London to Oxford Rail

Oct 19th, 2010, 01:38 PM
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London to Oxford Rail

I will be in London later this year and would like to take a daytrip to Oxford. I've looked at the national rail website, but am a little confused. Ideally, I'd like to be spontaneous about what time I return to London since I won't know for sure when I'm done touring Oxford and ready to go back to London. I see different prices for different times, but don't see prices for a flexible, off peak ticket where I can hop on any train back. Can anyone elighten me please? Are flex tickets substantially more expensive?
travel1971 is offline  
Oct 19th, 2010, 02:11 PM
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Is there a particular reason you want to travel by rail? I did on my first few trips to Oxford but since then have used the bus ( Oxford Tube or Oxford Espress) as they're easier to access with several stops in London as well as several drop off points in Oxford with the final stop being Gloucester Green which is pretty much in the centre of Oxford.The trip takes about 90 minutes. The train station in Oxford requires a few blocks of walking. Nothing difficult but I still find the bus easier. You can buy a return ticket when you board. I think the fare is now about 16 GBP.

In answer to flexible tickets, since I haven't used that route in some time I can't honestly address your question. Only to say that on some routes, flexible/exchangeable tickets are generally more costly.
historytraveler is online now  
Oct 19th, 2010, 02:21 PM
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The only return tickets sold on this route are for the same day and are the same price regardless of when you buy them. Off peak returns are valid for all services outside peak hours and all day weekends & public holidays whilst peak returns are valid on that service that day.

Otherwise you have to buy singles where the cheap advance tickets are for specific trains
alanRow is offline  
Oct 19th, 2010, 02:24 PM
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I'm not keen on bus travel and prefer rail unless there is a compelling time or schedule reason to choose bus over rail.
travel1971 is offline  
Oct 19th, 2010, 02:26 PM
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Sorry forgot to mention the main reason for using the bus is that you can go and return whenever you want. You're not confined to any particular schedule or timetable.
historytraveler is online now  
Oct 19th, 2010, 02:49 PM
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I believe the question regarded trains. On off peak return tickets you can come back to London at your leisure. Many trains to choose from for your return.
rogerdodger is offline  
Oct 19th, 2010, 05:12 PM
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I echo historytravler--for the flexibility you want, check out the two bus services. I don't think the time is much longer than a train ride (I acknowledge that an unexpected traffic snarl could make the ride much longer); I imagine it's much cheaper or at least cheaper; it's easy to get to one of the several pickup points in London; and the bus drops you off at town center. I don't think the train station is very far, but it's further from what you probably want to see than the bus station. Taking the bus worked great for us (actually, we got off at a parkandride outside of town and walked to CSLewis's house and grave and then caught a "regular" bus into town--we couldn't have done that if we'd taken a train and that was another deciding factor for us.)
texasbookworm is online now  
Oct 19th, 2010, 05:54 PM
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travel1971: I understand maybe wanting to avoid buses. My own preferred modes of transport are usually 1) car, 2) train, 3) distant 3rd coach. But for London > Oxford the Oxford Tube/Espress might actually be better for your purposes.

Depending on where you are staying in London, the coach may have a pick up point much more convenient than Paddington. Also - the coaches drop you in the very center of Oxford whereas the train station is a bit of a walk.

The trains are fine too of course -- it is just that from parts of London to Central Oxford the buses may be faster.
janisj is offline  
Oct 19th, 2010, 06:35 PM
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janisj, Thank you for a far better explanation than I made for taking the bus to Oxford.
historytraveler is online now  
Oct 19th, 2010, 10:31 PM
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You're getting some slightly confused advice here.

1. On a London-Oxford-London route, offpeak tickets are indeed valid for any offpeak journey back, so if you buy an offpeak ticket in London (valid on outbound trains on or after 0921) you can get any train back. That's not universally true of offpeaks on other routes, which often ban, or require a surcharge on, reurn journeys during the evening rush hour. Current offpeak return price: £20. If you want to leave before 0921, it's theoretically £47, so it's cheaper to buy two singles.

2. Oxford's one of the few destinations within SE England where there IS a financial benefit in advance, inflexible, booking. Book more than a few days in advance, and commit to a specific train, and the return fare on some trains drops to £8.

3. If you're over 55, till Nov 30 you can buy returns on this route for £15 at

4. The standard day/next day, fully flexible, return on the buses is £16 as long as you return on the same operator you went out with. But if you're 60 or over, just £8 - on any bus. Buses go every 5 minutes, though they do drop to every 15 or so between 0001 and 0500. They're in many ways more comfortable than trains (and a great deal easier to work on): the train operator, disgracefully, has recently downgraded the stock on many trains, so even first class can be back-wrenchingly uncomfortable if you find yourself on one of the rotten trains (whose use is close to random). The only time buses are definitely to be avoided is if you've got a heavy sightseeing day in Oxford and need to get back to London for an opera or play: getting out of Oxford by road around 1700 takes forever.
flanneruk is online now  
Oct 20th, 2010, 06:15 AM
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Thanks everybody for the replies, a double thanks to flanneruk for a very thorough explanation. I'm going to stick to my preferred mode, rail. I did see there are some great deals to Oxford if one will pick specific trains. It's very tempting to save money, but I would hate for the day I prepurchase to turn out to be a really crummy weather day. I'll probably go with an offpeak ticket purchased the day of or day before. Thanks again.
travel1971 is offline  
Oct 21st, 2010, 03:30 AM
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When you pick your train, make sure it is one of the fast ones. Some of them stop at every station between Oxford and London and take double the time.
Louie_LI is offline  

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