I was looking to go from London (Euston) to Llanfairfechan 13/10 and back the next day from Llandudno Junction to London.

For London to Llanfairfechan at nationalrail.co.uk I got

Return from £92.90 
Buy tickets as 2 Singles from £72.95

More specifically, the outbound ticket was £46.45, leaving 8:10, arriving 11:25 with one change in Chester.

However, as more trains stop later at Llandudno Junction, I wanted to find a later train back.

When I looked for the outbound part as a single ticket, the price was £91.90 for the exact same trains/times.

So is the first ticket advertised as a single ticket not quite a single ticket, is it actually half of a kind of advance (non-open) return?

(Nice to know, I suppose, that it can be cheaper to buy a return consisting of 2 "singles" and throw away one instead of buying a "single single"..)

  • The pricing of UK train tickets is so ridiculously complex that we could easily fill an entire Stack Exchange site with questions on those alone. – gerrit Sep 11 '18 at 17:00
  • Indeed, and I find slightly irritating that single ticket costs subsidise return ticket costs. – nsandersen Sep 13 '18 at 11:04

Many long-distance tickets have variations available traditionally called "Saver Half" fares (named after the Saver fare, which is the old name for an off-peak return). However, nowadays these tickets have slightly confusingly been renamed to just Off-peak Singles.

The idea is that they are a single fare very similar to one "half" of a flexible (eg off-peak) return fare, but are available only when purchased with another single (perhaps an advance fare, or perhaps another saver half) for the same journey in the other direction. This is to allow journeys where advances aren't available on one of the two legs to still be made relatively cheaply using one advance in one direction and a saver half in the other; or to allow journeys where flexibility is required in one direction but not the other, without the passenger having to feel too ripped off.

This seems to be what's happening here. Your Saver Half which you found is this fare, but your "traditional" off-peak single is this fare.

My recommended solution (having only had a brief look at it, so this might not be the most optimal solution), and assuming the time restrictions work for your journey, would be for you to purchase an off-peak return for £92.90 without railcard (note if you're eligible for a nationally-valid railcard such as the 16-25 railcard you will already be saving money just by buying this ticket with one, so I'd recommend doing that!). It's worth pointing out that the restriction code for this ticket prohibits break of journey on the outward portion but NOT on the return, so while you must travel to Llanfairfechan from London on the outward leg, on the return leg you're free to start your journey late at Llandudno Junction (note that with this ticket you don't have to use booked trains). If you want seat reservations on your train from Llandudno you will likely have to go to a ticket office to get these, however. But make sure you're buying the return and not two saver halves as the saver halves in both directions restrict break of journey.

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