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Getting on the right train car on the right train from Paddington to Abergavenny, Wales

I think I understand this, but am just checking, and I know I can ask when I buy my ticket:

I have printed out the schedule for several departures times from Paddington to Abergavenny (not knowing when I will get to Paddington and so not knowing which train to take and planning to buy a ticket at the station) and under the words "London Paddington" on my printed-out schedule it says "Great Western Railway towards Swansea." I assume that means my train, though I am getting off in Newport to change, will say "Swansea" on it somewhere, right? And when I catch the next train -- "Newport (South Wales)...Transport for Wales towards Holyhead" THAT train will say "Hollyhead" on it somewhere, even though I am getting off in Abergavenny, right? And I will need to locate that track in Newport by the word "Hollyhead," right?

When I get off the train to change in Newport, will there be a sign very close by with the track listed for my next train? I may not have much time.

How can I be sure I am sitting in a car that will actually get me to my destination in case I don't have a reserved seat?

Thanks, Ann

Posted by
1869 posts

With a flexible ticket you simply need to get on train that’s going to Swansea (or Cardiff possibly) and calls at Newport.

Check the departure boards at Paddington for trains to Swansea/Cardiff and the platform number.

The destination and intermediate stations are usually shown on the carriage doors.

At Newport trains could be going to Manchester Piccadilly, Holyhead or Chester – just check it calls at Abergavenny.

Any question ask the train manager/guard.

Use the national rail site for an idea of times https://www.nationalrail.co.uk/

Posted by
8889 posts

Ann, there will be video screens around the station listing departures. (click here for example). These show the departure time, final destination (sometimes with a rolling display of intermediate stops), and most impotrtant the platform number ("Plat"). As long as you know the trains final destination, and time, you are OK.

When you get to the platform, there will be a display showing the next train at that platform. (click for example). This is platform 10b, the next departure (aka 1st train) is the 13:09 to London Paddington, no intermediate stops, and it is expected at 13:26 (15 minutes late!)

Posted by
90 posts

Just a few tips and terminology differences to be aware of.
If you travel at a weekend or public holiday, check for line closures due to construction work, dedicated buses are hired in, but means a longer journey.

Platform numbers are used not track number,
The 24 hour clock is used on the railways, displayed and heard on announcements . (I think Americans call this military time) You can double check and ask station staff about the right car/train to board.

Electronic matrix display boards are widely used in ticket halls and on platforms, working in real time.
Train departures are normally headed at the top of departure display boards by their end destination station and the calling at stations listed beneath this.

Signage in Wales will be in dual language, Welsh and English.

If you go to google maps for Newport station, you can view the station on street view, you can see the size and location of the station from the road.

If you go to the official National Rail site scroll to bottom, there is a section called stations and destinations, this lets you see a station map, large scale, further tap on the icons and this shows photos and info around the station.

https://www.nationalrail.co.uk/

Posted by
26074 posts

If you have a data plan consider getting the GWR or National Rail app. You will be able to follow the progress of the train you are on and see the progress of the train you are connecting to. If you don't have a data plan you may be able to access wifi on GWR - I don't know on the new trainsets they have.

You will also be able to see live departures and arrivals at your connection point so having previously studied the plans of the stations you will know exactly where to go. Double check as you walk past the screens in case of a last second alteration (very unusual) and keep your ears open as you walk because when a train is called the announcements will list all the calling points and often how many carriages and any special information about the service.

Posted by
389 posts

At Cardiff station, and therefore assume at Newport too, there are Audio announcements along the lines of 'the next train arriving at platform 2 will be the 10.25 to Swansea, calling at ......' this usually happens a few minutes before the train arrives and is first said in Welsh (don't get me started) and then English. Newport is not a large station so if you have to change platform it shouldn't
take long. Whenever you are on the train you'll have an announcement that you are approaching Newport about 1 minute before you arrive giving you plenty of time to retrieve your belongings. Before you pull out of Paddington the driver will probably also confirm your destination.
It's a relatively straight forward journey.

Posted by
115 posts

Great help and a very sophisticated and interesting transportation system. If only the US hadn't embraced the internal combustion engine so completely, we could have this too. I wish...

Also, I am traveling with carry-on bags --one that rolls and one on my back. Where/how to store these while traveling, given that I may want to exit the train quickly to catch the next?

Thanks! Ann

Posted by
1838 posts

You might find this video interesting as it shows a journey from Paddington to Cardiff = the train & route you will be travelling on:> https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=4TkstL6x48M

Coaches D & J tend to have non reserved seats - although they can also be found elsewhere. Seats with a green light above are unreserved.

Buying tickets on the day can be expensive - yes, I know that you don't know which train you will be travelling on so are avoiding pre-booking a specific train advance fare. Note that one way journeys can be about the same price as returns. If you are planning to return east - perhaps an ‘Anytime Return’ will work out cheaper or even an ‘Off-peak Return’ if you can travel during the quieter middle part of the day.

On all Sundays from 8th Sept. > 20th Sep (except 6 Oct), it looks like trains from England will terminate at Newport as they are putting up overhead wires to Cardiff.

ryan and gill mention the use of the Welsh Language and the fact that it comes first on announcements and now notices. The big thing that divides the people of Wales is the Welsh language - which is spoken by about 20% of the population. The Welsh speakers are keen that the whole of Wales becomes fluent in the language. The English speaking majority are basically pissed off with the Welsh language being constantly pushed - especially in areas in the east which have been English speaking for hundreds of years. (You can see this in churchyards where the language of an area will be on the gravestones). It is ridiculous that the international language of the world and that spoken by just about everybody who lives in Wales is having to be placed second to Welsh on signs, announcements, government forms, etc. You will note that Emma, although living in London, comes from a Welsh speaking family & therefore agrees that Welsh should come first.

Posted by
16 posts

Greetings,
You might find it helpful to check out The Man in Seat 61 website. It's all about train travel. https://www.seat61.com

I enjoy taking the train and wish the train network in the US was like the U.K. train system. Good luck! elisa

Posted by
623 posts

I second the recommendation of the Man in Seat 61 website.

I am traveling with carry-on bags --one that rolls and one on my
back. Where/how to store these while traveling, given that I may want
to exit the train quickly to catch the next?

I haven't traveled to Wales, but four years ago I traveled quite a bit around Britain on trains for a couple of weeks (Glasgow, Edinburgh, York, day trips from York, Penzance, London, Brighton. . .). Including the lonngg trip from Penzance to London on GWR. (It wasn't as long as the York-Penzance trip but for some reason it seemed to take longer.)

This is what I experienced as to my luggage and what you probably will too. My 22" roller bag went into the luggage rack/area at one end of the car I was in. I can't remember if there were luggage areas at both ends of the cars. Since it was a garden variety black roller bag I embellished it with screaming fluorescent green handle wraps for easy recognition. My tote bag and small handbag went to my seat with me. There are IIRC overhead racks where you could stash your backpack if you don't want to put it on the floor by your feet or there isn't room.

Two notes: I was in first class mostly (this rail-riding vacation was exquisitely perfect for the BritRail pass I bought, and I splurged on the old geezer first class version) but I think luggage handling is the same in standard carriages. Also, I didn't encounter jam-packed trains so there was always room in the luggage area of my carriage for my rolling bag.

As to keeping an eye on my bags, I went with my instincts. I tried to sit where I could see the luggage area from my seat but I wasn't all paranoid about it. I did keep an eye out if I were staying on the train after a stop, just to be sure nobody grabbed my bag by mistake when leaving the train. I never left my small crossbody bag at my seat but my innocuous looking tote bag was parked in the overhead rack or on the floor well away from the aisle. (I carry camera gear but not in bags that announce "Sony/Nikon camera gear inside!!".)

Have fun! I also wish we had a good rail system in the US. I'm beginning to think it's time for another trip to ride trains in Britain. Hmm . . .

Posted by
115 posts

Special reply to James -- I Loved the YouTube video you posted! Am about to send it to several US friends who are envious of my trip, to share in advance and brag on this great transportation system! Gosh I love the trains. Can't explain why, but they are always the highlight of my trips. Thanks!! Ann

Posted by
1838 posts

Your friends may also like to see the trains at speed from a station on the Great Western Mainline. (The trains are doing about 124mph).https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=CGXboGzZiXI

The line from Newport going north to Abergavenny & beyond is slower with a maximum top speed of 90mph. This route is quite scenic and is know as ‘The Marches Line’. (Marches is the ancient name that refers to the border country between Wales & England).
The Marches Line is often used for special trips hauled by steam trains. Here they are going through Abergavenny:> https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=mxo8t7CbBng

Here is a short video of Abergavenny:>https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=exCByXVOafM

Posted by
115 posts

Thank you. Very cool. Thinking of the scene in the TV show "Victoria", British produced and shown here in the States, where Victoria and Albert ride a train for the first time and both are thrilled -- they couldn't have possibly envisioned this! Ann.