Does anyone know if it is possible to purchase tickets from the US with a US credit card (and billing address) by calling the train company's reservation number? I have tried doing it on the web sites and only get an error message when I try to put in a US address.
Two years ago I was able to buy tickets online in advance for London-Bath Spa. However, I've read recently that others, like you, have had trouble because the train site they were on wanted a UK address. According to recent posts I've read, entering a UK postal code (like for a London hotel) has allowed people to complete the booking process. If that doesn't work, I'd try calling the reservation number as you propose.
Go to www.visitbritain.com and you can buy tickets, passes, books, maps.
We did the same thing: tried to buy the Oyster card online from a British site, but had the same problem. When we finally called England, they sent us to visitbritain. The card came less than a week later.
I went to UK many years ago - and purchased the Britrail pass for myself and my buddy studdying in London. I think the rail pass was for visitors only (like many places) and was actually cheaper to buy from US vs in UK. Why not just use the rail-pass service on this RS page - or order direct online. It will be much easier than calling a train station direct. They are all the same price - but you know Rick's team will be trouble free and easy to contact!
I was also able to buy tickets from one of the rail companies using a US direct several years ago. It sounds like the systems have changed - perhaps a security issue. Now you just need to have a UK address - they won't send the tickets to the US anyway, so you've either got have them send to your hotel or pick them up at one of the applicable stations.
Have your travel agent get you the BritRail pass. You have much more felxibility and it will save you major money. These must be bought here (in the US)before you travel.
I use Virgin Value fares a few times. Most recently I've used them to go from London to Dublin as they have a cheap special combination with Stena Line and Irish Ferries from Holyhead, Wales to Dublin or Dun Laoghaire. 16 quid one way! Fun journey, really. Anyhow, can't be booked online. I call to order and provide my credit card details. They give me a reservation number which I simply type into the kiosk at any London train station to retrieve my tickets and reservation. See here, fyi: http://www.virgintrains.co.uk/promotions/stenaline/default.aspx
Toni, is the BritRail pass the same thing for sale at www.britrail.com? I'm looking at the England only 4-day consecutive youth pass that's only $148. I need to use the Heathrow Express then get to Stratford-upon-avon (same day), then from stratford to oxford and back in the same day, then to the birmingham airport to leave...would the 4-day BritRail pass cover these trips, and do you think the $148.00 pass would be a better deal than buying point-to-point? I've tried looking all the individual routes up on the National Rail site, and I'm having an awful lot of trouble figuring out the point-to-point costs. I just assumed I'd buy my tickets in England the day of or day before like everywhere else, but if getting that pass will save me money and cover all the trips I need, then I guess it would be worth it to get the pass in advance!
Thanks for any help/advice anyone can provide.