Rail Travel in the UK

Apr 20th, 2004, 07:21 AM
  #1  
Andrewmac
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Rail Travel in the UK

I recently became a UK Fodorite and have noticed that threads relating to rail travel in the UK frequently crop up, which is not surprising as there is a bewildering array of tickets to choose from.

Generally speaking, the sooner you want to travel, the more expensive the ticket will be. I live in Peterborough (76 miles north of London) and the difference between the most expensive ticket and the cheapest one is £69 or $120 at today's exchange rate. At longer distances the difference is even more marked.

If any prospective visitors to the UK would like more advice on rail ticket types along with their merits and de-merits, please post and I will do my best to unravel the confusion.
 
Apr 20th, 2004, 11:18 AM
  #2  
 
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I have been having trouble with the chaper tickets for the following trip.
Gatwick to Bath Spa via Reading. When I choose the cheapest ticket option (on railtrack.com) I get an error. It will only display the ticket for 33 pounds evan though I have read that it should cost under 9. I am interested in the 9:07 train. Am I doing something wrong or are the cheaper tickets only available on certain trains/times? I need to purchase 3 tickets so that the differance is sizable.
SueBee is offline  
Apr 20th, 2004, 02:07 PM
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£33 is the normal price for a ticket from Gatwick to Bath. There is an Apex single fare available at £8.50, but apex is a limited ticked - you have to book 2 weeks in advance and it will only be available on some trains- you're unlikely to find it as early as 9.07. If you can't get the 'cheapest' option to work on the trainline, try the www.nationalrail.co.uk site.
benatbath is offline  
Apr 20th, 2004, 06:48 PM
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the person who answers at this phone number can tell you the cheapes fare available for your trip and direct you to the place to book a ticket.

I've had trouble with the various other sites, one way or another, and found the absolute best fare this way - think it's a public service in Britain:

THE NUMBER: 011 44 8457 484 950 (= what you dial from US)
Elizabeth is offline  
Apr 20th, 2004, 10:26 PM
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Andrewmac
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SueBee:
The error will occur because you are asking for a cheap ticket to travel during the peak period when only the more expensive tickets are available.

Off-peak hours are normally as follows:
1. Any train that arrives in London after 11:15am Monday-Friday. For example a train that left Bath at 10:20 and arrived after 11:15 would qualify for the cheaper fares.
2. For trains that leave London there are normally black-out periods between 06:45-08:15 and 15:00-19:00 when only the more expensive tickets can be used.
3. Anytime on Saturday, Sunday and Bank Holidays such as Easter Monday.

There are several ticket types listed as follows:

To buy anytime and travel anytime on any train you will need a First Class Open or Second Class Open ticket. These tickets have no restrictions whatsoever but are obviously the most expensive.

To buy anytime with travel restricted to certain trains you will need a First Class Saver ticket, Standard Class Saver or Cheap Day ticket. On some trains you can also get a Supersaver ticket, which is cheaper than a Saver ticket.

The cheapest option of all is to buy in advance for travel on specified trains. For these journeys you will need a Leisure First Return (must include a Saturday night away), a First Class Off-Peak ticket, a SuperAdvance ticket or a Standard Class Off-Peak ticket.

To give you an example of the difference in fares a First Class Open Return from London Kings Cross to Retford would cost £146 ($260), but only £19 ($34) for a Standard Class Off-Peak Return.

You can get further discounts with a Senior Railcard, Young Person Railcard (for students), Family Railcard or Network Railcard (for travel around the South-east corner of England). These cards will further discounts of up to 33% on most ticket types, are valid for a year and cost around £20 ($35).

The main thing to remember is that the earlier you can buy your ticket and the more flexible you are about which train you use will determine how cheap your ticket will be.

Post back if you need any further information.
 
Apr 21st, 2004, 06:13 AM
  #6  
ron
 
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Andrew, Sue asked the same question earlier on the Frommer's forum (which gets few replies), but with one important additional detail -- she is trying to buy a ticket on Sunday May 23rd. So all the discussion about peak periods does not apply. Her situation is that the online ticket agencies show the theoretically cheapest fare from Gatwick to Bath is an £8.50 APEX fare if traveling via Salisbury, a slightly longer and slower route. I suspect Sue is trying to find this fare for the more common via Reading route, where it is not applicable. But out of curiosity, I tried to find a journey via Salisbury offering this fare, and was unable to do so. Perhaps you can shed some light -- are there phantom published fares that can never be used?

Sue, my guess is that you are stuck with the £23.50 super advance single for your 9:07 train on the 23rd.
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Apr 21st, 2004, 07:00 AM
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Andrewmac
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It looks Sue as though Ron is right. Apex tickets are always in very short supply and are sold on a first come, first served basis. Also they are intended for long-distance travel and I am unsure whether the train operating companies would treat Gatwick to Bath as long distance.

Anyway I did a quick search on my local train operator's site and the cheapest ticket from Gatwick to Bath was a SuperAdvance Return via Reading at £24. Believe it or not the single fare was more expensive at £47! So just buy a return ticket and ditch the return portion that you won't need.

The SuperAdvance Return was for the 09:07 Thames Trains service to Reading arriving at 10:23. Departure from Reading was 10:55 on the First Great Western service arriving in Bath at 12.04.

A quick check on the journey via the Salisbury route threw up a fare of £27.90 for a Standard Day Single.

The departure from Gatwick was at 09:27 on the South Central service arriving at Clapham Junction at 09:55. Departure from Clapham Junction was at 10:10 with South West Trains arriving in Bath at 12:40.

My choice would be to go via Reading as it is quicker and the leg of the journey from Reading to Bath with First Great Western will be a far more comfortable journey as it will be on a 125mph HST (High Speed Train).

Hope the above is of use to you.
 
Apr 21st, 2004, 07:02 AM
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OK, I've got a question regarding the UK rail system. I've already purchased a britrail pass for four unlimited days. I plan on using it to do one day trip from London (destination yet unknown) and then use it to go from London to Liverpool Lime on Saturday 15 May and then from Liverpool Lime to Glasgow Sunday 16 May. It appears that there is an hourly train from EUSTON Station to Liverpool Lime during the week, but is the schedule the same for saturday travel? And is Euston the correct station to begin the journey? Also the journey from Liverpool to Glasgow mentions one train change.... where does this change occur (Manchester?) and how much time between trains?

Also, I've read of a Strike threat against the rail system in UK in May.... how likely is this to occur?

Thanks

Keith
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Apr 21st, 2004, 07:34 AM
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Andrewmac
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Hello Keith. The train frequency for a Saturday is broadly the same as a weekday. The only difference is the departure times which are a few minutes later. Euston is the correct station to use for Liverpool.

For the journey from Liverpool to Glasgow you will need to change at Preston. For example, there is a departure from Liverpool with First North West Trains at 10:00 arriving in Preston at 11:05. Departure from Preston would be at 12:02 with Virgin Trains, arriving in Glasgow at 15:06.

However, bear in mind that weekend travel can be delayed by engineering work.

In answer to your query about strike action, it has been mentioned, but any action would more than likely take place during Bank Holidays, which in the case of May would be at the beginning and the end of the month. So chances are you'll probably escape any disruption. Welcome to Britain!
 
Apr 21st, 2004, 08:27 AM
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If you have a rail pass, you can change wherever you like: it would cost the same to go from Liverpool to Glasgow via London. Look at schedules on www.nationalrail.co.uk or www.bahn.de, and they will tell you exactly where you catch the train and where you change.
To understand the way train fares work in Britain, remember that the trains are run by around 25 different operators, so if you buy a standard train ticket, the revenue is shared amongst all the train companies that run on that route. If you buy an APEX-type ticket which restricts you to travelling on a specific train on a specific date, all the revenue goes to the operator of that specific train. This is why operators are so keen to sell this type of ticket. It follows that APEX fares will not be available for complex journeys that imvolve a change of train; in these cases, it may be cheaper to book the journey in two or more separate sectors. On the other hand, one of the advantages of train travel is the flexibility - on many main lines in Britain, trains are every hour or every half hour - which means that if you have a pass or a standard ticket, you don't have to plan two weeks in advance exactly what time you're travelling.
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Apr 21st, 2004, 09:19 AM
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is the tube considered part of the rail network?
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Apr 21st, 2004, 09:35 AM
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No, but if you are travelling into London, you can buy train tickets that include a one day travel card good on the tube. And tube passes are valid on most train services within the 6 zones of the London Underground system.
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Apr 21st, 2004, 09:51 AM
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Andrew-
I am travelling with a group of 6 adults and 2 children (age 14 and younger) and am trying to obtain inexpensive rail tickets round trip from London to Cardiff and back. Travel dates will be Saturday, May 29 (to Cardiff) and Saturday, June 5 (to London). We are fairly flexible as to times. Do you have any suggestions? Thank you.
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Apr 21st, 2004, 10:01 AM
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Andrewmac
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Yes. It trades as London Underground and is a member of ATOC (Association of Train Operating Companies). Its main purpose in life is to move millions of commuters to and from work each day and to provide a quick and easy interchange between London's mainline railway stations.

For information on the rail network go to www.rail.co.uk/ukrail/railcomp/towelcm.htm

For information on the tube go to www.thetube.com
 
Apr 21st, 2004, 10:04 AM
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Thank you for your help. I will try the other web site and phone number. If I can't find an advance purchase price I might as well wait until we arrive to be sure there is no delay in landing or strike.
SueBee is offline  
Apr 21st, 2004, 10:32 AM
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Andrewmac
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Hi Stampsaver. A search on First Great Western's website came up with a fare of £252 ($55 each)for a group of 6 adults and 2 children from London Paddington to Cardiff and return for the dates you require. This was for SuperAdvance return tickets, but the train companies will normally offer further reductions for group travel.

Journey times in each direction are 2 hours and trains leave every hour or so.

You might care to have a look at First Great Western's website at www.great-western-trains.co.uk

 
Apr 21st, 2004, 10:51 AM
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Andrew-
Thanks so much for your help. I will go now to the Great Western site you mentioned. Will you be checking this thread over the next few days?
stampsaver is offline  
Apr 21st, 2004, 10:52 AM
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let me restate my question,- if there is a strike of the rail system, does that include the tube?
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Apr 21st, 2004, 11:13 AM
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Andrewmac
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Not necessarily. As I explained previously, London Underground is one of the Train Operating Companies that provides services for the UK network. If the underground workers go on strike it would be for a dispute they were involved in and they would not normally strike in support of a dispute at another company. Secondary action is in fact illegal under present UK Employment Laws.
 
Apr 21st, 2004, 11:18 AM
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Andrewmac
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Hi Stampsaver. Fear not, I will keep checking the thread and if any info I give is not accurate I'm sure someone else will put me right.
 

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