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London Train Passes or advanced tickets? confusing...

I've read the many posts on here and Rick Steves site regarding the many passes and options for train travel. Here's what I'll need/be doing:

Coming to London in May. I'll need/be doing...
1) trip from Heathrow to London (South Kensington area) (edited)
2) day trip to Cambridge
3) day trip to York
4) day trip to Bath
5) trip back to Heathrow for departure

I want first class and peak time for all trips.

I've read there is a London Plus Rail Pass, a Two-Together Pass, and just buying advanced tickets as my options. I've read that the TTP does not work for peak travel. Which option would be best?

Can you still get a nice visit in to those towns traveling non-peak?

Posted by
30307 posts

You say "I" each time, not "we", but talk about Two Together which is only for 2 nominated and photographed people.

How many people, how many children, children's ages, please?

"trip from Heathrow to London to catch the Tube." Don't understand. The Tube serves Heathrow (Piccadilly Line). Or do you mean Heathrow Express to Paddington and tube onwards from there? Where in London is the destination?

Posted by
79 posts

I apologize for the confusion Nigel. Yes, it's definitely a "we", lol.

I didn't realize the Tube served Heathrow as well. My hotel will be in the South Kensington area.

Looks like I'll be able to take the Blue (Piccadily) line to Knightsbridge.

Posted by
8293 posts

You'll be an expert by the time you get home.

Posted by
79 posts

I was going to start a separate thread on 1st class vs. Standard, but may just keep that discussion here. I think we are only wanting to see Yorkminster and a couple of museums while in York. I may rethink 1st class though for our trips. I just want a pleasant place (not too loud) to sit with decent leg room for 2 hours at a time.

Posted by
16890 posts

The London Plus Pass does not cover York, so a better choice would be the BritRail England Pass for 3 days of roundtrip travel within 2 months. Cost for 1 or 2 adults is $236 per person in standard class, which is the class I would choose if you want to save money. One kid under 16 travels free with each full-paying adult, and extra people in the group pay half that price. The version for 4 consecutive days of travel costs about the same, if that fits your visit.

There's no reason to be constricted by the Off-Peak prices after 9:30, if that's any concern. Plenty of other discount tickets are available, or the BritRail England pass gives you full flexibility to hop on any train. The Two-Together Card is a discount card, not a pass (and not valid on Heathrow Express). The Heathrow Express can be covered by rail passes, but you wouldn't buy a bigger pass just for that purpose, and it probably won't be a significant factor in this decision.

As you can see, the number and ages of people traveling, as well as the timing of your travel days, all make a difference in comparing your options.

Posted by
30307 posts

First Class is 2+1 either with a table or not, with somewhat larger legroom than First Class on many aircraft.

East Coast First Class: this you tube is set in First:

East Coast Standard is 2+2 either with a table or not, with legroom equivalent to Business or First Class on many aircraft: this (questionably funny but clean) video was shot at speed in East Coast Standard:

There is also a much longer video shot by a rail fan showing London Kings Cross Station and the 17:00 London Edinburgh, first stop York, with the film made in standard class.

Sometimes a picture is worth a 1000 words, or more. At about 6:30 you get good views of the seating and legroom, and the standard class toilet - First Class toilet will be identically provided.

York Station is at about 12:17.

Maybe these will help you make up your mind what you would prefer, and what to expect.

Posted by
79 posts

So I went into both websites (National Rail Enquiries and Two Together Railcard). For sample purposes I chose Feb 28, 0700 to 1800, first class. the TTR discount card does work on peak time, but for weekends.

The NRE site I believe is quoting me 2 adult tickets for 128.80 pounds and the TTR site for 85.00 pounds. Does this sound right. I know it's 1/3 off the price, but I just want to make sure. The separate tab for Return Tickets is confusing, because I thought the price on the "2 Singles From" tab was including the return since that is what I put into the search criteria.

Sorry, test journey was LONDON (all stations) to YORK

Posted by
5040 posts

The return ticket is not the same as two singles. The latter will be two advance tickets. Often they will work out cheaper than a return, which you could use on any train, but on the day you have chosen a combination of the two cheapest advances cost more than the return. Advances tend to go quickly on a Saturday morning.

Posted by
79 posts

i edited the post, sorry. LONDON to YORK

The prices quoted are for 2 adults and are the sum of the TO and FROM ticket prices. They seem to be usually cheaper than the Return tab price.. this is what confuses me.

So a return ticket is open vs. the single "to and from" ticket is for that specific train at the specific that the only difference?

Posted by
79 posts

My trip isn't until May, so I have to wait 12 weeks prior I believe. I used that date as a test to see what prices I can expect. Thank you for going on those sites to verify what I saw. Glad to know I'm not losing my mind and that those are true ticket prices.