Cheapest rail tickets for Plymouth-Norwich travelBack to Forum
I’m looking to travel between Plymouth and Norwich on the weekend of September 10-11 (outbound on the Saturday morning, return on the Sunday lunchtime), and am trying to work out the best way to make sure I get the cheapest tickets possible.
As we’ll be transiting through London there are several rail operators for the journey – I can set up alerts for the individual parts of the journey (ie: Plymouth to London, London to Norwich, etc) for when advance tickets are available, but I was just wondering if there is any other advice from regular rail users?
We’re just looking for standard class, non-flexible tickets, and am happy to fix the times of departure for outbound and return travel if that helps.
Also, as there are two of us travelling, do you think it will be worth us getting a Two Together Railcard – ie: would it pay for itself with just this journey?
I seem to remember in the past there have been discounts on these cards, but struggling to find them at the moment.
Any advice on all or any part of the above would be hugely appreciated – thanks in advance.
Finally, if anyone has any suggestions for hotels in Norwich that would be great also!9 May 2022
In terms of hotels In Norwich I would strongly recommend the Maid’s Head. Lovely old coaching inn right in the centre of town with recently refurbished rooms.10 May 2022
Hi, the first and most important point to remember is don’t book yet, but wait! Today, only the standard ‘walk-up’ fares are available (i.e., those you can buy right up until departure, no capacity limits). An off-peak return Plymouth to Norwich is £177.70. With the “two together” railcard, this would work out to be £234.50 for 2 passengers, allowing travel on any train on the weekend over the route (and therefore absolutely paying back the cost of the railcard with this trip alone: even the cost of the 3-year version at £72!).
The cheapest published ticket is an ‘advance’ – that range from £31.90 to £72.80, per person, per direction (standard class) for Plymouth/Norwich – but require you to indeed travel on the exact booked trains. Advance tickets are typically released 12 weeks before travel, or as Alex notes, this can be later pending confirmation of engineering works especially at weekends. For now, it appears advance tickets are only on sale to 23/24 July, hence the need to hold back and wait until the advance tickets are released for your travel dates (typically 12 weeks, but could be 8 weeks or even less). Note that just because an advance fare is ‘published’, it may not necessarily be available to buy given the quotas (in exactly the same way that airlines manage availability within booking classes). As an example, the cheapest advance I can currently see on random upcoming dates is £51 (i.e., in the range above, but not the lowest point). Signing up to the alerts for GWR and Greater Anglia is a good way to know, and once released, you are most likely to find the lowest priced advance tickets to book at that time. So for a Plymouth to Norwich Rtn, using advances both ways, you would pay around £84 to £192 in total for the two of you, including railcard discount.
Now, it’s always a challenge to seek the ‘cheapest possible tickets’ on our railways today! While personally I don’t see these fares as unreasonable for a 6-hour journey each way, I think the theoretical cheapest price would be under £40 return for you both, if changing at Exeter and travelling via the West of England line to London Waterloo. But definitely not recommended, not least as it would deprive you of time in the fine city of Norwich (I’m a little biased, as it’s my birthplace!). As you suggest, you may also look to split the trip in London, with the lowest £10 advance tickets being typically readily available London to/from Norwich (even until the day before travel), and, for example, combining with a Super Off-Peak Return from Plymouth to London (£113.10), this would give you a ‘maximum’ cost of the trip of around £176 for you both after the railcard discount (but you’d have to additionally then pay for transfers between the London stations, i.e., on the Elizabeth line). So, I would use £176 as my target price here, but look to snap up a cheaper through Advance ticket if and when they are on sale.
As suggested, the Maid’s Head would be an excellent choice, great restaurant and also very close to the Cathedral. There’s also a convenient Premier Inn just across from Thorpe Station, and a Holiday Inn that forms part of the football stadium (although best not talking about the Canaries right now!). Good luck, and have a great trip!10 May 2022
An interesting challenge – are you ready for a game of Mornington Crescent?. There are lots of other possibilities in addition to those already mentioned around route selection and ticket types. For example you can often save a lot of money by splitting the journey into multiple tickets rather than one providing the train stops at the station where you move from one ticket to the other. For example when I used to travel regularly from Southampton to London Waterloo it worked out about 2/3rd the price if I bought a Southampton-Brighton via Clapham Junction ticket plus a CJ to Waterloo one (don’t ask me why!).. Also check 1st class fares. I have often travelled in an empty 1st Class on the West Coast mainline for much less than the price of a ticked in a packed Standard cabin. It’s just that most people never bother to check First fares and find out.
The place you really need to go to ask this question is the https://www.railforums.co.uk/ where there are plenty of timetable and ticket anoraks in the Fares Advice and Policy section who can tell you exactly what strange permutations of tickets will get you the best price.12 May 2022
Try the website raileasy.co.uk
It is a split ticketing specialist. Twelve weeks before travel, input all your journey details into the website. It will check for number of people, class of travel, with/without railcards and advise all of the cheapest options for your specific journey, whether split ticketing is the cheapest option or not. I never book rail tickets without using raileasy. Nine times out of ten (for me) split ticketing works out to be the cheapest option. Good luck.
Billy boy13 May 2022