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How it works--train reservations with BritRail Pass

I have been planning on getting a Britrail pass for an upcoming trip.
I'd like to take the express train from London to Penrith, but when I try to book a reservation on the train that particular train option "goes away."

Does this mean there are no reservable seats with the pass--looking 3 weeks out for the ticket.

Does it mean we have to reserve it on-site?

Is it likely booked up? (on a Monday 12:30 )?
I did read there are limited rail pass seats on express trains. I believe this is a Virgin train.
Thank you, Cynthia

Posted by
2288 posts

OK just to be clear on terminology a train ticket and seat reservation are not the same thing.

From the Britrail site:

"It is currently not possible to make a seat or berth reservation outside of Britain but mainline National Rail stations will be happy to make reservations for you when you arrive Britain."

If you decide on the BritRail pass you will need to go to a station to reserve a seat. Trains do not sell out. WIth the pass you can jump on any train and sit at an unreserved seat. If there are no free seats you stand.

But do you really need the pass? If you know when you're travelling it's better value to book an Advance ticket with the train operator, and that includes a free seat reservation.

Posted by
3852 posts

For a UK trip a month ago I took five trains. I bought all five ticket ahead of time on-line and was allowed to make seat reservations for four of them over the internet. So maybe your problem lies in assuming a pass is automatically a good deal. By the way, I landed in London and went to the nearest train station to retrieve the reserved tickets (only one could be printed out in advance) even though none of my rides originated at that particular station.

Posted by
6113 posts

The Britpass is rarely good value. Are you sure that it's the ticket you need?

Posted by
16890 posts

Daytime trains in Britain do not require seat assignments and therefore cannot sell out. Seat assignments are free to get at British train stations (up to one day ahead) with your BritRail pass. Your earlier post implied that you may be taking this train right after your flight arrival and connection from Heathrow, in which case you'll probably appreciate that flexibility.

Posted by
33 posts

Thanks for all the information--it's helped me re-think my plans. I think I will book an out of London to Penrith, rent a car, and then drop the car off at Durham and take the train to London, where I will overnight and then head out from Heathrow. You are correct Laura about the earlier uncertainty and the BritRail pass, but I think with the help I'm getting from all of you I'm getting a tighter itinerary. Next: room in London prior to Heathrow departure. Appreciate everyone's generous sharing of time and expertise.

Posted by
29679 posts

almost no trains require reservations. Virgin and GWR have a habit of allowing only reserved ticketed passengers on a very small number of trains which will be over full due to football or holidays. these are advertised ahead.