Tickets explained: what do different tickets mean?

Purchasing train tickets in the UK can be quite daunting and confusing at the best of times. Whether your stuck at a ticket machine or purchasing online, wondering which is the right and best option for you, then don’t worry, you’re not alone.

There are many different types of train ticket, and it can be hard to keep up with what they all mean. From peak times to group saver, there can be a bewildering array of choices. Below, we explore what each of the different ticket means.

First class

First class is the best available travel package for trains. These tickets give you as much comfort as possible and often come with beverage offers and meals on longer journeys. Most of the time, first class tickets should give you access to sockets to charge electricals and plenty of space and legroom. As the premium ticket type, they’ll also cost the most.

Business class

Business class is a premium ticket just below the luxury of first class. You’ll avoid sitting in the crowded seats with the majority of passengers, but you won’t experience the comfort of the best tickets. Usually, business class will offer you a little more space and some extra amenities. 

Group saver

Group saver tickets are ideal if you’re travelling in a large group. Usually, they’re valid if your group is between three and nine people. If your group is this size, you can buy group saver tickets together and receive an individual discount of 34 per cent each. It takes a little planning in advance of your trip to ensure everyone capitalises on the deal, but it can be an excellent way of saving money on a normal ticket. 


Anytime tickets are extremely versatile and flexible. If you fancy hopping on a train at an undetermined time in the next month, they’re the ideal ticket for you. An anytime ticket entitles you to travel on any train at any time for the journey you’ve selected. This means that if you’re meeting someone but haven’t quite worked out the time yet you can purchase a ticket with peace of mind. 

Off peak/peak

Knowing when off peak and peak train tickets are valid can be tricky. Usually, in UK cities off peak times are 09:30 until 16:00 and then after 19:00. These tickets are for services that aren’t during the packed rush hour commuter traffic. 

Advance train tickets

Advance tickets are those that you can buy ahead before the date of travel. These are single tickets for either standard or first class and are typically made available 12 weeks in advance. You can mix match single fare return tickets for the cheapest return journey. The downside being that advance tickets are not flexible, you are tied to the date and times shown.

There are plenty of different train ticket options for you depending on your journey. Ideally, you’ll plan your trip in advance and work out the best ticket to fit your specific needs.