Train Travel in England

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Travelling by rail in England is generally a very efficient and convenient way to get around the country. Most of the major towns and cities, as well as many other smaller villages and rural areas, are very well connected by rail. If places do not lie on the same tracks, there are many easy interchange stations, making it easy for passengers to swap lines and travel to a wide range of different places with ease.

Trains are typically very comfortable, and operators do their best to keep the trains clean and tidy. Facilities vary depending on the route and class of travel, but basic facilities onboard trains and in stations are very good. Many first class inter-city options include free wifi and charging points. Most other classes on inter-city routes have access to a good buffet car, where passengers can purchase drinks, snacks and basic meals. There are sleeper trains available for some longer journeys. 

To check train times and prices online, www.nationalrail.co.uk, offers comprehensive listings for all operators within England. You can also use this website to see if trains are running on time. Using this website, you can also find details for all rail operators in England.

Tickets can be purchased from kiosks and automated machines at train stations across the country. Bookings can also be made online through a variety of outlets. Independent outlets such as www.thetrainline.com, www.raileasy.com, www.takethetrain.co.uk and www.quno.com can provide rail tickets with a small commission. To avoid paying any commission, you can book direct with the operator on their own website. As with all operators, Virgin Trains, www.virgintrains.co.uk, sells tickets for all routes, at all times, with all operators. There is no added commission when buying through this website. Whilst there is generally no need to compare all the different operators, as they all sell tickets for the same costs, on occasion some operators do offer discounts for booking through their own website.  It is therefore prudent to find the train that you want, and then quickly check on the operators own website for any ways that you can save money. You can book online up to 12 weeks in advance of your planned travel date, and from almost any country in the world. When making the booking overseas, you will have the option to have the tickets sent to you, for an additional cost, or to collect them from a train station in the UK, which is free.

Generally, the more in advance you buy a long distance train ticket, the cheaper it will be. For shorter routes within areas, you can just turn up on the day of travel and buy a ticket. You may stand for part of the journey, but seats are always becoming available, as people get on and off along the line.

Return fares are often cheaper than buying two single fares.

Overseas visitors who plan to travel a lot by rail can make savings by buying a BritRail pass. This gives unlimited train travel on all operators for certain periods, meaning that it is even cheaper to explore England by rail. These are not available for people who live in the UK; Rail Rovers are the alternative for nationals.

The classes on inter-city routes are usually first class and standard class, though some operators, on some routes, do also have a second class option.  

Within some cities there are underground metro lines, trams, and other forms of local rail services. These can be a terrific way to get around locally. Many systems offer saver tickets, meaning that if you know you will be travelling a lot, it may be worth you buying a more expensive ticket at the offset, knowing that it will save you money in the long run. Staff can help you decide on the best option.  

For information on the famous London Underground, known as The Tube, see www.TheTube.com. 

With an extensive rail network, comfortable trains, numerous train times and routes, a variety of ways to book tickets, and many cost effectives fares, using the train to explore England really can be a great way to get around and see the countryside unfolding before your eyes as you journey along.