Going from Heathow to Bristol.
March 12, 2011 7:33 PM   Subscribe

I'm landing in Heathrow this Sunday at 9pm and my final destination is Bristol. What's the best way to get there?

My plan is to take the Heathrow Express to Paddington and the First Great Western train to Bristol Temple Meads, which would get me there at around 1am.

Now on to the questions: 1) Does this sound like a good plan? 2) Do I need to get the tickets in advance or are they easy to buy in Paddington? 3) Can I easily find a cab at Bristol Temple Meads station at 1am on a Sunday?

posted by falameufilho to Travel & Transportation around Bristol, England (9 answers total)
Best answer: 1) Yes.
2) Easy. The Great Western trains and Heathrow Express trains are on adjacent platforms. There are self-service ticket machines if you have plastic and counters if you want to talk to someone. Probably best to talk to someone and work out whether it makes more sense to get a single or return, depending on your travel plans. (Advance tickets are cheaper, but if you're travelling tomorrow, you're cutting things too close to save money on your outbound leg.) Sunday services can sometimes take longer because of engineering work, but it doesn't look like the Bristol line is affected.
3) There's a taxi rank outside Temple Meads, and cabs will be there until the trains stop.
posted by holgate at 8:54 PM on March 12, 2011

(Station plan for Paddington here. Basically, you get off the Heathrow Express, and you're in the main concourse. Heathrow Express trains arrive at platforms 6 and 7; Great Western trains generally leave from platforms 1-5.)
posted by holgate at 8:59 PM on March 12, 2011

UK train ticket pricing is labyrinthine, so if you don't have time to queue at the ticket counter and need to buy your ticket from a machine, it might help you to know that the very cheapest London / Bristol ticket combination would probably be a 'Super off-peak single' for £28 tonight and then an 'advance single' which costs £17.50 and up, depending on which train you want to take on the way back.

You'd get a bit more flexibility from a 'super off-peak return' for £48.80, but you need to be sure it's valid on your return leg (it'll be valid on the train you'll take tonight) or for more flexibility an 'off-peak return' for £59.

So it wouldn't hurt to make a decision about your return journey now, if possible. The ticket counter, as holgate says, is your best option for talking this through.
posted by Busy Old Fool at 12:35 AM on March 13, 2011

You might get a cheaper option by buying your ticket at the trainline in advance.
posted by Laura_J at 1:33 AM on March 13, 2011

A shorter route is the coach from Heathrow to Reading where you join up with the same train to Bristol. You can buy a ticket from the bus driver and they stop outside the reading rail station entrance.
This is not any faster than the Heathrow Express via London, but it's usually a bit cheaper and in peak times you avoid the crush of overcrowded trains between London and Reading.
posted by Lanark at 6:17 AM on March 13, 2011

As an alternative, I've taken the National Express coaches between Heathrow and Bristol many times. Depending when you're going (and provided it's not going via Gatwick), it can be faster than the trains. It's definitely cheaper, and drops you in the middle of town.

If you take the train, there's a taxi rank outside the main exit at Temple Meads. There are always taxis there.

Bristol taxis tend to be on the pricey side for short journeys and cost more late at night (£5 only gets you about as far as Cabot Circus) so be sure to have cash on hand. There are ATMs in the underpass, but none in the main upstairs part of the station or even anywhere close by. On the way back, if you're close to a city rail station during the day, that's both the fastest and cheapest way back to Temple Meads. The buses take aaaaaaaages, avoid.
posted by Cuppatea at 6:29 AM on March 13, 2011

Forget the train. It will take three hours and, especially if you get the extortionate Heathrow Express, it's going to be pricey. The coach takes two hours, is cheaper, and involves no connections. Coaches direct from Heathrow to Bristol Bus Station (right in the city centre) leave tonight at 21:20, 22:25 and 23:50. Walk-up fair is £37.30 or £43 for an open return.
posted by caek at 6:56 AM on March 13, 2011

Yeah. London-to-Reading is the commuter run. Try to avoid that leg if possible.
posted by Leon at 1:40 PM on March 13, 2011

Response by poster: Posting this from the Heathrow express. Thanks for the tips! Thank you for those who recommended coaches as cheaper options, but for some irrational reason I always prefer trains. Lets see how it goes at Paddington, as usual Metafilter delivered the goods.
posted by falameufilho at 1:41 PM on March 13, 2011

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