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Train question...

California
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Train question...

Hi!

I appreciate your advice on this...

We'll be visiting family in March and after spending time in Rochester, we'll be visiting hubby's mum in Wrexham, I think hubby's dad will drive us to London then we can get a train there to Chester where we'll be picked up.

So I went to the First Great Western web site just to get an idea of what to expect for prices.

83 pounds for one round trip ticket. That's about 135 dollars per person. Does that sound about right? Just for fun I went to Eurostar's website to see how much a round trip ticket would be to go to Paris and it showed about 100 dollars. I told my hubby it would be cheaper to take me to Paris instead of visiting his mum... *grin*... (j/k. I love his mum!!)

Does this price sound about right for a 2 1/2 hour train ride?

I also noticed right above where it said "return" there was a box that said "single" and had a range of 15 to 39 pounds? I guess this is just going one way? Can you get two one way tickets for 15 pounds each? I dunno, I found this web site confusing. I'm not very familiar with trains.

BTW, do you have to buy the tickets in advance? Can you just go to the station and buy them or are they always full?

Anybody have advice about renting a car? Might that be an option? :)

Thank you in advance!!

U.S. expats
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for Windsor, London, Dry Tortugas National Park
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1. Re: Train question...

The default for the train website is usually today's walk-up prices. You will want to buy in advance. Looking at March 8, I see a £20 fare at 10:40 am.

Portland, Oregon
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2. Re: Train question...

London-Chester is served by Virgin Trains from Euston (FGW serves southwest England and South Wales). While you should still be able to see advance fares on the FGW site, the one you should be looking at is http://www.virgintrains.co.uk

Advance fares are usually loaded 12 weeks in advance, so it's possible that for your date of travel they aren't yet available. Laura's observation gives an indication of what fares will probably available for your day of travel when they're loaded.

Vancouver, Canada
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3. Re: Train question...

'I also noticed right above where it said "return" there was a box that said "single" and had a range of 15 to 39 pounds? I guess this is just going one way? Can you get two one way tickets for 15 pounds each? I dunno, I found this web site confusing. I'm not very familiar with trains.' Yes, singles are what you call one way. Depending on the journey, one may find two singles cheaper than a return.

'BTW, do you have to buy the tickets in advance? Can you just go to the station and buy them or are they always full?' One need not buy tickets in advance, but again depending on where you wish to travel you may find walk up tickets very expensive when compared to Advance or Off Peak fares. Note that Advance tickets are inflexible in that you must travel on the specific train booked.

www.nationalrail.co.uk is the informational website for trains in the UK, but you should book with the train operating company. Tickets go on sale from about 12 weeks in advance, so if you are looking to travel after 8 March tickets won't be on sale yet.

Rochester, United...
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4. Re: Train question...

use Trainline - its always been the cheapest I've found.

California
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5. Re: Train question...

Okay I went to Virgin trains and played a bit with some Feb. dates even though we're going in March.

I put in the date of travel Sunday Feb. 23rd from Euston to Chester and returning Thursday Feb. 27th

I chose both trains direct with no train changes.

The first ticket was "off-peak" (I tried reading the little box, but my eyes started to cross)

The return ticket was "advanced".

The total price was 153 pounds, ($250.00)

BTW, I noticed the "anytime prices" in first class totaled 1,115 pounds/$1826

what the heck are they doing to those passengers in those first class seats anyway to justify those prices?

Are they drowning them in Champagne and Lobsters? Dancing girls and guys? What?? Ha ha!

BTW, what happens to your ticket if for instance hubby's dad gets a flat tire and we have to catch a train an hour later? Do they use the ticket you bought in advance and then slap the "gotcha" price on top?

Sorry, I'm not used to this public transportation thing even though I see you have a good one.

But tomorrow morning I'm going to kiss my car when I get in it. :)

London
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6. Re: Train question...

Trainline is not cheapest. They sell at the same price as any other reseller - but then add fees that other resellers don't.

London
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7. Re: Train question...

If you buy an 'advance' ticket you can only use it on the booked train. If you arrive late your existing ticket is worthless and you must buy a new ticket. The 'off peak' ticket is better if you want/need flexibility, it's valid on any train outside rush hour periods. No requirement to buy the 'off peak' ticket in advance - that is same price on the day. For this sort of journey the off peak return is £1 more than single, so return is much better value.

I suggest you drop the idea of being driven from Rochester to Euston. That will be a painful drive. There are direct trains from Rochester to St Pancras station, that's five minutes walk from Euston. The train to St Pancras will be far quicker than driving.

You are correct that the 'anytime' fares in First are ludicrous. Virtually no one buys those. But there can be bargains in First if you buy an 'advance' ticket - remembering zero flexibility.

Leeds, England
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8. Re: Train question...

I have just put the dates into the Virgin site, on the Sunday there are few no change services but with one change fares are in the region of £20 each, the return fares get as low as £12.50 each in standard class for an Advance fare.

Kent, UK
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9. Re: Train question...

This is another reason to take the train to London instead of the car. On an Advance ticket if your London train is delayed and you miss you booked train you are covered and can take the next available train to your destination. If you have a delay in the car it's tough luck and you need to buy a new ticket. Also have you considered the congestion charge for driving into central London?

The cheapest tickets, Advances, are always sold as Singles. If you want a return journey you just buy two, one each way.

Portland, Oregon
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10. Re: Train question...

Don't use Trainline.

They can never match the fares offered by the train companies direct, and in some cases their search engine can be misleading and charge significantly more for tickets unless the pax understands all the nuances of fare pricing (which they shouldn't need to).

OP - sorry, but you are either not looking hard enough for cheap (yes advance) fares, or you don't want to. I checked for the exact dates you specified and am seeing advance fares both ways for as little as £14 each way (£28 return). That's the same price as a return from London Victoria to Gatwick Airport (just 40 miles). Yes those cheapest fares are restricted, and you have to travel on that specific train.

If you're concerned about your friend's car blowing a tire then either (a) get travel insurance, (b) leave earlier, or (c) find another way to get from Rochester to Euston, a train (plus tube) perhaps.

And if you're that concerned about a flat tire causing you to miss a train, lord help you if the said friends are driving you to the airport for your flight home, because your air tickets will undoubtedly be subject to the same sort of T+Cs (no show, you lose the ticket, and gave to buy a new one at the walk up fare).