Money-Saving Train Travel Tips For Students in Ireland and UK

Money-Saving Train Travel Tips For Students

Going to university is an exciting yet nerving time for keen scholars, with around 2,752,000 students enrolling in higher education in 2022 in the UK and ‘over 45,000 new entrants enrolled in higher education in 2021/22 in Ireland.

Since the start of the cost-of-living crisis, more students than ever are starting to worry about their economic situation. Approximately 84% say they are concerned about their finances, which is why it is so important for students to have a means of keeping their costs down.

In particular, travel fees are something that can be highly expensive, unless you know what you’re doing. So, as a student, how can you reduce the costs when travelling by train?


Further Reading: Planes, Trains and Automobiles – Tips for Travelling with a Toddler


Money-Saving Train Travel Tips For Students - Passenger

Photo by Alexander Bagno


4 Money-Saving Train Travel Tips For Students


Money-Saving Train Travel Tips #1

Invest in a Rail Card


Ireland Rail Travel

As a young person in Ireland, you don’t even need to be a student to avail of discount rail travel if you’re aged between 19 and 23 years old. What you do need to do though is apply for a Young Adult and Student Card through the Leap Card website. This card not only enables you to get 50% off adult train fares, but it also throughout the TFI (Transport of Ireland) Network. This network includes:

  • Bus Éireann
  • Dublin Bus
  • Iarnród Éireann (including DART)
  • Go-Ahead Ireland
  • Luas
  • TFI Local Link services

For full-time students aged 16 to 18 or over 24 years old and over, the Student Leap card is also available. And the benefit to Student Leap Card holders are student discounts on fares with ‘Go-Ahead Ireland, Dublin Bus, Luas, Bus Éireann, DART and Irish Rail (Iarnród Éireann) as well as other participating private transport operators in the Republic of Ireland.’


Money-Saving Train Travel Tips For Students - Dún Laoghaire Train Station, Dublin - Book in Advance

Dún Laoghaire Train Station, Dublin by Conor Luddy


UK Rail Travel

Railcards are a surefire way to cut down train fares every time you travel, saving you a third on train tickets. In the UK, searches for railcards skyrocketed in Q3 by 22%, equating to around 18,000 monthly searches. Acquiring a railcard is simple; purchase one online and download it onto your phone – make sure to have it available to you whenever you plan on using it as these are often checked by train staff. Different options are available including a yearly pass for £30 or £70 for three years. If you plan to travel to university via train or visit home regularly, you are likely going to make up the cost of the pass very quickly.


Note: In Northern Ireland if you’re over 24 years old and a full-time student, you can avail of the 24 Plus Travelcard. This travelcard gives you the opportunity to make great savings – with a third off cash and mLink tickets and up to 50% off Enterprise fares.


Money-Saving Train Travel Tips For Students - Evening Train - Get a Student Railcard

Darford, UK, evening train photo by Reuben Rohard


Money-Saving Train Travel Tips #2

Student Schemes

In Ireland if you’re studying part-time, You’ll be happy to know that as long as you have an up-to-date College ID, you too can avail of student discounts with Irish Rail.

In the UK an additional discount, that can be used alongside a railcard, is the student scheme offered by Grand Central. All you need to do here is to enter your student email on their site and you’ll get sent a 25% discount code – better still, there’s no limit on how many times you can use this offer.

All you need to do from then on is apply for a new code. When used with the railcard, students can save up to 50% on train fares. For example, a train from London Kings Cross Station to York can cost as little as £10 as opposed to £24 when utilising both discounts.


Money-Saving Train Travel Tips #3

Book in Advance

Of course whilst you may not always know exactly when travelling will be needed, for the majority of times you do (college timetables come in handy here), it’s recommended you buy tickets well ahead of time.

Doing so, and with your aforementioned railcard, can save you a minimum of 50%, which is a huge difference, especially when money is tight. Plus can also book a seat, which is a blessing during busy periods and is free of charge.


Money-Saving Train Travel Tips For Students - Frankfurt Germany Train Station

High Speed Train ICE (Deutsche Bahn Intercity Express) at Central Station Frankfurt, Germany by Christian Lue


Money-Saving Train Travel Tips #4

Book Direct

Always book direct when purchasing tickets; going through other providers can lead to hidden booking fees, mistakes being made and inaccurate information being given. This way, you are guaranteed to be charged the best price possible and travel with ease on the day.

And remember if you are travelling by train outside of Ireland and the UK, be sure to do your research and check with the local rail company and tourist information center for the best railcard options and the best discounts.


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Edwina O'Connor
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