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Is traveling in first class on Trains worth the extra money?

In one of Rick's video's he mentions that upgrading to first class on trains isn't worth the money. However in my upcoming trip I will be doing some long (2 hours) train rides and thinking that if its not too extravagent first class might be worth it?? All opinions welcome!!

Posted by
4465 posts

Sometimes First Class can turn out to be even cheaper than standard. However, the extra benefits vary from just an antimacassar, to extra seating area, reclining seats, more convenient luggage space, and inclusive food and drink. What route(s) are you thinking of?

Posted by
1926 posts

If first class is available, I will pay to have more space and fewer people in the coach with me, especially on longer trips.

It may not be worth it to Rick Steves, but it's worth it to me - the one buying my tickets.

Posted by
68 posts

Marco & everyone - thanks so much. I'm looking at London to Portsmouth on South Western Railway, London North eastern railway Cambridge to York, and London to Cambridge on Thameslink. I will also add that myself & hubby will be buying tickets using 2 together railcard so the money saved there could go towards the extra first class fare.

Posted by
20 posts

In my opinion, rarely worth it. We just returned from traveling between Amsterdam & Brussels, which is about 2 hours. We accidently sat down in 1st class and quickly realized our mistake and moved to 2nd class. No biggie, nothing we felt like we were missing!

Posted by
1756 posts

Of the routes you describe only LNER has a nice first-class service. But on a journey from Cambridge to York you’ll only be on an LNER train for the Peterborough to York section. Spend your money elsewhere – a meal at a decent restaurant perhaps.

Posted by
645 posts

Trains are not like planes. The difference in personal space and comfort just isn't that vast. Nor is your movement constricted by fasten seatbelt signs, and if there is food service you can go get some anytime you like. So no, I don't think first class service is worth it on trains.

Posted by
2757 posts

Not worth it. 2d class on European trains is generally very comfortable. I would not waste my money going first class. I'd rather spend it on food and wine.

Posted by
8486 posts

I travel solo and like having the single seat option with no one next to me. It allows me to look out the window and relax.

First class cars are usually less crowded and quieter. Last year between Bern and Geneva I had the entire car to myself.

I think it is worth it. But to each his own.

Posted by
20556 posts

From our experience, not worth. If I was doing a long train ride -- 6,7, hours and wanted to sleep a little, maybe !!! All your gain is extra side width, slightly increased leg room. The seats or xx xx - four across in 2nd class and x xx three across in first. Ya, there are few people in first class because there are fewer seats but hardily an issue for us. 2nd class space on a train is much closer to business class space on a plane. I have better uses for my money than a first class ticket. But if I weighed 300 lb it would be a different discussion.

Posted by
5817 posts

It very much depends on the route, the company running the service and what it’s going to cost.
If it doesn’t cost that much more than standard class and you are travelling on busy long distance services and they provide free food and wifi it can be worth it. Having access to a first class lounge at some stations can be nice as well.
The first class service on LNER is usually pretty good and on Virgin(now Avanti) also isn’t bad.
I have certainly paid extra for the space and comfort when I know a service is going to be very busy, for example heading north at Christmas. It’s a bit of a treat because it definitely is more comfortable than standard, not that standard is that uncomfortable.

BUT for the journeys you are planning to do I really don’t think it’s worth paying the extra.

Posted by
9384 posts

We do buy FC unless the cost differential is prohibitive. We like the two-facing seats by the windows where available, extra luggage room, quieter, fewer children. By buying in advance, we usually get steep discounts. Exceptions: not on the EuroStar (we go Standard Premium) and we buy second class Swiss Passes. Gondolas and chairlifts don’t have 1st Class sections. 😁 And the price difference in Switzerland is significant on the passes.

Posted by
5817 posts

Not all train services in the UK offer reservations. It's been a while since I travelled on them but I'm pretty sure Thameslink don't.

Posted by
1025 posts

This is the England forum and I will speak only on trains in England/Scotland/Wales. No, it isn’t worth it unless there’s a sale that makes first class almost the same as regular.

One of my London friends travels for work and often in first, but that’s so he can update PowerPoints and other work stuff in relative quiet. Having your phone play Baby Shark as your ring tone and having a 60 minute bitch fight with your significant other on a mobile phone won’t be tolerated there.

Posted by
1832 posts

When you go from Cambridge to York you will 2 options. One is to go back down to London & then back out again. I would not do this. Instead, go on Cross Country Trains from Cambridge to Peterborough direct via Ely. At Peterborough, you leave the Cross Country train for one going up the main East Coast (this section is miles form the coast) to York. Several companies operate this leg but the LNER is the main one but others like Grand Central & Hull Trains are also OK.

You will find it MUCH cheaper to advance book specific trains (around 11 weeks in advance) and to SPLIT the tickets at Peterborough. Try this site for your date & you will see what I mean (you can input as if you already have the Railcard - which cannot be used before 9.30am on weekdays):>https://www.traintickets.com

The Cross Country train will have only 2 or 3 coaches & can be crowded. If I was going to book any leg in 1st Class it would be Cambridge to Peterborough. You could do this direct with Cross Country Trains although there is nothing to stop you booking the 2 legs via LNER separately - or Cross Country come to that. The trains from Peterborough northward generally have enough room.

Here is review of the LNER Azuma train - which you would most likely be travelling on to/from York. It clearly shows the difference between 1st & 2nd class. (I am not sure what the trains run by Great Northern & Thameslink between King’s Cross & Cambridge are like or whether they have 1st class). https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Y8ti6V73F0c

Posted by
3904 posts

I'm looking at London to Portsmouth on South Western Railway

I can vouch for this route.....it's not worth the money.

I've travelled 1st class on Virgin, London to York, it was pleasant enough but we got heavily reduced tickets, I wouldn't consider paying full price for it.

A two hour train journey isn't long, it'll be over before you've realised it. As long as you're not travelling in rush hour or a busy holiday period then you should find that you'll have sufficient room. The food isn't worth the money, you could do much better by using the savings from not buying 1st class on buying something decent to eat from elsewhere and still have plenty of change left over.

Posted by
226 posts

Not always, I traveled in first class in IT years ago and was the only person in the car until someone who looked like he didn’t belong there walked through. After he passed by I moved into the second class department where the other people were and felt much safer.

Posted by
68 posts

Thanks so much everyone!!!! I have setup an alert for when tickets go on sale for mid-September/October. I appreciate all the information. I did figure out the ticket splitting technique during my train research and will be taking advantage of it. My hubby is sensitive to crowds so even though the benefits are limited if the first class tickets aren't too spendy I'm going to go with them.

Cheers, Jan

Posted by
5817 posts

Jan if your husband has a problem with crowds I strongly advice avoiding the rush hour. Trains can get very busy, standing room only for at least some of the routes. Also be prepared for a bit of a mad scramble to get on the trains. They sometimes ( often) give you very little time to get on a train even at the station where a route is starting. Have your bags ready and be prepared to move.
I'm not saying this to worry you just to give you a heads up so you are slightly prepared.

Posted by
68 posts

Emma, thank you. Actually I was in England in 1986 and went to visit my grandmother. I found out then how little time you get for getting on and off sometimes. I was on a bridge when the train I was boarding showed up and man I really had to hustle to get on. I've already warned my husband of this because he runs perenially late. LOL. Our plan is to travel on the train in the late mornings since we'll be using a 2 together railcard.

Posted by
14 posts

Worth it for space and quiet.

No first class seats in Wales, though!

Posted by
1832 posts

Transport for Wales trains (apart from one on the Cardiff to Holyhead route) do not have 1st class but any Avanti (for north Wales) or GWR (for south Wales) train that goes to/from London to Wales does have 1st class.