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1) Book well in advance if you can.
2) Use Virgin Rail (for instance) on line cheap fare search and booking site.
3) Have a very open mind as to what times you will be prepared to travel.
4) Book single tickets there and back not returns. I have got there and back for less than £40.00.
It takes time to search for the cheapest tickets but worth every penny. Still a lot of money for me but more than worth it to see grandchildren :)
When I worked permanently, very often, I purchased an Annual Railcard and enjoyed the train journey.
Years ago when I purchased one, at the normal price, there was incentive, for some years, since one could, for a very reasonable cost, pay a sum to entitle a discount (I cannot remember how much but I, rightly or wrongly, think one-third.
Re Tesco Rewards £14 deal for £28 annual railcard. This allows each £1 Tesco Reward to be valued at £2, but many other Reward deals allow the £1 Reward to be valued at £4, e.g. many of the "Days Out" deals. It's better to buy the 3 year Railcard and to "spend" your Tesco Rewards on other deals.
Definitely worth the high initial outlay.