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Train Travel for Dummies...

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Train Travel for Dummies...

There MUST be a book out there somewhere for people like me! ;)

I used the National Rail website to get the time and price that would work best for our party of three.

We will be traveling from Strood in Kent to Chester. (it has the code CTR)

Then doing a "dummy" booking, it directed me to Virgin Trains for purchase.

Looking at the details it has 3 changes on different train type companies.

Strood to St. Pancras on Southeastern- journey time 34 minutes.

St. Pancras to London Euston- Victoria Line (tube) -journey time 40 minutes

(This confused me because on the map it looks like they are very close to each other?)

Then London Euston to Crewe on Virgin Trains- journey time 1hour 38 minutes


(I'm already a nervous wreck!)

Crewe to Chester on Arriva Trains Wales- journey 23 minutes

So questions...

Since it directed me to the Virgin Trains website, does that mean Virgin runs the other trains as well?

If we buy these tickets from California online do we print out all the tickets here or just bring a receipt to the train station?

Will there be numerous tickets for all the different trains, or will it be one ticket and are we COVERED IF WE MISS A CONNECTION?

I'm especially concerned about Crewe as there is only about 10 minutes to catch the train to Chester!!

Thank you so much in advance for your help for this Dummy! :)

U.S. expats
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1. Re: Train Travel for Dummies...

London acts as a hub of sorts. If you start on one side of London, and want to travel to a location on the other side, you will, in all likelihood, need to train in to London, possibly take the tube (think of changing terminals at an airport) and then taking another train out to your final destination.

You will have to have at least two or three changes, because there is no way a train line from Strood will go directly to Chester. It will go to and from London, the nearest high density area. Once there, again, you may have to change from one rail station to another, by taking the tube. And then on to the final destination.

You are unlikely to miss a connection, and if you buy this as one ticket, the T and Cs spell out how you are covered.


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2. Re: Train Travel for Dummies...

I'd just walk St Pancras to Euston,it'll be quicker and less work by the time you walk down to and from the underground.

The one connection I'd worry about is Crewe. Its a horrible and confusing station even for someone who knows it. If you can find a station map beforehand it would help to get an idea of the place.

Edited: 23 January 2014, 06:59
Vancouver, Canada
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3. Re: Train Travel for Dummies...

Ecce ad stationem (Crewe): nationalrail.co.uk/SME/html/NRE_CRE/plan.html

St Pancras is more straightforward. nationalrail.co.uk/SME/html/NRE_STP/plan.html Use the Midland Road exit, walk along Brill Street to Eversholt Street for Euston station, simples.

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4. Re: Train Travel for Dummies...

You will get one ticket - each - for the through journey, plus a seat reservation coupon (for the party) for each of the legs on which you have reserved seats. Make sure you pick them ALL up when you collect them. You must do so at a ticket machine here (occasionally a ticket office) - I don't think you can print at home for this trip. You will need the card used to pay for them.

Virgin don't run all the trains - they are just selling the ticket.

Edited: 23 January 2014, 07:32
Bingley, United...
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5. Re: Train Travel for Dummies...

The 40 minutes between St Pancras & Euston is "connection time" - National Rail don't have access to the Tube timetables so put a nominal time in. As others point out it's a 10 minute walk

Stirling, United...
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6. Re: Train Travel for Dummies...

<< St. Pancras to London Euston- Victoria Line (tube) -journey time 40 minutes >

(a) the journey planner has an exceptionally generous allowance built in for transfer between London stations

(b) this time magically expands to fill the time between the train arrival at station A and the train departure at station B, making it even more generous

Southport, United...
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7. Re: Train Travel for Dummies...

I've just had a look at the National Rail timetable for a date in mid March. You need one of the connections that state 2 changes these use the direct services from London Euston to Chester. Basically there is just one change Asa it would be

Strood to London St Pancras

Walk to London Euston takes at most 10 minutes

London St Pancras to Chester

I don't know when your trip is but on the day I was looking at cheapest fare was £16.50 single. You will have to collect the tickets at a station in the UK as I don't think they are available as print at homes.

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8. Re: Train Travel for Dummies...

You do not need to change at Crewe. There are frequent direct trains from London Euston to Chester. Just look at slightly different timings- and enjoy Chester when you get here!

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9. Re: Train Travel for Dummies...

The amount of walking from the SE Trains arrival platform at St P to the departure platform at Euston is pretty much the same whether you go via the tube or leave the station and walk along the road, BUT:

By tube, it's clearly signposted all the way ("Tube", then "Victoria line southbound" then "British Rail"(actually, its icon) , with escalators and/or lifts, and entirely under shelter. I can easily understand why someone fazed by public transport might also struggle with the "outdoors" walk with luggage, possibly in the rain, and certainly crossing busy roads - especially when there's limited signage and you've got to invest time in orienting yourself.

None of us would bother with the tube for this journey. It still might be the better optionfor you

Yorkshire, England
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10. Re: Train Travel for Dummies...

As others have mentioned, there are direct trains from London Euston to Chester and you should be able to get a cheap ticket if you book ahead and only travel on the specific train that you have booked.

Long distance train fares in the UK work a bit like plane tickets in the US: if you want a flexible ticket to travel on any train/plane, it is very expensive. If you book a particular flight/train and stick to that departure, it is much cheaper.

So, here is what I would do, if I were you:

1) Treat this trip as two separate journeys to try and get the best fares (you can buy it as a through ticket, but I usually find journeys on two different train companies cheaper to book separately)

2) Look at http://www.virgintrains.co.uk/tickets-offers/ to see the lowest fares from London to Chester on the day you want to travel and book that trip first (fares will vary wildly from as low as £12.50 up to as high as £70, but whichever you book leave yourself a couple of hours to get from Strood to London) - the reason fares vary is to encourage travellers to book ahead and use less busy trains - select to pick the London to Chester tickets up either at Strood station or at London Euston station. Trains to Chester take about 2 hrs from London. it is a quick journey, but if you see a really low price for a first class ticket, it can be worth paying the extra as you get a 'free' meal with drinks served at your seat.

2) Then book a ticket from Strood to London St Pancras - you can use www.virgintrains.co.uk or have a look at www.southeasternrailway.co.uk for any special deals as this line is run by South Eastern trains - prices seem to be around £20 for this leg of the journey - it is a 'high speed' train (140mph), so is very speedy and usually very reliable - trains leave every 30 mins from Strood to London and the journey takes around 30 mins

3) Walk from London St Pancras to London Euston - it is a 5/10 min walk, but allow an hour to enjoy the surroundings of St Pancras station and to have a coffee en route, so you are not rushing

4) Enjoy the journey and take in the scenery!