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Types of train ticket

Booking train tickets can appear complicated. One reason for this is the vast array of different ticket types on offer from the UK's train operators.

To help you make the right decision on which to buy, here's what you need to know about the main types of tickets available now.

Three categories of ticket

Most train companies offer three 'categories' of ticket:

Anytime tickets

Anytime tickets are usually the most expensive of the three main ticket types because they offer travellers the greatest flexibility.

Here's how the different types of Anytime tickets work:

Off-Peak tickets

Off-Peak tickets are for use on trains that are less busy than those running at peak hours. Peak hours usually coincide with 'rush hour' - the period of the day when commuters are travelling to and from work.

Off-Peak tickets are cheaper than Anytime tickets, but can only be used at certain times of day and/or on some days of the week. You may also have to travel via specific routes or on trains operated by certain companies. In such cases, this will be clearly stated on your ticket(s).

Advance tickets

Advance tickets offer great value for money on most journeys. They can be booked in advance up to the day before you travel (and with some operators, on the day), but are subject to availability.

Most train operators release advance tickets around 12 weeks in advance - and even earlier on some routes - so plan ahead.

If you know you'll be travelling by train within the next few months, it makes sense to book your tickets now if you can. As a general rule of thumb, the earlier you book your tickets, the more you will save.