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Getting from Heathrow to Bath

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Aug 22nd, 2012, 05:43 AM
  #1
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Getting from Heathrow to Bath

My wife and I will be flying into Heathrow on BA on a Wednesday morning in late September. We'll be coming into Terminal 5 and we're heading to Bath for a couple of nights before going into London.

How much time should we allow for passport control & baggage pick-up in Terminal 5? We're flying business class, but I suppose that makes no difference?

As far as transportation to Bath, I've looked at the British National Rail website, and there are several different arrangements, including the express train to Paddington then a high speed train out to Bath. An advantage to this arrangement is that it leaves from Terminal 5. But it looks like it leaves hourly 12 minutes after the hour, and I'm not sure if we can make the 11:12, or whether we should play it safe & get tickets on the 12:12 train.

There are other routes that involve various ways to get to Reading, then a train from Reading to Bath. Some of these involve a bus, or a short train trip to Hays & Harlington, then to Reading, then to Bath. I know there is also bus service to bath, but on the National Express website it looks like it takes at least twice as long as the train.

Any experience with this trip, and advice on a good way to go?
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Aug 22nd, 2012, 07:08 AM
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My usual advice is to take the National Express coach, but to go from the central bus station. You can travel free from Terminal 5 to the station to terminals 1,2 & 3, and then walk to the central bus station to get the coach.

Choose the direct non-stop Heathrow to Bath journey which you should be fairly certain of getting, say at least 90 minutes after your arrival time. If you arrive early, you may be able to travel on an earlier bus, provided there are seats available.

Train would be more comfortable than bus if you travel first class. The Heathrow Express runs every 15 minutes between Terminal 5 and Paddington, and trains fr0om Paddington to Bath run every half hour. Train tickets are expensive, unless you buy tickets for a specific train in advance. The problem then is that a missed train means you have to buy an expensive new ticket.

Train prices vary widely. Prices for Paddington to Bath at midday in late September can range from £15 standard class on a specific train to £126 for an anytime first class ticket. Go to www.firstgreatwestern.co.uk for details of times and prices.
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Aug 22nd, 2012, 07:51 AM
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The bus from Heathrow Central takes about 120-130 mins (you're looking at buses from T5, which all require an intermediate change). The alternatives (bus to Reading or train to Paddington to catch the same Paddington-Bath train) take a bit longer and cost a fair bit more.

The problem with getting a train when it's not absolutely necessary is that "non refundable" means just that. If your plane's late, you've got to book a new train ticket - at full rate. On the National Express bus, prebookings from airports can be used on any later departure there's room on (rarely a problem).

Full-rate, refundable, train fares to Bath are surprisingly expensive. Buying any other kind of train ticket is a gamble on your airline's punctuality and Heathrow's efficiency.

Few airlines, and certainly not Heathrow, have a track record I'd bet on if I didn't have to.
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Aug 22nd, 2012, 08:49 AM
  #4
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chartley & flanner, excellent advice, thanks very much. I was looking at bus times from Terminal 5, which were about 4-5 hours. I didn't notice that they were not express or direct. If a more direct route from the bus terminal only takes about 2 hours, that's fine, and you're right, the flexibility is key. I guess the other benefit is that if it is a direct coach, then we don't have to worry about lugging our bags onto or between trains.

Does it take very long to get from Terminal 5 to the bus station?

What about traveling from Bath back to London? Coach again, or is the train better since we (presumably) will have more control over our ability to get to the station on time?
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Aug 22nd, 2012, 08:56 AM
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For your trip back to London, trains are generally best - but book ahead.

I've never gone from T-5 to the central bus station so others will know better about how long to give yourselves.
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Aug 22nd, 2012, 09:33 AM
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Thanks janisj, I figured that might be the case. We're staying near the Tower Bridge so getting from Paddington to the hotel would probably involve a taxicab. The tube is probably less cost, but I've never really enjoyed taking luggage onto the subway.
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Aug 22nd, 2012, 09:46 AM
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"We're staying near the Tower Bridge so getting from Paddington to the hotel would probably involve a taxicab."

That would cost a absolute FORTUNE! As far apart as is possible in central London. Pack lighter and take the tube. You can buy a ticket that includes the train and tube for as little as £18. Maybe even less.
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Aug 22nd, 2012, 09:48 AM
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meant to add -- if you are staying north of the river use Tower Hill station, and if south, probably London Bridge.
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Aug 22nd, 2012, 10:56 AM
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"That would cost a absolute FORTUNE!"

OH, ok. I mentioned that just in case I needed such a warning! (Curious - About how much for the cab?)

Would I get the train/tube ticket on the National Rail website, or is there a better way to do it?
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