Why BritRail Passes are the best

The YourLifeChoices (really) Great Britain Holiday Planner was released last week to rave reviews from our members, one of whom, Trevor, has decided to organise his own trip to the UK. So, he’s asked Leon for tips on the best way to get around while he’s there.


Q. Trevor
Your Great Britain guide inspired me to plan a trip to the UK next year, and I’d love to see as much of the nation as I can, but I’m worried about the cost. What’s the best way to get around? Should I book short domestic flights or buy a train ticket?

A. If you ask Kaye and David, who recently returned from that neck of the woods, they’ll tell you that the train is the best way to see the UK. It’s also quite affordable. You’ll be able to sit back, relax and watch the countryside pass you by, maybe even head to the bar carriage (or, if you’re in the right class, someone will be serving you) and have a tipple.

Britain’s rail network covers the whole country, with some 2500 stations serving cities and small villages, and it’s got a reputation as being quite efficient.

According to Visit Britain, you can leave London and be in Scotland in as little as four hours.

Here are some other journey times that may surprise you:

  • London Euston – Birmingham (1hr 20mins), Chester (2hrs), Manchester (2hrs 5mins), Liverpool (2hrs 15mins), Llandudno Junction, North Wales (2hrs 50mins).
  • London King’s Cross – York (1hr 50mins), Lincoln (2hrs 20mins), Newcastle (2hrs 50mins), Durham (2hrs 55mins), Edinburgh, Scotland (4hrs 20mins).
  • London Liverpool Street – Cambridge (1hr 10mins), Norwich (1hr 40mins).
  • London Marylebone – Bicester Village (50mins), Warwick (1hr 25mins), Stratford-Upon-Avon (2hrs), Oxford (1hr 10mins).
  • London Paddington – Oxford (55mins), Windsor (55 mins), Bath (1hr 25mins), Bristol (1hr 40mins), Cardiff (2hrs).
  • London St Pancras – Brighton (1hr 30mins), Paris with Eurostar (2hrs 25mins).
  • London Victoria – Brighton (55mins).
  • London Waterloo – Salisbury for Stonehenge (1hr 20mins), Bournemouth (1hr 55mins).

You an also head to Europe on the Eurostar fast rail link from St Pancras International station in London.

You should look into picking up a BritRail Pass. It’s exclusively for tourists and provides unlimited journeys and discounted travel – and it means you can come and go as you please and have the flexibility to choose your journeys as you see fit. However, you may wish to book your seat in advance, especially during peak times, such as Friday evenings.

David and Kaye used their passes to travel from Fort William in Scotland to Glasgow, to Edinburgh. Once activated, the pass was a no-fuss way of ensuring they received the best value in train travel. And they loved the chance to interact with locals in the dining cars and in the main carriages, to read, chill out with music and watch the amazing Highland scenery outside. Arriving in the centre of town was another great plus, in Glasgow at Queen Street Station and in Edinburgh at Edinburgh Park.

You can buy train tickets from large travel agents and any UK railway station, but the BritRail Pass is easily the best value.

Learn more about train travel at Rail Europe.

If you have a Travel SOS question, email [email protected] and we’ll do our best to answer it, or find someone who can.

Related articles:
Best way to get around Britain
David’s dream rail tour
Are Eurail passes good value?

Written by Leon Della Bosca

Leon Della Bosca has worked in publishing and media in one form or another for around 25 years. He's a voracious reader, word spinner and art, writing, design, painting, drawing, travel and photography enthusiast. You'll often find him roaming through galleries or exploring the streets of his beloved Melbourne and surrounding suburbs, sketchpad or notebook in hand, smiling.


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