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Need advice on buying train ticket from Paddington to Abergevenny, Wales

Hello - There is a lot of info on this site about train travel, but rather than dig through it all I will ask you folks my direct questions:

I arrive at Heathrow on Friday Aug. 30 at 6:45 a.m. and will take the Heathrow Express to Paddington. I want to get right on a train to Abergevenny. I can see by the National Rail schedule that there are several trains scheduled, but I can't predict when I will actually arrive at Paddington so I am reluctant to buy a ticket in advance.

1. If I do buy a ticket in advance, am I assured of a seat? I definitely do not want to stand for two-plus hours on a train after that overnight flight.
2. If I don't buy a ticket in advance will I probably be able to get a ticket for the next train or might it likely be full? How can I assure having a seat on a train for which I don't buy a ticket until just before departure?
3. I will need to change trains in Newport, Wales, and some trains allow only 6 to 10 minutes for that change. Is it smart to buy a ticket with that short of a gap between arriving in Bristol and leaving on another train for Abergevenny?
Thanks!
Ann

Posted by
21251 posts
  1. Yes, a seat reservations comes with the ticket.

  2. The probability of any train being sold out is very low given the frequency and capacity of trains.

  3. Six to 10 minutes is fine especially in the smaller stations. Often it is just walk across the platform. However, do be ready to quickly exit the train once it stops.

Posted by
1868 posts

The answer to your first question depends on the ticket type and route. The way to know for sure is to do a dummy booking with the train company https://www.gwr.com/

You’ll see that after 10:15 Super Off-Peak tickets are available for £43.30. If you book this ticket type in advance it comes with a seat reservation for the train you choose. The good news is this ticket type is valid for any train that departs up to 14:45, so you're not restricted to one train. Of course, if you don’t take the booked train, the seat reservation doesn’t carry over to later trains - you just find an empty seat.

There’s no cost-saving in buying this ticket type in advance so you could buy the same ticket at the station. If it was me, I would buy it online so at least you know there’s one train with a seat with your name on it.

There are reports that GWR doesn’t accept some US credit cards, if so try another train company which will have the same ticket e.g. https://www.lner.co.uk/

Posted by
4536 posts

The minimum connection time at Newport is set at 5 minutes. Usually you will arrive at platform 2 and need to go to platform 4 for Abergaveny although there are a few services which differ from this general set up. You are best travelling in the far end of the train from the main Paddington concourse.

Posted by
2286 posts

If you're going from Heathrow to Abergevenny, don't start by taking the Heathrow Express, start by taking the coach to Reading. That will save you both time and money.

Posted by
115 posts

Thanks to you all for this info. It helps!

But to Badger re going to Reading from Heathrow -- please give me as much detail as you can on this approach. For example:
1. How do I find the Heathrow coach station?
2. What's the name of the coach line so I can go to their website now to see the schedule?
3. How do I buy a coach ticket?
4. Does the coach to Reading have a stop at a train station, as it appears you are suggesting taking the train from Reading to Abergevenny, right?
Thanks!
Ann

Posted by
1838 posts

You don't have to go into London on the Heathrow Express if you take the bus to Reading:>https://www.firstgroup.com/berkshire-thames-valley/rail-air/buy-tickets

When you arrive at Reading station - the bus drops you outside, you will find on weekdays that the trains to south Wales are every 30 minutes. However, the price can vary widely depending on whether you board one at peak time or off peak. Another factor to take into account is whether or not you are returning to Heathrow or London? Lets us assume that you are. I would consider buying the following tickets to try and get maximum flexibility v price. (It involves splitting the train tickets at Swindon - a place you pass through but don’t get off the train).
Purchase an Anytime Return from Swindon to Abergavenny = £30.20.
Purchase a Reading to Swindon off - peak return = £26.50. For this price, you cannot leave Reading any earlier than the 9.42am service to Cardiff - which calls at Newport. (Any earlier & the return to Swindon is a whopping £77 - so well worth waiting to have a coffee in Reading station should you arrive early). So, you then just have to add on the Railair coach fare and choose single (one way) or return - depending on your plans. Also note that with the Reading Swindon off-peak return, that on weekdays, you cannot leave Swindon before 10.30am when going back east. So, in the event that you wish to go to London, you would just have to add on the Reading to Paddington fare.

You should certainly be able to find a seat on the trains without a reservation. Coaches D & K are the ones most likely to have spare seats. The front part of the train is also likely to have more vacant seats - which should have a green light above them. Be ready to get off at Newport ready for your change of train. Trains from Newport to Abergavenny are roughly 2 per hour. You would be very unlucky if you had to wait an hour.

Other fares are available - some being advance - which ties you to a specific train. The train prices I have quoted are turn up & go and can be purchased on the day of arrival at Reading station.

Posted by
2286 posts

@acady:

  1. Follow the signs.
  2. See previous answers.
  3. The easiest way is probably to buy a ticket from Heathrow to Abergavenny and it will include the coach.
  4. It stops at the railway station. (Do you think I would recommend it if it didn't stop at the station?)
Posted by
4536 posts

Buying the Railair coach to Reading separately from the rail tickets is generally a bit cheaper. The price for a single though is relatively expensive at £20 (return is better value, and buying 2-3 months ahead is best, but that window has already gone).