Basic ticket types as advised by Southern Web Site with additions by David Bookless.
Southern offer a range of tickets for your journey, whether it’s for immediate, pre-planned or group travel.
Advance tickets are the cheapest. Tickets start from just £5 each way to London Victoria via Haywards Heath. If you can plan your journey in advance and be flexible on your time of travel, you’ll get the best deal and enjoy big savings off the normal fares. These tickets offer great value for long distance travel and are not restricted to Southern Routes. For example advance single fare tickets to Birmingham can be obtained on line for less than £15. However normally you have to travel on particular trains often with a reserved seat for the onward London to Birmingham leg, else you will be charged the full fare. The further in advance you can book then the cheaper the ticket and the greater choice of train times. High Speed trains to/from Ashford are included in these fares on relevant routes. It should be added that National Rail Cards, e.g. Senior Railcards are valid with Advance tickets. There are Advance single tickets available on High Speed trains to London outside peak times, currently £9.45 (with railcard) from Rye. These can be bought on the Southern web site.
Advance tickets can be bought on line from a variety of sources other than the local train operator. For instance thetrainline.com have a wide choice of tickets and fares and can be good for long distance bargains . These companies charge a small fee, but can be useful to know about and we will update this page with hints for getting cheaper fares. An example here is of an £8.90 ticket to Birmingham from Rye including HS1 bought via the Trainline web site with a senior railcard.
Anytime tickets are available on all trains at any time of day and are the most flexible tickets, but can be expensive and do not often have discounts for seniors etc.
Off-Peak tickets are available for travel anytime at weekends and bank holidays and after the morning peak on weekdays and can be bought for less with suitable railcards, up to 1/3 off in fact. For London trains the first off peak train leaves Rye at 8.56. This connects with the 9.43 High Speed train from Ashford to St Pancras arriving at 10.21. The current day return fare on this train with a rail card is £26.45. Going on the 9.56 train is cheaper as it counts as super off-peak – see below.
Super Off-Peak tickets are the cheapest turn-up-and-go fares. They are available for travel anytime at weekends and bank holidays but have more weekday time restrictions than Off-Peak tickets. They are valid for return within one calendar month. These can also be bought with rail cards. Return tickets for longer than a day are not available for short journeys. (e.g. Rye to Hastings).
First class tickets are available on some services. Advance First tickets are available on selected services. Standard Class tickets can be used in First Class on the Marsh Link. Apparently because there are only two coaches.
Season tickets offer great discounts for regular travelers. You can purchase weekly, monthly or annual station to station season tickets online or at any staffed stations.