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Any reason for a Britrail pass?

Newark, Delaware
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Any reason for a Britrail pass?

Hi all--I'll be in the UK in August, spending a few days each in Edinburgh, Perth, Cardiff and London, with maybe one or two daytrips outside Edinburgh and Cardiff, and a couple from London. Biggest single travel day is from Perth down to Cardiff, which seems to have a couple transfers.

From browsing the forums, it looks like most people feel that Britrail passes are not worth the value, and from looking at my rough itinerary it looks like I'd be better off just getting either reserved tickets (for the one big train ride) and then picking up anytime return tickets for the trips outside my "base" cities.

But not having traveled by rail in the UK before, I don't know if I'm missing something. Most of the discounts look like things I'm not going to use (like two-for-one deals when I'm traveling solo) or that won't cover the higher cost of the ticket (discounts on tickets for local attractions etc.).

I think I've pretty much made up my mind, but would like a sanity check--can anyone give a compelling reason for taking a second look at the regional rail passes?

Oakham, United...
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1. Re: Any reason for a Britrail pass?

I'm not an expert but I think the passes give you flexibility - you can turn up on any train you like (unless there are off-peak restrictions?) whereas on the cheapest 'advance' ticket you MUST catch the exact train for which you have booked. Otherwise look at 'off peak' tickets which can be used on any train out of peak hours.. usually means the journey starts after 9.30 or thereabouts.

Newark, Delaware
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2. Re: Any reason for a Britrail pass?

Thanks, Martin. Is there a difference between "advance" and "anytime" tickets? Basically I had thought that the "anytime return" tickets were day passes for particular lines (so you'd still have to stick to that one line, but you could board at any time without worrying about whether it's off-peak or not), while "advance" is what you've described.

Cotswolds
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3. Re: Any reason for a Britrail pass?

Anytime tickets are not passes - they provide for one single or return journey at anytime during their validity. Which may be a day or a month

(pass = ticket valid for unlimited multiple journeys within its validity)

Most lines have off peak day returns - normally valid after 0930 and occasionally with evening restrictions as well, but valid on any train otherwise. Usually much cheaper than anytime tickets. You don't need to book them - they are the same price on the day

'Advance' tickets are for one specific train only

Edited: 24 May 2014, 18:45
Cardiff, United...
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4. Re: Any reason for a Britrail pass?

Which order are you planning to do all that in?

Some trips are much cheaper when you book advance tickets. Cardiff - London and London - Edinburgh would both be examples of that.

If you need to travel between Scotland Cardiff it can often be cheaper to fly to or from Glasgow or Edinburgh rather than taking the train. Be aware of baggage limits/charges if you look into that option though.

Newark, Delaware
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5. Re: Any reason for a Britrail pass?

Thanks for the clarification, dzug. Regarding the off-peak day returns, if the line offers them does this mean that I could get an "advance" ticket going out to wherever I'm going on a specific train, then pick up an off-peak return the same day at the station for the return trip (barring any restrictions and I suppose seat availability)?

Newark, Delaware
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6. Re: Any reason for a Britrail pass?

C0rnc0b, I'm doing it in the order stated--Edinburgh, then Perth (this was squeezed in to meet up with some folks based on when they're in town, after I'd already booked Edinburgh, which is why I didn't just start out up there and then travel south), then Cardiff, finishing in London.

So I'd look at getting an advance ticket from Cardiff to London, but possibly look at finding a flight from Edinburgh down to Cardiff if the price is right. Thanks.

Cotswolds
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7. Re: Any reason for a Britrail pass?

..then pick up an off-peak return the same day at the station for the return trip (barring any restrictions and I suppose seat availability)?..

Yes you could - though there's not a lot of point. A return ticket covers travel in both directions so usually better to buy it in the first place

Seat availability is irrelevant - very few trains have mandatory reservations and many local ones have none at all.

Newark, Delaware
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8. Re: Any reason for a Britrail pass?

Thanks again for the clarification--I've been trying to combine what's being said here with what's described on the National Rail Enquiries website regarding types of tickets, and it's been very helpful.

Redlands, California
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9. Re: Any reason for a Britrail pass?

I usually get a Flex-pass even though it may not be cost-effective because I like being able to modify plans--stay longer or leave sooner. It also relieves the anxiety over missing a train. But it isn't a question of right or wrong, just what you feel comfortable with.

Stirling, United...
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10. Re: Any reason for a Britrail pass?

If you do want a regional rail pass, check the Rangers and Rovers section at National Rail.

Many of these are the same passes sold by BritRail but may be significantly cheaper in the UK.

nationalrail.co.uk/times_fares/rangers_and_r…

organised by train operating company

www.nationalrail.co.uk/times_fares/359.aspx

Edited: 25 May 2014, 01:01