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York to London

Hello, please help! What is the most economical way to get from York to London? Train: how can I save money on train tickets? Car: cost much less, but would you recommend driving from York into London and dropping off the rented car at the Victoria station, which is right by the hotel we will check-in at? How many hours' drive would that be? Thank you!

Posted by
922 posts

'Standard' is not a tariff, but some people might use that term to mean the walk-up fare you would be offered on the day. Kevin, that is so right. Thanks for the clarification; terminology matters a lot in this case. I liken it to the many fare classes (and their corresponding fine print) when booking airline tickets. I saw a grouping of fare options called 'Standard' on various UK train sites. It included the 'Off-Peak' and 'Super Off-Peak' tariffs. There is definitely a learning curve! Travelers are rewarded with lower fares when they are willing to travel during periods of lower local demand. And train operators seem to use the enticement of lower fares to fill up seats on those trains. Annie, when you book don't overlook the no-extra-charge 'Quiet' carriage option, if it's something you would want.

Posted by
107 posts

Yes, I prefer to take the train over driving. The date is set, but the only thing that might change is the time if for some reason a delay arises with checking out of our York hotel. But if all goes well, check-out time at our hotel is listed at 10 a.m. The train station is a 7-minute walk away. If we have a 12:01 train trip, that gives us plenty of time to check out and walk to the station. In the worst case scenario, if we end up having to switch the time for the train, we pay 10 pounds a ticket and the difference in the cost of the walk-up ticket. However, that scenario is unlikely to happen, Lord willing.

Posted by
922 posts

Haha! Annie, make it happen. I got a very rude shock once - when I was naive and inexperienced (not that you are) - by having to pay a startlingly high walk-up fare because I didn't plan well ahead of time and thought train fares were like they were where I was used to using them - basically always the same no matter what. There was a serious 'Ouch' factor. LOL!

Posted by
107 posts

Thanks, yes, I will make it happen, now that I have peace of mind and more knowledge, thank you to all of you who have been patiently explaining all of this to me. I love this forum; I love all you forum travelers who take the time to help newbie travelers like me.

Posted by
922 posts

It's both a pleasure and rewarding to assist and share knowledge with a person like you who knows how to ask good questions and assimilate information and advice quickly. I hope you have a super trip!

Posted by
107 posts

Thank you, I hope so, too. :)

Posted by
4825 posts

How many are travelling and when? Advance tickets start from £10.50 with Grand Central and £14.60 with East Coast. Driving is a notional 3.75 hours - whether you could do it that quickly in practice is another matter. Don't forget the congestion charge and any drop off fees in your calculation.

Posted by
922 posts

Here's what I recently did to get 'Advance' lowest-priced fares on trains from London to York and London to Durham return. 1. I went to thetrainline.com and at the bottom of the page under 'Tools and tips' I clicked 'Ticket Alerts' and signed up to receive an email alert for when 'Advance' tickets became available for my desired dates. My dates were far enough out that 'Advance' fares had not yet become available. 2. When I received the alerts, I went immediately to http://www.eastcoast.co.uk/ and booked the tickets to avoid thetrainline.com's service fee. (I could not find a way to get alerts from the East Coast site, but truth be told I didn't look very hard.) I also discovered that the Advance fare offered by East Coast Main Line was even a little lower than the fare offered through Trainline. I discovered that East Coast offers a Web-only 10% discount on some fares: http://www.eastcoast.co.uk/special-offers/our-offers/travel-savings/exclusive-web-discount/

Posted by
70 posts

Most economical is to take a coach bus. Megabus can do it for about <10GDP but trip is about 4-1/2 hours. Train is about 1/2 that. In either case tickets are cheaper earlier.

Posted by
107 posts

There are four of us. Thank you for all your input, I will check those links. I must have been looking at the wrong website for train tickets, because I had the impression they cost more than what has been stated here. Also, never heard of a congestion charge--what are the fees?

Posted by
922 posts

Annie, just like there are multiple sites for booking airline tickets, so too there are multiple sites where at least some (maybe not all) UK train tickets can be booked. From the way the available train times and fares display on several of the sites I visited recently, it appears the search results are being pulled from one database, and fares offered are basically the same. But I was glad to get the 10% discount and avoid the booking fee by booking direct on the East Coast Main Line site, which is the line that operates the train route you asked about. It's comparable to booking flights through Delta.com or United.com (for example) vs. through an aggregator like Orbitz, Travelocity, Expedia, etc., though with airlines I have often found fares offered by the aggregator services are lower than those offered directly on an airline's site, and more itinerary combinations are displayed, which gives me more choices. That won't be the case with trains, though, because one operator manages the trains that operate on a given route. Decentralization has made booking train tickets much more complex than it used to be by simply going through nationalrail.co.uk.

Posted by
521 posts

Also, never heard of a congestion chargewhat are the fees? You would need to check with the rental company to see whether they have some kind of arrangement with Transport for London, but assuming they don't then paying on the day is £10. The charge applies if you drive into the area shown on this map between 07.00 and 18.00, Monday to Friday: http://www.tfl.gov.uk/tfl/roadusers/congestioncharge/whereandwhen/ They have a network of cameras that read your number plate, so if you don't pay (and there are different ways to do that, it's not hard) then you get a penalty charge (via the rental company).

Posted by
521 posts

I must have been looking at the wrong website for train tickets, because I had the impression they cost more than what has been stated here Train fares vary enormously in this country. As various people have said, the 'Advance' tariff is cheapest, with the lowest costs if you buy as soon as tickets are available, 12 weeks before travelling. That tariff is only valid for the specific train it is booked for and cannot be refunded, but more flexible 'Off-peak' and 'Anytime' fares are also available. Of course those are usually much more expensive. If you book and pay for tickets on www.eastcoast.co.uk you can get an automatic group discount because there are 4 of you travelling together. Take a look at their journey planner, specify 4 passengers, and you'll see what fares are available for the date you are travelling.

Posted by
107 posts

Thank you for your helpful replies. I found a fare for 68 pounds for the 4 of us for a noontime trip. Is that a good price? Only thing is it's a non-refundable Advance Fare. All the inexpensive fares are Advance Fares. Can someone confirm what this entails: $10 a ticket if you need to make a change, plus the difference in the cost of the ticket. Is that all? Are there other hidden costs or problems I'm not aware of? Our hotel is right along the border of the congestion zone. :(

Posted by
922 posts

My recent experience has proven to me that some 'Advance' fares do not become available right at the 12-week mark. I began checking twice daily right on the 12-week date ahead of my desired travel dates, and 'Advance' fares were not on offer. I signed up for alerts, as described above. There was a notation when signing up for the alerts that 'Advance' tickets are sold as singles (not returns). Approximately 1-2 weeks after the 12-week mark I received an alert for my outbound journey; I booked the ticket immediately. About one week later I received an alert for the return journey (which was only 2 days after the outbound) and, again, booked it immediately. There was a gigantic difference between the 'Advance' fares and Standard fares, at least for my desired routes. This leads me to believe that if I am patient and get the timing and strategy down right, I could travel throughout the UK for very little money, and a railpass would probably never be justified, other than maybe the convenience factor. I realize the OP didn't ask about railpasses, but I think Annie will not mind if I share my experience as part of her thread. :)

Posted by
107 posts

Unfortunately, we are way pass the 12-week advance notification mark. So what is the difference between Advance Fares and Standard Fares? Is one better than the other? I am trying to decide if I should go ahead and book this Advance Fare I found for 68 pounds (for 4 people) and take the risk that it's non-refundable.

Posted by
922 posts

For East Coast trains, the following page gives some good info about ticket types, including 'Advance' and 'Off-Peak'. http://www.eastcoast.co.uk/travel-information/train-ticket-information/ I'm not sure it's safe to generalize, and hopefully someone more experienced with UK train travel since decentralization can please correct me if needed, but 'Standard' fare seems to be the fare a traveler would pay if he bought walk-up tickets at a station ticket window or kiosk. It's all seriously a bit confusing, and even my British friends agreed when I said so to them recently.

Posted by
107 posts

OK, so Standard Fare tickets are walk-up price tickets, and they generally cost a lot more than Advanced Fare tickets, except they are refundable. Am I correct? Will the print-out tickets be e-mailed to you so you can print them out anytime you want?

Posted by
521 posts

'Standard' is not a tariff, but some people might use that term to mean the walk-up fare you would be offered on the day. It's more useful to look at the actual tariffs that are available to you. We've already discussed Advance. The most expensive is 'Anytime', but if you are planning to travel in the middle of the day then we can ignore that because it's only relevant for peak hours travel. So that leaves us with a choice between Advance and 'Super Off-peak'. One month from now I can see an Advance fare for 4 people at £59.60 for a party of 4 on the 12.01 departure from York. For comparison, the Super Off-peak tariff on the same train would be £194. The difference is you could buy the Super Off-peak on the day, at the station. How confident are you about your travel dates? I'd need to be really unsure about my plans to even consider paying £194 rather than £60. East Coast tickets can be printed at home. As you go through the booking process, do reserve your seats, as this route can be very busy. Advance tickets can be amended on the website only until 18.00 on the day before you travel.

Posted by
922 posts

Again referring to my most recent experience, a Print-at-Home e-ticket option was not offered when I booked the outbound journey, so I chose the option to collect my ticket at a ticket kiosk at a station. I can go either to the kiosk or a manned ticket window to get my actual ticket, being sure to bring the exact credit card used to secure the booking and the confirmation number received via email immediately after the booking. For my return journey booking, because it was designated a 'Web-only' Advance fare, I was given the option to print at home on A4 paper. The ticket was attached as a PDF to the confirmation email, received immediately after completing the booking. I believe it is not possible for tickets to be mailed to addresses outside the UK, at least not if you book them online from the various UK route operators or aggregator services.

Posted by
107 posts

Oh, my, you guys are so very helpful. Thank you for patiently explaining all of this to me! Our travel date is set because we have hotel reservations, checking out from a York hotel and checking into a London hotel that day, and we are not planning on changing our hotel reservations. So, looks like taking the risk is worth the money I save buying the Advanced Fare tickets (half or a third of the price of other tickets). And given that the tickets are e-mailed as a PDF attachment, even if I lose them this far in advance, I can print them out again later (as long as I locate a printer on our trip).

Posted by
107 posts

OK, I started the process of buying a 12:01 ticket from York to London Victoria at 14:51. Says there is a transfer to the tube at London King's Cross at 14:25. 1. Why is the arrival time of the train at London King's Cross the same as the departure time of the train to Victoria? They're both 14:25! There is no way to catch the second train. Is there a way to create a gap of time between arrival and departure? 2. Does the ticket include the price of the Tube transfer? Or do we have to buy a ticket at the Tube? Thanks!

Posted by
521 posts

Your train from York terminates at London Kings Cross. If you specify Victoria as your destination then East Coast will charge you an extra £3 each and that would cover your Tube journey, but if you are going to be in London for a few days then you will need Oyster cards for travel on the Underground and Kings Cross to Victoria with an Oyster card is £2.10 each (compared with the £4.50 cash price for a single Underground ticket). I would get tickets from York to Kings Cross, then get Oyster cards there for onward travel around London. Ask if you want more information about Oyster. Don't worry about the timing shown on the East Coast journey planner. Underground trains run every few minutes on the Victoria Line and any of them will get you to Victoria in 15 minutes. I just wanted to make sure that you understood what I said about print-at-home tickets. When I mentioned that they can be changed online only up to 17.00 on the day before travel, I meant they really can only be changed online, not at the station. If you pick up your tickets from the machine or the ticket office in York then you can change them at the station at any time before departure.

Posted by
107 posts

Thank you for explaining that. So if I specify Victoria, we will get charged 3 pounds each, so I should specify King's Cross instead. I assume the King's Cross train station is the same as the Tube station. 1. When we get to King's Cross, can we purchase Oyster cards at the Tube? I read we can purchase Tube tickets from the train guard? Is that true? Can we get Oyster cards from the train guard as well? 2. Unfortunately, the tickets I want do not have a print-out option. Only pick up at York station. Do I need a chip and pin card for that? Can I just use a regular credit card with a pin (no chip)? Thanks, I want to pay for this already!

Posted by
521 posts

So if I specify Victoria, we will get charged 3 pounds each, so I should specify King's Cross instead. I assume the King's Cross train station is the same as the Tube station. London Kings Cross is the mainline overground station where you will arrive. It has an Underground station, which is well signposted. 1. When we get to King's Cross, can we purchase Oyster cards at the Tube? I read we can purchase Tube tickets from the train guard? Is that true? Can we get Oyster cards from the train guard as well? Oyster cards are available from the ticket counter in Kings Cross Underground station. I haven't heard of buying Underground tickets from a train guard, and if you are getting Oyster cards anyway then you wouldn't need to. You certainly cannot get Oyster cards from a train guard. 2. Unfortunately, the tickets I want do not have a print-out option. Only pick up at York station. Do I need a chip and pin card for that? Can I just use a regular credit card with a pin (no chip)? Thanks, I want to pay for this already! At York station you can collect pre-paid tickets either from the machines provided for that purpose, or from the ticket office. Many American visitors report that the ticket collection machines work just fine without a c&p credit card, because the card is just identification (but it needs to be the card you paid with). If for some reason it doesn't work, go to the ticket office. In either case you will also need the booking reference.

Posted by
107 posts

OK, done! Thanks a lot for your helpful explanation and tips. When I specified King's Cross, the system allowed for print-outs. We are not planning to make changes to our trip, so hopefully all goes well. Thank you for the tips about the Oyster card. So we can just purchase that at the Underground at King's Cross. Or maybe we order online as well? I will check their website.

Posted by
8700 posts

Why pay to have Oyster cards mailed to you? Buy them at the King's Cross/St Pancras Underground station.

Posted by
28841 posts

Regarding "Standard". Standard is a class of travel, which the vast majority of passengers travel in. The other option is First Class. First costs significantly more and has varying additional amenities depending on the train company and type of rolling stock. You would have been looking at various options for tickets, all in Standard Class. The reason you couldn't have had a print at home option when you were booking for Victoria is that paper printed out at home tickets cannot be used on the Underground. To use the Underground only proper ticket stock and Oyster Cards can be used. Train Guards/Conductors/Senior Conductors/Train Managers can indeed, varying by company policy, issue tickets valid for single trips on the Underground and Travelcards. Various train companies have various policies on this.