Railboard vs Trainline vs TrainPal: who sells the cheapest split train tickets?

Not all split tickets are created equal. Complex algorithms are used to efficiently compare multiple routes and multiple breaks to find valid and cheap splits. The best of these algorithms, and the systems that run them, are proprietary, have taken years to develop, and are constantly being tweaked and improved.

Introducing split tickets

To sell train tickets, Railboard has partnered with TrainSplit, a subsidiary of Raileasy. TrainSplit is an industry leader and pioneer in split ticketing, having first introduced it in 2014. By partnering with TrainSplit, Railboard’s customers benefit from their industry expertise and experience.

By contrast, TrainPal started selling split tickets in 2018. And Trainline launched its split ticketing system, SplitSave, in 2020.

Quick overview of split tickets

While each app has a slightly different name for split tickets (SplitSave vs Split Tickets), they all refer to the same thing: finding combinations of tickets that together offer the same journey but at a lower price than a regular ticket.

This is done by splitting regular train tickets at calling points along the journey. So instead of one ticket from A to C, you have two tickets from A to B and B to C. However, you stay on the same train as normal. There is no requirement to alight and re-board.

If you want to find out more about split tickets and why they often work out cheaper, check out our split ticket help articles.

Key differences between Railboard, Trainline and TrainPal

All three apps have the same prices for the individual tickets that make up the split tickets. This is because split tickets are just combinations of regular train tickets, and the price of a regular train ticket is exactly the same wherever you buy it, as regulated by the Rail Delivery Group.

As a result, what affects the actual price you pay are the split ticketing algorithms the app uses, what booking fees they charge, and what split ticket saving commission they take.

Split ticketing algorithms

As already mentioned, Railboard is partnered with TrainSplit, and so benefits from their algorithms and overall system. Trainline and TrainPal each use their own split ticketing algorithms.

The different methods used to find splits can produce very different results, so this is the most important factor that determines the overall price.

Booking fees

Trainline charges booking fees, although not for every transaction. Whether you pay a booking fee on Trainline, and the amount you pay, is determined by: your chosen journey, the ticket value, the day and time you’re making the purchase, and if you’re booking on the website or app.

Railboard doesn’t charge a booking fee, and neither does TrainPal.

Split ticket saving commission

Trainline doesn’t charge a SplitSave tickets fee.

Railboard charges a share of saving commission of up to 15% from the split ticket savings. It will only apply if we have found you a saving.

TrainPal charges a ‘Split service fee’ but doesn’t specify what amount or percentage this is. Depending on their promotions, they don’t necessarily charge it all the time.

These may seem like big differences, but they only apply to the savings found. In practice, the differences in split ticket savings between the three apps are often significantly greater than these commissions.

The numbers!

We spot-checked prices for 15 journeys on each app.

Spot-check test details

Each search was for a single for one adult with no railcards, departing at 8:00 am on Wednesday, 1 February 2023. The searches were done on 15 January. For each spot-check, we picked the exact same journey from the results across the three iPhone apps.

The price shown is the total overall price to pay, including all fees and tickets.

The results

From To Railboard Trainline TrainPal Winner
Birmingham New Street Newcastle £61.38 £78.49 £76.70 Railboard
Brighton London Victoria £29.00 £29.59 £30.10 Railboard
Bristol Temple Meads Leeds £76.33 £106.59 £104.60 Railboard
Cardiff Central Sheffield £53.30 £51.89 £50.60 TrainPal
Edinburgh Waverley Leicester £69.19 £123.49 £66.50 TrainPal
Liverpool James Street Shrewsbury £22.08 £21.74 £31.00 Trainline
Liverpool Lime Street Southampton Central £58.82 £57.79 £56.40 TrainPal
London Kings Cross Edinburgh Waverley £78.15 £79.79 £79.00 Railboard
Manchester Piccadilly Coventry £28.47 £29.89 £29.10 Railboard
Nottingham Glasgow Central £26.83 £23.69 £23.00 TrainPal
Peterborough Carlisle £53.27 £59.59 £58.20 Railboard
Plymouth Oxford £51.78 £66.29 £58.00 Railboard
Preston Chester £19.24 £18.79 £17.50 TrainPal
Reading Stoke-on-Trent £59.59 £73.89 £72.20 Railboard
York Aberdeen £63.80 £77.69 £75.90 Railboard
From Birmingham New Street
To Newcastle
Railboard £61.38
Trainline £78.49
TrainPal £76.70
Winner Railboard
From Brighton
To London Victoria
Railboard £29.00
Trainline £29.59
TrainPal £30.10
Winner Railboard
From Bristol Temple Meads
To Leeds
Railboard £76.33
Trainline £106.59
TrainPal £104.60
Winner Railboard
From Cardiff Central
To Sheffield
Railboard £53.30
Trainline £51.89
TrainPal £50.60
Winner TrainPal
From Edinburgh Waverley
To Leicester
Railboard £69.19
Trainline £123.49
TrainPal £66.50
Winner TrainPal
From Liverpool James Street
To Shrewsbury
Railboard £22.08
Trainline £21.74
TrainPal £31.00
Winner Trainline
From Liverpool Lime Street
To Southampton Central
Railboard £58.82
Trainline £57.79
TrainPal £56.40
Winner TrainPal
From London Kings Cross
To Edinburgh Waverley
Railboard £78.15
Trainline £79.79
TrainPal £79.00
Winner Railboard
From Manchester Piccadilly
To Coventry
Railboard £28.47
Trainline £29.89
TrainPal £29.10
Winner Railboard
From Nottingham
To Glasgow Central
Railboard £26.83
Trainline £23.69
TrainPal £23.00
Winner TrainPal
From Peterborough
To Carlisle
Railboard £53.27
Trainline £59.59
TrainPal £58.20
Winner Railboard
From Plymouth
To Oxford
Railboard £51.78
Trainline £66.29
TrainPal £58.00
Winner Railboard
From Preston
To Chester
Railboard £19.24
Trainline £18.79
TrainPal £17.50
Winner TrainPal
From Reading
To Stoke-on-Trent
Railboard £59.59
Trainline £73.89
TrainPal £72.20
Winner Railboard
From York
To Aberdeen
Railboard £63.80
Trainline £77.69
TrainPal £75.90
Winner Railboard


Railboard won 9 times, TrainPal 5 times, and Trainline only once, being hampered in many of the close runs by its booking fee.

So Railboard comes out on top, with TrainPal a respectable runner-up. Trainline was nowhere near.

Other factors

Cost isn’t the only thing to consider when choosing which train ticket app to use. Several other factors will also influence your decision.

Dark Mode

Unlike Trainline and TrainPal, Railboard supports Dark Mode. So you can use the app with whichever appearance best suits your specific needs.

Results without prices

You won’t always be wanting to buy tickets or see prices, so with Railboard, you can plan journeys without seeing prices, and you can use the Live trains tab to see live station departure and arrival boards. By contrast, on Trainline and TrainPal, you have to see prices with every search, whether you want to or not.

Turning off split tickets

Because there are a few downsides to split tickets, you may want to turn them off and see results without them. Railboard gives you this option; meanwhile, on Trainline and TrainPal, you’ll see split tickets in the results, regardless of your preference.

Direct trains only

Sometimes you know the route you want to take has a direct train, and you’re not interested in journey options that involve changes. On Railboard, you can choose to see direct trains only. This isn’t an option on the Trainline or TrainPal apps.


If you don’t want to see ads interspersed with journey results, your best bet is either Railboard or TrainPal. The Trainline app mixes in banner ads with its results. TrainPal will show you offers and promotions, but we wouldn’t consider these adverts, and they’re certainly not mixed in with the journey results!

Coach tickets

Trains aren’t the only means of transportation; you may be looking to travel by coach. In which case, you’d be better off with either Trainline or TrainPal, which both sell coach tickets in addition to train tickets. For the time being, at least, Railboard only sells train tickets.


And last but not least, the Railboard, Trainline and TrainPal apps each have a different design and feel. Which one you prefer will be highly individual and down to your personal preferences. You can see screenshots from each app in this roundup of notable train ticket apps.


So there you have it. Based on those spot-checks, Railboard sells cheaper tickets on most routes, with TrainPal close behind and Trainline clearly being the most expensive.

But in addition to price, each app has a different mix of features available, which may or may not be more important to you personally. Ultimately, the app you choose will depend on your unique preferences and needs.

Updated on 16 October 2023
Thank you! Your feedback has been received.
Something went wrong while submitting the feedback.