The most important piece of advice that can be given to any train traveler is not to wait till the last moment to buy your ticket. That is unless you know of certain loopholes that enable you to buy a discount ticket the night before you travel. This however depends on the availability of tickets and you might be taking a risk. For those who are not aware of things like hidden charges, special fares etc., buy your tickets in advance and save money. Railway tickets that are bought early have discounted rates which can save you a lot of money. Therefore plan your journey carefully and make all arrangements in advance.
Depending on the company from which you purchase your ticket, some have routines on which cheap tickets are given while others have a certain quota of discount tickets that are grabbed by regular travelers and those in the know. Certain journeys carry only a limited number of tickets, especially the long distant train journeys. Therefore booking early is the better option anyway you look at it.
Traveling during peak hours also jacks up the prices of train tickets. Peak hours are the time that office commuters travel to and from office and at these times in the mornings and evenings, the trains are not only over crowded, but also more expensive. Even after having paid the full fare, you are bound to have an uncomfortable journey most probably not even getting a seat. Therefore, this is definitely a bad time to travel in a train.
Best times of travel are also the off season months of travel when holiday makers and families with children pack the trains to capacity to go on vacation. By avoiding these months, you should not only find better deals and cheap tickets but less crowded and less noisy trains where you can travel in peace and comfort enjoying the scenery or having a good nap.
Remember; when you book your rail tickets in advance they are only for one way single journeys. The earlier you book the better your deal will be since these tickets are limited in availability. If you want tickets for a return journey, there are special deals available where you can mix and match. Advance tickets are valid only for the date of travel shown on the ticket and are non-refundable although you can change the date and time before the day of departure. Another advantage of the Advance fare is that discounts for children apply on all advance tickets while seniors, military, disabled persons and those having rail cards are given a 1/3 discount on first class advance tickets.
In case you were not aware, there's another very flexible ticket known as the "anytime Ticket" which can be bought at any time, used on any train and even lets you break your journey at any station along your route of travel. The only rule that applies here is that you must use it on the date shown on the ticket and in the case of a return ticket, must be used within 5 days in a month from the date of travel. These tickets also can be reserved while discounts for children apply for the anytime fares as well as for the other categories mentioned above.