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Train Travel for Dummies - Help me!

Dallas
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Train Travel for Dummies - Help me!

I'm in England with my husband and while he is working, I'd like to take a train from Walsall to Stratford Upon Avon or Oxford - haven't picked a destination yet. I'm so nervous to do this for the first time, in a foreign country, by myself! Can someone please give me quick rundown on the process?

I know where the train station is, I assume I'll easily spot the ticket counter, but what happens next? For instance, in New York, there are machines where you insert your train ticket into a machine to gain access to the platforms - your ticket goes in and then spits itself out, you grab it and use the same ticket to give to the conductor once onboard. My first time doing this was embarrassing, because there is a right and a wrong direction to insert the ticket and angry mobs begin to form if you do it wrong!

Is there any such process in England or do I literally walk straight from the ticket booth to my platform and get on the train when it arrives?

I'm trying to save face here, don't want to be the obnoxious American tourist who slows everyone down and looks like a deer in the headlights!

Guildford, United...
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1. Re: Train Travel for Dummies - Help me!

Go to the ticket counter and buy your ticket - or use the machine.

Tickets are usually credit card size with orange stripes along the two long edges of the front - this will have all the printed details of the ticket - from/to fare etc.

On the back is a magnetic stripe

Don't know Walsall, but automatic barriers are fairly common.

In most barriers the ticket goes in to a slot on the front to the right side of the barrier and should be put in with the orange stripes on the top.

It will then pop out of the top and you have to remove it before the barrier will open. If it is the end of the journey the barrier may retain the ticket in which case the barrier will just open to let you through.

Keep the ticket with you as it will probably be checked by the conductor on the train(s) at some point during the journey.

London, UK
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2. Re: Train Travel for Dummies - Help me!

Some stations have gates that work in the way you describe. If this is the case you n ormally insert the ticket in the slot face upwards in the slot facing you. It will then pp up in the slot at the top of the machine. You take your ticket and the gate will open. On leaving the train you repeat the procedure except that the machine eats your ticket. However, many stations stll have "open" platforms and even where there are gates there should always be a member of staff available to open a manual gate to help people who are unsure of the system, who are breaking their journeys or have a ticket that is in a form that won't go through the machines. If no member of staff is available the gates should be left open on grounds of safety as well as convenience.

Hope this helps. And don't worry at Walsall Station a bemused American Tourist is likely to be a novelty who van be helped rather than just another nuisence

Bingley, United...
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3. Re: Train Travel for Dummies - Help me!

Like airlines buying in advance can mean substantial savings compared to buying on the day. However you can't collect pre-booked tickets from all stations so you need to check before booking. So checking Walsall station we find that there are 2 ticket machines along with their whereabouts

nationalrail.co.uk/stations/wsl/details.html

Now you've confirmed that you can pick tickets up you need to book them

www.eastcoast.co.uk is probably the best website to use. If you type in Walsall to Oxford you find that the fare can be between £8 and £27 depending on when you book and when you want to travel. The £27 fare is the fare you'd pay by walking up to the station booking office on the day you want to travel, the £8 fare is one you can get by booking several weeks in advance but it limits you to travelling on particular trains.

After that it's just a case of paying for it and collecting it before you get on the train. In many cases there isn't anything between the street and the train but at some stations you do have to put your ticket in a slot in order to access the platform

Denver, Colorado
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for Pecs, Budapest
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4. Re: Train Travel for Dummies - Help me!

Don't panic.

Go to station and go to ticket window where there is a person. Rellhim where you want to go. He'll give you the availabele trains and can pirnt the tickets for you. You may have to insert one into a machine to get to the platform. Keep it so that any ticket inspector is OK with ir. Same for other trains.

Stirling, United...
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5. Re: Train Travel for Dummies - Help me!

You can wander round Walsall station online at

nationalrail.co.uk/stations/sjp/WSL/stationO…

Replace WSL with OXF for Oxford or SAV for Stratford-upon-Avon.

As far as I can see there are no automatic gates at any of those stations but manual checks can be made at any station so keep your ticket until you're clear of the station.

If you do have automatic barriers then the ticket should be orange-side-up in at the front and it pops out the top. Lift the ticket, the gates will open. (It will keep your ticket at the end of your journey.) If there are automatic barriers there will always be a manual/wide gate at the side, with a member of staff to assist.

Note that Penalty Fares apply to journeys from Walsall station when travelling with London Midland i.e. you will be HEAVILY surcharged if you do not buy your ticket before you board or are found on board without a ticket - don't lose it.

Denver, Colorado
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6. Re: Train Travel for Dummies - Help me!

OOPS. It looked as though my first reply didn'r post/

Dallas
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7. Re: Train Travel for Dummies - Help me!

Thanks a bunch, everyone! I feel much better. Will report back this evening in case any other nervous tourist ever refers to this thread and wants to know how things turned out!

:-)

Dallas
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8. Re: Train Travel for Dummies - Help me!

So, as you all indicated, taking the train is SUPER easy. They had the ticket machines at the barriers at both Birmingham stations, but they had attendants glancing at tickets to speed things up instead. Had a super easy time locating my platforms and had a great day.

Thank again for all the help!

9. Re: Train Travel for Dummies - Help me!

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