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July 25, 2007 10:18 AM   Subscribe

Trains and England. According to you lot, I should buy in advance, but this still leaves a lot more questions for me...

So we will be taking two train rides in our time in England, according to an earlier question, I know I can buy them online and save money, and the websites in which to do them, but when I started looking them up, I just had more questions. The first trip is from the Manchester airport to Nottingham. However, we will be doing this right after a flight, and I don't want to miss the train we have tickets for because we are late. Trainline also only has 28 pound per person tickets that are Open tickets, which seems to mean that there isn't a time associated with them, is this correct? Should I go ahead and buy these open tickets, or would waiting till that day and buying at the station be a better bet?

Second trip, Nottingham to London, on a Sunday morning. Apparently noone (except us) wants to travel by train early out of Nottingham station on a Sunday. The options seem to be wait until about 10am, and get either a direct train to London, or a quicker train that stops over someplace. Earlier than 10am, it's a bus to train connection, with only about 10min between bus and train, with explicit times for the buses and trains, suggesting I couldn't just take the next one if I miss the first. This seems questionable given my (American) experience with late buses and traffic. Is this as bad of an idea as it seems? Tickets are cheaper though, only about 4-9 pounds per person, which I assume will go up later if I wait.

So what do I do? Please help navigate the confusing-ness of England trains for me!
posted by JonahBlack to Travel & Transportation (15 answers total) 2 users marked this as a favorite
 
I strongly recommend Accessible UK Train Timetables, a brilliant site. It will redirect you to individual train company sites to purchase the best deals.

It shows earlier trains from Nottingham to St Pancras for this coming Sunday, though who knows what strange engineering works might be going on the day you're thinking of.

Before you buy any tickets in advance, check that you can use a non-UK credit card to do so (unless you have a UK credit card). Train websites differ.
posted by game warden to the events rhino at 10:42 AM on July 25, 2007 [1 favorite]


And yes, an Open ticket can be used on any train. It will usually not be the cheapest but is always the most flexible.
posted by game warden to the events rhino at 10:44 AM on July 25, 2007


We just talked about this a day or two ago - check this thread to learn more about train pricing and to find some helpful links. Have a good time!
posted by mdonley at 10:47 AM on July 25, 2007


First, I almost never buy tickets in advance if there is no price advantage in doing so. You never know when your plans might change. Just buy your tickets at the station if they are walk-up tickets.

Get a Cheap Day Single Manchester Airport-Manchester Piccadilly (£2.80)* and then a CDS Manchester Stns-Nottingham (£16.20). These should be valid any train except before 09:30 M-F. You should be able to buy both of these from the MIA railway station ticket office. Or you can buy each one at each station from a machine.

Always avoid the rail replacement bus if at all possible. But if you misconnect because you were on MML's chartered bus on an itinerary their web site sold to you, they will still have to put you on a train to London.

Apparently noone (except us) wants to travel by train early out of Nottingham station on a Sunday.

If they didn't need that time for maintenance, I assure you they would be operating trains.

* Doubt this will be useful, but there's also an Evening Return (£1.45) for this leg only valid between 18:30-21:00.
posted by grouse at 10:50 AM on July 25, 2007


Oh yeah, regarding credit cards, I should say that some rail retail equipment will not accept my U.S. Visa card, and no London Underground ticket machine will. These are the only places where I ever have any trouble using my U.S. Visa card in the UK.
posted by grouse at 10:53 AM on July 25, 2007


As I mentioned in the thread earier this week (linked above) I found I could NOT purchase tickets online because I don't have a valid UK postcode... in other words, I don't live in the UK.

I had many people here incorrectly tell me to do it this way, but eventually had to call the rail company directly. This was quick, and accurate.
posted by jeff-o-matic at 11:15 AM on July 25, 2007


I don't know what websites you're using, but http://www.transportdirect.info says there's trains from Nottingham to London this Sunday morning.

If there's not...you can go with National Express for a little more than half the price of a train, and take about 40-60 minutes longer. Victoria Coach Station in London is about 5 minutes walk from Victoria train station and Victoria Underground station.
posted by Martin E. at 11:47 AM on July 25, 2007


Definitely buy online beforehand and pick them up at the fastticket kiosks at the station. If you try to buy them on the day of the trip, you will be charged twice as much.

Busses and trains seem to be on time in the UK, so I suspect the 10 minutes will be enough if the bus actually stops at the train station.
posted by beerbajay at 11:48 AM on July 25, 2007


If they're running a rail-replacement bus (between Nottingham and Leicester/Loughborough? Sunday 12 August?) due to engineering works on the line, you'll make the connection.

They're not saying you have to get some ordinary bus run by a different company, it's a coach laid on by the rail company, and as such it counts as a train in terms of connections; what it usually means in practice is that they have someone following the stragglers off the coach on arrival at the destination to make sure they all get on the train before they let the train leave.
posted by Lebannen at 11:58 AM on July 25, 2007


there's trains from Nottingham to London this Sunday morning.

He's probably not travelling this Sunday then, is he? It might be useful to supply dates here though.

If you try to buy them on the day of the trip, you will be charged twice as much.

Actually, the kinds of flexible tickets available on this route cost the same on the day.

Busses and trains seem to be on time in the UK

Except when they aren't (a good percentage of the time), and rail replacement buses can be notoriously late. I've arrived hours late on a trip that involved a rail replacement bus.
posted by grouse at 11:59 AM on July 25, 2007


I don't know what websites you're using, but http://www.transportdirect.info says there's trains from Nottingham to London this Sunday morning.

There may be engineering work for the weekend that JonahBlack is travelling, and a replacement bus service instead of the usual scheduled trains. The reason the bus times are specific is that they're laid on explicitly to fill in for a cancelled train service.

What I might suggest is that the non-direct option is probably smarter: Nottingham's not too far from Grantham or even Peterborough, and that puts you on the East Coast main line.
posted by holgate at 12:24 PM on July 25, 2007


Went back and checked the thread from a couple days ago (I searched, don't know how I missed it), but still a bit confused, mostly because I had already found Trainline to use, which seems nice, though a bit vague at times.

We are travelling Aug 9th Manchester->Nottingham, and Nottingham-London Aug 12th (which is apparently why there are no trains that morning, as Lebannen suggests there is construction there. just our luck).

So it seems that the bus replacement on the 12th will cover me if I'm late for the train leg, but that it might make me hours late if the bus is screwy. So which is better, early bus/train, or later train, we don't specifically have to be in London any time, we were just trying to maximize our sight seeing time.

With the Manchester-Nottingham one, it seems we might be able to buy individual tickets day of, for a bit less than the open ticket, is that correct?

Also, I knew that I couldn't have the tickets mailed to me, outside the UK, but can I use the fastticket kiosks without a UK postcode? Can I use a US credit card with someone else's UK postcode (the person we are visiting, not just a random one)?
posted by JonahBlack at 12:53 PM on July 25, 2007


With the Manchester-Nottingham one, it seems we might be able to buy individual tickets day of, for a bit less than the open ticket, is that correct?

Yes, but you have to buy separate tickets from Manchester Airpt-Manchester Piccadilly and then Manchester Stns-Nottingham. The cheapest through ticket is a Standard Open Single, which costs more.

If you really care only about maximizing sightseeing time, then take the National Express coach, which takes about the same amount of time as a journey that includes a rail replacement bus, is probably more comfortable and reliable than the rail replacement bus, and can be even cheaper. It's also a nonstop journey, so you could get an early coach and doze off for three hours.
posted by grouse at 1:13 PM on July 25, 2007


JonahBlack-

As of this last March, as a resident of the USA, I could NOT PURCHASE train tickets for the UK ONLINE, because I don't have a valid UK Postcode (address). I couldn't make the money transaction necessary to even be able to pick them up at a kiosk online, because before you can even enter your credit card information on the website, you need a valid UK postcode that corresponds with the card.

I went around and around on this, reading and posting to AskMetafilter, various other travel sites, GNER's site, and various UK train ticket sellers' sites, and the long and short of it was I couldn't buy the tickets online. Period.

What I did was research my basic itinerary online, then called GNER directly during their business hours. I was on the phone for less than 10 minutes, bought the tix with a US Visa card, got a better rate than what was posted online, and found that the schedule they had posted online wasn't even accurate.

Seriously, save yourself the frustration and just call the train companies directly once you figure out a rough schedule for yourself. I paid for the tickets over the phone, got a reservation number, then used my US Visa credit card at the train station (King's Cross, in this case). It's worth just paying for the phone call. The operator I talked to acted like he got these kinds of calls all the time.
posted by jeff-o-matic at 1:31 PM on July 25, 2007 [1 favorite]


What jeff-o-matic said about phoning to reserve. His thread earlier this year suggested that GNER et al were shortly going to allow online Fast Ticket reservations for non-UK cardholders, but they've not yet done it.
posted by holgate at 1:35 PM on July 25, 2007


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