UK train tickets

Apr 3rd, 2011, 11:47 AM
  #1  
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UK train tickets

Because we do not want to drive after flying from the US, we have decided to train from Heathrow to Bedford. This option, while more expensive and timely, puts us more at ease than worrying about driving when tired and jet lagged. However, we want to try to economize as much as possible and would like to buy advance train tickets in order to save some money.

Here is my dilemma:

I went onto the National Rail UK site and looked up the train tickets from Heathrow on the Underground that will take us to Bedford via a change in trains at St. Pancras.
For the four of us (3 adults, 1 child), the cost is £33.25. If I price the tickets separately from Heathrow to St. Pancras and from there to Bedford it comes to £17.50 and £14.

Here lies my problem- I went to purchase the tickets from Heathrow to Bedford for the £33.25 and when it got near the end on how to get my tickets, the choices were (are) to pick up at a station ticket machine, post or next day post but both only within the UK. I was going to choose to pick up at ticket machine at Heathrow but it doesn't show as having any machines there. Is there somewhere else to pick them up there or another way?

If no,t and I end up getting my tickets (in advance) for the St. Pancras- Bedford portion (since there are machines at St. Pancras), about what time should I pick to leave St. Pancras? My flight is due to arrive at Heathrow at 8:35am.
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Apr 3rd, 2011, 11:53 AM
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There is no national rail station at Heathrow. The first leg of your journey is on the Tube piccadily line.

I would just buy your tube ticket at Heathrow on arrival to St Pancras and take the tube and then buy your Bedford tickets at the First Capital Connect ticket booth at St Pancras (follow the signs). I dont believe there is any benefit to buying them in advance (perhaps someone may correct me).
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Apr 3rd, 2011, 11:58 AM
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I was reading your question and getting ready to post -- when jamikins' post appeared. She explained things perfectly . . .
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Apr 3rd, 2011, 11:59 AM
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janisj - we must meet sometimes, I think we are of the same mind Perhaps one day you can make one of our pub walks in London!
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Apr 3rd, 2011, 11:59 AM
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Hi jamikins,it's not a national rail station but a website. It does take me on the piccadily line into London to change trains.

I am hoping to benefit from the cheaper advance fares offered by buying them in advance as they offer limited advance fares at a reduced rate.

In your experience, what have you paid from Heathrow into London on this line per person?
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Apr 3rd, 2011, 12:04 PM
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I know its a website - but there is no national rail station at heathrow. Just the underground/tube. So there are no national rail ticket machines to pick up your tickets.

So you will need to take the tube to St Pancras and then change to the first capital connect service to Bedford.

I will check the rates - give me a sec
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Apr 3rd, 2011, 12:07 PM
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ok according to www.tfl.gov.uk the cash rate to get from Heathrow to St Pancras is £5 each.

According to http://www.buytickets.firstcapitalconnect.co.uk/
a ticket from St Pancras to Bedford after 10am tomorrow starts at £19 a person.

So a total of £24 a person if bought on the spot.
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Apr 3rd, 2011, 12:09 PM
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The benefit of this is you arent tied into any times - just walk up when you get there - there are trains approx. every 10 mins throughout the day as its a major commuter line.
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Apr 3rd, 2011, 12:11 PM
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And just to be clear - you cant pick up rail tickets (national rail is a website that consolidates all the different overland rail companies on one website) at an underground station. Thats why I said there is no where to pick up the tickets at heathrow - there is no national rail or overland train service there.

Heathrow Express and Connect are not part of national rail so you cant pick up the tickets there either.

Hope this makes sense.
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Apr 3rd, 2011, 12:14 PM
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jamikins, sorry I misunderstood about the national rail station at Heathrow. I get it now.

Okay, so it looks like I will just buy my tickets to St. Pancra for £5 each. That's pretty much the same as if I purchased them in advance. (only a difference of £2.50 total)

However, if I wait to purchase the tickets from St. Pancras to Bedford at £19 per person, that is a substantial increase compared to buying the advance tickets at £14 for all four. I think I will at least buy that portion in advance.

That leads me again to my next question; if my flight is due to arrive at Heathrow at 8:35am, do you think that I am safe by buying the St. Pancras- Bedford portion with a departure time of 1:00 or 2:00pm?
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Apr 3rd, 2011, 12:16 PM
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That should be lots of time. I would say give yourself 2.5-3 hours to get to St Pancras just to be safe, so you will likely have time for a pub lunch or a snack at St Pancras.

Enjoy!
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Apr 3rd, 2011, 12:18 PM
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Thank you jamikins!!!!
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Apr 3rd, 2011, 12:19 PM
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No problem - just one thought - have you checked on a car service like www.justairports.com it may work out cheaper and definitely less hassle...
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Apr 3rd, 2011, 12:24 PM
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Do you mean to take us all the way to Bedford?

I have tried to find something for a reasonable price to take us all the way but everything I found was quite a bit more than the £35 price of the train.

I am all for less hassle and especially if it's cheaper. I'll email "just airports" and see. We used them in 2006 but that was just to get from Kensington to Heathrow.
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Apr 3rd, 2011, 12:30 PM
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I am not sure, I've never tried for Bedford, but thought it was worth mentioning just in case it is cheaper! Good luck and enjoy your trip!
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Apr 3rd, 2011, 11:06 PM
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"janisj - we must meet sometimes, I think we are of the same mind"

And on the same schedule it would seem -- semi-weird since we are 8 time zones apart

"Perhaps one day you can make one of our pub walks in London!"

I'd love it -- hopefully I'll be able to start traveling again and get back to visiting London/the UK 2 or 3 times a year
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Apr 4th, 2011, 10:28 AM
  #17  
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okay, I'm back with more questions!

So after the replies from jamikins and janisj I figured I would just purchase our LHR to St. Pancras underground train tickets on arrival but purchase our "advanced fare" tickets online beforehand for the London to Bedford portion.

but then I started doing some more figuring and reading and before you know it, I am back for more advice.

I am still planning to purchase the "advance fare" tickets from London to Bedford but I am wondering if I should also get all of us Oyster cards.

Truth be told we will have our arrival from LHR to London. Then a few days before we leave, we will drop our rental car at LHR and train back into London for the night. We will then return back from London to LHR the following night. This will actually give us 3 trips back/forth from/to Heathrow to London.

All zone 1-6 and looks like all will be off-peak. If I understand correctly, if I load the 4 Oyster cards with £10 + £3 fee, that will total £52. If I were even able to get the advance fare for the same 3 trips, it would total £52.50 so I am actually a head; does this seem right?

Then I calculated what the adult off peak fare between zones 1-6 are, and I believe the fare is only £2.70 as opposed to £5.0 and even better for the kids (ages 17 and 13).

Do you think I am on the right track and should purchase my "advance fare" tickets online from London-Bedford (at a substantial savings) and get the Oyster Cards for the rest of our rides?
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Apr 4th, 2011, 10:42 AM
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I believe the oyster deposit is now £5 (could be mistaken).

Assuming your math is correct that does make sense - just factor in time to get your deposits back at heathrow. Just buy the oysters and load them on arrival at heathrow - but also factor that time in as the lines can be quite long and you dont want to miss your train at St Pancras!
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Apr 4th, 2011, 10:50 AM
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at £19 per person, that is a substantial increase compared to buying the advance tickets at £14 for all four. I think I will at least buy that portion in advance.>

are the 14 pound tickets fully flexible - can be changed if your plane is late and you arrive at St Pancras late - I did not wade thru all the above postings but figure discounted tickets have some restrictions perhaps and may not be readily exchanged for another train? If they cannot I think 5 pounds for just showing up and hopping the very next train may be worth it as planes at Heathrow can always be late - chaos at Heathrow several times in past few years.

Oyster Cards are a brainless thing to buy - gives you the very cheapest ticket and can easily be refunded on your way out or keep them for later trips or give to family and friends going to London, etc.
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Apr 4th, 2011, 12:14 PM
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PalenQ,
It is £19 per person as opposed to £14 total for all four of us for the London to Bedford portion. The £14 is if I buy the advance fare tickets online beforehand and the £19 per person is what jamikins brought up as single journey fares from London to Bedford.

Yes, there is much less flexibility when buying the advance fare tickets but I am planning to pad my time. We are due to arrive at LHR at 8:35am and I am going to get the London-Bedford tickets for 1:00pm. That's roughly 4 1/2 hours to get to St. Pancras so I hope it will be okay.

But it does look like we will get the Oyster Cards for sure.

jamikins, do you think that perhaps the fee is only £3.0 if I order them online? It was saying that I could load £10 + £3 fee. Maybe the £5 fee is if I buy them at Heathrow?
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