Do I need to book a train ticket to Bath in advance?

I will be arriving at Heathrow and plan on taking the Heathrow Express into Paddington to catch the train to Bath. Do I need to book my train ticket in advance or will I be able to get a ticket for the next available departing train when I arrive at the station? Also, if I book in advance and for some reason I miss the time I booked for (i.e. get stuck in passport control) will I be able to catch the next train? Thanks!

Posted by Philip
London, United Kingdom
1698 posts

You've hit on the dilemma. Yes, if you book in advance the tickets will be much cheaper. However, the cheap tickets are solely for the journey that you choose, and if you miss it you will need to pay full fare. Your options are to pay lots of money when you arrive, gamble on not getting delayed, or pay a cheap fare but probably have to hang around Paddington for a long time. An alternative to getting the train into London is to take the Railair ( coach from Heathrow Airport to Reading, which is the first stop out of London on the line to Bath. However, you still have the issue of whether to book in advance to get a cheap fare or not, and if you book a cheap fare and give yourself lots of time Reading station is even duller to hang around at than Paddington.

Posted by Colleen
West Monroe
4 posts

Philip If I book a bus ticket in advance, then can I change to an earlier/later bus without having to pay anything additional if I happen to arrive earlier or later than my scheduled time? Thanks for your input!

Posted by Claire
Vancouver, BC
13 posts

I looked up National Express and I can't find where it shows a 2.5 hour direct bus to Bath. The ones listed show 3 + hours and a change in Bristol. Am I missing something? Thanks.

Posted by Tim
Minneapolis, MN, USA
8646 posts

Claire, Take another look at the National Express site. The timetables show both direct routes (with the departure times I listed in my previous post plus some later times) and routes requiring a connection in Bristol.

Posted by Tim
Minneapolis, MN, USA
8646 posts

If you book a ticket online for the RailAir bus, it will be good on any bus. Another alternative is to take a National Express coach (highway bus) directly from Heathrow to Bath Spa. Depart at 08:20, 09:45, or 12:15. The ride takes 2hr35min and the fare is 20.70 GBP. If you decide to take the train to Paddington, the Heathrow Connect is cheaper than the Heathrow Express.

Posted by John
Pantego, NC, USA
704 posts

I would do the bus to Bath. Easier, no changes, and you can buy a really cheap fare if bought early. Doing a bus in UK is not like a bus in US. UK bus rides are fine, just go to the toilet before you board. And, yes, the bus ticket is good either side of the purchased leaving time.