‘By failing to prepare, you are preparing to fail.’ You have probably read this Benjamin Franklin quote before. It applies to many aspects of our lives, including rail travel.
If you prefer to wing it when you’re travelling by rail, your optimism is admirable. However, no one deserves to have a negative travelling experience due to inadequate preparation, so why run the risk?
Read on and find out why you should plan ahead when making train journeys to avoid disappointment in the future.
Think on your feet, lose your seat
If you have ever booked a last minute train booking during peak times, you have probably struggled to get a seat.
This can certainly be a frustrating experience, especially if you have a long journey ahead of you.
If you have bought tickets last minute, you might have experienced this and wondered why the train operators don’t just put on more trains or put more carriages on each train. Although it might feel like rail operators are purposefully punishing those that buy tickets last minute by not giving them a seat, this isn’t the case.
According to Railway Blogger, train companies try to forecast passenger numbers as best as they can and run their services based on these forecasts. However, because train tickets are sold until the last minute, it is very difficult for them to accurately predict the number of passengers who book on a last minute whim.
The moral of the story here is that if you want to ensure you have a seat on your journey, book in advance and reserve seats whenever you have the option.
Don’t let disruptions rain on your parade
At this time of year in particular, national rail enquiries are increased due to passengers being concerned about disruptions.
This is because factors like winter weather, engineering works and busier trains in the runup to Christmas causing more disruptions and delays on the UK’s railways.
So how can you plan ahead to avoid these disruptions?
Unfortunately even the best laid rail travel plans can be impacted by disruptions. Despite this, you have the power to make sure you can avoid at least some of them through proper research.
If you are planning a rail journey, consider whether there are any major events happening along your journey route or at your travel destination such as christmas markets, concerts or football matches. If any of these things are happening, see if you can perhaps travel on an alternative day or during off-peak hours.
When planning your journey you should also consider the typical weather conditions at that time of year and keep checking online for any engineering works, line closures or other disruptions in advance. If you think your journey will be impacted by one of these factors and you need further advice, contact the rail operator you are planning on travelling with.
What to do when the rail strikes strike
Let’s talk about the elephant in the room: rail strikes. If you have been keeping up to date with the news in recent months, you may have seen that rail workers have been taking industrial action and more is planned.
If you are looking to travel at a time when rail strikes are either happening, or about to happen, then here is what you can do.
Firstly, see if you can travel on an alternative date instead. If travelling on that day is your only option, consider alternative forms of transport and remember to allow extra time in case roads and buses are more congested.
You should also keep checking your train operator’s website and the news for further updates too. This is because new strikes may be announced or they may even get called off. Do bear in mind that even if a strike is called off there may still be disruption to services on the day.
Timing is everything for train ticket prices
When you buy train tickets last minute, you are more likely to pay over the odds. To get the cheapest possible train tickets, you should aim to book your tickets around 12 weeks in advance. This is how far in advance rail tickets tend to go on sale.
If you are looking to make even bigger savings when you book train tickets in advance, you could also use a split ticketing service and invest in a rail card.