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Rail passes and train tickets

I am overwhelmed by the information about getting the best price for a rail pass for London and a one way ticket for the train to Bath. There are two of us - one is a senior. We'll be using the Tube in London for 6 days and then we'll need two seats on a point-to-point/one way train from Paddington Station to Bath. What is the best way to do this?

Any help is appreciated.
Wendy

Posted by
26412 posts

Use the NationalRail website to check out fares and schedules to Bath. It's about a 90-minute trip, and you'll leave from Paddington Station. The price you pay varies hugely and will depend on how early you book and what departure time you choose. It costs more to travel during peak commuting periods, but buying early (if you're willing to commit to a specific departure date and time) may save considerable money. On the other hand, you might opt to wait until you're in England and have a better idea of what the weather will be like each day. I must say that for my recent 10-day visit, the weather was overcast or (occasionally) sprinkling rain for most of the time on most days, and the weather predictions weren't terribly accurate vis-à-vis the precipitation, so I might tend to go ahead and buy a cheap train ticket now.

Although I bought a lot of my tickets only a few days in advance at staffed counters, I twice bought online and then picked up the ticket from a vending machine at the station. I needed the confirmation number and perhaps also the credit card I had used. It was very simple, though one would be prudent to allow some extra time just in case there is a problem and staff help is required.

I received good discounts with a Senior Railcard, and there's also a "Two Together" railcard, but I think they cost 30 GBP each, and with just the one planned rail trip, I don't think either would pay off.

You'll need to pay attention to planned work or other issues on the tube, since you'll need a reliable means of transportation to Paddington Station on the day of your trip to Bath. I don't remember that station specifically, but there is sometimes quite a long (time-consuming) walk from the tube station to the rail station.

Posted by
11294 posts

Acraven has given you good advice for the train from London Paddington Station to Bath. Just one point of potential confusion. Advance tickets, with a capital A, are not just any ticket bought in advance; they are specific discount tickets that are non-refundable, and with them you must take the specific train on the ticket. In return for these restrictions, they're much cheaper than other tickets. They go on sale about 3 months before travel. If you are sure of your plans, they're a great deal; if you're not, don't get them, but get a more flexible ticket. Be sure you understand the rules of any ticket before you buy it.

Now, let me try to help with the London portion.

You won't be using a "rail pass" for London; you'll be using some form of "Tube pass", which will be good for the Underground (tube), DLR, and trains within the London zones you have bought it for, as well as buses within all London zones.

Since you're staying for 6 days, you want a 7 day Travelcard.

London has many zones, but for most visitors, a Travelcard good for zones 1 and 2 is all they need. This is currently £33; each person needs their own Travelcard . The only thing outside these zones that most tourists go to is Heathrow Airport; for that one trip, you can just buy a supplemental ticket. That is, if you're coming in from Heathrow to London using the Tube. If you're coming in from the airport any other way, your Travelcard would not cover the ride - no matter how many zones it is valid for.

A 7 day Travelcard can either be loaded onto an Oyster card, or can be on paper. Furthermore, a paper Travelcard can be obtained from a Tube station (it will have the TFL "circle with a slash through it" logo) or from a train station (it will have the National Rail "crows feet" logo). For transit, there is no difference between the three kinds of Travelcards. HOWEVER, if you get a paper Travelcard from a rail station, it will be good for two for one discounts. Since there are two of you, it might be worth the (slight) extra hassle to get this kind of paper Travelcard. Note that you cannot get a Travelcard that is valid for the two for one discounts at Heathrow. If you're doing this, you have to pay for your ride in from Heathrow some other way, then buy the Travelcard at a rail station in London.

Some details about the two for one deals are here: https://www.tripadvisor.co.uk/Travel-g186338-c133479/London:United-Kingdom:Paper.And.Oyster.Travelcards.2.4.1.Offers.html and here: https://www.tripadvisor.com/Travel-g186338-c195600/London:United-Kingdom:2.4.1.Travelcards.Step.By.Step.html

Posted by
26412 posts

The key thing is not to buy tickets for individual rides. That will cost you about double the fare you would get with an Oyster Card, even if you don't use a weekly pass. There's not likely to be a great deal of difference in what you pay with the pass (£33 for a weekly Zone 1-2 pass) vs. depending on the daily cap (£6.60). I believe the Oyster charge for an off-peak single ride within Zones 1 and 2 is £2.40, so the daily cap begins to save the user money when he takes the third trip of the day. For anything over 2 trips a day (if you do that every day for all seven days), the weekly pass will produce savings. Oyster charges for buses are lower and complicate the calculations.

Tourists who like to walk a lot and/or are staying in lodgings very convenient to some of the sights they plan to visit may save a bit of money by just depending on the daily Oyster Cap, whereas anyone making more than two tube trips every day will obviously save something with the weekly pass. In the OPs case, the day to Bath might require no tube rides if the lodgings are very near Paddington Station.

The 2-for-1 deals obtained with the proper sort of weekly travel card are very worthwhile for folks planning to visit one or more of the pricey sights covered by the deals. Unfortunately, there is no equivalent benefit for solo travelers.