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Booking train tickets in England

What is the best site to use for purchasing train tickets in England? What would the locals recommend?

I have choices -- National Rail, The Trainline, or using the specific site for the line I intend to use (ie. Southeastern). Does the pricing vary?

Which website do you like for ease of use?

Posted by
30 posts

I just returned from a trip a few weeks ago and used 3 different rail lines for inter city travel. I checked the timetables before I left for those where I had multi hour trips. I compared all of the above websites and found no price difference. That being said, when I booked my virgin train trip, I did use their specific site as opposed to the trainline. No particular reason though. For day trips, it may be worth it to look at an advance booking rather than just purchasing on day of. You may be able to get a cheaper rate. Or travelling after 9am from any of the London train stations also is cheaper. Just be careful when booking to note whether you book for a specific train or just a specific route. You may be able to get a really cheap rate for a specific train but if you are looking at a day return it may not work out all that well for you.

Posted by
449 posts

Ann: I was in London last August - September and took a day trip to Portsmouth. By far the least expensive train fare was offered by megatrain/megabus.
I think that my round trip fare was on the order of 3 to 5 pounds. It was so inexpensive that I booked a second day of travel to Portsmouth and never took the trip and did not feel that I had lost much. Unlike what I had read (ie one rode in a separate train car) I could sit anywhere on the train in my fare class. The disadvantages are: train service is not available for every combination of cities though buses might be available; one had to book in advance with no refunds. I would certainly have a look if you know when you want to travel outside of London.

Posted by
70 posts

Thank you for your reply Geor... It appears that megatrain doesn't serve Hastings. But I gave it a shot!

Perhaps it would be best to note that I am specifically looking at travel between Hastings and London.

I have read thru some of the past forums on this topic and am relieved to find that even the locals find the websites to be confusing. Just looking for some tidbits of "insider" info to manage the websites themselves.

Posted by
4734 posts

National Rail doesn't sell tickets - you get redirected to that of the main operator.

There are no advance type tickets on London to Hastings from Southeastern, but there are on the slower Southern route from Victoria. £5-£11 each way for a journey about half an hour longer.

Posted by
16883 posts

We also recommend starting with National Rail to identify all your options and follow their links to purchase from the source.

Posted by
70 posts

Thank you harleydonski ... that's just the kind of info I was looking to find.

I did finally sort out how to have the National Rail site give me the super cheap fare that was referred to by Marco. NOT easy to get it to cough it up.