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PaulJennings
Participant

Those are good suggestions.

As a general (not infallible) rule, if your train journey involves more than one operator, you will only see the full range of discounted fares if you buy two separate tickets, splitting at the point where you change form one operator to another. For example Bournemouth to Liverpool via London split into Bournemouth – London – Liverpool and Bournemouth to Liverpool via Birmingham split into Bournemouth – Birmingham – Liverpool.

The exception is where both operators have the same ultimate parent where a through ticket is often cheaper, for example South West Trains and Virgin Trains.

At the risk of getting too ticket-geeky, you can often also save money splitting the ticket at an intermediate routing point, for example Bournemouth – Reading – Birmingham – Liverpool. This works either if there are more trains (and therefore more discounted fares) on part of the route than on the rest of the route, if only part of the journey you are making is in peak hours (i.e. split the ticket at the first station after the cut-off time) or if the two journeys have fares set by two different train operators.

http://www.eastcoast.co.uk is quite userfriendly and charges no booking fee.

It would be quite difficult to trough your way through £524 of complimentary tea and biscuits.