When's best to get the train home for Christmas?
December 19, 2006 2:20 AM   Subscribe

When will the UK passenger rail service, particularly journeys on Virgin Cross Country via Birmingam New Street, be quietest: Thursday evening or Friday morning? I'm getting the train home for Christmas from Oxford to Sheffield, and am keen to avoid the annual ordeal of fighting for seats and sitting on the floor outside the toilets.
posted by caek to Travel & Transportation (9 answers total)
Seems to be a lot of people might be taking Friday off to do exactly the same thing as you're doing, and so may travel Thursday night. I'd recommend Friday morning after about 10am – cheaper and quieter. Which route are you taking?
posted by xvs22 at 2:59 AM on December 19, 2006

Friday morning - as early as your ticket will allow. Ideally, 9:31. I find evening trains far busier than early morning ones.
posted by blag at 3:15 AM on December 19, 2006

Yes, I'd go morning, as early as possible - though if you're going on the Oxford line that goes through Birmingham, I've always found I'm lucky to get a seat on those trains at any time... they're really short trains.
posted by altolinguistic at 3:22 AM on December 19, 2006

Response by poster: I would have to leave early on Friday, since I'm having my wisdom teeth out in Sheffield at 2pm (party time!)

I expect to go Oxford - BNS - Sheffield, although I may be able to avoid changing at BNS.

No votes for Thursday evening?
posted by caek at 3:31 AM on December 19, 2006

If I was planning that journey I think I might be tempted by the direct OXF-SHF route at 19.36 on the Thursday, about as quick as you're going to get, no fannying about at BNS, no worry over making connection. You know you can always get a seat reservation if you can get yourself to the station before Thursday!
posted by biffa at 3:58 AM on December 19, 2006

I travel home on the West Coast Main Line from work, and it's usually pretty quiet on the last couple of working days of the year. Not sure I'd stress it too much. Oh, and why don't you pre-book for a seat?
posted by bifter at 4:06 AM on December 19, 2006

Response by poster: I do intend to pre-book a seat (although with no FastTicket machine at Oxford station this involves a trip to the station before the day I travel), but a quieter train is really what I'm after.

Well spotted, biffa. I'd either get that one or the 0936 direct on Friday.
posted by caek at 4:17 AM on December 19, 2006

Response by poster: Democracy ruled, and I now have reservations on the 0936 on Friday morning. Wish me luck!
posted by caek at 12:00 PM on December 19, 2006

When I lived in the UK, everybody always told me it was within the rules to take any unreserved 1st class seat if 2nd class was full, assuming you buy the cheaper ticket.
This sounds like an opportunity to put that to the test.
posted by bystander at 3:05 AM on December 20, 2006

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