Advance train tickets in the UK

Sep 10th, 2010, 05:22 AM
  #1  
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Advance train tickets in the UK

We had planned to rent a car for most of our trip, but our travel companions just found out that they had to cancel due to an illness in their family. So now we are planning to go by train/bus. I understand that it is cheaper to buy tickets in advance. Do you save money buying them the day before you travel or do you have to do it online?
What about a senior rail card ? Thanks for helping.
Saraho is online now  
Sep 10th, 2010, 05:26 AM
  #2  
 
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This is the expert: http://www.seat61.com/UKtravel.htm

Keep checking www.nationalrail.co.uk. On some routes, fares do seem to vary quite a bit, depending on when you want to travel and how far in advance you buy, on others not.

http://www.senior-railcard.co.uk
PatrickLondon is offline  
Sep 10th, 2010, 05:26 AM
  #3  
 
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you save loads of money by buying much earlier (a tranche of tickets are set aside. Trouble is every company is different and it can get complicated

On line is best, nationalrail have a web site as do Virgin at thetrainline.com. National rail are a tad cheaper as they do not charge so much for credit cards.

You buy on line and the ticket machine at the station will deliver the ticket when you offer up the SAME credit card so no need to get tickets posted abroad etc

senior rail card, no idea sorry. Suggest visit national rail web site and read up
bilboburgler is online now  
Sep 10th, 2010, 06:36 AM
  #4  
 
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http://www.nationalrail.co.uk/ brings up fares from all train operators on all routes and shows you the cheapest.
thetrainline.com does the same job, but charges a booking fee.
alihutch is offline  
Sep 10th, 2010, 06:36 AM
  #5  
tod
 
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Hi Saraho - You will save a great deal of money getting your train tickets in advance especially if you buy the ones that cannot be changed in anyway. We didn't mind that at all BUT, and this is a dire warning so take heed.
Make absolutely sure you go and get your tickets from a machine on the station ( wishing you all the luck in the world!) l o n g before your train is due to depart the platform!
I had an absolute nightmare with the machines because it refused the credit card. But before I even tried going to a machine I queued up for 20minutes to obtain them from the counter staff. The woman attending to me sent me away and said I had to use a machine.
When that failed I queued again for 20 min. and went up to a man this time - he also refused and sent me to the machine.
When it was impossible to get the tickets I walked directly back into the queue the wrong way and stopped 3 counter staff mid-sentence with their morning scandals, slapped my hand on the counter to really get their attention and said forcibly " I CANNOT GET MY TICKETS FROM THE MACHINE!!"

Would you believe the initial gent then told me he would help me but I was 'stuffing up his computer by helping me'!

In hindsight I would try and get my tickets days before if possible - if not then make sure you have a spare hour to fiddle around.
tod is offline  
Sep 10th, 2010, 07:32 AM
  #6  
 
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tod, sorry you had this problem. Maybe I'm lucky but I've never hit any problems and find it a fantastic system
bilboburgler is online now  
Sep 10th, 2010, 07:38 AM
  #7  
tod
 
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You are indeed lucky! I saw a discussion not so long ago on SKY NEWS about a change in the ticket system by having one single travel ticket for trains, buses & tube (similar to Paris I guess?). The fact that the machines on the stations are so putrid and difficult to use was mentioned!
What do you know about this new idea and are you in the UK?
tod is offline  
Sep 10th, 2010, 10:19 AM
  #8  
 
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Buy in advance online if possible. Even on the day you will save money over paying the walk-up fare.

tod is right, the machines can take time, and often there will be a queue of people just wanting to buy tickets for the next train approaching platform one, etc. Going the day before is best if you can! Do ensure you have the email printout so you can ask the counter staff to help. I think if the worst happens and the train pulls in before you have retrieved your tickets, if you board the train and have your printed proof of purchase in your hot little hand the ticket collector will issue you with your tickets, but I could not vouch that is the case.

I know most people say book with nationalrail.com, but once you have selected your ticket options you are redirected to
the relative website for that train route, and I find it tedious.

Personally I always use thetrainline.com The booking fee is only £1, and that can cover multiple journeys when paid for at the same checkout. Today I booked 5 journeys, some single, some return, all on different days, and only paid the £1 booking fee once. Also I find the website really easy to use and it does sometimes come up with cheaper options that national rail. I know this because I check!

If you are planning on taking more than one train journey then buying the senior railcard will probably save you money. It's worth checking out.
julia_t is offline  
Sep 10th, 2010, 04:27 PM
  #9  
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Thanks,everybody. It still seems a little confusing. But I'm going to try it.

If you buy tickets at the station or through a travel agent several days in advance, do you save money over buying them at the station on the same day you travel?

I don't remember it being this complicated in Italy. Last time I was in the UK we bought passes which were very easy to use.
Saraho is online now  
Sep 10th, 2010, 06:24 PM
  #10  
 
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The fare structure in the UK is different than the one in Italy - the prices on the same route can vary widely depending on how far in advance you buy. That is why people are telling you to order tickets as far in advance as possible (you can buy up to about three months ahead). The route from London to Edinburgh is a good example. If I bought tickets tonight for a journey next Tuesday, it's nearly £100. Buying the same ticket for 1 December is as cheap as £14.60.

Not all routes will have that dramatic a difference; short journeys can be cheap. But for longer journeys, buying in advance can save you a lot. You do trade off some flexibility for the savings, which is why (depending on how much traveling you'll be doing) you might look into the rail pass. Those may or may not save you money.

It really seems more complicated than it is:

1. Look for tickets online, either using nationalrail.co.uk (which will send you directly to the appropriate company site) or thetrainline.co.uk (from which you can buy tickets directly, but you will pay a fee).

2. Save and print your email confirmations and make sure to take them with you.

3. (this is my personal preference) Whenever you arrive in the UK, pick up all your tickets at the first train station you get to. You should be able to just run your credit card through, type in a confirmation number (or a few - I believe there's one per journey) and print your tickets. You can pick up tickets for any journey in the UK at any train station.

If you run into trouble, find the ticket agents to help you. Doing this as soon as possible makes sure that you're not in line at the ticket counter 15 minutes before your train is supposed to depart.
jent103 is offline  
Sep 10th, 2010, 07:24 PM
  #11  
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Thanks. Very helpful,jent.
Saraho is online now  
Sep 11th, 2010, 03:49 AM
  #12  
tod
 
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Saharo - Maybe I should habe mentioned that I had already booked and reserved seats online with booking references.
All I had to do was put my credit card in a machine to get a 'real' ticket. The machines do not accept certain credit cards and that was my problem. There was a gentleman asigned to helping people with the machines but he disappeared ( tea break most likely) and when he eventually appeared could not help eithr. Hence my return to the very unfriendly and rather arrogant counter staff.
tod is offline  
Sep 11th, 2010, 03:58 AM
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bookmarking
isabel is online now  
Sep 11th, 2010, 05:45 AM
  #14  
 
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Seraho - what are your proposed rail/bus trips? If doing enough at least investigate some kind of railpass, which simplifies planning a whole lot since you can hop on any regular train anytime with a pass - and such fully flexible tickets often cost a ton - a few long journeys can make a pass pay off quickly.

Now the cheapest way if not doing several rail trips or more is yes the online discounts for often non-changeable non-refundable trains i think. If your itinerary is in stone go for that. But if you want any flexibility at all look at a pass - lets you get up and amble down to the station anytime and just hop on the next of zillions of daily trains.

If traveling in November thru end of Feb then all British railpasses are discounted 20% - if you have more than two traveling anytime the 3rd thru 9th pay 50% of what the first two pay - kids under 16 get a free pass - mentioning that in case any of these fit you - like you were traveling with another couple - if 4 of you had bought a pass the 3rd and 4th would pay only 50% on the Party Pass scheme.

Anyway for lots of neat stuff on British trains and passes i always highlight these superb sites - www.seat61.com; www.budgeteuropetravel.com; www.ricksteves.com. Passes are not sold in British stations to my knowledge.
PalenQ is online now  
Sep 12th, 2010, 07:54 AM
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julia t - thanks for info on thetrainline.com - i had known about the site but thought it had the same fares as nationalrail.co.uk. I believe the trainline is run by Virgin Trains and perhaps the lower fares are theirs and they do not give to nationalrail.co.uk?

for a pound for multiple trips i guess i will recommend trainline.com from now on over nationalrail.co.uk
PalenQ is online now  
Sep 12th, 2010, 10:40 AM
  #16  
 
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I don't know who runs the trainline.com but frankly the £1 fee is worth it to me for the simplicity of the website. I do use it A LOT so know my way round it well now! Even my financially poor student children use it when booking fares just because it is easier and quicker to use. Anyway, if I book multiple fares, the booking fee is like, 15p-20p a journey. Even if you only book a return it's 50p each way so not a huge amount for the time you save by NOT being redirected to another rail website and having to faff about further. If there are two of you then that's only 25p per person per journey. A negligible amount really.

By the way, having a railcard, be it family, senior or young persons, entitles you to up to 30per cent discount on fares. However booking in advance - whether online or in person at a station - still gets you a cheaper fare than if you 'amble up on the day' and 'hop on the next train'.

As I mentioned before, even booking online on the day of travel will save you money over just turning up at the station where they will sell you the standard walk-up fare. Yes, there is still the railcard discount regardless, but for lower prices book in advance, even if just a hour or so!

It is also worth pointing out that sometimes a fare involving a change will cost more if booked as one trip than if you book each leg of the trip separately.

An example: I often have to go to Cardiff which involves a change at Gloucester. Booking a return fare from my home town of Stroud to Cardiff costs almost £10 more than if I book from Stroud to Gloucester and then another separate journey Gloucester to Cardiff.

jent103 summed it all up pretty neatly.
julia_t is offline  
Sep 12th, 2010, 10:47 AM
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Anotehr example of booking each leg separately - when fodorite Schnauzer visited me earlier in the summer she was coming from Peterborough to Cheltenham and had to change at Birmingham.

By booking each leg separately she paid something like £8 and £6 for each part of the journey. A total of £14 - as opposed to £34 for booking it as one single journey!
julia_t is offline  
Sep 12th, 2010, 12:01 PM
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For our upcoming trip to England and Scotland DH bought train tics from Edinburgh to London (Euston Station) from Virgin for a great price. We have a rental car for 2 weeks but will not need it for week three. Not sure of the exact price of the tics but they were cheaper than Easy Jet. We bought the tics 2 months ahead of our travel date. Good luck!
nini is offline  
Sep 12th, 2010, 02:32 PM
  #19  
 
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There is a link at the end of this message showing advance ticket dates for all rail companies.

I'm not sure when you are going but, for example, First TransPennine Express are selling advance tickets (travelling Monday to Friday) for dates up to 3rd December.
Unfortunately, the cheapest will now already have been sold, no doubt.

To get the very best price you'd need to keep checking the page and when it changes to 4th December, and that's the day you intend travelling, book them online immediately as you will get the lowest prices available.

By doing that, in early summer this year, I got a first class ticket which had been selling the day before at £113 for only £22.

The address is:

http://www.nationalrail.co.uk/times_..._horizons.html
joe4212 is offline  
Sep 13th, 2010, 12:50 AM
  #20  
 
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If you book each leg separately then, like the airlines, it's your responsibility to make the next leg and, with cheap tickets, you won't be able to use a later train.

The best way to use "split ticketing" is to find a train that goes from A to B then look at where it stops between those points. Then check the prices for A to C and C to B. Repeat for all the stops on the route. This means you don't have to change trains and hence can't miss your onward train. You'll probably have to change seats though
alanRow is offline  

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