train reservations

Old Aug 6th, 2008, 08:15 AM
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train reservations

here is some info that might be helpful ... if you have a Britrail pass you can make reservations online for a fee on the EuropeRail website. We are travelling into London then getting onto a train immediately so the reservation at the station option isn't useful in that situation. The bad news... they send you a paper ticket for the reservation; it needs to be made a minimum of 5 days in advance of travel, but in order to be sure of delivery before departure, sooner might be better (they say 2 to 3 days for delivery to Canada).
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Old Aug 6th, 2008, 08:33 AM
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If you want reservations you should make them when you buy your BritRail Pass as if doing it via raileurope.com later i think then you will pay a $18 or so mailing fee - not sure but for purchases under a certain sum i think they have a fee. For Americans an alternative to the RE mailing fee for reservations i always mention BETS www.budgeteuropetravel.com for their great personal service and lower handling charges for mailing - not sure they serve Canada like RailEurope.com does.

that said i see no need for reservations until you get to London - and if you are flying to London and need to get a train immediately then you have to either put a lot of fudge time in for late flights or miss you train and lose the reservation

There are usually two trains or even more an hour most places - and reservations are not required - though suggested IME in 2nd class but never recommended or needed in 1st class - never in decades of travling with a BritRail Pass in 1st class have i not seen ample empty unreserved seats.

But in 2nd class trains can be packed to the gills and most seats reserved thru online discount booking, etc.

Curious - what train are you planning on taking? You will also have to activate your pass and that could take a long long wait in line at most stations IME - build time in for that
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Old Aug 6th, 2008, 08:41 AM
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I don't think there is any website named EuropeRail. Why is getting a paper reservation bad news? If you bought it at a train station, that's what it would be.
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Old Aug 7th, 2008, 06:43 AM
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I assumed OP must have been talking about RailEurope and mixed up the name but maybe not
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Old Aug 7th, 2008, 07:57 AM
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I'm not a railpass guru, but having to make reservations seems to defeat the flexibility offered by the BritRail pass. If you know in advance when you want to travel, you might save by purchasing point-to-point tickets.

I'm planning a trip to London for next May and am curious about the need for train reservations. For day trips from London to places like Bath, Stratford-Upon-Avon, Warwick, Salisbury, and Windsor Castle, are train reservations really needed? What happens if I board a train and don't have a reservation? Can I sit in any unoccupied seat and move if someone with that seat boards at another station? If there are no seats, can I stand or will the conductor throw me off the train?
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Old Aug 7th, 2008, 08:11 AM
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<<< Can I sit in any unoccupied seat and move if someone with that seat boards at another station? >>>

The seats will have a label on them indicating if that seat is reserved and between which stations it is reserved. You can sit in it if it's not taken soon after the train leaves the station or it's for a leg where there isn't a reservation.

The main reason to get a reservation is so that you are guaranteed a seat - I've known people who've had to stand for 5 hours between London & Edinburgh because they didn't get a seat reservation.

As for OP - do it at the station a day or so before you want to travel - unless you fancy paying some ripoff merchant like RailEurope
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Old Aug 7th, 2008, 08:13 AM
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On short journeys, reservations are not even possible. On longer journeys in Britain, you can just get on a train and sit in any vacant seat (or stand if there no seats). Reservations are only needed if you're travelling at a busy time, such as around a weekend. Trains on most main lines are every hour or every half hour; even if you have a reserved seat, you can use your ticket on an earlier or later train (unless, of course, you have a cheap advance ticket which is only valid on one specific train).
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Old Aug 7th, 2008, 12:10 PM
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> The main reason to get a reservation is so that you are guaranteed a seat

It seems that a reservation can also amke quite a dramatic difference for your ticket price. As I indicated in another post, London - Bath is L9.50 one way with a resevation, and L48, or may be L24 one way, without. Am I correct, BTW ?
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Old Aug 7th, 2008, 12:44 PM
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The cheap advance fares are sold in limited numbers and the ticket can only be used on a specific train. They are most likely to be available at the least popular times.
If you have a normal train ticket and a reservation, you can travel on any train: you are not restricted to travelling on the one with your reserved seat.
The original question was about a Britrail pass, so cheap advance fares are irrelevant.
Seat reservations, if booked at a British station, are free on most routes, but reservations usually close a couple of hours before the train starts its journey.
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Old Aug 8th, 2008, 06:16 AM
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1st class BritRail pass you never will not find empty seats IME of nearly 40 such passes

in 2nd class i would reserve if i wanted two seats together as many times when i walk thru 2nd class i see the odd empty seat but not always two together

Look for little paper reservation tags on seats that are reserved so before plopping down in an empty seat see if that seat is not reserved from a station coming up or when the folks with the reservations later board you will then have to scoot out

And if you do have to stand then scrutinize the reservations tickets sticking out of the tops of seats and see where those seats will be vacated so you can grab them when the passengers in those seats vacate

This is not to say that you will not find two seats together but it is no guarantee in 2nd class like it is IME in first class
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Old Aug 8th, 2008, 07:11 AM
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After 12 years of using a Britrail pass, without ever making a reservations, I have never not found a seat. The first 8 times was standard class and the 4 was in first class. If going solo I wouldn't fret about it, however, with a group, I would make reservations.
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