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British Rail Pass savings

Hello,

My internet search landed on www.visitbritianshop.com where the cost of purchasing two passes (including fees and shipping) were quoted one hundred dollars less than all other listed vendors. I selected one senior and one youth. Any comments or experience with this business would be appreciated.

TK

Posted by
4 posts

It's interesting that they have their own special way of spelling "britain" as "britian". Caveat emptor.

--prs.

Posted by
4684 posts

It's a fraudulent site designed to trap people who make typos in URLs. It also now appears to have been taken down.

Posted by
28821 posts

Why would one place be so much cheaper than the rest?

More importantly - since rail passes are often such bad value, have you done the arithmetic to be sure that you need one?

Posted by
90 posts

Nigel,

My point exactly. And yes, it seems the pass would save me 40 percent. My travel days comprise more than half my itinerary. Couldn't be helped.

TK

Posted by
13523 posts

Which pass are you looking at? An 8-day Flexible pass for England, Scotland and Wales is $438 for the senior, which comes to almost $55 a day for travel. You can do much better than that with an appropriate Railcard and Advance fares.

For example, two of us are going from York to London for £26.40--- that is for both tix.

Posted by
90 posts

Hi Lola!

Okay. That's more like it. One of the reasons I like the pass idea is the flexibility and am somewhat nervous about my ability to purchase advance fares if the itinerary is not set in stone. Guess I'll just have to jump in and give it a try. Truthfully, I am overwhelmed with all the detailed planning this trip involves. Haven't been abroad since 1991!

Thanks for your factoid.

TK

Posted by
16885 posts

No vendor should be able to sell the passes for a very different price. I would say that the tourist office web site is not working properly. With my attempts to put 8-day flexi passes into the shopping cart, it always reverts to 3-day consecutive passes. Note that there are many variations on pass coverage, so be careful about selecting the best fit for your itinerary. Senior discounts are only in 1st class but the adult 2nd-class rate is cheaper and our usual choice. See more at https://www.ricksteves.com/travel-tips/transportation/trains/britain-rail-passes, as well as a roundup of ticket-discount options.

The Rail Europe prices that I have for an 8-day flexi pass for the whole island are actually higher than Lola's quote, $504 for an adult and $403 for a youth. If the traveler wants flexibility, then there is a value to that, and the pass provides it. A Two Together Card or Youth/Senior Cards can also provide discounts in a flexible way. So far, we don't know when or where tootiekester is traveling. More research is a good idea for her, as the plan comes together.

Posted by
90 posts

Hi Laura,

Mind if I use you as a sounding board? Here is my itinerary over 14 days: London x 3, Nottingham x 1, Skipton X 1, Manchester x 1, Shrewsbury X2, Porthmadog x 1, Cardiff X2, London X3. The two London dates will be "base" for day trips to Stonehenge, Canterbury and possibly Bristol as well as the major museums in London proper. Will be staying in Croydon first London dates and undetermined for final three days, although close proximity to London Heathrow is probably best. I haven't reviewed other transportation options including the tube. Don't even know if it competes with rail or complements it.

Not seeing any English castles, saving that for Wales (Powis, Caerfardon and Caerphilly).

Thank you for your insight and willingness to mentor a willing but fairly novice traveller.

TK

Posted by
28821 posts

I'm not Laura, but I hope you don't mind me chiming in.

The Tube, Overground and mainline rail all work together. Other than the Elizabeth Line (new name for Crossrail1 to open in a year or 10) and Thameslink, mainline trains don't enter central London and are interconnected by tube lines and buses. You can't get across without 'em, not unless you're rich and run to taxis.

Croydon is an interesting choice of a base. Do you know about Croydon? I spent several years in South Croydon when I was young and Croydon has changed beyond recognition - not for the better. You may have heard of the London fires and riots a couple of summers ago. That wasn't in tourist London - it was in Croydon.

But the borough of Croydon is large. Maybe you have found a great place. But if you do have a place away from the train then you need a way into London.

Commuter trains from the area around Croydon are basket cases. Between the reconstruction of London Bridge station and the reconstruction of the tube at Victoria it is even worse because most of the trains from East Croydon go into either London Bridge or Victoria. Those trains have always overflowed as long as I can remember, and more people than ever are on the train.

That isn't to sound all doom and gloom but I want you to be aware.

Have you measured the times of your train connections?

Are your "X"'s nights or days? To get a full day you need two nights.

Posted by
13523 posts

Laura, I had no trouble putting the 8-day Flexi GB pass in my shopping cart and proceeding to the checkout page. The price stayed $438.50 but they added $19.50 for FedEx shipping, so the cost is actually $457.50. Maybe this will show the screen ( I used a fictitious name):

https://www.visitbritainshop.com/usa/basket/

I went to BritRail.net and checked there and their price is $497---closer to the Rail Europe price of $504.

I wonder if the difference is simply that the Visit Britain website prices more accurately reflect the current £-$ exchange rate---$1.41 right now. I have read that Rail Europe sets prices based on the exchange rate for the whole season on a particular day and does not adjust them to reflect fluctuations in the exchange rate. Instead they adjust once (or twice?) a year. If that is true and they fixed the BritRail pass costs last summer when the £ was $1.56, that could account for some of the difference.

We were there last October when the pound was still $1.55. We are returning in May and paid for our apartment in pounds worth $1.40. That has saved us quite a bit!

But this whole discussion of passes is I hope moot, because Tootsie will save quite a bit with Advance and Off-Peak* fares and a Two Together Card. Now that I have seen the itinerary I am quite certain.

*If you want to maintain flexibility, the Off-Peak fares still offer a good deal on shorter runs, without the commitment to a specific train like Advance fares.

Posted by
90 posts

Hello to NIgel and Emma!

Explanation for Croydon is simply the IHG property I selected is tailor suited to my rewards nights benefit. I can stay at that property without out of pocket expense for the three consecutive days. Two women traveling together certainly don't want to be overly concerned with safety and traffic jams while in pursuit of rather full day trips. THANK YOU.

TK

Posted by
90 posts

Emma,

I just found "redspottedhanky" website and will be purchasing rail tickets through them using two together and advance purchase options.

I had sticker shock when on National Rail website earlier today. Thank you for making up my mind!

TK

Posted by
28821 posts

Does Red spotted hanky send tickets overseas? I know that they do post tickets domestically instead of collection on departure at the station, and sometimes what goes in the envelope has confused my passengers. Don't they charge a fee? They are a third party vendor.

A lot of people have been successful using Virgin.

Any franchise train operator in the UK can sell any other's products to any station on the network. Some are easier to work with than others. If you are buying Advance tickets BE Careful and read everything twice. Work only on the 24 hour clock. Advance tickets are completely NON refundable and practically non changeable. They are valid on only exactly one train, the one described in the reservation portion of the ticket. Older machines create 2 part Advance tickets, the ticket on one piece of card and the reservation on another. They go together like bacon and eggs, and one part is useless without the other. Newer software puts both the ticket and the reservation together on one piece of tangerine paper in tiny tiny print. Just because it is teeny tiny doesn't mean it isn't important. Conductors will read every word and hold you to them. At my train company the fee to change an Advance ticket to a different train is £10 plus the difference in the available price on the day. This is usually more than you paid in the first place. This has to be done before you board the train, at the booking office. If you board the wrong train with an Advance ticket it is good only as a bookmark and worthless on the train. You will be treated as having no ticket and have to buy a new full priced ticket for the full duration of the journey. Can you tell that I have said that a few times before? It is a common mistake not to read and understand the ticket and an expensive one.

Posted by
28821 posts

If you are talking about the Holiday Inn Express at East Croydon station, it is not exactly at the station but close, fairly soulless and lots of people will be around, but the commuters will still be on the trains. You will probably not get a seat on the train unless well off peak.

I will let others speak about Ealing, my concern is you will be a long journey on the tube with commuters in the direction you want to go - into London in the morning and out in the evening. It is a long way to stand.

Posted by
4825 posts

The Holiday Express Ealing - if that is what you are considering - is within walking distance of West Ealing Station (Zone 3). Four trains an hour to Paddington as this is very much a local station. Trains will be crush loaded in the peaks. As a hotel it gets very reasonable ratings for the type it is - no personal experience.

Posted by
90 posts

Hello all,

I have cancelled East Croydon and am considering just zone one and damned the torpedoes if it's out of pocket. It makes more sense to me to stay close and be able to navigate the London at my doorstep rather than discover London at the end of a very hectic tube arrival. Thanks to all…need to start again (but just for the London parts of my plan). I am happy with all other arrangements though England and Wales (and if there are surprises, oh well :) )

Nigel, I suspected you were experienced in either the hospitality or travel industries. Thanks for confirming my suspicions. Ha Ha. As far as "redspottedhanky", I will further research and also give Virgin a look see.

Oh, and BTW, the "x" as referred to in another blog represent "nights".

TK

Posted by
13523 posts

You might try Number 63 by hyde park for one of your London stays. It is a small boutique hotel,run by the Soroptimists but you need not be a member. Twin rooms are £130 and there is good availability in May.

http://www.number63.co.uk

Your train to Nottingham will depart from either Kings Cross or St. Pancras. I see Advance fares as low as £15.50 -£17.50 still available in May for the direct East Midlands train from St. Pancras.