When to book for cheap SWR advances

Kilopylae

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9 Apr 2019
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South-west England
I'm planning a journey from Exeter to London setting out on either the evening of 17 February 2021 or the morning of the 18th, and returning on the evening of 20 February 2021. The intention is to find the cheapest tickets possible for a comfortable journey and AFAIK the best plan is to look for the cheap SWR advances, which can be about £20 with a Railcard — but with advances being released at weird times because of COVID-19, I'm not sure when the best time to book these is. Can anyone advise?
 
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Haywain

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3 Feb 2013
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We are living in a very unpredictable world and it is therefore unlikely anyone can predict when such tickets will go on sale. Your best bet is to sign up for ticket alerts with SWR, if they do them.
 

Starmill

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You could potentially try signing up for an altert for a journey from Exeter Central to Basingstoke on Trainline, as they will allow you to set them up for anywhere.


Of course, given the situation, there's no guarantee the tickets you're after would ever be made available.
 

FQTV

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27 Apr 2012
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You could potentially try signing up for an altert for a journey from Exeter Central to Basingstoke on Trainline, as they will allow you to set them up for anywhere.


Of course, given the situation, there's no guarantee the tickets you're after would ever be made available.

The problem with The Trainline’s system is that all it does is (sometimes) send out an email when it notices that a search made by a user returns a fare that’s lower than the cached results from similar searches in the past.

Empirically, even the train operating company websites that are supposed to have a proper alerting system linked to actual releases don’t work reliably.

Generally-speaking, the Network Rail Enquiries page that publishes booking horizons seems to be best for getting a feel for what’s likely to happpen and when:


Even that’s not infallible; I assume that it relies on the train operating companies updating NRE web administrators, and from March they were anecdotally fairly dismal at doing so, until quite recently.
 

34006

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Joined
5 Apr 2020
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Location
barnstaple
Best to go onto the South Western Railway website. Advance tickets usually 60 days ahead. The line was closed recently for work at Honiton and no advance tickets were being sold. Remember to get onto mixing desk, select slower routes, then tick the box for travel via Honiton. The seats are more comfortable than GWR and you can study the view as the train is slower.
 

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