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Where & when to book SailRail pass?

Petaluma, California
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Where & when to book SailRail pass?

I would like to travel from London to Dublin on June 28 using the SailRail pass. I am aware that it takes longer than flying, but I thought that it might be a pleasant way to relax and take in the scenery.

I've been researching the SailRail pass quite a bit, but I still have a few questions for anyone who might have experience in dealing with this... thanks so much!

1) What is the best website to book SailRail passes from? I have found at least four websites that claim to sell these tickets:

http://www.arrivatrainswales.co.uk/SailRail/

virgintrains.co.uk/tickets-offers/…

irishferries.com/uk-en/…

http://www.raileasy.co.uk/

And I think there might be more of them out there. Are they different websites all selling the same pass? Which one is the official SailRail website?

2) When and how should I book my ticket? The Man in Seat 61 (http://www.seat61.com/Ireland.htm) says that the prices are fixed (although they cost more if you buy them on the day of travel), so there's not really a huge advantage in booking early. He said that you can wait till you get to the UK before buying your ticket. But on the http://www.arrivatrainswales.co.uk/SailRail/ website, it says that you can "buy today for the best fare" and that tickets are available up to 12 weeks in advance. Who is correct?

3) I live in the United States and would ideally like to buy my ticket online before I leave for Europe. As an American, is there a particular website that I should use?

Thank you so much for your help!

Stirling, United...
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1. Re: Where & when to book SailRail pass?

1) and 3) Virgin Trains, Arriva Trains Wales or any other train operating company website (linked from nationalrail.co.uk ). They all sell the same ticket at the same price. Not all train companies websites can accept foreign payment cards; you could also try EastCoast.co.uk or Scotrail.co.uk

AVOID trainline.com or Raileasy which are (a) not train operating companies, they are travel agents - which makes things awkward in the event of any problems; (b) may charge additional fees. I have no experience of the Irish Ferries site.

2) "Advance" tickets are available up to 6 pm the day before travel, and have limited availability and no refund. Single/"Standby" tickets are available on the day from booking offices and Single tickets are refundable less £10 admin fee.

As the ferries have a limited capacity, reservations are compulsory and if you leave it too late you do run the risk of a place not being available on your preferred service. As far as I'm aware, the "Advance" price doesn't change closer to travel time (unlike Advance train fares which go up in stages).

Cotswolds
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2. Re: Where & when to book SailRail pass?

They are all selling the same tickets, AFAIK at the same price. I don't believe there is an 'official' sail rail website. Your choice is Irish Ferries or Stena for the ferry bit - Stena is cheaper

Buy from any site that will allow you to use your USA credit card and pick up your tickets at Euston. Virgin or ATW maybe. Raileasy no longer charge booking fees so don't need to be avoided on that score

I don't believe there is any discount for buying early - from a quick look there do seem to be some slight variations in price but I think these are seasonal rather than for early booking

At busy times you will want to make sure of your seat on the ferry so booking ahead may be wise

£5 extra to buy on the day

Edited: 10 February 2014, 10:58
Quainton, United...
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3. Re: Where & when to book SailRail pass?

There are only two prices, advance £38, walk-up £43, normally you get the £38 if you book in advance, sometimes the quota is gone so it's £43.

Take your pick - arrivatrainswales.co.uk, virgintrains.co.uk, all charge the same price and no fee.

Both should accept overseas cards, if they don't fall back on Raileasy.com, same prices, small fee, definitely does accept overseas cards.

Tickets are collected from the self-service machines at London Euston.

Petaluma, California
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4. Re: Where & when to book SailRail pass?

Thank you all very much! This was very helpful and really cleared up my confusion. So once I buy my ticket online, how far in advance should I pick up my ticket at London Euston?

Thanks again!

London, UK
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5. Re: Where & when to book SailRail pass?

You can collect your tickets from the machine up to a few minutes before departure, although I would not leave it quite as late as that. Just make sure that you have available the booking reference number and the card that you used to make the booking.

Petaluma, California
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6. Re: Where & when to book SailRail pass?

Sounds great, thanks so much!

Wales, United...
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7. Re: Where & when to book SailRail pass?

If you have the chance, try and collect your tickets before the day of travel. This will allow the chance to deal with any problems in getting them, unlikely though this would be in a large station like Euston with plenty of machines

(It's more likely to happen at a small station like my local one where there is only on machine, and if that is out of order I would be stuck!).

But don't worry if you can't do that, just leave plenty of time at the station and once you have got the tickets, just relax, grab a coffee or something, buy a magazine, and enjoy the hustle and bustle of the station!

Petaluma, California
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8. Re: Where & when to book SailRail pass?

Thanks again everyone for the great advice! I am planning to book my SailRail pass very soon, and I have a question about which Dublin station I should specify as my ultimate destination (there are 5 options for Dublin on http://www.arrivatrainswales.co.uk/SailRail/). Should I select "DUBLIN PORT (IRISH FERRIES)"?

Thank you in advance for any insight you could offer!

Wales, United...
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9. Re: Where & when to book SailRail pass?

When I try to make a booking, it doesn't find any times for the Connolly, Heuston or Pearse selections. I understand that this is because there ar eno through tickets avaialable, to get to those stations it's necessary to pay for a bus seperately on arrival. Alternatively you can just get a cab from the port to wherever you need to go.

The only real options are the choice of ferry operators, Irish Ferries or Stena. Both have similar afternoon departure times, so it comes down to personal preference.

Quainton, United...
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10. Re: Where & when to book SailRail pass?

From London or any other station in Britain, you should book to Dublin Port (Irish ferries) or Dublin Port (Stena). Which shipping line you prefer is personal, but I'd recommend Irish ferries with the 09:10 from London connecting with the 14:05 sailing from Holyhead as this is the excellent ship 'Ulysses'.