Sorting through rail pass options

Old Apr 4th, 2011, 06:25 PM
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Sorting through rail pass options

I'm trying to understand/sort through the rail pass options, for some reason it's hard for me to totally "get" everything from what the website talk about. My understanding so far is:
For a Youth, second class 15 day Rail pass it's $389

Here are the things I'm confused about:

One, does this pass mean ALL the train trips we'd take would be "Free?"
Two, with the journeys we are planning, is this a good deal?
Three, does it include any buses? My guess is no. Should we do a "bus" pass instead or is train better, or a mixture?
Fourth, when we have the pass...Do we need to reserve our tickets in advance, or does this give us the freedom to just...travel?

My initial thought is that the rail pass is a good option for us, but I'm not a positive.

From what I'm planning so far, these are the trips I think we'll be taking by train. (does the oyster card help with the London part of it at all, or is that just tube/metro related?)

London to Windsor, maybe London to Wimbledon, London to Oxford, Oxford to Bath, Bath to Chesterfield, Chesterfield, to Bronte world, Bronte world to Edinburgh. Possibly another train trip here and there if we want to...
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Old Apr 4th, 2011, 06:55 PM
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I can't help with your train questions, but I like your screen name.

Lee Ann
ElendilPickle is offline  
Old Apr 4th, 2011, 08:22 PM
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For an illustrated introduction to trains see http://tinyurl.com/eym5b. Your itinerary is rather undefined so an analysis based solely on cost would not be worthwhile, if you could find the true ticket prices on the web. Consider the freedom of a rail pass vs. standing in line to buy individual tickets.
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Old Apr 4th, 2011, 10:51 PM
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Oly you can work out what's right for you. One off ticket prices in Britain vary massively, and trains aren't always the most economical way of travelling (The bus from London to Oxford's usually half the price, much more comfortable and often more convenient than the train: between Edinburgh and London, planes are usually cheaper than trains).

Some foreign vendors (like the American Raileurope travel agency) of passes flatly lie about the relative economics: the ONLY way to do the sums is to go to a REPUTABLE railway site, like www.nationalrail.co.uk (that is: not the deceitful Raileurope) and check the actual fares you'll pay.

If you do buy a railway pass, note that:
- it covers only railways
- journeys from central London to Wimbledon are covered by your Oystercard or Travelcard: Windsor is outside the Oystercard area
- with a railway pass, there's no need for reservations, or for supplementary fees, unless you want to get a sleeper to or from Scotland or tne far West of England
- I can't see why you'd need a bus pass. There's no one pass anyway, and those there are don't applyt to some of your possible bus journeys (like getting a bus to Oxford, then changing to the bus to Woodstock)

Be VERY wary of posters on this board who, whether through schoolboy besottedness with trains, a corrupt relationship with pass salesmen, or downright ignorance treat you to a monomaniac, unquantified, rant about how wonderful passes are.
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Old Apr 5th, 2011, 12:20 AM
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The chief offender seems to be away at the moment.
Listen to Flanner. He knows what he is talking about
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Old Apr 5th, 2011, 02:14 AM
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Long distance rail fares in the UK can be extremely reasonable - you can get from London to Edinburgh for less than the cost of getting from London to most of the London airports. You also don't have to turn up 2 hours in advance, ensure your luggage meets strict size & weight requirements nor do you have the ritual humiliation of airport security nor do you have to hang around wondering if your luggage has arrived.

Cheap tickets become avilable a maximum of 12 weeks before the date of travel. A website like eastcoast.co.uk will tell you when the tickets are available and they (generally) accept foreign credit cards.

The Caledonian Sleeper train can - if you can get a bargain berth - gets you between London & Scotland for under £20 as well as saving you the cost of a night's accommodation. Taking the sleeper to Inverness is one of life's great joys as you wake in the Scottish Highlands
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Old Apr 5th, 2011, 03:16 AM
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seat61.com great rail pass discussion

they are generally poor value scamming the clueless

unless you train relentlessly on slow trains DAILY

you almost always lose money.

cheaper to just hop on train like a local almost always.

No you cannot get on fast trains special trains or sleepers

there are ALWAYS surcharges including reservation charges.

So do careful research calulate your past cost per day

wether you will be training or not takes like 5 hours

of training every day just to break even.

Second biggest euroscam after money change for me is

rail pass.
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Old Apr 5th, 2011, 03:29 AM
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We're talking UK travel, so presumably you mean a BritRail pass.

Yes, this gives true unlimited free train travel, as in the UK reservation is never compulsory and there are no surcharges or suppements, unless you want a sleeper to Scotland or Cornwall.

But don't buy a $389 pass to make a few £10 rail journeys. Check point to point fares at www.nationalrail.co.uk. Your short hops from London to Windsor or Wimbledon probably don't warrant a pass, the longer trips might make it pay if you require flexibility, but if you book cheap airline-style 'advance' tickets even long distance journeys can be made cheaply.

If you used it every day for 15 days, it would of course work out as $25 a day, about £17. That's your yardstick.
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Old Apr 5th, 2011, 07:28 AM
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The Man is our on board epert regarding trains etc. I'm glad to see we are of the same mind. It is convenient, but I've seldom found the BritRail Pass a bargin. Fares are very reasonable especially if bought in advance.As the Man-in-seat-61 has already suggested, go to www.nationalrail.co.uk and plug in your destinations and check the prices. The website gives you all the information you'll need regarding train travel in the U.K.
historytraveler is online now  
Old Apr 5th, 2011, 08:27 AM
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That BritRail pass is like every OTHER railpass being sold: the MORE you use it, the more economical it becomes
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Old Apr 5th, 2011, 11:17 AM
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I don't think the BritRailPass can work out to being the most economical but for us the convenience and flexibility was worth a lot. Not having to pre-book, either day or particular train, was worth more than the difference in price we paid over pre-booked rides (and I'm pretty sure it WAS less than walk-up, same day prices would have been)I'm a big "planner" but trying to lock in a particular time for a train was more than I could handle, so having the flexpass worked perfectly for us. But this is an individual decision. I don't think you need a 15 day pass, even if a pass is what you end up with. You don't need it when in London, and yes the bus to Oxford is a better value (and drops you off more in the center of town) than the train, so....
much to consider. And you'd better pack very very light.
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Old Apr 6th, 2011, 12:17 PM
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Did you know that during April, Britrail is adding and extra day to many of the passes? Called the "Royal Gift?" You buy in April and travel within 6 months. We might get an 8 day pass and it becomes a 9 day pass, or we're going to get a 4 day flexpass which would then become a 5 day flexpass.

I priced out all our trips and the pass will be more expensive than just buying tickets, but we want the flexibility. Also, there are 3 of us, so we get the 3rd person for 50% off.

BUT the deal breaker for us might be the Night Riviera Train to Cornwall. We want a sleeper and I've heard that's hard to do with a railpass.
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Old Apr 7th, 2011, 03:58 PM
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Thanks for all the advice!
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