Over the bank holiday weekend I am visiting friends in Reading from my home in Crewe. I can get to Crewe station for around 18:30-19:00. My options seem to be either via London (Virgin to London, underground, FGW to Reading) or "not via London" (Virgin/LM to Wolverhampton/Brum then CrossCountry to Reading). With my 16-25 railcard, the "via London" ticket is £56.30, while the "not via London" ticket is £53.45. In the past, I have bought a super off peak LM ticket for £19.15 and then a return to Reading for £17.65 (plus the underground trip for £2.30 each way) totaling £41.31, but due to the industrial action potentially happening on Monday along with engineering works and speed of the journey, I am leaning towards the "not via London" ticket. However, I am interested to know if there's a way I can save money on this trip, or maybe make it more interesting as £53.45 is a fairly hefty hit to my wallet for just a Crewe to Brum and then a Brum to Reading train. As mentioned above, I don't mind it taking a while as I usually take the LM service from Crewe (or from Stafford after a Crewe to Stafford service overtakes the London service) all the way to London first. To confirm, I plan to travel Friday 28th from Crewe to Reading (can be at Crewe station for around 18:30-19:00) and travel back on Monday 31st (afternoon/evening, but no particular time). If getting to Reading West somehow works out cheaper, that's fine too as my friend's house is roughly equidistant from both Reading stations, but I think they both come under the same fare bracket as "Reading Stations". Thanks in advance.