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Britain by Train and BritRail Passes for the Clueless

Britain by Train and BritRail Passes for the Clueless

Old Apr 12th, 2010, 02:44 PM
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"...if you have a BritRail Pass i'd use that for any long day trips, say to Bath or Stratford."

Hi pal: The day we arrive we are heading direct to Bath. I was going to take the bus, as everyone seems to agree that it's the best way to get to Bath. However we will be buying the Britrail pass with the free day (9 days total**). I was wondering if it would be best for us to use one of the days from the pass and catch the LHR to Paddington and then get the train to Bath-instead of taking the bus. Do you or (anyone else)have an opinion?

** I can't seem to find the link which was selling the BritRail passes with an extra free day. I was just on Britrail.com and there was no mention of the extra free day. I was sure it said that this special was going to last through the end of April. Can you please paste the link if you have it? Thanks very much!!
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Old Apr 12th, 2010, 03:06 PM
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Oops! Re: the needed link, as Rose Ann Rosanna Danna would say, "Never mind". I went through the motions of buying the flexipass and see that the order form eventually includes the extra day promotion.
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Old Apr 12th, 2010, 10:47 PM
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Palenque,

Thanks for detailed information.

I am planning to spend 2.5 days in London (fly back in the evening of 3rd day). Right now, I am thinking about going with Landon travel card, so that I can get 2FOR1 entry offers for tourist places. However, the process to get them is not very clear to me. Does it require me to print all the possible vouchers before I start on my journey (I will not have access to a printer once I am in UK).

At a high level, my itinerary is:

* Fly into LHR airport early morning
* Take a train to Scotland and spend 3 days there.
* Go to England and spend 3 days
* Go to London on 3rd day, fly back.

I am yet to work out the details of what to do in Scotland & England. It is not clear to whether the BritRail pass is useful for local travel within Scotland or England conuntry side. And if it is valid in the lcoal trains and/or bus there.

Also, it appears that I may have to go for 8 days pass, though I will not be able to use it fully.

Thanks & Regards,
Vipul
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Old Apr 13th, 2010, 08:51 AM
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Hi Palenque,

In one of the posts you have mentioned the scenic routes in scotland (namely Glasgow to Mallaig) and some other scenic routes. However, you haven't explicitly mentioned whether that is covered by BritRail passes.

Can you please clarify that?

Thanks a ton for your your help.
Regards,
Vipul
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Old Apr 13th, 2010, 10:29 AM
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In one of the posts you have mentioned the scenic routes in scotland (namely Glasgow to Mallaig) and some other scenic routes. However, you haven't explicitly mentioned whether that is covered by BritRail passes.>

Yes the two Highlands lines i mentioned - Inverness to Kyle of Lochlash (from where buses go to Isle of Skye) and from Maillag (where boats bring you back from Isle of Skye) to Fort William and Glasgow via the AWESOME desolate Rannloch Moor (sp?) are indeed fully covered by a BritRail Pass - they are normal trains - not specialty tourist trains.
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Old Apr 13th, 2010, 12:59 PM
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* I can't seem to find the link which was selling the BritRail passes with an extra free day. I was just on Britrail.com and there was no mention of the extra free day. I was sure it said that this special was going to last through the end of April. Can you please paste the link if you have it? Thanks very much>

Well you found it but for others reading in the future keep in mind that the BritRail folks seem to do this periodically - to lock in sales and gather money in advance of the high season i guess - say in case London is victim of a terrorist attack and travel to Britain dries up - you can refund the pass but you lose 20% or so so you should be sure of using the pass within six months of issue -activating it at the time of your choosing in Britain. And since you only need the pass issued by the end of April (this year) i see no reason to buy it until shortly before then -because in life things pop up and if you break your leg next week you will be out the 20% refund fee (could be 15%) -but any way in the future to see if BritRail is offering an extra day or whatever the deal is go to www.budgeteuropetravel.com as they always highlight any specials (Eurailpasses at times offer similar deals)-that's how i ound out about this year's deal-and this outlet, from which i have bought passes for years, you can talk to someone who is IME a real expert who has ridden UK trains for years, etc. Passes have to be sold at a price that cannot vary but mailing fees can be tacked on - so check sources about that too- many have none though others like RickSteves.com i think charge about $20.

. Should I take the offered insurance for the BritRail pass.>

Vipul- this is relevant to the above discussion about refunds for unusued passes - the insurance will i believe cover the penalty but only if you produce documentation - usually from a doctor, etc.

Once you activate your pass in the UK it is no longer refundable in any case- even terrorists attacks or strikes, etc. But the insurance program will cover you for a refund of the unused portion of the pass if you have medical problems, have your pass stolen or lose it, etc.

Whether or not i recommend it would vary as to what the pass costs- a party pass worth $1,000 costs the same insurance as a $200 pass. Personally i do not get the coverage as in 40 years of rail travel in Europe and Britain i have never come close to losing my pass - because it is ALWAYS in my secure under the belt money belt - and Britain seems not to have the street pickpockets that are rife in some Continental tourist meccas.

I will try to get the wording of the insurance coverage to better examine it - i am rephrasing what it was a few years ago.
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Old Apr 13th, 2010, 01:47 PM
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First, I would like to thank you for your kind help. You are so patient with those of us who are totally confused.Since I last posted on your thread, I turned our trip around and we are beginning to make definite plans.We are flying from NY to Glasgow on August 17th and then we will make our way by train to London where we will fly to NY on Sept. 8th. The trains we will take so far are Glasgow to Inverness and Inverness to Edinburgh.(Would those two trips be better just buying tickets there or using a Brit Rail Pass. My husband and I are both over 65.) From there we want to make our way into Wales, Cotswolds, Bath and London. First is it crazy to go from Edinburgh to York to Wales? I am translating your previous trip suggestions north into a southern direction. With our time schedule, do you have any suggestions?
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Old Apr 14th, 2010, 08:25 AM
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milliebest-thanks for your nice comments - i will try to answer each Q but for now i have a train to catch!

Be back soon!
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Old Apr 14th, 2010, 12:41 PM
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The trains we will take so far are Glasgow to Inverness and Inverness to Edinburgh.(Would those two trips be better just buying tickets there or using a Brit Rail Pass. My husband and I are both over 65.)>

If you are buying a pass then i think it would be better to use it on those trips as well - mainly because the longer the pass the cheaper per day it is - especially if you can fit it all into say an 8-consecutive day pass or not look at the flexipass, good for X number of days of unlimited rail travel in a two-month period.

To see what the various fares are for travel to/from Inverness go to www.nationalrail.co.uk - if you want to lock yourself in far in advance and not be able to change or refund your ticket usually then that may be the way to go - fares are not available perhaps for August but just pick an earlier date to see the myriad of varying fares - with varying conditions. For fully flexible just show up and hop on fares those are typically really expensive so if flexibility is a key then the pass for sure.

You mention you are seniors and as i in any case highly recommend first-class travel in British trains - a world of difference between the classes - to me like a Greyhound bus in 2nd class but first class is by far the plushest in all of Europe. Always empty seats - larger seats and fewer seats in same space and on many long-distance trains gratis coffee, tea and snacks - take Virgin trains along the West Coast route from Scotland and you'll get a veritable meal - always more food coming for free it seems (not promised in conditions of pass however) - and the point is that Seniors 60 and over get a nice reduction on BritRail Passes in first class (none in 2nd however) so it may not cost that much more to do a first-class pass for seniors.
And there seem to be two classes of first-class on many long-distance trains in Britain - the Gold Class and a non-Gold class - www.nationalrail.co.uk has discounts in first class too but IME these are often in special first-class cars not as plush as the Gold Zone and typically are chock full with the discounted tickets. The pass allows for seating in the Gold first-class cars that in all my decades of railing in Britain i have rarely seen more than say half-full - so nice to put your bags down in an empty seat next to you, etc.

Ah for York to Wales -i will have to investigate that. In Britain you never know about cross-country travel - the faster lines radiate out from London but their are some flummoxing routings that zigzag around so there may be a decent way. time-wise to go from York to Wales. It intrigues me to investigate that.

(If you are talking about going Edinburg-York-Wales in one day that may be a long day -depending on the York to Wales trains.

Q- Where in Wales - if you know - i am partial to North Wales where in a compact area there is a plethora of great things to see and do - South Wales is fine too but the train routing may be way different.

Cheers- got get on my train!
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Old Apr 15th, 2010, 12:09 PM
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OK York to anywhere in Wales seems to take at best 4 1/2 hrs by train - but if you have the desire to see Stratford (and the fantastic Warwick Castle near it) that would be about half-way i think - thinking you are pondering an Edinburg-York-Wales journey all in one day.
Going down the East Coast line south makes a more scenic journey IMO than going down the West Coast line via Carlisle - York is a fantastic town - good for ambling along so it would make a great overnight - or you could easily do York and go onto say Stratford/Warwick.
Cross-country train travel is typically slow and you have to change at least one or twice usually to Wales from York it seems.
Cheers
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Old Apr 15th, 2010, 02:51 PM
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When I play on the national train site, what do I put in for Edinburgh -Edinburgh Park or Waverly? It doesn't let me just put in Edinburgh.
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Old Apr 15th, 2010, 04:00 PM
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ttt
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Old Apr 16th, 2010, 08:21 AM
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Edinburgh Waverly, the main station.

Edinburgh Park station is a minor station.
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Old Apr 17th, 2010, 06:56 AM
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Thanks.

If I were to go from York to Wales, could you suggest a reasonable route even if it involved an overnight? I have to go west at some point because I definitely want to do the Cotswolds and Bath.
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Old Apr 17th, 2010, 10:40 AM
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Palenque,
Certainly appreciate your generosity in sharing your knowledge with all of us fodorites.
My question: four adults will be taking the train from Edinburgh to York in July. A few days later we will continue to London. 3 of us are 60+. I notice fares for 33.50 GBP if bought now for the Edi/York portion. Is there a better site to book online with? Can I expect lower fares on a certain line?
Pardon me if you've answered these already, I have tried looking through other posts.
Thank you so much for your tips!
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Old Apr 17th, 2010, 11:02 AM
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Andeesue again... I just checked and see train tickets are available today from 9 July and earlier, so will wait until my exact date is listed for the best price. Still will appreciate info inquired above.
Many thanks.
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Old Apr 19th, 2010, 11:57 AM
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milliebest - i will try to give you some suggestions soon

and Andeesue - yes there is another sight other than www.nationalrail.co.uk - the one run by the train franchise that runs most of the trains over the East Coast Rail line, formerly the franchise of Great North Eastern trains (think i got the name right) - i'll see if i can get the exact site as others have said they sometimes have better fares.
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Old Apr 20th, 2010, 07:32 AM
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Andeesue - this is another site comparable to www.nationalrail.co.uk but run by the train franchise that does much of the East Coast trains London-York-Scotland - i believe

National Express // Buy Cheap Coach Travel, Train Fares, Bus ...
National Express offer a wide range of cheap coach travel & train fares to over 180 UK destinations, with cheap local bus fares in selected areas. www.nationalexpress.com/
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Old Apr 20th, 2010, 01:02 PM
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milliebest- Looking at the routing of trains between York and Wales there ain't much in between the average tourist would find to warrant an overnight stop, or even a short stop for that matter IMO

But i note that Chester, a wondrous city - one of the quaintest and cutest in England - is three hours by train from York. Not only a great sight in its own right but is also a good base from which to hop to North Wales - to places like Conwy, Mt Snowdon, Caernarferon (sp?) Castle, etc.

But in between York and Wales you will slice thru a lot of industrial detritus from an area that launched the Industrial Revolution and is still industrialized, esp along the train line.

I originally mentioned Stratford being on the route but i was way off - it is not.
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Old Apr 22nd, 2010, 06:10 PM
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Thank you for the sites. I bought 12 weeks out when the fare had gone down, then today I noticed it went down even farther. I will wait a bit more time for the next part of the trip before I book.
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