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European Railroad Discussion > Travel in England - buying tickets


Date: 08/13/23 14:29
Travel in England - buying tickets
Author: yooperfan

My wife and I are going to England this fall for a non-railfan trip, but we will travel by rail. Since my last visit of any length was during the BR days, I have some questions:

1. What is  the best site to buy tickets from the US?
2. Do most longer distance  trains have reserved seats?
3.. Are reservations necessary?
4.Is first class worth it? Less crowded? More comfortable?
5. If you buy a ticket in advance how easy to change it?
6. Would a rail pass be worth considering?  

Thank you. 


 



Edited 2 time(s). Last edit at 08/14/23 16:09 by yooperfan.



Date: 08/13/23 16:33
Re: Travel in England - buying tickets
Author: 4745

Hi,
My son has just come back from England last week to Australia.
2. Yes.
3. Reservations are not necessary, but advisable, especially in and out of London.
    Seat swapping is a problem if you do not have reservation, especially cross country trips. IE; X-country trains.
4. First class is a better experience. Comfortable and less people definitely.
6. Absolutely!

He had a 30 day pass and thoroughly enjoyed the experience. Clocked up huge number of miles travelling the length of the country.
Over 2500 miles and his girl friend is still talking to him.
Saved a heap of money by not buying tickets in England.
Maybe he can answer more questions if need be.
Graham.



Date: 08/13/23 19:06
Re: Travel in England - buying tickets
Author: mkancle

If you purchase the tickets through official railroad sites (like LNER, etc.) the earlier you buy the tickets the cheaper they are.
I took first class from Durham to London a few months ago and feel it's worth the extra money. You have more room to stretch out and generally less people stuffed in the carriage!  

Good luck,

Matt   



Date: 08/14/23 03:15
Re: Travel in England - buying tickets
Author: 86235

Another good source of tickets are sites like Trainsplit, which can offer substantial savings by exploiting the complications of our ticketing environment. They can put together a long distance journey using a number of tickets, delivered to your mobile device. So for instance I went from home in Abergavenny to Plymouth a few weeks ago, a round trip of about 350 miles. I paid £39.73, a saving of £21.67 on a simple end to end ticket. Trainsplit sold me 3 tickets, end to end, Abergavenny to Bristol, Bristol to Tiverton Parkway and Tiverton Parkway to Plymouth. Perfectly legitimate.



Date: 08/14/23 07:39
Re: Travel in England - buying tickets
Author: WP17

I've used Trainline (at https://www.thetrainline.com) and have been very satisfied. Trainline sells tickets for all the major operators in the UK so you don't need to create accounts with each individual operator. The site is a breeze to use.

And do check out railcards. We procured a "Two Together Railcard ---1/3 off train tickets when you both travel together"

WP17



Edited 1 time(s). Last edit at 08/14/23 07:45 by WP17.



Date: 08/15/23 08:23
Re: Travel in England - buying tickets
Author: 86235

WP17 Wrote:
-------------------------------------------------------
> I've used Trainline (at
> https://www.thetrainline.com) and have been very
> satisfied. Trainline sells tickets for all the
> major operators in the UK so you don't need to
> create accounts with each individual operator. The
> site is a breeze to use.
>
> And do check out railcards. We procured a "Two
> Together Railcard ---1/3 off train tickets when
> you both travel together"
>
> WP17

The only point to bear in mind using Trainline is that it will not have any specific train company offers, particularly an issue if you are travelling on any of the long distance operator routes - LNER, GWR, Avanti West Coast or East Midlands. LNER for instance often have some specific limited time offers which can save you a signifcant amount of money. They are not usually available through sites like Trainline.



Date: 08/15/23 10:46
Re: Travel in England - buying tickets
Author: Hartington

As with many thins, the answer can be "it varies".
Trainline charges fees for their service. The individual operators don't.
Whether a pass is worthwhile is going to depend to depend on how much travel you plan to do and which of our discount passes you are eligible for.
"Advance" tickets are like many airline tickets. They are sold for a particular train on a particular date. They aren't always the cheapest available (they usually are).
"Split tickets" can be well worth investigating BUT..... the train must stop at the station(s) where you move from one ticket to the next. You don't have to get off the train and back on but the train must stop.
We currently have a number of industrial disputes ongoing. The unions have to give two weeks notice of action. They don't just withdraw their labour. They use other tactics which can result in short notice cancellations on the day of travel.
Should you be unlucky enough to suffer a delay we have a a system called "delay repay". The precise way it works is something you need to read up on but a recent trip to London when the train to London failed and on the way home, a landslip meant we had to go a long way round, meant I got all my money back!



Date: 08/15/23 11:06
Re: Travel in England - buying tickets
Author: Hartington

I should add that "advance" is a particular type of ticket. Changing them is not impossible but a bit of work and may cost you.
You can buy most fares before the date of travel and even if you buy something other than an "advance" ticket you can get a seat reservation but that doesn't mean you have to travel on the reserved train.
London is a bit of an exception to everything.  Several years ago the Underground and the buses started using a special type of card called "Oyster". You loaded money, waved the card at a reader as you started your joirney and (but not on buses) again at the end and the fare was deducted. These days you don't need a special card, just use your credit or debit so long as it is Visa or Mastercard. It's also the case that many of the ordinary railway, as well as the Underground, routes also use this tap in tap out system. It's also worth knowing that if your fares add up to more than a certain amount (I can't remember what it is) then once you've passed that amount on any single day your pay no more.



Date: 08/15/23 11:58
Re: Travel in England - buying tickets
Author: DrawingroomA

My wife and I always get a Britrail First Class Pass. They are available for various combinations of days. There is a reduced price version for England only.

On most short-haul routes First Class is nothing special: the same 2 + 2 seating as in Standard with maybe an inch or two more leg-room. On most routes it is not enforced so anybody can sit there and many people proudly announce that they have not paid for First Class. But First Class is definitely worth it on the longer routes. They have the traditional 2 + 1 seating. Many rail operators provide complimentary meals and beverages, even mixed drinks  and wine.



Date: 08/15/23 17:09
Re: Travel in England - buying tickets
Author: Geordie405

Some thoughts from me:

1. The BritRail pass can be excellent value if you plan to do a lot of travel.  However, if you're only making one or two journeys then it may not be good value and you'd be better off buying point to point tickets.  If you know where and when you're going then you can price everything up online and do the math.

2. There are local rover and ranger tickets available in the UK that allow unlimited travel within a certain geographic area.  They can also be good value if you're going to be based in one particular location.  They are usually valid after 9.30 am M-F and any time on weekends.  The National Rail site has details.

3. If you're doing longer inter-city journeys (for example London - York, London - Edinburgh, London - Penzance) then First Class would be recommended.  Most long-distance operators offer complimentary food & beverage in First.  That would include alcoholic beverages starting mid to late morning.

4. You shouldn't need to sign up with each train operating company if you buy tickets online.  Each operator will sell tickets for all services.  Tickets can either be delivered electronically as PDF or in-app but you can still collect tickets from ticket machines at the station if you choose.  You will usually need the credit card you used to make the purchase when you collect them.

5. Definitely look at purchasing a railcard as it will give you 1/3 off pretty much all fares.  If you book tickets with a railcard discount then you must be able to show the railcard when your tickets are inspected.  If you don't then you may be treated as travelling without a valid ticket and have to buy a new one.

Hope that helps!  Feel free to ask if you have questions!



Date: 08/15/23 17:43
Re: Travel in England - buying tickets
Author: railsmith

yooperfan Wrote:
-------------------------------------------------------
> My wife and I are going to England this fall for a
> non-railfan trip, but we will travel by rail.
> Since my last visit of any length was during the
> BR days, I have some questions:
>
> 1. What is  the best site to buy tickets from the
> US?
> 6. Would a rail pass be worth considering?  

If you want a railpass, British or otherwise, Rail Europe is a good supplier. The passes are shipped from a US location and I usually receive mine (in Vancouver, Canada) within two days of ordering. https://www.raileurope.com/

There are many variations of the Britrail Pass, in duration, flexibility, and area covered.

If you don't want a pass, RailEurope offers split-ticketing through its Pricehack system. Other posters have already alluded to split-ticketing. You travel on one train with a series of tickets that cover successive stages of the journey, with the proviso that each ticket involves actual stops along the journey. 

 



Edited 1 time(s). Last edit at 08/15/23 17:45 by railsmith.



Date: 08/16/23 05:23
Re: Travel in England - buying tickets
Author: 86235

Hartington Wrote:
-------------------------------------------------------
> Several years ago the Underground and the buses
> started using a special type of card called
> "Oyster". You loaded money, waved the card at a
> reader as you started your joirney and (but not on
> buses) again at the end and the fare was deducted.
> These days you don't need a special card, just use
> your credit or debit so long as it is Visa or
> Mastercard. It's also the case that many of the
> ordinary railway, as well as the Underground,
> routes also use this tap in tap out system. It's
> also worth knowing that if your fares add up to
> more than a certain amount (I can't remember what
> it is) then once you've passed that amount on any
> single day your pay no more.

A point to bear in mind about Oyster if you are railfanning in and around London. The fare cap Hartington refers to above doesn't apply if you spend what Oyster considers an overly long time between touching in and out. The alternative is a paper one day travelcard, but Transport for London are going to withdraw it as a sop to the government's demand for savings post Covid.



Date: 08/18/23 05:18
Re: Travel in England - buying tickets
Author: RailRyder

For ticket research and purchase, the overarching place to go is:

https://www.nationalrail.co.uk/

They are the real deal, not a middle man. Once you select your train, they may connect you to the actual operating company to complete the sale.

Other very useful sites:

https://www.realtimetrains.co.uk/

https://traksy.uk/live

https://www.opentraintimes.com/

http://railtourinfo.co.uk/

The different operators in the UK have different reputations, some are better than others, so it is always good to have a Plan B!

Hope this helps.

-Jim Fetchero

 



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