My mom and I plan to travel by train from London to Bath, then from Bath to Windsor, with luggage (one carry-on size suitcase and handbag apiece). The train to Windsor has two changes, which concerns me a little in terms of having to get on/off of trains in a hurry. Mom is perfectly capable of handling her luggage through an airport, but how does that compare to boarding and changing trains? I would appreciate any advice on how to accomplish our trips as smoothly as possible. I assume trying to travel off-peak would be helpful - any other tips?
Remember that on trains you keep your luggage with you. Carry-on size cases will fit in the luggage racks above your seats, bigger cases need to go in racks by the entrance. There is a bit of a step between the platform and the train. I assume you'll be changing at Reading and Slough to get to Windsor - have another look at the railway site if you haven't already booked, I'd be surprised if there weren't any trains from Bath to London that stop at Slough. You may have to get from one platform to another via stairs/lift or it might just be on the same platform.
The only weekday Bath->London train that stops at Slough is the 05:41. There are none at all at the weekend.
Middle of the day Monday-Thursday would be likely to be the least crowded times. Consider going First Class; it need not be that expensive if booked in advance (eg Bath to Windsor for £21.50), you get a lot more room to move things about, and you can keep luggage with you behind you rather than in a distant rack just like the old days before the standard class seats went to high density. Also light refreshments are included served at your seat weekdays, and the host may be able to help if needed - for example the trains used from London to Bath are old and do not have automatic doors.
There are assistance services you can book, but they are really for people travelling alone or with specific needs.
I love the trains in Europe.
As far as issues, the only issues i have are to know where to go for the connection. People that use the trains as their "car" know where the other boarding areas are so for an newbie, i have to stop and get my bearings and look for some reader board/map for my connection gate location.
This is something that i found out and dont know if it will apply in your case, but i arrived at the train station 1 hour early since i wasnt sure if there would be any issues, but sometimes the departing trains gate isnt listed until 15 or so minutes before departure. chances are your connection will have less time, so the info should be there.
also, this is just my opinion but i think you wont have any problem with space. I found that so far, all of the trains ive been on have had more space than airplanes. some do have "stepup" into the car and some dont. Havent figured that out, you do what you gotta do.
happy trails and you will have fun.
These replies are reassuring - thanks. I should have mentioned that we'll be travelling from London to Bath on a Sunday, and from Bath to Windsor on a Friday, but are very flexible with regard to time. I have noticed on the National Rail website though that it appears there is often engineering work on the weekends. If we purchase advance tickets, are we likely to have issues with a particular train not running at its scheduled time?
By the way - Marco, thanks for that info on first class. That may be the way to go - just to make it a little more comfortable for mom (and me, of course!).
Advance tickets are tied to a specific train and service, and are not released until details of any engineering work is settled and taken into account.
Sunday morning crowding is unpredictable and often depends on specific events. Friday and Sunday afternoons tend always to be busy.
There are plenty of trains from Reading to Slough so no need to book a tight connection; use the options on booking sites to lengthen these.
Well, it figures that we would choose the busiest times to travel. :-)
Thanks for the tip, Marco - I'll look at the options to avoid tight connections. I appreciate everyone's replies thus far.