Cheap tickets by train using BritRail Passes, Advance Purchase and Sleeper Trains. Traveling around Britain on trains can be an expensive vacation for overseas visitors, but there are ways to save.
Long rail journeys – getting cheaper fares.
Although Britain is a small country, it can still take the same time to get somewhere as a flight across the Atlantic. Tourists traveling from London to Edinburgh can expect their journey to take between 4 and 5 hours, further North and it might be more than 7 hours. Likewise traveling to the Lake District or Lands End can take quite a while. Fortunately journeys like these are on very comfortable trains and you can take advantage of cheap fares on these.
BritRail Passes – saving money.
BritRail Passes have been in existence for many years and have proved very popular for visitors wishing to explore many parts of the UK. They are only available for purchase before entering the UK and come in several different varieties. It is worth working out an itinerary of where you plan to visit as BritRail Passes can be purchased for the regions that you need. For example, you can have passes that include just London and the South-East or even just a Travelcard covering London only.
Sometimes BritRail have special offers on BritRail passes depending on the season of travel and you should always check for these online or at your travel agent.
One way or round-trip – it pays to plan.
For visitors who are planning just a few destinations, it can be cheaper just buying a one way or round-trip depending on the distance traveled or time of day. For example, tourists just traveling 50 miles or so and a few similar trips might find this is the cheaper option.
Further discounts are available to overseas visitors with the use of railcards. These are all available to all (with the exception of the Disabled Railcard), and can be purchased at the time of travel. It can be useful carrying a passport size photograph of yourself as these can be required for certain passes and railcards.
Advance purchase fares.
Further great savings can be made by purchasing tickets in advance. These are generally available for booking over the internet and are at their cheapest when booking up to 12 weeks ahead of travel. Many Railcards can again be used on these advance fares and may save you money depending on the amount of travel planned.
On shorter journeys, traveling within the UK does not generally require a seat reservation. When traveling on longer journeys, it is always recommended to have a reservation as the trains are normally very busy. This is especially the case on journeys to Scotland and the South-West of England.
To make the use of your time in the UK, you may choose to sleep and travel at the same time. The railways have a choice of sleeper services for the longer journeys and are a very comfortable way to get to your destination. It is always necessary to book in advance for these, and if traveling from Spring to Fall, book as early as possible to get your choice of service. There is an extra charge for sleeper trains, but this will probably be cheaper than booking an extra night in a hotel.