Train travel to/from London/Salisbury

Nov 27th, 2009, 03:47 PM
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Train travel to/from London/Salisbury

Hello. I will be taking the train from London to Salisbury then the bus to Stonehenge. I would like to buy tickets ahead of time. If by some chance, I need to return to London earlier than planned, would I be able to take an earlier train if there are available seats? If not, would it make more sense to buy tickets as I go? Thank you for your help.
Nancy_W is offline  
Nov 27th, 2009, 09:53 PM
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There's no (well see the bottom para) point buying tickets beforehand on this route. There's no advance booking saving, there's no point in reserving seats (I'm not sure it's even possible on most trains to Salisbury), there are dozens of ticket selling machines at the station and trains are frequent enough thast even if you get stuck in a ticket-buying queue, there'll be another one soon. Normally, we'd arrive at the station at most five minuites before departure: allow an extra 15 or so at busy times in this case.

Buy a cheap day return at London Waterloo, but play with alternative times on to see how your timing affects the price: usually, day returns are about 5% more thgan a single ticket.

However, the operating company, SW Trains, also runs a booking site called Megatrain. This offers formidable reductions on a few trains a day. If you book through this site, it's essential you take ONLY the booked journey. If you attempt to use a Megatrain ticket on a different train, you will be charged the full price, and will probably be fined for travelling without a valid ticket as well if you manage to get on the train. SW Trains, while admirable in many respects, have a near-pathological commitment to what their industry calls "revenue protection"
flanneruk is offline  
Nov 28th, 2009, 12:32 AM
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Trains from London Waterloo to Salisbury normally run every half hour. You can check times and fares on the National Rail website. It will probably be cheaper to travel after the morning peak, but tickets are not restricted to a particular train. The only advance fares to Salisbury are by Megatrain.
The trains are run by South West Trains ( and their website explains the different types of tickets and shows some special offers. There is a combined fare for Stonehenge, and discount fares for three or four people travelling together.
GeoffHamer is offline  
Nov 28th, 2009, 09:02 AM
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Thank you both for your quick replies. Not having to plan this daytrip in advance alleviates a lot of potential issues. I will also be taking a one way train from York to London on a different leg of the trip. Would it be better to buy a ticket ahead of time for that route? When buying a train ticket, is it for a specific date and time (like an airline ticket) or is it for any time on a particular day? Thank you again for your help.
Nancy_W is offline  
Nov 28th, 2009, 10:54 AM
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There are different types of ticket for a journey like York-London. The cheapest is an advance ticket which you must book in advance (the earlier, the cheaper) and is only valid on a specific train. Then, there are off-peak tickets which you can buy at the station before boarding the train at off-peak times (typically after 0930). Most expensive is an "Anytime" ticket valid on any train. With off-peak and anytime tickets, a seat reservation is optional but it's a good idea; your ticket is still valid on other trains, but you are only guaranteed a seat on the one train. Seat reservations close a couple of hours before the train starts its journey (bear in mind that many of the trains from York to London start their journey in Scotland).
Schedules and fares for York to London Kings Cross are on the National Rail website. An off-peak one-way ticket is currently £83 and an anytime ticket is £111.50. There is an off-peak fare of £35 on Grand Central trains ( though they have only four trains a day. You may find a cheaper advance fare if you book well in advance.
GeoffHamer is offline  
Nov 28th, 2009, 11:54 AM
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Have you thought about doing a day trip with a travel company instead of taking the train/bus? We did so (ok 10 years ago) with a company called Astral Travels and it was sensational. I'm sure there are a lot of other travel companies that have similar iteniraries. The company we used took us in a small mini bus with maybe 12-16 passengers. We went to Stonehenge, Glastonbury and visited the Tor. Lunch was on our own. It was a long day but well worth it. They also picked us up from our hotel door and dropped us off there too. It was one of the nicest times our family had in the UK and I'm sure it may be a bit more expensive but really worth it.
pauljagman is offline  
Nov 28th, 2009, 12:05 PM
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"We did so . . . with a company called Astral Travels and it was sensational."

Astral Tours went out of business a few years ago.

"it may be a bit more expensive . . ."

Evans Evans does a Salisbury/Stonehenge/Bath tour for £69 - but it doesn't give one enough time anywhere.

Grayline is even more -- @ £88

I wouldn't do either . . . .
janisj is online now  
Nov 28th, 2009, 05:14 PM
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Thank you all very much. I appreciate your replies. GeoffHamer, the specific instructions are great! It was just what I needed.
Nancy_W is offline  
Nov 28th, 2009, 05:36 PM
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If you book well in advance at, you can get a discount fare of £13.00 for York-London and have your choice of many trains throughout the day.
TimS is offline  
Nov 28th, 2009, 06:55 PM
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We did the reverse trip i.e. London to York a year ago was £35 each
oneoftwo is offline  
Nov 28th, 2009, 07:04 PM
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You might also check London Walks for their Explorer Day to Stonehenge and Salisbury. You meet at the train station and go all together on the train. The guides are great and it's very reasonable. The downside is that they only go there once a week, so you'd have to check their schedule. The website is simply
arindasue is offline  
Nov 29th, 2009, 05:46 PM
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Thank you everyone for your guidance. I really appreciate it!
Nancy_W is offline  
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