Tourist Information UK

Trains

Trains are one of the more expensive ways to travel within the UK but offer a more relaxed way to travel than the battle on busy roads.

National Rail Services


The British train service was privatised between 1994 and 1997 and there are now several companies operating passenger services on different parts of Britain's railways. Although there are companies with different names, once you buy a ticket, it is valid for the entire journey even if you end up on a different line run by a different company.

There are over 2500 train stations in the UK, not including the underground. These range from small, one platform stations to Waterloo in London which has 19 platforms and covers 24.5 acres.

Trains operate from early in the morning to late at night depending on how busy the route is. There are also sleeper trains that travel overnight from London Euston to Scotland and from London Paddington to Southwest England. On some journeys, it may be necessary to change trains several times before getting to your final destination.

Many Britons use the trains to commute to and from work in the morning and evening. This is known as rush hour. Ticket prices are more expensive if you travel during rush hour which is roughly from 7am to 9am and from 4pm to 7pm. Children under 5 travel for free and children over 5 travel at a discounted price. There are also travelcards available for families and students.

There are three ways to buy a ticket. You can purchase tickets at the ticket office at the train station, from a self service kiosk at larger stations or you can book online. If there are no facilities to purchase a ticket beforehand then you may be able to buy your ticket on board the train using a debit/credit card or cash. If you travel without a ticket and without intending to pay then you risk the chance of a penalty fine.

If you book a ticket a week or more in advance you can usually save money and reserve a seat. If you buy a ticket at the station just before you travel you will not be guaranteed a seat which can be a problem if you are travelling during rush hour.

The National Rail Enquiries website is a good internet site to find out information on ticket types and train timetables. TheTrainline.com is the most popular site for buying rail tickets and can offer some excellent deals on price.



Eurostar


Eurostar is a high speed train service that travels from London, under the English Channel, to Paris, Brussels and Lille. The journey times are:

  • London to Paris - 2 hours and 15 mins

  • London to Brussels – 1 hour and 51mins

  • London to Lille – 1 hour 20 mins


The Eurostar station in London is situated at St Pancras, which is served by 6 underground lines and five train operators.

All passengers need to carry a passport or if you are from Belgium or France a national identity card.

Your baggage allowance is two bags with a maximum weight of 30kg and one piece of hand luggage.

Check in is at least 30 minutes prior to departure and involves inserting or scanning your ticket into the check-in barriers. Staff are on hand to help with any queries.

You can buy Eurostar tickets on their own or as part of a holiday package. Tickets are available from Eurostar stations, numerous online holiday companies or from a travel agent. Try the following websites for some offers.

  • TheTrainline.com

  • Eurostar

  • Rail Bookers

  • Lastminute.com

  • Discount-london.com

  • directline citybreaks


  • The London Underground


    The London underground is affectionately known as "the tube" and is an underground network of trains serving London.

    The tube is one of the cheapest and quickest ways of getting around London. The network is made up of various different lines; they are colour coded and have names like the District Line or Circle line. There are also 9 zones, starting with zone one in central London. Prices for tickets depend on how many zones you want to travel in. Pocket maps of the underground are freely available in tube stations and are an essential item for using the underground and avoiding getting lost.

    The easiest and cheapest way to travel on the underground is to use Oyster, a card that you put credit on to. You scan your card before each journey and the money is deducted. You can then top up your card when funds are running low. If you want to use cash on the underground you can expect to pay more than double. Once you buy an Oyster card, it can also be used on all London Buses, Trams, Dockland light railway and London overground services.

    Oyster cards can be bought:


    • online at oyster.tfl.gov.uk,

    • at most tube stations,

    • London overground stations,

    • some National rail ticket offices,

    • London travel information centres,

    • Or by phoning 0845 330 9876.


    • You can buy an Oyster travelcard that will give you unlimited travel on the underground zones that you select. You cannot travel outside the zones you have paid for as you will not be able to get through the barriers.

      Under 11s travel for free and children age 11-15 pay a child fare. There are several travel discounts available for people under the age of 18. For more information visit TFL.gov.uk.