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railroad questions

Cincinnati, OH
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railroad questions

Is there someplace I can look to determine if I have enough time to

unload my baggage from one train and transfer to the next train?

Essentially, I have a few places where for airports, the transfer time would be way too tight, but I have not traveled by rail before so I have no comparison measure.

For example, I am going from Gatwick to Reading to Bath. The Reading transfer is 7 minutes. Someone on here indicated that one platform is next to the other, so it shouldn't be a big deal. However, I wish I could see someplace where it told me I am arriving at platform A and departing on platform B.

I also have a 14 minute window when going from Bath Spa - Bristol - Birmingham (on our way to Edinburgh). Is that 14 minutes enough time?

Also, how early does one need to arrive at the train station? Is there a security procedure like in airports? We have the Britrail Group Pass (1st class) so I don't actually even have tickets but I guess we'll be able to get a spot on the train. (or do I take this pass to go get tickets?).

Is luggage typically carried into the train car and stored in bins or are they stored elsewhere (meaning I have more to do for a short transfer)?

I apologize for asking potentially ignorant questions, but train travel is not really that prevalent in the States so I have nothing to compare it to.

thanks,

Scott

Seattle
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1. Re: railroad questions

Scott: There are usually tv monitors at the train stations so you can disembark from one train, glance at the monitor, and see which platform you need to move to. I find it best to grab your bag and stand at the train door to be one of the first people off so you can run to another platform if need be.

I'm not sure what you mean about 14 minutes from Bath to Bristol to Birmingham.

If you have a Britrail pass, you don't need to get tickets as the pass is your ticket. Just remember to write in the current date before the conductor comes around.

I usually get to the station about 15-30 minutes ahead of time just to scope out the shops/eating places. There is no security procedure like at airports. And you take your luggage with you on the train into your particular car/carriage. There are luggage racks at either end and you can also put luggage on the overhead racks.

Chester, United...
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2. Re: railroad questions

Scott,

You can check the recommended transfer times at all stations by going to the national rail website:

http://www.nationalrail.co.uk/index.html

Click the second tab "stations & destinations" then type in your station and click "interchange" and it will tell you the recommended minimum connection time. So for example, if you look at Bristol Temple Meads it says it's 10minutes. They're generous with these times and it's usually a bit less.

I'd also advise that you are ready at the train door with your luggage as the train pulls into the station. Our trains do not stop for very long at stations and you don't want to be caught out.

San Francisco...
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3. Re: railroad questions

If it's a particularly tight window and you have a hefty case to tug along ask the ticket inspector on your train if they can suggest which way to turn when you get on the platform to go straight to the lift for example.

Nothing worse than hiking in one direction to find you should be going the other. Depending on how experienced they are you should get a decent answer.

Also when you alight at the station step to one side and get your bearings. When it's busy it's temping to go with the flow but a moment to pause, and if you're lucky ask a station attendant where to go, could save time and energy.

Cardiff, United...
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4. Re: railroad questions

If the trains are on time then you should be ok. If the connex you are given via the computer or stated by the rail company, these should exceed the minimum time allowing transferring, if the trains are on time.

Despite what others may say - many trains do run to time. However as the trains are quite frequent if there is a delay it often has "knock on affect" on other services. Therefore the trains either run perfectly to time, or they all get delayed. Do not concerned yourself.

The trains are very frequent so if you miss one - no problem. I think Reading to Bath is very 30mins. Bath to Bristol is every 20-30 mins. And Bristol to Birmingham is at least one an a hour, quite often more frequent. These are based on normal daytime hours, and are a bit less frequent very early in morning, after say 7pm and on sundays.

If you have a rail pass, the you should be ok to get any train. Only if you have low priced tickets whichy specify your trains should you allow extra time to transfer incase there is a delay.

Often if you arive at say Platform 4a & leave from 4b then you are on the same level. Often then had platform 4 but as have trains going out either direction, many stations have divided then to a & b so passenegers join the correct train. Never take a platform number in advance for granted as they can change them for operational reasons. There are no train numbers in Britain (unlike some other places in Europe / USA etc). You need to know the final destination of your train. A god rail map & basic geographical knowledge is useful.

The stations you have mentioned are all mainline, busy commuter stations which means they are staffed at all times, and there are always people around who can help.

Birmingham New Street Station is the one that I wouyld try to avoid, unless you wish to visit Birmimgham en route. Often you can change at a different (quieter) station & connect with the same train.

As I work on the trains, I know how they operate so if you have dates, times in mind let me know I can personally e mail of the info if you wish.

Stanley, Falkland...
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5. Re: railroad questions

Probably the best train site in the world .....

www.seat61.com

Cincinnati, OH
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6. Re: railroad questions

Thank you very much for all your help!

Cincinnati, OH
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7. Re: railroad questions

One more followup question.

Is there any restriction on size of luggage? We have a large bag which will clearly would not be allowed to carry-on to a plane as it would not fit into an overhead bin there. I don't think there is a restriction other than for skis and the like, but just wanted to make sure.

I looked on nationalrail and it seems to indicate nothing which is over a meter in any direction so that probably answers my question...

thanks,

Scott

Stirling, United...
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for Stirling
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8. Re: railroad questions

If you can carry it and it doesn't obstruct the aisles or doorways you can probably take it on the train.

Stirling, United...
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9. Re: railroad questions

Checking nationalrail, if it's over a metre and you can't carry it, it's not allowed; if it's over a metre and you can carry it a charge is payable, although I doubt many guards will bother.

Peak District...
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10. Re: railroad questions

www.nationalrail.com gives about 4 pages on Reading station including phone numbers, email addresses and the information that there are 8 platforms, but 5-6-7-8 seem to be grouped together. If you can carry your cases for 5 minutes you should have no trouble getting from one side of this to another. As others remark, there will be another train along soon if you miss one during peak hours.

I had the inverse problem in the US, with Amtrak running 1 train a day on my line, I stressed endlessly that there was no backup ! Also with Amtrak if you have big bags you have to arrive early and check them in, with UK trains you don't, but you do have to handle them yourself. On most trains in England your luggage will be on a rack between the seating area and the doors (similar to the Canadian ViaRail if you've tried them). Otherwise it will be on an open overhead rack or at your feet if the train is not full.

The platform numbers are planned and shown on the timetables in the station but they cannot be guaranteed so better to rely on the ease of getting from one to another.