Rail Travel in the UK

Apr 21st, 2004, 10:33 AM
Join Date: Mar 2003
Posts: 8
We are planning to take the train from London to Bath on the morning of Monday, May 31, 2004 (Spring Bank Holiday) - considering the threat of strike, would you recommend waiting to purchase the tickets on our day of travel?

betzross is offline  
Apr 21st, 2004, 10:44 AM
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It really is a matter of choice. If you buy a ticket in advance with a seat reservation you are guaranteed a seat and you should be able to get a refund if the service cannot be provided because of strike action.

If you wait and buy a ticket on the day of travel, the ticket will get you on the train but does not guarantee you a seat if all the seats are occupied or reserved.
Apr 21st, 2004, 11:31 AM
Join Date: Feb 2004
Posts: 148
you mean they sell train tickets even when there are no seats available? what do you do,-- stand up and hang on tight??
hunterblu is offline  
Apr 21st, 2004, 11:40 AM
Join Date: Jan 2003
Posts: 1,675
Exactly, as I have done on an NI train out of Belfast part way to Derry. Or sit on the floor in the doorway area with a number of backpackers, as I have done between Taunton and Exeter.
ron is offline  
Apr 21st, 2004, 02:24 PM
Join Date: Jan 2004
Posts: 15
My wife and I have allready purchased First Class Britrail Passes for our visit to England in May. We will be traveling by train London to York, York to Blackburn via Carlisle, and Blackburn back to London. We'd like to be flexible about what time of day we jump on a train. Is it required that one have reservations when traveling first class? Some sites say yes, others say no?
JJ863 is offline  
Apr 21st, 2004, 03:50 PM
Join Date: Feb 2004
Posts: 148
I have the same question. Am wondering now if I should go ahead and buy a 4 day consecutive pass. If I do so will I automatically have a seat reserved regardless of when I choose to travel?
hunterblu is offline  
Apr 21st, 2004, 09:45 PM
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In answer to JJ863 and hunterblu I would say yes. Most train stations will have a ticket office (the local phone book will have their number)where you can request a seat reservation for your journey. Most likely there will be no charge for this service, if there is it will only be a pound or two. Go ahead and buy your pass and then reserve a seat for any trip you make. Personally I would always recommend a seat reservation for inter-city services.
Apr 21st, 2004, 11:54 PM
Join Date: Feb 2003
Posts: 470
Day trip from London question:

Are there some hidden gem daytrip opportunities from London, where the train route is particularly fast and/or well discounted? Probably someplace that you would normally overlook due to distance. I know there are some cases the reverse of this where it is unexpectedly slow/expensive to visit. thanks
viking is offline  
Apr 22nd, 2004, 12:06 AM
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Hello Viking. You haven't said what particular interest you have, but two places that come to mind are Birmingham (West Midlands) and Leeds (Yorkshire).

Birmingham is classed as Britain's second city and has undergone a transformation in recent years with bucketloads of money being spent on it.

Leeds is renowned for its brilliant shopping and for history try the Leeds Armoury.

Both places are served by fast and frequent train services from London - Birmingham is reached from Euston and for Leeds you'll need to go from King's Cross.
Apr 22nd, 2004, 05:24 AM
Join Date: Jan 2003
Posts: 1,675
Andrew's answer about seat reservations may leave the impression that you can just walk into the station with your pass and reserve a seat on the next train to where you are going. Not quite true. Reservations are available on some trains and can normally be made up to about 2 hours before the train departs from its start point, or, for early morning trains, up to 1600 the previous evening.
ron is offline  
Apr 22nd, 2004, 06:13 AM
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Thanks Ron. You're quite right of course. Having the wrong information can soon ruin a day out.
Apr 22nd, 2004, 04:58 PM
Join Date: Feb 2004
Posts: 148
when you travel on the rail system:
a) if taking the gatwick express, where do you put your luggage? next to you or is it checked (like at an airport)?
b) is train travel at all like the airport where you have to arrive a certain time before departure? Are there security checks?
hunterblu is offline  
Apr 22nd, 2004, 06:20 PM
Join Date: Jan 2003
Posts: 1,473
To JI863 and Hunterblu, No, Railpass doesn't mean automatically seat reservation. As previous posts, you could reserve seats at rail stations. However,I used to travel in U.K. with Railpass,escept Friday afternoon or bank holidays,I hardly needed to reserve seats.

To Hunterblu; there is no luggage check-in in trains or Gatwick Express, Passengers carry them to the car, and store either in the racks by either end or above heads.

Except Eurostar, there is no security check, you can arrive any time before the train leaves.
JudyC is offline  
Apr 28th, 2004, 04:48 PM
Join Date: Aug 2003
Posts: 6

I'll be in Great Britain from May 12 until May 21, alone and with a flexible schedule.

In addition to London, I'd like to visit by train both York and Edinburg.

I have made no hotel reservations anywhere.

Which train do you recommend?

Should I get a rail pass?

Does it matter reagrding costs or time which place I go to first--York or Edinburg?

Can you comment on Virgin Trains?

Thank you,

Christine in Baltimore, USA
christinecorgi is offline  
Apr 28th, 2004, 09:55 PM
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Hi Christine. A BritRail pass would be best for you given the flexible nature of your itinerary. As has been stated previously, buying train tickets for travel the same day can be expensive, particularly during peak periods.

You haven't said where you are starting from in relation to your trips to York and Edinburgh. Assuming it is London, you will need the Great North Eastern Railway (GNER) service from Kings Cross station for both destinations. Trains are fast and frequent with York 2 hours from London and Edinburgh just under 5 hours.

Unless you are returning to London after each trip you might want to consider doing York first with an overnight stop in a B&B and then continue to Edinburgh the next day.

Virgin Trains concentrate on the cross-country train services from places such as Aberdeen, Edinburh and Glasgow in Scotland to destinations such as Birmingham, Bristol and Penzance in England. The company has recently invested heavily in new rolling stock, but has come in for intense criticism for overcrowding and poor time-keeping.

Hope this information is of use to you. If you need more, post back.
May 14th, 2004, 01:09 PM
Join Date: May 2004
Posts: 1
Hi all. I am planning a two week trip to the UK (England & Scotland) in July and plan to buy a Britrail pass. However, the difference between a first and a second class pass is around $200 per person. Is it worth it to pay this difference? We are two adults with no kids and average lugagge. Thanks for your help.
JuanF is offline  
May 14th, 2004, 01:37 PM
Join Date: Nov 2003
Posts: 488
Juan, I really don't think it's worth it to pay the extra for a first class BritRail pass. Standard class gets there at the same time as first you know! Though you may have to walk just a little bit further to get on or off since 1st class is at the front. Save the extra $400 for shopping. I love traveling Britain with a BritRail pass - it makes things so easy and flexible, just hop on or off as you please, no waiting in line or worrying about the best ticket prices. When we were in London last month, we planned to make a day trip by train to Winchester, but when we got to the train station (Waterloo in this case) we discovered trains were experiencing major delays, so we decided to do Winchester another day & went shopping at Harrods instead. (OK so we wasted £2 on the extra Tube fare - better than wasting half our day sitting in a train station.) If we'd bought train tickets in advance separately, we'd have been stuck going that day with who knows how long of a delay which would have cut down our time to enjoy Winchester (which turned out be a lovely place to visit when we did go).
Daisy54 is offline  
May 14th, 2004, 06:37 PM
Join Date: Jan 2003
Posts: 1,675
Juan, if you are flying business class or first class to the UK, you may want to travel the same way on the trains. Otherwise, I think you would find the Standard Class acceptable. First Class won't give you any special treatment with your baggage.
ron is offline  
May 14th, 2004, 07:02 PM
Join Date: May 2004
Posts: 102
Am on a tight budget. How do I find the cheapest train tic from London to Leeds in July? Or would taking the bus be recommended.
Tiger_Lily is offline  
May 15th, 2004, 05:37 AM
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Hi Tiger Lily. Trying to get a cheap train fare in July is like trying to find a needle in a haystack. July and August are peak travel times due to the six-week school holidays.

A quick look at www.gner.co.uk revealed a cheapest return fare of £62.50 ($110!!) from London to Leeds. It also said the cheapest single fare was £18.50, but none were available.

For budget travel, the bus may take longer, but it's definitely cheaper. A search on National Express should through up something.

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