Making seat reservations with a Britrail Pass

Hello,
I am just wondering what experiences people have had making seat reservations using their Britrail pass. When I looked online to reserve a seat it's quite spendy! I've read on this site that it's free to make reservations at the train station, so that sounds more ideal. But are there usually seats available the day of travel? I would think most seats would be taken by then... Thanks!

Posted by Nigel
East Midlands, England
8741 posts

Jonna, It depends on which route and at what time of day and day of the week whether a train will be quite full or quite empty. When and where do you intend to travel? Some trains offer reserved seats, some don't. There are about 26 different companies offering train service in the UK and their ways of doing business are sometimes quite different. Where and when will you be making your various trips?

Posted by Jonna
Seattle
10 posts

I will be taking a trip Aug-Sept, and using trains/buses for transportation. A few longer trips will include Bath to York, York to Buxton, Buxton to Penrith, Edinburgh to London. I will also be taking a few shorter trips...York to Harrogate, Penrith to Edinburgh, and Edinburgh to St. Andrews. I am assuming it shouldn't be too difficult find a seat on the shorter trips. I purchased a 3-day (plus extra free day) First Class Britrail Pass because I wanted to use it for the longer, and more expensive, trips. The smaller trips seem to cost much less so I will probably just purchase point-to-point tickets for those trips.

Posted by Nigel
East Midlands, England
8741 posts

Thanks for the further information. It does get a bit complicated, as I said, for the availability of reservations. Each company has different rules. Use http://www.nationalrail.co.uk/tocs_maps/tocs/ to get some information. Click on the TOC, then click on Ticketing and Fares, and scroll down to the reservations information. To do that you will need to know which TOC (Train Operating Company - British governmentspeak for a train company; they are all privatized except East Coast which has fallen back into government hands) is operating the train you will be on. For example, for York to Buxton, you will likely be First TransPennine Express (the Express is tongue in cheek but don't tell them I said that) from York to Manchester Piccadilly. They will give you, for no money, reservations up to a day before travel and they have First Class. At Manchester Piccadilly you will change for the last hour onto a Northern Trains train. Northern Trains don't offer reservations on any of their trains and the train you will be on doesn't offer First Class. You may well be standing on that one if you go at rush hour so I'm sure you will watch the times carefully. For Bath to York are you going into London and changing to the East Coast up to York or going Cross Country via Birmingham? These all just need to be worked through methodically. I'll help if you need it, but since I have taught you how to fish, would you like to do it? I'll check your work if you like?