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BritRail Pass Flexipass vs. Continuous pass

Hi
We are visiting London, Scotland and Wales from May 18-June 2 2019. We have a few long legs of a trip London - Edinburgh and Inverness - Tenby which will probably make the cost of a Britrail pass worth it. I am not sure however which one I need even after having read Rick's page. Do I need to travel on consecutive days for a Continuous pass? Also can I buy a flexipass and travel on back to back days? Any suggestions would be greatly apprecitated. Which one do you recommend, 15 continuous days in one month is the one I was going to buy but then I considered we are traveling almost every day or at least every other day from the 21st to the 29th of May.
thanks

Posted by
16769 posts

Hi, Shawn. The question really is how many days you plan to travel by train.

  • The BritRail Pass version for 15 Continuous days covers that solid period of time, which could be either from May 18 to midnight of June 1, or May 19 to midnight of June 2, and the price is about $467 per adult. During that validity period, nobody's counting how many trains you take.

  • If you only need, for instance, 8 travel days within one month, then that Flexi Pass version is a little cheaper at $398 per adult. Each counted day is a full calendar day until midnight, during which you may take as many trains as you like. See also https://www.ricksteves.com/travel-tips/transportation/trains/using-your-rail-pass. (If you want an overnight train, the BritRail Pass is still counting overnight trains on the day of arrival, differing from Eurail brand passes.)

Posted by
16827 posts

Are you sure the pass will pay off for you? It may depend on how soon you get your itinerary locked down to the point that you know what date and time you want to take the long trips. UK rail fares can be very high indeed if you just walk up to the ticket counter in London and buy a ticket on the next train to Edinburgh. If you're prepared to lock down all your train tickets soon, that may well be less expensive than a rail pass. You can take a look yourself on the National Rail website. Do not use RailEurope to price or purchase individual rail tickets.

I just checked trains scheduled for May 20 (randomly chosen date within your travel period) and found there were several London-Edinburgh trains on which I could buy an Advance ticket for £34. Advance tickets are not refundable. You can change the travel date and time, but there's an administrative fee and you have to cough up the difference between the original ticket price and the current price of the new ticket. Advance tickets are popular--for obvious reasons--and they usually sell out long before the travel date.

The Inverness-Tenby trip looks like a nightmare. It appears to take over 14 hours, and I couldn't get National Rail to route me all the way to Tenby; it only went as far as Carmarthen. I see that Tenby does have some sort of rail service; perhaps it's run by a small company that's not part of the National Rail system. The fare I found from Inverness to Carmarthen was astronomical--over £250. This may be one of the routes on which there are major savings from buying the ticket in two segments. That's not a subject about which I am knowledgeable. If there's no workaround here, this one travel segments might contribute enough cost to make a railpass worthwhile.

Another thing to keep in mind is that you may end up needing to use buses for some of your travel legs. The rail pass will not help you there.

Posted by
23550 posts

Inverness to Tenby -whewwww!!!!- can be done as fast as 14 hours.

Example (tomorrow):-
08:44 Inverness [INV] - Perth [PTH] 10:51

11:02 Perth [PTH] - Edinburgh [EDB] 12:23

12:52 Edinburgh [EDB] - Crewe [CRE] 15:57

16:08 Crewe [CRE] - Carmarthen [CMN] 20:58

21:10 Carmarthen [CMN] - Tenby [TEN] 21:52

wot a day! Only 11 minutes, 29 minutes, 11 minutes (and Crewe is a large station to get around), 12 minutes for those changes, and nowhere to stretch your legs or time to get a bit t' eat. Except in Edinburgh Waverley at lunch time. No catch-up time if somebody drops a spanner in anywhere along the way.

I am a big advocate of splitting your ticket on multi regional travel because you can often get a good deal. No way I'd do that on this journey because if you get a stack of Advance tickets and somebody drops that proverbial spanner you will have a stack of tickets you can't lose the first time you miss a connecting train.

Sometimes the first train goes through to Edinburgh without a change at Perth.

Do you really want one long 14 hour plus journey with nowhere to catch up or can we persuade you to break the journey somewhere or catch a silver birdie?

Posted by
5817 posts

I strongly advise you not to try and do an 11 minute change at Crewe station. It is "possible" but highly unlikely to be doable in the real world.

Inverness to Tenby sounds horrendous. Definitely try and split the journey over 2 days.

Posted by
23550 posts

If I were, in fact, (remember my caveats above) trying to beat the price of that long ticket by splitting tickets, I could get:-

Inverness - Edinburgh £8.50

Edinburgh - Crewe £15.00

Crewe - Carmarthen £27.50

Carmarthen - Tenby £10.20

Total to spend if making savings that way - £61.20

Heck, it is probably cheaper to add a hotel night half way along and catch your breath, and have a good use of Advance split tickets. Cheaper than that £250 plus number.

Posted by
23550 posts

That 21:10 train from Carmarthen to Denby is the last one of the day. Caution, Will Robinson, caution.

Posted by
16827 posts

That's a stunning savings. Or a ludicrous single-ticket price, depending on how you look at it.

Posted by
7 posts

Thanks everyone for all the help. I think we will revamp our plans and cut out the lonnnnnngggg train ride from Inverness to Tenby.
We will stop along the route and enjoy the sights. I did purchase a rail pass more for peace of mind than anything. I don't want to have to worry about sticking to a schedule or plans changing and having to purchase point to point tickets. The people on this sight are the best!! You have all helped me one two occasions and I can't thank you enough!!!
With deepest thanks,
Shawn