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Transportation options LHR to city of Bath

I’m trying to determine our best and timely option for arrival to Bath which is dependent on how long to get through immigration….it also makes it difficult to purchase train tickets in advance.

I know we can get a car service to pick us up @ Heathrow for 165£. This seems to be the most direct and less stressful after a long overnight flight. There are 2 of us sharing the cost. And the service monitors the flight.

  • Heathrow Express to Paddington to GWR to Bath.

  • is it possible to take train from Heathrow without going into London?

  • I’m not sure about the National Express bus.

We arrive Heathrow 6/17 @ 1245 from US on AA from DFW. According to AA DFW LHR flights will be using Terminal 5. We both have chip enabled PP….I understand sometimes e-gates are down. We are doing carry-on so no wait at baggage claim.

Any thoughts or advice are welcome.

Posted by
3209 posts

You can take a local bus to Reading and catch the train to Bath there. Why are you not sure about National Express?

Posted by
102 posts

National Express buses work very well but I do not know if National Express has service to Bath. You purchase tickets at the "bus depot" in LHR. Rick Steves UK guidebook addresses this exact topic because his 14 day England tour starts in Bath. He tells participants to fly into LHR and take 90 minute train to Bath.

Posted by
9718 posts

Yes, there is a National Express bus to Bath. They are very nice. I take the one in to London as the bus depot is right near where I usually stay. They are nothing like long distance buses in the US!

If you go with the bus, I'd just buy tickets at the time.

The journey takes 2h5m which is much less time than taking a train in to London and a train out to Bath.

https://book.nationalexpress.com/coach/#/choose-journey

Posted by
710 posts

I can't comment on what's best. I chose to take the Heathrow Express to Paddington (September 2019). There, I bought my ticket to Bath for about $45 (after conversion). Frequent trains to Bath. Very easy trip after long flight from West Coast of US.

My guess is that it's cheaper and faster to take the train from Reading or the bus from Heathrow. I really didn't want to take a bus even though many people do.

BTW, immigration was a breeze. Just slapped the passport on a reader and I was in.

Posted by
203 posts

The National Express bus is very good but it doesn’t work well with your arrival. Buses leave at 13:00, 15:00, 17:00 then 19:55 and later. The train LHR Express to Paddington then Bath offers more options. I’ve taken both and chose the one that was more convenient at the time.

Naturally, car service is more direct! I enjoyed the adventure of getting there. However my overnight flight was only about 7 1/2 hours.

Posted by
27 posts

Take the Bus. We did it awhile back and it's by far the easiest and cheapest. Plus the Bus station is right in Bath. We walked with our bags to the B&B that Rick recommended - super easy. Took the bus back to London too- so easy. Got it all out of Rick's book on England- been using his books for 20 years and they are always spot on. That being said who knows what's happened since COVID- good luck. You'll love Bath. Be sure to take one of the free walking tours if they still offer them.

My husband and I will be taking transportation from Bath to Heathrow at the end of our Southern England tour. In researching our options the bus was the most reasonable by far. We also researched the transportation from London to Cantebury to begin the tour and the train fare was very reasonable. I am unsure why the big difference in train fares. So my advice is to check carefully at your options.

Posted by
748 posts

We ended up taking the bus from LHR to Bath because it was less confusing. Train tickets are less expensive if they are purchased in advance instead of walk-up, but it was hard to be sure which train we'd make because flights can be delayed and the immigration queue is unpredictable. England has several independent train lines that seem to run on the same tracks so it was hard to figure out which lines & times an advance-purchase train ticket would be good on if we didn't make the original train we picked.

That all said, if I was doing it again I'd just do the train at the walk-up fare. As someone pointed out in the thread, bus times don't necessarily line up that well with flight arrival times. It ended up taking several hours with the wait for the bus and then the slow traffic for the first part of the journey. I think the train would have been faster. And right at the airport they had desks with people selling train tickets at least into London (those tables may be gone given Covid)

Posted by
27744 posts

Just to clarify John's point,

figure out which lines & times an advance-purchase train ticket would be good on if we didn't make the original train we picked.

The various companies work together to provide a unified service. Some routes between two points are longer, some are shorter, to allow for the various stations on the way, and some trains call all stations and some are express. This is all detailed as you drill down in the list of trains offered at National Rail Enquiries or the websites or apps of the various train operating companies.

If you had purchased an "Anytime" ticket either in advance or on the day of travel (same price, the highest, regardless) and missed the train you had planned for, you could board any earlier or later train of a similar type going to the same place. The actual ticket will have any specific restrictions on it, such as via X or only valid on Y train company. You don't need to do anything, just meet any restrictions and hop on. It does need to be on the same day, up until 3am the next morning.

Less expensive tickets have more restrictions. "Off-Peak" tickets are just that. They are similar to Anytime tickets in that you can take any train meeting he restrictions, but now only at non-rush hours times. The definition of Peak varies from one part of the country to another, and from one line to another, but generally from about 0600 in the morning until 0930 or 1000; and from about 1630 to 1900. You wouldn't want to be on a Sardine Express anyway. Those time restrictions are tightly enforced. It will be clear when you buy the ticket.

The cheapest tickets with the most restrictions are "Advance" tickets. The name is the same as one of the restrictions. They must be purchased well in advance of the travel, up to 90 days ahead. They are capacity controlled and the further out, the cheaper. When they are gone they are gone. They also have another very strict restriction - you MUST travel on the exact train you have bought at the exact time, in some cases in the exact seat you have bought, and they are invalid on any other train at any other time, and are non-refundable and it will cost a lot to change them at the ticket window in advance of the departure. Don't ever get on, or try to get on, a different train than the one named on the ticket - it is worthless and you will be treated as if you have no ticket and perhaps ge given a fine.

It sounds very complicated but in practice it is quite simple.

You need to decide if you can without doubt make the specific train on an Advance ticket, otherwise pay more and get the appropriate Off-Peak or Anytime ticket.

I hope that helps.