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Rail Question

Denver, CO
2 posts
1 review
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Rail Question

We will be in the UK for a few weeks in May and will be using a rail pass. How necessary are seat reservations? I’m trying to keep a flexible itinerary, so don’t want to make reservations if it’s not needed. The only certainty is our arrival day. We arrive at 8:30 am at Gatwick and need to get to Edinburgh. If we were to get a reservation, what would be a reasonable train departure time from King’s Cross?

Also, I’ve read that getting around on the train/tube is fine as long as you don’t have too much luggage. How much would you consider too much?

Stanley, Falkland...
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32,795 posts
75 reviews
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1. Re: Rail Question

Too much luggage is that which makes it difficult to go up stairs with. Some people travel with all their worldy possessions and then struggle up stairs.

If you travel outside the main business peak hours, eg 8-10am, and 4-6pm, then you would rarely need a reservation. I would allow 3 hours to get out of Gatwick and across London to Kings Cross station, so you are looking at a lunchtime departure.

read the man at seat 61 for enlightenment about train travel >>>


Peak District...
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1,921 posts
268 reviews
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2. Re: Rail Question

I'd allow 3 hours from scheduled landing to Kings Cross train - 1 for immigration, 1 for the train journey, and an hour over for connections. If your flight runs late you'll miss your reservation but should get a seat. Please note this is not a journey I have done at this time of day.

I would travel with a small carry-on and one or perhaps 2 medium suitcases. Having 2 means you can balance your load when walking and they are easier to lift and stow away. The carry on can go on the overhead rack if is is not too deep. The suitcases can go behind your seat or in the racks at either end of the carriage. That is, if your aircraft operator allows you 2 pieces in the hold !

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49,561 posts
92 reviews
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3. Re: Rail Question

I would consider more than 1 suitcase too much, way too difficult (and dangerous) going up escalators and would be a complete nightmare if it was busy.

Level Contributor
9,650 posts
6 reviews
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4. Re: Rail Question

Residis: I take a small wheeled case and a shoulder bag. As the others have suggested, the less luggage the better.

I've done the train from Kings Cross north to Edinburgh without a reservation -- but you need to be prepared to walk through a lot of carriages to find non-reserved seats. Also check the reservations as some will be for only certain distances. You can sit in those seats till the train arrives at that city or town, and then move to other seats as people come and go.

Glen Mills...
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118 posts
1 review
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5. Re: Rail Question

I've never had a problem getting an unreserved seat from London to Edinburgh and I often get my preferred seating, which is right side forward facing window. However, the opposite was true for trains from Edinburgh to London. A couple of times I had to sit in the "jump seat" by the train doors until we reached York. By then enough passengers had gotten off the train and I was able to get a seat.

I recommend seat reservations from Edinburgh to London and for all trains if traveling during a bank holiday.

Chicago, Illinois
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247 posts
12 reviews
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6. Re: Rail Question

Now that I am getting older, I prefer to get the first class rail pass for the longer journeys. The first class car is usually nearest to the station. It is more comfortable and I've never had a problem with finding a place to put my luggage or finding a seat. In fact, most of the times, the first class section has been nearly empty, so if you like to be among a lot of other people, then this wouldn't be for you.

7. Re: Rail Question

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