My wife and I will be traveling to Bath from London, and back again. I notice on the nationalrail website that advance tickets are only 13 pounds each way, but must be purchased in advance. We're taking the train directly from the airport (via Paddington) so I assume I can order them online a couple weeks beforehand. We're landing at 2pm and taking the Heathrow Express (15 minutes) to Paddington, then plan to catch the train to Bath from there. I know it's easier to take a bus but I really enjoy train travel and I want to do that. We also have purchased the London Plue Pass so we have free vouchers for the Heathrow Express. Has anyone purchased tickets in advance and is it easy?
I've purchased tickets in advance with no problems. As I recall, you will have to pick up the actual tickets at the station because they don't mail them to the US. Be sure to purchase them ASAP, though, because the deeply discounted advance rates sell out, much like the cheap "fun fares" on airlines.
Thanks Carol! We're not traveling until September so I guess we have a little time yet. But it's good to know that we can just pick them up at the station. Sure will save a lot of money!!
Coverage on the London Plus pass now includes Bath Spa. Unless you don't want to use a pass day for that particular trip, you won't need to buy a ticket.
Tim, that is right. But if I can get an advance ticket for $26 each way, that would be better than using an entire days worth of travel just to get to Bath. My only worry is that if I buy an advance ticket for the 16:00 train to Bath Spa from Paddington station, and we can't catch that one for some reason, can we get on the next one with the same ticket? In Japan if you buy a ticket on a particular Shinkansen train, and you miss it, you can usually get a seat on the next train.
The rail companies here are 'restructuring' all of the fares to make them 'simpler'. The general assumption of those of us living in the UK is that this means more expensive. Nobody is very clear what is going to happen to individual fares - some will change in May and some in September.
There's more information, such as it is, here
I don't know how things are going to work after the "restructuring" is in place, but currently an advance purchase discount ticket is good only for a specific train departing at a specific time. I just took a closer look at your arrival time at LHR. Even if your flight is on time, your chances of making the 16:00 train are not at all good. It can take up to an hour to clear immigration/passport control and claim your luggage. Sure the HEX is fast, but if you just miss a train you'll have to wait 15 minutes for the next one--and every minute will count. If you decide to buy an advance ticket to Bath Spa, I recommend you choose a train that leaves Paddington no earlier than 17:00. If you wait until two weeks before you arrive, those discount fares will likely be gone. Start checking 60 days out.
Tim and Alan, thanks for the good information. Landing at 2pm, probably get out of the airplane at 2:20pm, get through customs by 3pm, no baggage to claim, get on the Heathrow Express by 3:30pm (30 minutes to go to counter to redeem our coupons for the train ride to Paddington should be enough). Get to Paddington by 3:45pm, get on Bath train by 16:00. Cutting it too close? Maybe. Perhaps I should reserve the 16:30 train?
There is an easier way to catch your train to Bath.
You take the Railink bus from Heathrow to Reading Station in Berkshire and catch the train to Bath from there. Assuming you are arrving in Term. 3 at Heathrow, you get a trolley (cart) and walk in an underground passage to the Bus Terminal. The buses run every half hour. They have luggage space under the buses. This bus leaves you right outside the station in Reading. Have done this many times and it is fast and convenient.
Dave, I stand by my recommendation of not booking a train that leaves before 17:00. If your plane is late or you are delayed getting through immigration/passport control, you'll need all the extra time you can get.
Of course if you decide to use your pass for the ride, you can simply validate it and jump on the earliest train you're able to catch.
Thanks Tim and Maryann.
We are taking the Heathrow Express to Paddington as we have free vouchers. From there we'll catch the fast train to Bath.
I don't want to use our train passes for the trip to bath as it will only be one way. We will use the train vouchers for days when we're taking multiple train trips to multiple destinations. One day I plan to go to Brighton and then on to Portsmouth, and back to London again. Another day we'll go up to Cambridge, or perhaps to Oxford and Blenheim Palace.
Looks like we'll just have to pay full price for the train tickets afterall. Our B&B in Bath (Brock Guest House) doesn't like people to arrive after 6pm so we're trying to get there before then, which means catching the 16:00 train if possible. I've been through customs at many airports and it's never taken more than 30 minutes to clear, and we're arriving on a Monday, not on a heavier travelled day like Sat or Sun.
I'm with Tim on this one. I lived in London and travelled regularly for business. I cannot count the number of times I arrived late because there was too much air traffic and we had to circle or times we sat on the runway waiting for the gate to become available. And Heathrow is a big airport. It can be a long walk from the gate. Two hours from scheduled landing to city is very optimistic. It is possible, but you are really counting on everything to be in your favor.