Rail fares may be on the up - but how can businesses overcome these rising costs?

Sarah Dalby - Managing Director, Travel Compensation Services

It was reported last month that rail fares could rise by 3.2% in 2019 with the cost of some season tickets to rise by hundreds of pounds. Rail industry leaders said the fares were “underpinning once-in-a-generation investment” in the railways. But with these rising costs, how can business travellers buck the trend and beat these anticipated rising costs?

It’s all around making smart decisions when it comes to booking travel. Many Travel Management Companies (TMCs) are working with their clients to buy smarter on business travel. With the aim to reduce annual ticket spend, TMCs can evaluate popular routes taken to understand whether different route or ticket options are available and can support employees in making smarter buying decisions to help overcome these rising costs where possible.

Other areas to consider for smarter buying for rail travel include:

  1. Book early – try not to leave it to the last minute. As soon as you know the date of when you need to travel, book your ticket. Even by booking a week in advance could really make all the difference as TOCs will only provide a certain amount of cheaper tickets per train.
  2. Try to move your meeting to an 'off-peak' time. If you're the meeting organiser, consider where people are travelling to/from and where possible, ensure the start time of the meeting is not during peak hours to allow your attendees to book the later train. Peak times vary depending on the train operator, but off-peak is generally after 0900hrs in the morning, and after 1900hrs in the evening on weekdays. Always check with the direct operator as they have been known to change their off-peak cut-off times occasionally.
  3. Be specific on your outbound travel time. Booking an advanced ticket on a specific train is more cost-effective than booking an anytime (open) rail fare. If travelling for a specific reason, you should know the time of when you need to be at your destination, allowing you to fix the time of your outbound travel. However, it may not be so simple for the return journey. Don't think booking an open return is your only option, if you're not sure what time you'll finish, book a single advance ticket for the outbound journey, and a separate, flexible ticket for the return journey.
  4. Know your options! On certain routes, you might have the option of various rail providers. Do your research to see which operator provides the cheaper option for your journey. Don't always think that the slower option will be cheaper – that's not always the case and certainly worth shopping around. It might also be worth considering the stations you use. By using an alternative station, you might be surprised by how much you could save.

Although not a direct saving on the rising costs of rail travel, TMCs are also seeing the benefits of working with Delay Repay services such as Business Travel Compensation, to recoup any unclaimed travel compensation on behalf of their clients. If organisations are disrupted by rail travel, these Delay Repay services are an efficient way to ensure businesses are fully compensated, managing the end-to-end claims process on behalf of the traveller. By acting as the intermediary solutions provider, Delay Repay services liaise directly with the relevant Train Operating Company (TOC) on all the necessary details to carry out the claim and ensure 100% (in the case of Business Travel Compensation) of the compensation is paid back accordingly to the Corporate, via the TMC.

If you can't make a direct saving on the rail cost – at least ensure you're making the most out of the compensation for when you've suffered a delay or cancellation. Get in touch with the team at Travel Compensation Services to understand how your business could benefit from their Business Travel Compensation offering.