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Need to purchase train tickets in advance?

First-time poster, here!
Travelling to the U.K. in August and am getting all my ducks in a row. One leg of our trip includes a morning of travel between London and Stirling. Plane tickets already booked between Heathrow and EDI; then planning on taking the tram (which I hear is now up and running) to Edinburgh Park Station, then the train to Stirling.
My question is this: is there any advantage (besides cost) in pre-purchasing our tickets for that train ride to Stirling? As in, does the train often fill up?
I'd pre-purhcase without a thought, but am not sure how long it will take to get from plane to tram and then to Edinburgh Park. Would hate to pre-purchase our tickets to Stirling and then not be able to make our departure time… but would ALSO hate to arrive at Edinburgh Park, ready to purchase tickets, and find that the trains to Stirling that day are all full.
Does this make sense? I dutifully searched for similar questions in the forum, but couldn't find any that referenced pre-booking due to trains filling up...
Thanks so much. You guys are seriously amazing--I'm learning a lot just from reading through the questions and answers here.

Posted by
3262 posts

Hi Laura-we're heading to Scotland in August, too, and may or may not get to Stirling this time around. I don't have adequate Scottish train experience to give you a definitive answer, but can see your concern, especially with it being Festival time in Edinburgh. In case someone is familiar with the train occupancy rate at various times of day (e.g., during commuting time), do you have an approximate sense when you might get to Edinburgh Park - late morning, early afternoon, early evening . . . ? Hope you and your ducks have a great trip :-)

Posted by
3 posts

Hi Cyn,

Thanks so much for your kind reply! Glad my query made sense.
Our flight lands in Edinburgh at 8:10am. No checked luggage. Our plan is to immediately find and catch a tram, then immediately take the train to Stirling.
Haven't been to Scotland since I was 15, but I remember loving the charm and quiet of Stirling. Looking forward to seeing it again. :)

Laura

Posted by
102 posts

The tram is not fast. Many stops from the airport to the train station. Give yourself plenty of time. Also, buy the tickets early. Everyone's on holiday in August, trains are packed. We're in London now after a wonderful time in Scotland. Wish I was still there.

Posted by
5461 posts

I know that you're really eager to get to Scotland and leave England in your dust, but I would not make it too tight. There are BTW 10 trains on Tuesday August 12th between 10:40 and 2:40 leaving out of Kings Cross to Waverley (Edinburgh's Station) . And it doesn't change when you change it to Stirling. I really don't think that you'll have trouble. But if you're doing this on a Friday or high travel day, there might be issues.

So, what can you do near Euston while you wait a couple of hours? First you can put your luggage in a left luggage office. It's not cheap, but worth it.

First, you can have breakfast or a mid morning snack. Whatever you get on the plane on the way over is not going to be as good as it used to be! Even in business class, I was not impressed last time!

Second, you can visit the British Library! They often have great exhibits.

Third if the weather is nice and you want to stretch your legs, you can to Regent's Park. It's about a 35 minute walk from Kings Cross.

Nigel might post on this question as he knows the reals in and outs and could give more authoritative advice.

But, I can tell you when I did this I arrived at 7AM at Heathrow and booked on to a noon train--the Highland Chieftain--all the way to Inverness. :)

Pam

Posted by
340 posts

Laura, from what I see on www.nationalrail.co.uk there is no price advantage in buying your tickets for that particular trip ahead of time. I also didn't see any indication that seat reservations were suggested, so I think you should be ok buying once you get to the Edinburgh train station. It looks like trains run about every 30 minutes and the trip is under an hour with no stops.

My husband and I will be flying into Edinburgh in September and taking the tram also. According to the tram website there is about a 5 minute walk to Waverley train station.

Have a great trip,

Mary

Posted by
3 posts

Hi all,

Thanks so much for the info and advice! So helpful to consider as I wrap up my planning. Mary, I'm leaning toward crossing my fingers and doing as you say: not pre-purchasing. There are many many trains to Stirling that day, and I'll just hope that I can squeeze onto one of them. I'll be sure to post back about my experiences with the tram and timing, in case it's of interest to others planning trips.

Very best to all :)

Laura

Posted by
5461 posts

Laura, I'm going to disagree with Mary regarding no indication about reservations, as several of the trains that I looked at did, say reservations recommended. I think that the worse thing though that could happen is that you would have to take a later train. I believe that the ones that recommend reservations are ones with no changes. But go to Scotrail and look for yourself. Click on the i for information when you pull up your options.

Pam

Posted by
340 posts

Pam, I looked on both ScotRail and NationalRail and I don't see where reservations are recommended. Also, the trains from Edinburgh Park to Stirling have no changes from what I can tell.

Posted by
5461 posts

Look on Scotrail. I don't know if this search will work for you. But I entered August 12 and a noon departure. If you click on the little i it will tell you about transfers and if they recommend reservations.

Pam

Posted by
5461 posts

Sorry, for some reason, I missed the bit that you are going from Edinburgh and thought you were coming up from London. You should have no trouble getting a ticket the day of arrival.

Pam