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Man in seat 61 - help with train travel UK for senior from Australia

Man in seat 61 - help with train travel UK for senior from Australia

Feb 21st, 2011, 01:22 AM
Original Poster
Join Date: Mar 2005
Posts: 2,851
Man in seat 61 - help with train travel UK for senior from Australia

Hopefully Man in seat 61 will be able to help!!! I have been looking at your web site but thought I would cheat a bit and see if you could help me directly.

I am coming over in June from Australia with my 84 year old mum. We are landing in Paris and after a week I am putting her on the Eurostar for London. (buying in advance soon) she is travelling around the UK visiting family and friends with no set schedule, other than a few days here and there.... she has a British passport if that helps. We have read about the seniors card, which I think she got last time, buying it in the UK when she got there.

My question is: (finally), is she better off buying the seniors card and buying tickets just before or on the day she needs to travel, or should we try and buy advance tickets through the internet from any or the sites you have listed on your web page. (She will be mostly staying with oldies who are probably not that savvy with the internet.) This of course limits her times of travel in to set days. But if we take the 26pounds into consideration and then the tickets bought only the day before or on the day in to account, would it be much cheaper to lock herself into the advance tickets instead?

To save some dollars would be great as she is not super flush with cash, but flexibiliy could be more important. Have I answered my own question?

Hope you can help, love your site by the way, fab info.

schnauzer is offline  
Feb 21st, 2011, 03:09 AM
Join Date: Jan 2003
Posts: 5,129
I'm not the Man in Seat 61, but I'll try to answer the question.
The senior railcard gives a discount on all types of ticket, including advance tickets. Whether advance tickets are a good idea depends on which journeys she's making. They usually give the biggest saving for a one-way journey: for return journeys, an off-peak return may be a better deal, giving more flexibility, including the right to use different routes or to break your journey.
GeoffHamer is offline  
Feb 21st, 2011, 03:18 AM
Join Date: Jan 2003
Posts: 4,322
Also find out if some sort of Britrail pass may give your mother better value and flexibility.
Will she be travelling on her own on trains in UK? I don't know how mobile your mother is but remember, passenger assistance isn't always available at stations and getting up and down rather steep steps with luggage can be an issue for the elderly. Only some stations provide lifts or escalators for changing platforms or getting down to the tracks.
Alec is offline  
Feb 21st, 2011, 03:24 AM
Join Date: Apr 2003
Posts: 17,144
Can't speak for Man in Sesat 61, but:

1. You've got the wrong end of the stick. Buying tickets in advance and buying them with a Senior Railcard aren't mutually exclusive. All advance purchase tickets (and all qualifying instant purchase off-peak tickets) are subject to a further 35% discount for Senior Raicard holders (and, to add to the fun, the definition of "off peak" is slightly more generous to travellers with a Card than to those without)

2. She needs to have the Railcard to get on the train with Senior rate discounts, or to collect tickets from a manned counter. She doesn't need them to book, or to collect them from a machine.

3. You're wrongly reducing her problem to a financial one. In fact:
- there are no advance booking discounts on most routes within 100 miles of London
- the most generous advance booking discounts on longer routes are available almost as soon as they go on sale (typically 12 weeks prior). They may well sell out very quickly
- Other, less generous advance booking discounts are often available up to the night before.

What you're actually asking is whether the advance discount (plus a further 35%) is "worth it" for the inflexibility. For which there's no general rule. Only your mother (who, being a grown up, is likely to be a lot smarter than you at assessing good value, since she's been doing it a lot longer) can decide whether that's "worth" £x.

You need to sketch her route out, then cost it up, with and without advance purchasing, on any website. She will happily then do the sums for herself. The likelihood is: in some routes it's worth the inflexibility, on others it isn't. It's almost cetain, though, that the total ticket cost will exceed the £70-odd needed for the Senior Railcard to break even.
flanneruk is offline  
Feb 21st, 2011, 03:45 AM
Join Date: May 2005
Posts: 19,881

You can book "senior" fares without it but you must buy one before you actually travel - this can be done in London.

You can also link the railcard (also applies to the youth railcard) to an Oystercard for travel within London and get a similar 1/3 discount

alanRow is offline  
Feb 21st, 2011, 04:32 AM
Join Date: Jul 2010
Posts: 403
Forgive me for asking the obvious. Why do so many Fodorites believe the member with the screen name "man_in_seat_61" is one and the same person who created the award winning website www.seat61.com?
Reading54 is online now  
Feb 21st, 2011, 06:07 AM
Join Date: Apr 2006
Posts: 1,670
Hi there.

You need to try some bookings, using www.nationalrail.co.uk.

For example, London-Edinburgh starts at £18 or so 'Advance', with 34% off with a senior card, but costs around £110 on the day of travel (flexible if you avoid peak times), again with 34% off with a senior card.

The question is, what price do you actually see on your dates of travel as the 'Advance' fare, and how much of a premium are you willing to pay for 'on the day' flexibility versus a no refunds, no changes to travel plans approach?
Man_in_seat_61 is offline  
Feb 21st, 2011, 06:08 AM
Join Date: Apr 2006
Posts: 1,670
Oh, and that's a good point Reading54, but in this case as it happens I am the bloke who runs seat61.com..!
Man_in_seat_61 is offline  
Feb 21st, 2011, 06:24 AM
Join Date: Jan 2003
Posts: 19,655
Ah, but you would say that, wouldn't you?
PatrickLondon is offline  
Feb 21st, 2011, 03:33 PM
Join Date: Jul 2010
Posts: 403
Hi PatrickLondon,

He is genuinely THE Man in Seat Sixty-One. Don't ask me how I found out. You may also click his screen name to check his profile, where it was previous blank but now there is info.

My apologies to the Man, and everybody who participated in this thread.
Reading54 is online now  
Feb 22nd, 2011, 02:18 AM
Original Poster
Join Date: Mar 2005
Posts: 2,851
Thanks everyone for the responses. I do have concerns regarding her ability to get around and to change stations etc. She is wanting to circumnavigate England and Wales, not easy at her age.

I see I have lots of research to do for her (with her)
schnauzer is offline  

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