In what is being dubbed the ‘Great British Rail Sale’, the transport secretary said more than one million train tickets would be reduced this spring – including the journey from Portsmouth Harbour to Penzance going down to £22 from £45.70.
The Department for Transport (DfT) is hoping the move will help hard-pressed households, facing rising bills and soaring inflation, to afford trips across the UK and boost domestic tourism.
The sale, said to be the first of its kind, is expected to bring some Manchester to Newcastle journeys down to a little over £10, while seats on some London to Edinburgh services will be slashed from £44 to £22.
Transport secretary Grant Shapps, referring to the end of coronavirus restrictions in a video to advertise the sale, said: ‘We’ve had two years of living life virtually.
‘It is time to get real and visit our beautiful country.’
Discounted tickets will go on sale from today (April 19), with passengers eligible to travel for less on off-peak fares between April 25 and May 27.
Officials said offering half-price rail tickets was ‘one of the ways’ the government was helping to support families with the cost of living, having previously announced measures to defer energy costs and offer council tax discounts for some households.
In a statement Mr Shapps said: ‘For the first time ever, operators across the rail industry are coming together to help passengers facing rising costs of living by offering up to 50 per cent off more than a million tickets on journeys across Britain.
‘There’s no better time to visit friends, family or just explore our great country, so book your tickets today.’
Jacqueline Starr, chief executive of the Rail Delivery Group, added: ‘We want everyone to be able to benefit from travelling by train because it’s more than just a journey, it’s a way to connect everyone to the people, places and things they love.
‘As part of the Great British Rail Sale customers will enjoy over one million discounted tickets, so they can explore some of the fantastic locations that are accessible by rail.’
Other journey savings expected include a single from Portsmouth Harbour to Penzance going down to £22 from £45.70, York to Leeds being reduced to £2.80 from £5.60 and London to Cardiff being cut from £47 to £25.
The DfT said reforms to the rail sector through the so-called Williams-Shapps plan for rail will mean that network-wide sales of tickets should be able to take place more easily in the future.