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Which tickets should I book in advance

I will be spending just over a month in London in June and looking at a few day trips. With the possibility of one or two overnights. I know often it is much cheaper if you book in advance. Of the listed destinations are there any that do not need to be booked in advance for a cheaper fair. I played a bit on the National Rail site so from what I see so places seem not to make a difference.

I am looking at Bath with is much cheaper with advanced booking. My original plan was a day trip to Bath and a different day a trip to Cardiff. Now I am thinking it may make more sense to do Bath to Cardiff (sleep in Cardiff) then Cardiff back to London. This would be booked in advance. If it makes more sense happy to do them as two day trips.

York is also a thought but have not looked into that much yet.

Other places where I am interested are

Do I need advanced booking for these destinations. Brighton did not seem to save money if I booked in advanced but could be mistaken. Any special train pass that would allow me to save money on my trips.

What happens if I am booked and a train strike happens do I get a refund? I know they often set dates in advance but if I have booked what is the process.


Posted by
3185 posts

For Brighton the cheapest day ticket is a Southern Railway day save ticket 3 days in advance which is valid for unlimited travel on any Southern route after 10am. It costs £22.
Full details on their website.
For Oxford by far the cheapest tickets are on Chiltern from Marylebone rather than the better known Great Western from Paddington.
You should consider buying a Network Railcard for £30- which gives you 1/3 off all off peak fares subject to a Minimum £13 fare. It is valid on all former Network South East routes which includes all the day trip destinations you have listed. That is even on turn up and go tickets (as well as advance ones) and may be cheaper than advance tickets. It means that you are not restricted on the day to pre booked specified trains. Anyone can buy that railcard.
There is a NSE map on the Network Railcard website.
It is a legacy ticket as Network South East united all the London area rail companies as one brand and is long gone but the railcard survives.
It goes as far as the Isle of Wight, Weymouth (for the Jurassic coast) and even Exeter (on the South Western route, not Great Western).
Yes you'll get a refund if there are strikes from wherever you bought your tickets. There is always 2 weeks notice of a strike.

Posted by
2275 posts

How about doing as single journeys London (Paddington) to Bath; Bath to Cardiff; Cardiff to Oxford and Oxford back to Paddington?
That would save on the distance that you are travelling and therefore time. You may also like to consider taking a day trip by train from Bath to Salisbury (takes about 1 hour) to see the wonderful medieval cathedral. From Salisbury station, shuttle buses take people the few miles north to Stonehenge.

Cardiff city centre and its Castle plus a 1 mile bus trip trip south to the waterfront (Bay) can be done in 1 day. However, 3 other castles are within 8 miles of Cardiff city centre and more than a day in Cardiff is needed should you wish to see these. St. Fagans Castle (really a 1500’s house) and the extensive grounds which contain a museum of buildings as well as indoor exhibits needs at least half a day. (Cardiff Bus 32 from Westgate Street - stadium side). The large medieval fortress of Caerphilly Castle is about a 20 minute local train ride north of Cardiff. (Caerphilly is a dump but the castle is impressive). On the northern edge of Cardiff is Castell Coch which can be reached by walking up the hill for about 15 minutes from Tongwynlais. Google the places mentioned.

For most one way journeys it is usually cheaper to buy Advance specific train tickets around 10 weeks out. On some routes, it is cheaper to split the ticket at places where the train stops. This site will tell you if this is the case:>

The so called Network Railcard mentioned above is only valid in the south-east. A full list of Railcards which may be suitable is here:>