Go Back  Fodor's Travel Talk Forums > Destinations > Europe
Reload this Page >

Britain by Train and BritRail Passes for the Clueless

Britain by Train and BritRail Passes for the Clueless

Old Dec 9th, 2009, 08:52 AM
  #101  
 
Join Date: Feb 2009
Posts: 9,023
Likes: 0
Received 0 Likes on 0 Posts
Forth Railway Bridge - Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia
The Forth Bridge is a cantilever railway bridge over the Firth of Forth in the east of Scotland, to the east of the Forth Road Bridge, and 14 kilometres (9 ...

History - Construction - Maintenance - Competition
en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Forth_Railway_Bridge

Well before moving north into the Scottish Highlands here is some background on one of the world's most famous railway bridges - the one over the Firth of Forth that you must cross shortly after leaving Edinburgh to go towards the Highlands or any point north - even on a day trip to St Andrews you cross the bridge - everytime i cross the bridge is awesome but to see the bridge itself is equally mesmerizing - especially at night when it is gloriously illuminated - you can take a commuter train from Edinburgh to Queens Ferry (i think the name of the station near the south side of the bridge - an old resort in itself quaint)

The bridge is not only unique looking in its cantilevered form but is always mentioned as an astounding feat of railway engineering.
Palenque is offline  
Old Dec 21st, 2009, 12:46 PM
  #102  
 
Join Date: Feb 2009
Posts: 9,023
Likes: 0
Received 0 Likes on 0 Posts
THE WEST HIGHLAND RAILWAY
IMO one of Europe's top scenic railways links Glasgow to Mallaig, via Fort William. So Next i'll talk about how to incorporate this incredible rail journey into a BritRail itinerary - starting from Edinburgh.

Background:

RAILSCOT | West Highland Railway
An illustrated guide to a line, now part of the Scotrail network, running from Glasgow through to Mallaig. Includes a chronology.
http://www.railbrit.co.uk/West_Highl...lway/frame.htm -

West Highland Line - Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia
The West Highland Line (Scottish Gaelic: Rathad Iarainn nan Eilean - "Iron Road to the Isles") is one of the most scenic railway lines in Britain, ...

History - Route description - The route in detail
en.wikipedia.org/wiki/West_Highland_Line -
Palenque is offline  
Old Dec 22nd, 2009, 09:18 AM
  #103  
 
Join Date: Feb 2009
Posts: 9,023
Likes: 0
Received 0 Likes on 0 Posts
THE KYLE OF LOCHALSH SCENIC RAILWAY
Though IMO not quite as scenic a rail line as the West Highlands Line the Inverness to Kyle of Lochlash railway is awesomely scenic in many places, especially when it tracks thru desolate moors and along fjords before Kyle, from where there is bus service over to the nearby Isle of skye.

So i will outline a loop from Edinburgh to Inverness (Loch Ness area) to Kyle of Lochlash, over to the Isle of Skye and back from it by boat to Mallaig to take the West Highlands Railway down to Glasgow and then south via the Lake District to London.

Friends of the Kyle Line - Inverness to Kyle of Lochalsh Railway ...
Friends of the Kyle Line - Kyle of Lochalsh to Inverness. The Highland Railway Line History and current events.
www.kylerailway.co.uk/

Wikipedia
The Kyle of Lochalsh Line is a primarily single track railway line in the Scottish Highlands, running from Dingwall to Kyle of Lochalsh. ...
History - Beeching Report - Modernisation - Services
en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Kyle_of_Lochalsh_Line - Cached
Palenque is offline  
Old Dec 24th, 2009, 04:26 AM
  #104  
 
Join Date: Apr 2006
Posts: 1,728
Likes: 0
Received 0 Likes on 0 Posts
The West Highland Line recently won an award as 'best world rail journey' in the Wanderlust Travel Awards 2009, beating all sorts of worldwide rail routes.

It's a deserved winner, I have travelled on all sorts of scenic lines around the world and it's still a favourite.

Taking the London to Fort William 'Caledonian Sleeper' is the best way to get there from London & the South, IMHO this is the 'Best Train in Britain', yet a bed for the night on it in a shared 2-berth sleeper starts at just £59 one-way.

I've written a whole webpage about this train and the West Highland line with photos, www.seat61.com/WestHighlandLine.htm.
Man_in_seat_61 is offline  
Old Dec 24th, 2009, 08:30 AM
  #105  
 
Join Date: Feb 2009
Posts: 9,023
Likes: 0
Received 0 Likes on 0 Posts
thanks, Man... for your input - i also would put the West Highland Line at the very top of hundreds of scenic lines i've ridden both in europe and worldwide. It may not have the awesome glacier-girdled Alpine wonderland scenes but it does have a unique type of scenery -especially when the train tracks thru the desolate Ranleigh (sp? name?) Moor and then along fjord-like coasts to Mallaig. Well worth going out of your way for IMO.
Palenque is offline  
Old Dec 27th, 2009, 04:04 AM
  #106  
 
Join Date: Apr 2006
Posts: 1,728
Likes: 0
Received 0 Likes on 0 Posts
Yes - I've seen both Rannoch Moor and Siberia, and frankly Rannoch Moor looks more remote and windswept!
Man_in_seat_61 is offline  
Old Jan 14th, 2010, 03:26 PM
  #107  
 
Join Date: Dec 2009
Posts: 11
Likes: 0
Received 0 Likes on 0 Posts
Palenque,
What would you recommend for us?

Heathrow into London
two days in London
go to Southampton for cruise
after cruise (3 days)
Southampton to Bath
Bath to Oxford

Thanks so much.
Oxford to Heathrow
june1 is offline  
Old Jan 15th, 2010, 12:01 PM
  #108  
 
Join Date: Feb 2009
Posts: 9,023
Likes: 0
Received 0 Likes on 0 Posts
june - it is not easy to recommend say the Days Out of London Pass, which would cover all trains in your itinerary, including Heathrow Express trains vs tickets at www.nationalrail.co.uk- but if you want fully flexibile tickets with none of the restrictions many of the discount tickets from nationalrail.co.uk impose then IMO it is a no-brainer to go with the Days Out of London Pass. I would think the cheapest way would be to book in advance, as far as possible, nationalrail.co.uk if you do not desire fully flexible - get on any train anytime possibles. For lots on British trains and current pricing on this pass (not sold at stations in UK) i always highlight these superb info-laden sites: www.seat61.com - Man in Seat 61 has a link to www.nationalrail.co.uk for various online discounted fares and fully flexible full fares; www.budgeteuropetravel.com; www.ricksteves.com- I will further analyze your itinerary and look at some fares to give me and you a more complete picture. Oxford to Heathrow is probably best and cheapest done by bus.
Palenque is offline  
Old Jan 16th, 2010, 07:13 AM
  #109  
 
Join Date: Feb 2009
Posts: 9,023
Likes: 0
Received 0 Likes on 0 Posts
june - i got the pass name wrong -it's now called London Plus pass - covers trains all over southeast England and even out to Bath.
Palenque is offline  
Old Jan 18th, 2010, 12:39 PM
  #110  
 
Join Date: Feb 2009
Posts: 9,023
Likes: 0
Received 0 Likes on 0 Posts
june - i just checked nationalrail.co.uk for Bath Spa (name of Bath station) to Oxford and even fully flexible board at will fares are only 21 pounds or $30 or so and advance fares can be as cheap as 12 pounds - train specific, non-changeable must book in advance - so if the Southampton to Bath Spa is similar as it seems it should be and London to S'hampton i'd say just buy individual tickets and forego any thought of the pass. You never know until checking how expensive 'travel at will" tickets are - for some journeys they are ridiculously expensive but not for Bath to Oxford - takes about 80 mins and you change at Didcot Parkway. As 21 pounds is only 8 pounds more than the typical cheapest Bath to Oxford fare booked in advance and with restrictions i'd opt for the fully flexible at will fare for an extra 8 pounds and just buy the ticket upon arrival in Bath
Palenque is offline  
Old Jan 19th, 2010, 12:26 PM
  #111  
 
Join Date: Feb 2009
Posts: 9,023
Likes: 0
Received 0 Likes on 0 Posts
www.nationalrail.co.uk shows a London Waterloo station to Southampton Central, main station there fare of 32.70 pounds, standard class - an anytime fare- and actually for the day i checked there was only one cheaper fare 31.70 for off-peak - usually restricted on when you can leave -not before 9:30 perhaps

31.70 quid is about $45 so again the Pass i mentioned is too expensive for your total trains in light of the fares i found. Just buy this ticket at Waterloo though if you play around more with nationalrail.co.uk you could find other fares that for the one day i randomly checked were not available.

But just buy your tickets once there IMO- i see no great savings on my, granted casual checks, to warrant advance online purchases -but again do a more thorough search for the days you really want when the come on the data base.
Palenque is offline  
Old Feb 11th, 2010, 06:45 AM
  #112  
 
Join Date: Feb 2010
Posts: 2
Likes: 0
Received 0 Likes on 0 Posts
PalenQ is correct in his first post. BritRail is not a British Rail thing.

They are a North American company that sells britrail passes on behalf of the ATOC (Association of train opperating companies)

Basically, when a railpass is sold in NA, all ATOC members get a cut of it.

They are not available to UK citizens.

There are only few NA companies that distribute them.

They are

BritRail (the contract holders)
http://www.britrail.com

Rail Europe (SNCF subsidiary)
http://www.raileurope.com

Britain On Track (Canadian distributor)
http://www.britainontrack.com
Toilet is offline  
Old Feb 11th, 2010, 10:37 AM
  #113  
 
Join Date: Feb 2009
Posts: 9,023
Likes: 0
Received 0 Likes on 0 Posts
toilet - interesting but i am perplexed about the Canadian distributor Britain on Track - since BritRail is headquartered in Quebec (ACP Rail) why would they need a Canadian outlet? Or is the outlet just a part of ACP Rail, who owns TMK the BritRail contractees.

RailEurope is 1/3 owned by Swiss Railways so not totally an SNCF subsidiary though the President of Rail Europe always comes from the SNCF, who have effective control.

anyway thanks for that info
Palenque is offline  
Old Feb 11th, 2010, 11:05 AM
  #114  
 
Join Date: Jun 2005
Posts: 2,002
Likes: 0
Received 0 Likes on 0 Posts
Want to post something here as a bookmark. This looks like a timely thread for my upcoming UK trip. Thanks!
Pilates is offline  
Old Feb 11th, 2010, 01:31 PM
  #115  
 
Join Date: Feb 2010
Posts: 2
Likes: 0
Received 0 Likes on 0 Posts
Hi Palenque

That's just what I heard. I guess it could be wrong though.

And yes, you are right about Rail Europe. I always think of just SNCF because I believe they are majority holders.

Anyway. Thanks for correcting.
Toilet is offline  
Old Feb 13th, 2010, 07:53 AM
  #116  
 
Join Date: Feb 2009
Posts: 9,023
Likes: 0
Received 0 Likes on 0 Posts
Toilet - i do appreciate the info, esp on the ATOC - i wondered how the BritRail Pass (and ticketing) moneys were funneled to Britain's28 or so independent rail franchises, all of which honor the BritRail Pass.

Yup as before privitization of the former BritRail nationalized rail system in the U.K. the BritRail Pass did coincide with the names on the trains in Britain - but BritRail died as a national rail system with privitization and now you have 28 or so different names on the split up privitized system.

This may account for the confusion of foreigners thinking there is a BritRail train system in Britain - twas once but not now.

thanks for your info.
Palenque is offline  
Old Feb 19th, 2010, 08:36 AM
  #117  
 
Join Date: Feb 2009
Posts: 9,023
Likes: 0
Received 0 Likes on 0 Posts
ATOC
The Association of Train Operating Companies (ATOC) represents and ... As the voice of the passenger railway, ATOC represents train companies to the ...
www.atoc.org/
Rail Staff Travel
Contact Us
About ATOC
Fares & Retail Vacancies
Rail Settlement Plan
Engineering
Not Logged In

ATOC and train operators have been working with others in these initiatives, for example, through Route Utilisation Studies (RUSs) and ...
http://www.atoc.org/general/Connecti...rt_S10.pdfRail news and press releases | ATOC | ATOC Press Office - For the ...
The Association of Train Operating Companies (ATOC) is a one stop shop for rail news and press releases for all of Britain's Train Operating Companies.
www.atoc-comms.org/
Palenque is offline  
Old Feb 20th, 2010, 04:05 PM
  #118  
Jog
 
Join Date: Feb 2010
Posts: 7
Likes: 0
Received 0 Likes on 0 Posts
Is it true that BritRail passes can't be used from Ashford Intl. to St. Pancras on fast trains after March 2010?
Jog is offline  
Old Feb 21st, 2010, 10:27 AM
  #119  
 
Join Date: Jun 2005
Posts: 2,002
Likes: 0
Received 0 Likes on 0 Posts
"So i will outline a loop from Edinburgh to Inverness (Loch Ness area) to Kyle of Lochlash, over to the Isle of Skye and back from it by boat to Mallaig to take the West Highlands Railway down to Glasgow and then south via the Lake District to London."

Hi Pal, I have a few questions for you if you don't mind....

Where would you stop and stay the night (or two) along this route you mentioned?

Is there one primary route via the trains from Edinburgh to Inverness that we would take?

You've mentioned the Isle of Skye before and I am curious exactly where via train would you stop and possibly stay here.

Thank you!
Pilates is offline  
Old Feb 22nd, 2010, 07:39 AM
  #120  
 
Join Date: Feb 2009
Posts: 9,023
Likes: 0
Received 0 Likes on 0 Posts
Is it true that BritRail passes can't be used from Ashford Intl. to St. Pancras on fast trains after March 2010?>

Jog - good question that i have not heard - i will research it and get back. Currently they can be used without formality i understand - thanks for the heads up.

Pilates -will be happy to elaborate -next post today after i put some notes together.
Palenque is offline  

Thread Tools
Search this Thread

Contact Us - Manage Preferences - Archive - Advertising - Cookie Policy - Privacy Statement - Do Not Sell or Share My Personal Information -