hours before departure, allow you to travel on a specific train for a discount price. They are usually sold as single fares but occasionally appear as returns. The government-owned rail operator LNER, which runs trains between King’s Cross to the North and Scotland, has now made their cheap advance tickets available to purchase right up to five minutes prior to departure.
Although these tickets offer the best discounts on occasional one off-cross country journeys, they are also available to purchase between King’s Cross and Stevenage, a Hertfordshire commuter town 30 miles north of the capital rapidly transforming into a property hotspot.
READ MORE: The little known £22.50 train ticket that lets you visit Windsor, Henley and 30 miles of beautiful places along the River Thames
Stevenage is also a convenient location to start a trip exploring the Home Counties countryside, with Knebworth Park and Fairlands Valley nearby. Tickets start at just £5 single, or £3.30 with a railcard, meaning it can often now be cheaper to travel all the way to Stevenage than to destinations closer to the capital.
With these advance tickets, you are still restricted to a specific train, meaning that for flexibility, a standard ticket of around £10 single could still work better for you, especially if you want to use the more frequent Thameslink trains, which also run from London Bridge, Blackfriars, Farringdon and Finsbury Park. If you miss your train with this type of ticket, you have to buy a new one.
We’ve created a Facebook group for people who travel on London’s bus, rail, Underground, Overground and DLR services.
We will keep you informed about the latest news that affects your daily commute to work, as well as at the weekend.
We’ll also let you know in advance if there are any roadworks, railworks or closures you should know about, or if there are any problems on the city’s tube network.
Join the group here.
The journey to Stevenage takes just 24 minutes on LNER’s 125mph Hitachi-built Azuma trains, which are based on Japanese world-record-holding bullet trains. The trains have refreshments available to purchase aboard, WiFi and charging facilities for electronic devices meaning the rapid journey is easily one of the most comfortable commutes or short days out trips you can get to/from London.
LNER also offers advance tickets available to purchase on the day of travel to destinations including Peterborough, Leeds, York, Durham, Newcastle and Edinburgh.
Competition on the route has heated up since new ‘open access’ (100% private) operator Lumo started running a low-cost rival service between King’s Cross, Stevenage, Newcastle and Edinburgh, with every one of their trains sold out from its launch in October until the end of the year last year.
If you have a transport-related story you think MyLondon should be covering, email email@example.com.
Want more from MyLondon? Sign up for our daily newsletters for all the latest and greatest from across London here.