Travel in the UK/ Europe

 
  ParkesHub Chief Commissioner

I'm sure someone has been through this before.

What do you guys reckon is the best way to travel by train in the UK and/or Europe.

Missus and I are heading over there in August and train is the way to go, IMO.

Also, rail/transport museums?

Thanks

PH

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  Showtime Chief Train Controller

It's been quite a few years now but I travelled for a month through Europe on an unlimited Eurorail pass.
When I got to Britain I found the trains too expensive and I used the bus network to go "up north" which was quite good and well run.
Other than the London Underground, I only travelled on a couple of commuter trains around Leeds etc as I was backpacking and the mainlines were far to expensive for me.

There was a reasonable transport museum in London but you really have to go to York for the good stuff - buses and trains stop not far from the museum.
Plenty of restored branch line stuff running all around too.
I travelled on one in the Lakes District.
  bingley hall Minister for Railways

Location: Last train to Skaville
I'm sure someone has been through this before.

What do you guys reckon is the best way to travel by train in the UK and/or Europe.

Missus and I are heading over there in August and train is the way to go, IMO.

Also, rail/transport museums?

Thanks

PH
ParkesHub

PM sent Smile
  ParkesHub Chief Commissioner

Thanks muchly Showtime and BH!
  mikesyd Chief Commissioner

Location: Lurking
I'm sure someone has been through this before.

What do you guys reckon is the best way to travel by train in the UK and/or Europe.

Missus and I are heading over there in August and train is the way to go, IMO.

Also, rail/transport museums?

Thanks

PH
ParkesHub
I guess it depends on how many days you might actually travel by train in the time you are there, and of course the countries you plan to visit. Rail Passes (Eurail, Britrail etc) are more economic with frequent travel. On the other side though, in some countries (Italy is one), the ticket cost is less and passes are a waste of money. Then of course it depends on just where you plan to go, some countries, even regions, have much more rail coverage than others.

As one who has 'abused' Eurail Passes rather extremely on 4 occasions, I guess it depends on just how much the 'Missus' will let you off the leash too.

My 4 'abuses' have resulted in the Cost of the pass being around 25% of what I would have paid if I bought the tickets for each trip individually. The most recent one (4 years ago now) involved over 11000km in 31 days in Belgium, Germany, Switzerland and France. France is difficult with a pass though as they have "Quotas" (like using Airline FF points) for TGV travel, and you need to book well ahead, though you can get lucky sometimes. Switzerland can be pricey for most Private Lines (ie - Glacier Express and various Mountain Railways, but not RhB), though they usually give passholders a discount.
  neillfarmer Chief Train Controller

Plan your rail journeys well ahead, don't try for long days and short connections. European trains DO run late. Leave time when making connections to find your next service, European terminal stations are very busy with long queues at information counters, but train and station information screens are good.
Buy the passes and tickets before you leave home.
Reserve seats where this is required or available.
If unable to book on a particular service do this at the first opportunity (some bookings can't be done from Australia).

Do this yourself over the internet as travel agents charge the earth for complex rail travel bookings.
Tickets purchased the day before travel are the most expensive if available at all.

Book your hotels similarly.
The days of getting an all countries Eurail Pass and just winging it are over. Nothing worse than arriving in a City and being told the only room available is EU600 a night or not being able to board the train you need.
The time you are going it is high season. Be prepared for queues and crowds.
Best time for European travel is mid spring (flowers and snow capped mountains) and mid Autumn (for autumn colours).
  apw5910 Deputy Commissioner

Location: Location: Location.
You know about The Man in Seat 61, don't you? https://www.seat61.com/

I saved heaps by ordering TGV tickets from here, but having them sent to the Austrian pensione where I would be staying. Unfortunately the TGV site then assumed I spoke German and would only give me the ticket site in that language. Since I only did a smattering of german in high school, I was using Google Translate quite a bit. This was a few years ago, so I suppose things may have improved (or been tightened up).

Also make sure you stamp your ticket at the little yellow box at the platform entrance in Italy before you board, if these things still exist. The fine for not doing so is ridiculous.

Rail travel in Europe is wonderful. I wish we could be more like it here.
  Valvegear Dr Beeching

Location: Norda Fittazroy
Some interesting comments have been put up.

I think neillfarmer must have had a very hungry travel agent. Mine did all of my hotel, rail, and transfer bookings, every one of which worked perfectly on two trips around Germany, Austria, France and England, and it most certainly didn't cost much.
The other advantage I found when using a good travel agent is the knowledge of hotels, train connections et al, which would have taken me yonks to find out.

I found that the European trains ran pretty well to time. I only had one which was a little late ( less than 10 minutes ) from the Hauptbahnhof in Berlin to Mannheim, where I had a change of trains for Paris.

Definitely reserve your seat; it saves a lot of mucking about looking for a vacant one.


I am fascinated by the Eurostar which I used both times to get from Paris to London. It slows down to 160 km/h for the Channel Tunnel. Imagine an Australian train slowing to 160! If you do intend to use it, leave yourself plenty of time for border formalities prior to boarding. At Gare du Nord, I saw two people denied access to the train before mine, because they were about a minute or two late.
  YM-Mundrabilla Minister for Railways

Location: Mundrabilla but I'd rather be in Narvik
Some interesting comments have been put up.

I think neillfarmer must have had a very hungry travel agent. Mine did all of my hotel, rail, and transfer bookings, every one of which worked perfectly on two trips around Germany, Austria, France and England, and it most certainly didn't cost much.
The other advantage I found when using a good travel agent is the knowledge of hotels, train connections et al, which would have taken me yonks to find out.

I found that the European trains ran pretty well to time. I only had one which was a little late ( less than 10 minutes ) from the Hauptbahnhof in Berlin to Mannheim, where I had a change of trains for Paris.

Definitely reserve your seat; it saves a lot of mucking about looking for a vacant one.


I am fascinated by the Eurostar which I used both times to get from Paris to London. It slows down to 160 km/h for the Channel Tunnel. Imagine an Australian train slowing to 160! If you do intend to use it, leave yourself plenty of time for border formalities prior to boarding. At Gare du Nord, I saw two people denied access to the train before mine, because they were about a minute or two late.
Valvegear
I agree re the Travel Agent. Ours has organised quite a number of European trips for the YMs and myself and whilst she obviously has to make some money on commissions etc none of these, I believe, have been excessive.

I priced the hotels for our forthcoming trip on Trivago and then got our Travel Lady to organise them. Some cost a little more but others were quite a bit less. Overall it was around line ball - certainly not worth me trying to do it all but it all depends, I suppose.

Definitely agree re the reserved seats and avoidance of split second connections. Go first class if you can afford it as this usually avoids much of the crush.

Always allow plenty of time - people say that we are there 'in time to catch the train/plane before our own' ! Smile
  Bulbous Assistant Commissioner

If you have a European passport (I have a UK passport as well as an Australian one), then I used an Interrail ticket for travelling around Europe. They are cheaper than a Eurail pass, but you cannot use them for more than the outbound and inbound journey in your home country (I used mine around France, Germany, Switzerland, Austria and the Czech Republic). You can also have more days on the train, and you are covered for all local journeys as well (used to just enter train times on the S-Bahn systems and they were signed off by the ticket inspectors, although this was some time ago). The main extra costs were the Golden Pass in Switzerland, the Zermatt train in Switzerland, and the extra reservation costs on the intercity trains to book a seat (but at 2 euros each seat, this wasn't much).

Cheers,

Matt
  62440 Chief Commissioner

I use a couple of sites, nationalrail.co.uk is very good and you can seriously save money over walk-up fares. For example Newcastle to London walk-up is over 160GBP, the following train was 50GBP or I could have caught the Metro to Sunderland and got a London train for 25. Shop around and buy Advance fares when you can, often cheaper than a bus and hours faster.
bahn.de is very good for European travel. Plan in advance but remember, there are no refunds on Advance fares.

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