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London to Gravesend to Canterbury and back

One of the places I would really like to visit is St George's Church in Gravesend. But a visit to the church would also only amount to an hour or two of time, so why not make it a day trip out of London and continue on to Canterbury...

Looking at Virgin Trains, at first it seems to be a logical to get single tickets from London to Gravesend to Canterbury East, and then Canterbury E back to London. However, after further looking the better and cheaper tickets would appear be to purchase advance anytime return tickets for London to Gravesend, and then Gravesend to Canterbury East. Am I missing anything or is there a better way to structure tickets?

Posted by
5483 posts

Not sure why you are looking at Virgin trains as they do not operate this route, Southeastern is the operator -tickets.southeasternrailway.co.uk/se/en/JourneyPlanning. You can possibly book through Virgin, but they would just act as an agent.

Train ticket pricing is a dark art and a mystery to most of us. You cannot go directly from Gravesend to Canterbury, you have to change at Faversham (worth a visit in its own right) or Ebbsfleet. The quickest way back from Canterbury to London is on the HS1 (high speed) line, but this costs slightly more. Your option of two separate returns may be cheaper than three single journeys.

Posted by
232 posts

Not sure why you are looking at Virgin trains as they do not operate this route, Southeastern is the operator -tickets.southeasternrailway.co.uk/se/en/JourneyPlanning. You can possibly book through Virgin, but they would just act as an agent.

I am planning a trip that will take me from Dublin, to Ironbridge Gorge/Black Country, York, Oxford, London plus a couple day trips out of the city, and then back to Dublin to fly home. That is rail and ferry service accross 10 train operating companies and their respective routes.

While trying to make myself familiar with the rail system, I have learned that National Rail is great for a journey planner, but that website does not handle tickets. In turn I have also learned that ALL train operating companies also have journey planners and sell tickets for ALL other train operating companies and their routes and services -- well except for the sail-rail ticket, which I need to get through Virgin Trains.

Now, while all TOCs sell tickets for all routes, they do not have a uniform ticket delivery policy. Not all companies offer e-tickets or mobile-tickets. Many only deliver tickets to UK addresses. And not all companies have a self service kiosks -- as in Arriva TW does not have a kiosk in Dublin (according to Arriva) that would allow me to pick up my ticket in Dublin, and Arriva only delivers to UK addresses.

Virgin trains however, offers the same journey planner, which also tells me who the operating companies are. Plus, Virgin Trains will ship all the tickets I buy to the US. I am already buying two tickets through Virgin Trains, why not get all of them?

Posted by
5483 posts

I understand why you are doing this, but you will end up paying more this way but it gives you peace of mind. I have never had tickets delivered to my home. The standard in the UK is to order online and pick up the tickets at each starting station from a quick serve machine. I have never had any issues with this.

Posted by
4636 posts

Also note that some operators have special tickets and discounts only available if you buy the tickets directly from them, which includes Southeastern. These come and go.