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The UK has just launched a huge ‘Great British rail sale’ – here’s how to get involved

More than a million discounted rail journeys are up for grabs throughout April and May

Ed Cunningham
Written by
Ed Cunningham

Looking to head off on a balmy train vacay in the UK? Well, now’s the time to book. The government has just launched a ‘Great British rail sale’, offering half-price tickets on off-peak travel throughout much of April and May.

Which means that you could snap up some seriously tasty bargains. Some intercity services between Manchester and Newcastle, for example, could cost just over £10. The famously expensive London-Edinburgh route, meanwhile, could see some seats cut from £44 to just £22. Pretty sweet, right?

Transport secretary Grant Shapps has said that more than a million tickets will be discounted. The sale starts today, and it covers dates for travel between April 25 and May 27.

It should be noted, however, that there are already plenty of critics of the scheme. While the sale is good for day-trippers and holidaymakers, it provides no respite for British commuters, who were recently lumped with the highest rise in train fares in nine years. Crucially, the sale also ends before both the half-term holiday (May 30 to June 3) and the Queen’s platinum jubilee (June 2-5), and is unlikely to include travel on the first May bank holiday weekend (April 30-May 2).

Overall, The Guardian reckons the sale will only impact 1 percent of all UK train journeys over those five weeks – which isn’t great for a country that consistently has some of the highest rail fares in Europe. And affordable train travel isn’t just crucial to helping people cope with the rising cost of living. In the long term, it’s also vital to providing a valid alternative to car and plane travel, helping to reduce greenhouse gas emissions and slow global warming.

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