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Scotland May 18 RS tour, departed London June 3

Arrive Edinburgh May 16 to rest up before our 10 day RS tour. We did a RS 10 day Italy tour last year so know what to expect, great things! Then why not be adventurous and get to London on our own. We would like to go back to St Andrews for day or so before heading into England. We will not have a car so would you suggest buying a Rail pass? Can we get off the train for sights before London, maybe overnight somewhere? I have not made any hotel / B&B reservations so suggestions appreciated.
I used this forum for everything I needed to know about Italy, wow it was a Perfect trip 😽

Posted by
18746 posts

You're far enough out that I am nearly certain your cheapest option will be point-to-point tickets bought early. The bargain-priced Advance tickets on the express trains don't allow you to hop on and off at will as far as I know (some more expensive tickets may), so you'll have to decide whether you're confident enough about your plans to commit early to stopping on a particular day in City A and resuming your trip south on a specific day.

The most obvious stopping point for me would be York, but you might first opt for more time in Edinburgh or time in Glasgow.

You can see rail fares on the website nationalrail.co.uk . Fiddle around with dates to see the mind-boggling disparity between fares for travel today or tomorrow vs. fares for travel in late February, which is as far out as I can see fares for St Andrews (Leuchars) - York. The price range is at least from 37.60 to 106.50 pounds. It's possible additional money could be saved by splitting the ticket (presumably in Edinburgh).

Posted by
67 posts

ReRS site : BritRail Pass
Explore England, Scotland, and Wales by train with one great rail pass Travel on the national rail networks of England, Scotland, and Wales Freedom to take multiple train journeys per travel day Issued as a paper document 1 child (ages 5-15) travels free with full priced Adult or Senior Discounted Youth (under 26 and Senior (60+) passes Multi-person Saver discount for 3-9 passengers traveling together Includes choice of one Airport Transfer: Gatwick Express, Heathrow Express or Stansted Express Travel across borders quickly and easily. 2seniors $440.
I have not read the fine print and not familiar with BritRail. What is difference in 1st and 2nd class. Can we use this to get up to St Andrews from Edinburgh, around London? We are thinking of visiting a friend in Manchester and I know that is not the direct route to London from Edinburgh.

Posted by
18746 posts

Edinburgh to St. Andrews is usually done by train to Leuchars and a short bus hop to St. Andrews. (You can travel the entire way by bus, seeing some of the East Neuk villages, but most folks on short trips wouldn't choose to do that.) I don't know whether the rail pass covers the Leuchars-St. Andrews bus, but the bus cost is negligible and should not be a factor in your calculations.

The pass would work to get you from Edinburgh to Manchester and from Manchester to London. But so would regular tickets.

The pass will not work to get you "around London" if by that you mean around the city on buses or the Underground. It's a train pass, not an all-transportation pass. It will work on trains to Windsor, Kew Gardens, etc. The most you'll pay per day on the buses and Underground for a full day of trips around central London (Tower of London, the major museums, Westminster Abbey, etc.) is currently £8.20 (about $10.80). It will be less if you only take 2 trips on the Underground.

I am not an expert on the British Rail pass or any other, but the passes are typically priced in such a way that they seem to me only to make sense for people taking a lot of really long trips in a short period of time and/or not planning many/any of their train trips ahead of time, plus wanting the option to travel during rush hour so that their only options are rail pass vs. high-priced same-day Anytime tickets.

If you buy Advance tickets for your longer trips, you can buy a heckuva lot of train travel for much less than $220 per person. This is what I spent earlier this year:

Edinburgh - Newcastle £12.70
Newcastle - York £7.55
York - London £18.15
Total: £38.40 ($50.46, or about $76 if I hadn't had a senior rail card)

I don't believe I've every had a first-class ticket in Europe, and I've spent nearly 3 years there over the years. First-class carriages often have slightly wider seats and perhaps a bit more padding. I find the second-class seats perfectly comfortable. There are some photos on the Seat61 website. There's another here.

Posted by
67 posts

Thanks ever so much acraven. This is what I suspected as I have used train travel in France and Italy at much less $$ I only considered the rail pass because there is a Save On Rail Pass topic in Dec RS newsletter. From what I gather buying same day or a few days in advance will be all we need to get us around our adventures in Scotland and England.

Posted by
506 posts

The rail pass looks like poor value to me for what you have said you'd want to do by train. You can also explore whether any of the regular railcards and discounts offered in the UK would work for you. For example there are seniors discounts and 'two together' (for 2 people travelling together) discounts. National Rail Discounts

This is the same website that you would use to plan your journeys and buy tickets (the buy ticket option takes you through to the operating company to purchase the tickets. Advance tickets (usually available about 12 weeks out) are the cheapest and restrict you to a particular train at a set time. You cannot 'hop off and on' as the ticket is from point A to point B. The only way to break your journey is to buy separate tickets, e.g. Edinburgh to York and then York to London. York is a fine city and would make a great stop on the way to London. Unless of course your RS tour will be taking you there anyway!

Hope that helps
Jacqui (Skyegirl)