Difference between revisions of "Rail travel in the United Kingdom"

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[[Image:Cross_country_train_berwick.jpg|thumb|250px|A Class 220 ''Voyager'' high-speed diesel train crosses the Royal Border Bridge at [[Berwick-upon-Tweed]] with a CrossCountry service from [[England]] to [[Scotland]].]]
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==Introduction==
  
With around 34,000km (21,000 miles) of lines, the '''National Rail''' passenger network of the [[United Kingdom]] is one of the densest and most popular railway services in the world. The UK gave birth to the railway, with the first passenger services (between [[Stockton]] and [[Darlington]] in north-east England) and first steam locomotives developed there from the 1820s. This means the network is the oldest in the world. Most was constructed in the 19th century in massive civil engineering projects, many of which are now iconic (such as the [[South Queensferry|Forth Bridge]]) and noted for their elegance as well as being major feats of engineering. Although some parts are relatively Victorian and can be inefficient, there has been significant investment in recent years. Train travel is very popular in Britain - you'll find many services busy, and passenger numbers have been rising steadily. It is one of the fastest, most comfortable, convenient and enjoyable ways to explore Britain and by far the best way to travel inter-city. From High Speed 1, which connects [[London]] to [[Kent]] and mainland Europe, to preserved railways operating historic steam trains through idyllic countryside, to modern inter-city services and the breathtakingly scenic lines of [[Scotland]], the train can be an enthralling and affordable way to see all that the UK has to offer.
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[[Image:Cross_country_train_berwick.jpg|thumb|250px|A high-speed diesel train crosses the Royal Border Bridge at [[Berwick-upon-Tweed]] with a CrossCountry service from [[England]] to [[Scotland]].]]
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With around 34,000km (21,000 miles) of lines, the '''National Rail''' passenger network of [[Great Britain]] is one of the densest and most used railway networks in the world, with frequent daily passenger services comprehensively serving all major towns and many hundreds of villages. Train travel is Britain's most popular method of public transportation, with passenger usage approaching record highs despite annual rises in fares. In the last financial year ending in April 2014, 1.59 billion passenger journeys were made across Great Britain.
  
[[Image:Aberdeen large station sign.JPG|thumb|right|200px|The double-arrow symbol signifies a railway station or the rail network throughout Britain. It appears on all stations, road signs and maps.]]
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Travelling by train is one of the fastest, most comfortable, convenient and enjoyable ways to explore Britain. From High Speed 1, which connects [[London]] to [[Kent]] and under the English Channel to mainland Europe, to preserved railways operating historic steam trains through idyllic countryside, to bustling modern commercial centres and small unspoiled villages, to the breathtakingly scenic lines of [[Scotland]], the train can be an enthralling and affordable way to see all that the UK has to offer.
All infrastructure (e.g. track, bridges, stations etc.) is owned by the state while trains are operated by private companies (usually multinational transport companies) which bid for particular franchises. The system is tightly controlled by the national and devolved governments in London, Edinburgh and Cardiff which heavily subsidise it. Despite the presence of many franchisees, the network provides seamless journeys even if travelling on various company's trains - tickets can be purchased from any station in Great Britain to any other, irrespective of train company. The National Rail website provides timetables and a journey planner at http://www.nationalrail.co.uk/.
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The award-winning '''National Railway Museum''' [http://www.nrm.org.uk] at [[York]] tells the story of Britain's railways and how they changed society from the 19th century to today, with many historic and record-setting locomotives, rolling stock and other exhibits. Admission is free.  
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As for services across the English Channel to France and Belgium, the cross-channel rail operator Eurostar has become the dominant carrier in cross-channel intercity passenger travel on the routes that it operates, carrying more passengers than all airlines combined.
  
This guide does not cover rail travel in [[Northern Ireland]], which operates its own state-owned system called '''Northern Ireland Railways''' (NIR) which is separate and even uses a different track gauge (the Irish gauge). NIR is owned and controlled by the government of the Northern Irish Executive in Belfast. It is well-integrated with local and provincial bus services operated by Translink [http://www.translink.co.uk/] and trains in the [[Republic of Ireland]] operated by Iarnród Éireann [http://www.irishrail.ie/]. For more details on rail travel in Northern Ireland, see [[Rail travel in Ireland]].  
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However, the complex system of privatised train operators serving an effectively state-owned network of stations and lines has resulted in a complex fare and ticket system that can be confusing to the visitor. The structure of the industry is still very much in a state of change as a result of a controversial privatisation programme in the mid 1990s, as train franchises routinely change hands between operators and routes reorganised to fit the needs of the travelling public. Despite this, the network provides seamless journeys even if travelling on trains serviced by multiple operators – tickets can be purchased from any station in Great Britain to any other, irrespective of train company.
  
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This guide does not cover rail travel in [[Northern Ireland]], which operates its own state-owned system called '''Northern Ireland Railways''' (NIR) which is separate from National Rail and even uses a different track gauge. NIR is owned and controlled by the government of the Northern Irish Executive in Belfast. It is well-integrated with local and provincial bus services operated by [http://www.translink.co.uk/ Translink] and trains in the [[Republic of Ireland]] operated by [http://www.irishrail.ie/ Iarnród Éireann]. For more details on rail travel in Northern Ireland, see [[Rail travel in Ireland]].
  
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The National Rail website provides timetables and a journey planner, which can be found at at http://www.nationalrail.co.uk.
  
 
==Structure==
 
==Structure==
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[[Image:Aberdeen large station sign.JPG|thumb|right|200px|The iconic double-arrow symbol signifies a railway station or the rail network throughout Britain. It appears on all stations, road signs and maps.]]
  
The ownership and structure is complex, but you won't notice when making a journey, although it may be discussed in the media (complaints about the service feature often in the news). The track, stations and infrastructure (except for preserved railways) are owned and maintained by ''Network Rail'', a "not for dividend" company limited by guarantee and owned by the government. Basically this means the infrastructure is all state-owned.  
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All infrastructure (e.g. track, bridges, stations etc.) is owned by the state controlled company ''Network Rail'', a "not for dividend" company limited by guarantee and owned by the government, while trains are operated by private companies (usually multinational transport companies) which bid for particular franchises. The system is tightly controlled by the national and devolved governments in London, Edinburgh and Cardiff which heavily subsidise it. There are also operators controlled by local government bodies (the London Overground is one example) and a small number of open access (non-franchised) operators which run additional services across the country. Although the ownership and structure is complex you often won't notice it when making a journey, due to the integrated nature of the British rail system.
  
Trains to be run are specified by the government and operated by commercial train companies, known as '''Train operating companies''' (TOCs). These lease or own rolling stock to run the passenger services demanded in their franchise contracts. Companies compete to win franchises for a certain number of years. Their continued permission to operate, or ability to win extensions or future franchises, depends on factors including value-for-money, performance and customer satisfaction. Government officials and transport ministers play a heavy role in the process.  
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General service schedules and routes run by the train franchises are specified by the government, but the "detail" and actual level of service are operated by commercial train companies known as ''train operating companies'' (TOCs). These lease or own rolling stock to run the passenger services demanded in their franchise contracts. Companies compete to win franchises for a certain number of years. Their continued permission to operate, or ability to win extensions or future franchises, depends on factors including value-for-money, performance and customer satisfaction. Government officials and transport ministers play a heavy role in the process.  
  
The '''Association of Train Operating Companies''' (ATOC) represents all the passenger train companies, and markets them collectively as '''National Rail'''. National Rail has inherited the iconic white-on-red "double-arrow" logo (see illustration) first used by British Rail, the former state-owned railway operator which was privatised in the 1990s (although the infrastructure was re-nationalised in the early 2000s). The iconic logo is used extensively to signify a railway station and on road signs, maps, tickets and other places.
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The ''Association of Train Operating Companies'' (ATOC) represents all the passenger train companies, and markets them collectively as ''National Rail''. National Rail has inherited the iconic white-on-red "double-arrow" logo (see illustration) first used by British Rail in 1965, the former state-owned railway operator which was privatised in the 1990s. The iconic logo is used extensively to signify a railway station and on road signs, maps, tickets and other places.
  
 
===Passenger Rail Companies===
 
===Passenger Rail Companies===
  
Some train operating companies cover a particular geographical region, while others operate inter-city lines which pass through various regions. As of May 2012, the National Rail [http://www.nationalrail.co.uk/] network of passenger operating companies consists of the following companies. All are private commercial organisations (mostly subsidiaries of global transport companies like FirstGroup, Stagecoach, Arriva and Virgin), except for East Coast which is state-owned but operated commercially.  
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Some train operating companies cover a particular geographical region, while others operate inter-city lines which pass through various regions. As of December 2015 the National Rail network consists of the following passenger operating companies, all of which are private commercial organisations (mostly subsidiaries of global transport companies like FirstGroup, Stagecoach, Arriva and Virgin).
  
{|  
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'''Franchised operators'''
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{| style="width:100%"
 
|-
 
|-
 
| style="vertical-align:top;width:50%;" |
 
| style="vertical-align:top;width:50%;" |
* Arriva Trains Wales / Trenau Arriva Cymru [http://www.arrivatrainswales.co.uk/]
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*[https://www.abelliogreateranglia.co.uk Abellio Greater Anglia]
* c2c [http://www.c2c-online.co.uk/]
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**[https://www.stanstedexpress.com/ Stansted Express]
* Chiltern Railways [http://www.chilternrailways.co.uk/]
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*[http://www.scotrail.co.uk Abellio ScotRail]
* CrossCountry [http://www.crosscountrytrains.co.uk/]
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*[http://www.arrivatrainswales.co.uk Arriva Trains Wales (''Trenau Arriva Cymru'')]
* East Coast [http://www.eastcoast.co.uk/]
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*[http://www.c2c-online.co.uk c2c]
* East Midlands Trains [http://www.eastmidlandstrains.co.uk/]
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*[http://www.sleeper.scot Caledonian Sleeper]
* Eurostar [http://www.eurostar.com/]
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*[http://www.chilternrailways.co.uk Chiltern Railways]
* First Capital Connect [http://www.firstcapitalconnect.co.uk/]
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*[http://www.crosscountrytrains.co.uk CrossCountry]
* First Great Western [http://www.firstgreatwestern.co.uk/]
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*[http://www.eastmidlandstrains.co.uk East Midlands Trains]
* First Hull Trains [http://www.hulltrains.co.uk/]
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*[http://www.nationalrail.co.uk/tocs_maps/tocs/TP.aspx First Transpennine Express]
* First Transpennine Express [http://www.tpexpress.co.uk/]
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*[http://www.gwr.com Great Western Railway]
* Gatwick Express [https://www.gatwickexpress.com/]
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*[http://www.londonmidland.com London Midland]
* Grand Central [http://www.grandcentralrail.co.uk/]
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* Heathrow Connect [https://www.heathrowconnect.com/]
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* Heathrow Express [https://www.heathrowexpress.com/]
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| style="vertical-align:top;width:50%;" |
 
| style="vertical-align:top;width:50%;" |
* Island Line [http://www.island-line.co.uk/]
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*[https://tfl.gov.uk London Overground]
* London Midland [http://www.londonmidland.com/]
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*[http://www.merseyrail.org Merseyrail]
* London Overground [http://www.tfl.gov.uk/]
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*[http://www.northernrail.org Northern Rail]
* Merseyrail [http://www.merseyrail.org]
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*[http://www.southeasternrailway.co.uk Southeastern]
* Greater Anglia [http://www.greateranglia.co.uk/]
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*[http://www.southernrailway.com Southern]
* Northern Rail [http://www.northernrail.org/]
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*[http://www.southwesttrains.co.uk South West Trains]
* ScotRail [http://www.scotrail.co.uk/]
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**[http://www.islandlinetrains.co.uk Island Line]
* South West Trains [http://www.southwesttrains.co.uk/]
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*[https://tfl.gov.uk TfL Rail]
* Southeastern [http://www.southeasternrailway.co.uk/]
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*[http://www.thameslinkrailway.com Thameslink & Great Northern]
* Southern [http://www.southernrailway.com/]
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*[http://www.virgintrainseastcoast.com Virgin Trains East Coast]
* Stansted Express [http://www.stanstedexpress.com/]
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*[http://www.virgintrains.co.uk Virgin Trains West Coast]
* Virgin Trains [http://www.virgintrains.co.uk/]
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|}
 
|}
  
==Historical Background==
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'''Open access operators'''
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Open access operators are train companies that do not operate under a franchise, but instead purchases individual slots on train lines. They provide additional services for routes that are in high demand that no franchise adequately cover. For example, First Hull Trains provides six daily services from [[London]] to [[Kingston upon Hull|Hull]] and back while its competitor Virgin Trains East Coast provides only one.
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*[http://www.eurostar.com Eurostar]
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*[http://www.hulltrains.co.uk First Hull Trains]
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*[http://www.grandcentralrail.com Grand Central]
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*[https://www.heathrowconnect.com Heathrow Connect]
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*[https://www.heathrowexpress.com Heathrow Express]
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==Historical background==
  
 
[[Image:SIR NIGEL GRESLEY departs from Skipton.jpg|thumb|250px|From the 1930s, streamlined locomotives of the 'A4' class such as ''Mallard'' symbolised a golden age of rail travel. ''Mallard'' is now at the National Railway Museum, York]]
 
[[Image:SIR NIGEL GRESLEY departs from Skipton.jpg|thumb|250px|From the 1930s, streamlined locomotives of the 'A4' class such as ''Mallard'' symbolised a golden age of rail travel. ''Mallard'' is now at the National Railway Museum, York]]
The world's first public railway opened between Stockton and Darlington in north-east England in 1825, marking the start of a railway-building boom. Most railways in Britain were built by private companies in search of profit; dozens of small companies ran local lines, merged and took over each other, as others entered the market. By the mid-19th century, these had grown into a national railway network. In the 1920s, the government decreed they all merge into the four large companies that are best known today: the Southern Railway, London and North-Eastern Railway (LNER), London, Midland & Scottish Railway (LMS) and Great Western. What followed was a "golden age" of speed records, iconic locomotives such as ''Flying Scotsman'' and images of the train as an elegant yet everyday form of travel (you'll see modern train company names harking back to this golden age). Following World War 2, in which most of the infrastructure was worn down on war duties, damaged or destroyed by bombing raids, the government nationalised all railways in 1948. The resulting state-owned British Rail ran trains for nearly fifty years, during a time of change when steam was replaced by diesel and electric, large numbers of unprofitable lines were closed in the "Beeching Axe" as the age of the car arrived, line speeds increased, and the now-iconic double-arrow logo came to symbolise the railway network and the presence of a station.
 
 
[[Image:Whitley Bay British Railways Poster.jpg|thumb|right|150px|1940s and 50s railway posters used art to entice travellers to visit resorts by train.]]
 
[[Image:Whitley Bay British Railways Poster.jpg|thumb|right|150px|1940s and 50s railway posters used art to entice travellers to visit resorts by train.]]
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The world's first public railway opened between Stockton and Darlington in north-east England in 1825. Passengers were originally carried in coaches pulled by horses until 1833, when they were replaced by ''Locomotion No. 1'', the first ever steam locomotive to operate a passenger rail service. The financial success of the early pioneering railways resulted in a large number of entrepreneurs eager to capitalise in the fledgling industry, in a time known as "Railway Mania". From 1836 to 1847, about 8,000 miles of track were laid which eventually grew into a national network serving most towns and villages in Britain.
  
British Rail's (and now National Rail's) double-arrow logo and associated typeface of the 1960s are recognised as design classics of the period (unlike almost anything else British Rail did) but are only one of many achievements of design and engineering accomplished by railway companies in Britain. In the 19th century, majestic stations such as London St. Pancras, Kings Cross, Paddington and Liverpool Street were erected by railway companies. These "rail cathedrals" symbolised the success of the companies who built them and the places their lines ran through (e.g. the Midland bricks of which St. Pancras is constructed). Iconic bridges and viaducts of the Victorian era such as the Forth Bridge have come to symbolise the regions they run through. In the 1920s and 30s, streamlined locomotives such as ''Mallard'' became symbols of modernity which now symbolise the zenith of UK rail travel, while railway travel posters between the 1930s and 1950s pioneered a style of art which showcased Britain at its most attractive.
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Many majestic stations such as London St. Pancras, Kings Cross, Paddington and Liverpool Street were erected, showcasing the success of the companies who built them. Iconic bridges and viaducts of the Victorian era such as the Forth Bridge have come to symbolise the regions they run through.
  
Despite the lows of the Beeching era in the 1960s, British Rail rebounded in the 1970s and '80s as it fought back against the new motorways.  The state-owned corporation developed a new unified brand for its long distance express services known as ''Inter-City'', and this, along with electrification of the two main line routes from London to Scotland and new, high technology rolling stock saw a boom in patronage that in turn safeguarded the loss making regional routes and remaining branch lines from closure.  However, decline and neglect were still very evident throughout the system as it suffered from a lack of investment from government. With the political climate of the time favouring private operation of public services, it was inevitable that the network would be moved from state control to the private sector.
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In 1923 the government decreed that the railways should be grouped into four large companies, which together were known as the '"Big Four". These were the Southern Railway (SR), the London and North Eastern Railway (LNER), the London, Midland & Scottish Railway (LMS) and the Great Western Railway (GWR). What followed is considered to be the golden age of speed records, with iconic locomotives such as the Flying Scotsman and Mallard becaming symbols of speed and modernity. Railway travel posters from the 1930s to the 1950s pioneered a style of art which enticed travellers to visit resorts by train and showcased the British rail system as an elegant yet everyday form of travel. Even today many modern train company names hark back to this era.
  
Following a badly-conceived privatisation in the mid 1990s, the network was fragmented with different companies running track, rolling stock, and dozens of small companies operating trains but with heavy government intervention, subsidy and control of the system. [[Image:Copy of Severn Beach railway station MMB 02.jpg|thumb|200px|British Rail's iconic logo and typeface from the 1960s defined the look-and-feel of the railway in the modern era. The logo still identifies a station today. ]]The infrastructure (e.g. track, signals and stations) were re-nationalised in the early 2000s after a financial meltdown triggered by the fateful Hatfield incident in October 2000, and since then the system has bedded-in and developed into an effective transport system, albeit with some ongoing issues, to give a mixed public/private-sector railway. Profits accrue to the private sector but subsidies are paid and exact services to be run are specified by the government. In fact, the national and devolved governments in London, Edinburgh and Cardiff have  much greater control over the railways now than in the days of British Rail. As of 2012, passenger numbers are booming despite annual rises in fares, and many passengers buy tickets on the internet and access timetables using smartphone apps.
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Following the Second World War, in which most of the infrastructure was worn down by war duties or destroyed by bombing raids, all of the Big Four companies were in dire financial straits and were unable to cope with the backlog of maintenance and repairs that had built up during the war. As a result, the government nationalised all railways in 1948. The resulting state-owned ''British Rail'' ran trains for nearly fifty years during a time of change. In an attempt to stem passenger losses resulting from increased car usage, steam locomotives were replaced by diesel and electric trains, while some lines were electrified and upgraded to allow for higher speeds.
  
==Most Scenic Routes==
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The darkest era in British railway history came during the 1960s, in a time known as the "Beeching Axe". In an attempt to eliminate daily losses of £300,000, British Rail closed a large number of unprofitable lines and scrapped many passenger services. Spearheaded by a report published by civil servant Dr. Richard Beeching, nearly 4,000 miles of track and over 2,000 stations were abandoned with much of the land sold for redevelopment.
  
Many lines cut through spectacular British countryside and run along dramatic coasts, particularly in Scotland, Wales and the north and south-west of England. In many places, elegant Victorian viaducts and bridges add to (rather than detract from) the beauty of the natural landscape. Of the many such scenic routes, here are a few that are part of the National Rail network and provide a transport service to the communities along the route, as well as attracting tourists. Preserved and heritage railways operate others (usually by steam train) in gorgeous countryside (see section below on preserved railways).  
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British Rail rebounded in the 1970s and 1980s as it fought back against the new motorways, developing a new unified brand for its long distance express services known as ''InterCity''. Together with electrification of the two main line routes from London to Scotland and the introduction of ''InterCity 125'' high speed locomotives that could travel up to 125mph, British Rail saw a boom in patronage that in turn safeguarded the loss making regional routes and saved the remaining branch lines from closure.
  
[[Image:Scottish Highlands via the West Highland Line.jpg|thumb|250px|View from train travelling on the West Highland Line.]]
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British Rail's iconic double-arrow logo and typeface, which were introduced from the 1960s, defined the look and feel of the railway in the modern era and are recognised as design classics of the period. The logo is still used to identify a station today.
[[Image:Ribblehead Viaduct in North Yorkshire.jpg|thumb|250px|Ribblehead Viaduct on the Settle-Carlisle Line, North Yorkshire.]]
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[[Image:Departing Dawlish - geograph.org.uk - 1118368.jpg|thumb|250px|Train departs Dawlish on the Riviera Line, travelling along sea wall. ]]
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* The '''[[West Highland Line]]''' [http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/West_Highland_Line] from [[Glasgow]] to the west-coast harbour towns of [[Mallaig]] and [[Oban]] is probably the most spectacular in the UK and regularly voted among the top railway journeys in the world. The nightly sleeper from London Euston to Fort William also runs on the route and in the summer there is a daily steam train called "The Jacobite". Spectacular vistas include Loch Lomond and the Gareloch, the dramatic Rannoch Moor, the Glenfinnan Viaduct (as featured in the Harry Potter movies and Scottish banknotes) and spectacular views of the [[Western Isles]] from Mallaig, among many others on the 3-5.5 hour ride.
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* The '''Settle-Carlisle Line''' [http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Settle_and_Carlisle_Railway] runs 73 miles (120km) from Settle in North Yorkshire (or you can join the train earlier at the major city of [[Leeds]]) to the city of [[Carlisle]], near the Scottish border. The most scenic railway in England, it runs through the dramatic Pennine Hills and the Yorkshire Dales National Park. Of the many viaducts, the dramatic Ribblehead Viaduct with its 24 stone arches is most notable, and there is good walking from many of the stations on the route.
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* '''Exeter-Penzance''' (also known as the '''Riviera Line''') [http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Riviera_Line]: Designed by the famous engineer Brunel as part of his Great Western Railway, this line runs from [[Exeter]],  Devon to [[Penzance]], Cornwall and includes long stretches where the railway runs directly on the sea wall, such as at Dawlish. It also runs through lush valleys, the dramatic Dartmoor, crosses viaducts by Brunel and enters Cornwall by the impressive Royal Albert Bridge across the River Tamar (pronounced TAY-mar). Images of waves breaking by the railway line at Dawlish are iconic of Devon.
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* The '''Far North Line''' [http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Far_North_Line] from the rapidly-growing city of Inverness to Britain's most northerly town, Thurso, runs through impressive Highland scenery as well as alone the Moray Firth, the Dornoch Firth and the impressive coast of Sutherland. Another scenic route leaves Inverness for Kyle of Lochalsh, with its links to the spectacular isle of Skye.  
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* '''Stonehaven-Aberdeen''': The line north of Edinburgh to [[Aberdeen]] crosses the iconic Forth Bridge. At its northern end, between the pretty harbour town of Stonehaven and the city of Aberdeen it runs for 20 minutes or so along a dramatic, craggy coast with spectacular cliffs soaring down into the north sea. Rugged inlets and churning waves breaking on the rocks add to the scene. The route is especially impressive at sunrise (as may be seen if taking the sleeper from London to Aberdeen)
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==Services==
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However, decline and neglect were still very evident throughout the system as it suffered from a lack of government investment. With the political climate of the time favouring private operation of public services, it was inevitable that the network would be moved from state control to the private sector. In 1995 the network was fragmented, with different companies running track and rolling stock. Dozens of small companies began operating train services but with heavy government intervention, subsidy and control of the system.
[[Image:Statue of John Betjeman looking up at St. Pancras.jpg|thumb|right|250px|Statue of poet Sir John Betjeman looking up at architecture of London St. Pancras station. You should too! British stations are often impressive works of Victorian architecture]]
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An achievement of British Rail which is still in place today is that you can purchase a through-ticket from any station in Great Britain to any other station, including whatever changes of train, train companies or even London Underground connections are needed.
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The infrastructure (e.g. track, signals and stations) were re-nationalised in 2001, after Railtrack suffered financial meltdown resulting from spiraling costs incurred by delayed upgrade programmes, and culminated by the fateful Hatfield incident in October 2000. Since then the system has bedded in and developed into an effective transport system, albeit with some ongoing issues, to give a mixed public/private-sector railway.
  
===Speed===
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==Most scenic routes==
  
Most inter-city services travel at 200km/h (125mph), even on non-electrified lines. Britain was the first country to introduce high-speed diesel services in the 1970s (using ''InterCity 125'' trains that, refurbished, are still a mainstay of some routes today). Unlike some countries, high-speed services do not cost more than others, except for the trains running on the new High Speed 1 from London St. Pancras to stations in Kent. Here you pay higher fares than slower services that don't use the high-speed line and there are no cheaper Advance or Off-Peak tickets. Away from the inter-city lines, speeds are up to 160km/h (100mph) on main lines and less on more minor routes.
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[[Image:Scottish Highlands via the West Highland Line.jpg|thumb|250px|View from train travelling on the West Highland Line.]]
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[[Image:Ribblehead Viaduct in North Yorkshire.jpg|thumb|250px|Ribblehead Viaduct on the Settle-Carlisle Line, North Yorkshire.]]
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[[Image:Departing Dawlish - geograph.org.uk - 1118368.jpg|thumb|250px|Train departs Dawlish on the Riviera Line, travelling along sea wall.]]
  
On non-inter-city services (especially in South-East England), you may hear the term '''fast''', as in the following announcement: "''Calling at Sevenoaks, Petts Wood, Bromley South, then fast to London Victoria''". '''This does not refer to speed''' - it means '''non-stop'''. So the train in the above announcement would miss out the many stations between Bromley South and London Victoria. A "fast" service is non-stop, while "semi-fast" means calling at only certain stations.
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Many lines cut through spectacular British countryside and run along dramatic coasts, particularly in Scotland, Wales and the north and south-west of England. In many places, elegant Victorian viaducts and bridges add to (rather than detract from) the beauty of the natural landscape. Of the many such scenic routes, here are a few that are part of the National Rail network and provide a transport service to the communities along the route, as well as attracting tourists. Preserved and heritage railways usually hauled by steam locomotives operate chartered services across gorgeous countryside (see the [[#Heritage and steam railways|Heritage and steam railways section]] for more information on preserved railways).
  
===Classes of Travel===
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*The '''[[West Highland Railway|West Highland Line]]''' from [[Glasgow]] to the west-coast harbour towns of [[Mallaig]] and [[Oban]] is probably the most spectacular in the UK and regularly voted among the top railway journeys in the world. The nightly sleeper from London Euston to Fort William also runs on the route and in the summer there is a daily steam train called ''[http://www.westcoastrailways.co.uk/jacobite/jacobite-steam-train-details.cfm The Jacobite]''. Spectacular vistas on the 3-5.5 hour ride include [[Loch Lomond]] and the Gareloch, the dramatic [[Rannoch Moor]], the [[Glenfinnan#See|Glenfinnan Viaduct]] (most famous for featuring in the Harry Potter movies) and spectacular views of [[Skye]] and the [[Small Isles]] from Mallaig.
[[Image:Set No 3 C TS 42290 Half Internal.JPG|thumb|250px|Standard-class interior of refurbished ''InterCity 125'' (also known as HST) operated by CrossCountry. ]]
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*The '''Settle-Carlisle Line''' runs 73 miles (120km) from Settle in North Yorkshire (or you can join the train earlier at the major city of [[Leeds]]) to the city of [[Carlisle]], near the Scottish border. The most scenic railway in England, it runs through the dramatic Pennine Hills and the Yorkshire Dales National Park. Of the many viaducts, the dramatic Ribblehead Viaduct with its 24 stone arches is most notable, and there are walking paths from many of the stations on the route.
[[Image:Virgin Trains Super Voyager 1st Class.jpg|thumb|250px|1st-class interior of Class 221 ''Super Voyager'' operated by Virgin Trains. ]]
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*'''Exeter-Penzance''' (also known as the ''Riviera Line''): Designed by the famous engineer Brunel as part of his Great Western Railway, this line runs from [[Exeter]],  Devon to [[Penzance]], Cornwall and includes long stretches where the railway runs directly on the sea wall such as at Dawlish. It also runs through lush valleys, the dramatic Dartmoor, crosses viaducts by Brunel and enters Cornwall by the impressive Royal Albert Bridge across the River Tamar (pronounced TAY-mar). Images of waves breaking by the railway line at Dawlish are iconic of Devon.
Two classes operate: standard class and 1st class. Commuter trains and some local services offer standard class only.  
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*The '''Far North Line''' from the rapidly-growing city of Inverness to Britain's most northerly town, Thurso, runs through impressive Highland scenery as well as alone the Moray Firth, the Dornoch Firth and the impressive coast of Sutherland. Another scenic route leaves Inverness for Kyle of Lochalsh, with its links to the spectacular isle of Skye.
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*'''Stonehaven-Aberdeen''': The line north of Edinburgh to [[Aberdeen]] crosses the iconic Forth Bridge. At its northern end, between the pretty harbour town of Stonehaven and the city of Aberdeen it runs for 20 minutes or so along a dramatic, craggy coast with spectacular cliffs soaring down into the north sea. Rugged inlets and churning waves breaking on the rocks add to the scene. The route is especially impressive at sunrise, which may be seen if taking the ''Caledonian Sleeper'' from London to Aberdeen.
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*The '''North Wales Coast Line'''. There are a number of points where you can join this line but one of the best ideas is to start in [[Wrexham]] and continue the journey until its end at [[Holyhead]]. Along the way you will pass through the historic cities of [[Chester]] and [[Bangor (Wales)|Bangor]]. Much of the line travels through spectacular Welsh moutains and next to the beautiful Welsh coastline. You will also see castles, little fishing ports and a historic racecourse. Perhaps the highlight of the journey is passing over the Menai Straits bridge from mainland Wales onto Anglesey. The view over the Menai Straits is breathtaking. You also pass through the town with the longest place name in Europe: [[Llanfairpwllgwyngyllgogerychwyrndrobwyllllantysiliogogogoch]].
  
* '''Standard class''' accommodation has two seats either side of the aisle with a mix of 'facing table' or more private 'airline-style' seats.
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Most of the services on these routes are run by modern diesel trains, however regular steam and heritage diesel hauled charters run across the network for which tickets can be purchased from the operator. Please note that "regular" train tickets are not valid on these services and tickets normally have to be booked in advance. Occasionally tickets maybe available on the day but this should not be relied on. Try [http://www.uksteam.info/tours/trs13.htm UKsteam Info] for more information on steam tours or [http://www.railtourinfo.co.uk/diesel.html Railtour Info] for heritage diesel tours including some that are partially steam hauled.
* '''First class''' accommodation has two seats and one seat either side of the aisle, with a larger seat, more legroom, and on inter-city routes, an at-seat service of drinks, refreshments and a newspaper (not all at seat services are available at the weekend).
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In both 1st and standard class, most trains also provide:
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==Services==
* Free seat reservations (not commuter or local services), indicated by a paper tag or electronic display above each seat
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* A walk-up '''buffet''', or a '''trolley service''' of drinks and refreshments moving through the train
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* Air conditioning (not commuter or local services)
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* At least one carriage with a fully disabled-accessible toilet and baby changing facilities
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* On inter-city services, a '''wireless internet''' service (a charge may apply)
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* Most inter-city trains provide a '''"Quiet Coach"''' where use of mobile phones, iPods, conversations, and any other noise is not permitted. These can be found on trains operated by East Coast, East Midlands Trains, CrossCountry, Virgin Trains, First Great Western and Greater Anglia's inter-city services.
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===Smoking and Alcohol===
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In the United Kingdom a 200 mile, or even a 100 mile journey, is considered "long distance". In the United Kingdom these long distance trains run at some of the highest frequencies in the world. For example, trains between Manchester and London run at least three times an hour. In the South East of England and the south of London in particular, many routes such as the London to Brighton service run at frequencies close to those of subways in major cities elsewhere in the world. In other areas, even many of the smallest towns are serviced with trains running at least hourly throughout the day even on Sundays, comparing favourably to long distance services from outside Europe which operate as infrequently as 1-3 times a week. Anything less than an hourly service during the day is regarded as low frequency.
  
Smoking is illegal on board trains in Great Britain (and in fact in any enclosed public place as part of the British smoking ban laws) and trains are fitted with smoke alarms, including in toilets. If you are seen smoking, train staff will arrange for the railway police - the '''British Transport Police''' -  to be waiting at the next station and you will be arrested and taken away. Note that smoking is also illegal on station platforms, although at smaller or rural stations it is generally ignored if you smoke in the open air as far as possible from the main waiting area.  
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The days of "checked baggage" (segregated storage for suitcases and other bulky items), which is still common in North America, are long gone in the United Kingdom.
  
Alcohol in open containers (i.e. opened cans or bottles, not stowed out of sight) is not permitted on any station, but it is onboard trains. Be careful, as although this rule is only enforced at major stations, you '''will''' have the drink confiscated and you are liable to a hefty fine. However, in '''Scotland''' on trains operated by ScotRail from 20th July 2012, it is '''illegal to be in possession of alcohol or consume alcohol''' after 9pm or in the morning (before 10am). This ruling does not apply to the Caledonian Sleeper Service. It is also '''illegal to travel on a train while drunk'''. This is part of a Scottish Government crackdown on alcohol-fueled anti-social behaviour [http://www.bbc.co.uk/news/uk-scotland-18549048]. Passengers seen with alcohol during these times or who appear to be drunk at any time are liable to be arrested by British Transport Police officers at the next station.
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===Train speeds===
  
===Rural Services===
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Most inter-city services travel at 200km/h (125mph), even on non-electrified lines. Britain was the first country to introduce high-speed diesel services in the 1970s, using ''InterCity 125'' trains that are still a mainstay of some routes today. Away from the inter-city lines, speeds are up to 160km/h (100mph) on main lines and less on more minor routes.
  
On some rural, local services (particularly in the north-west and south-west of England), some smaller stations are request stops (this will normally be indicated on the schedule as well as announced on the public-address system). If boarding at a request stop, the train will slow down and sound its horn - if you wish to board the train then raise your arm so that the driver can see you. If you wish to alight at a request stop, you should notify the conductor as to which station you wish to get off at and he will signal the driver to stop.
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Unlike some countries, British high speed services do not cost more than others, with the exception of trains running on the High Speed 1 route from London St. Pancras to stations in Kent. Here you pay higher fares than slower services that don't use high-speed trainsets and there are no cheaper Advance or Off-Peak tickets.
  
===Regional, Local and Commuter Lines===
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On local and commuter services, you may hear the term '''fast''', as in the following announcement: "''Calling at Sevenoaks, Petts Wood, Bromley South, then fast to London Victoria''". This does not refer to speed – it means that it is an express train. So the train in the above announcement would go past most of the stations between Bromley South and London Victoria without stopping. A '''semi-fast''' service will call at more stations along its route than a fast train, while a '''slow''' (local) service stops at all the stations that it passes.
  
A vast network of lines provide services between towns and cities of regional importance (e.g. Liverpool - Manchester), local services (e.g. Settle - Carlisle) and commuter services around many major cities (the network is particulary dense around London, Glasgow, Birmingham and Liverpool). Most towns and cities of interest or importance can be reached by rail, or by rail and a connecting bus link (e.g. a bus service connects Leuchars Station with [[St Andrews]]). It's worth trying the journey planner on the National Rail website [http://www.nationalrail.co.uk]] to see if a place you're interested in is served (see section on [[#Planning your trip|Planning your Trip]] below).
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===Rural services===
  
===Inter-City Lines===
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On some rural services, particularly those in Wales, Scotland and the south-west of England, have smaller stations that are '''request stops''' (flag stops). When approaching a request stop the train will slow down and sound its horn – if you wish to board the train then raise your arm so that the driver can see you. If you wish to alight at a request stop, you should notify the conductor as to which station you wish to get off at and he will signal the driver to stop. Request stops are normally indicated on the schedule and are announced on the train's public address system.
  
The inter-city network developed out of six historic mainlines. Line speed is up to 200km/h (125mph), but is 225km/h (140mph) for High Speed 1, 175km/h (110mph) for the Midland Main Line and 160km/h (100mph) for the Great Eastern line. All inter-city lines connect to London at one end, except for the Cross-Country Route.
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===Regional, local and commuter lines===
  
[[Image:Kings Cross station concourse.jpg|thumb|250px|Main concourse at London Kings Cross station, terminus of the East Coast Main Line to Scotland and the north of England, as well as local and regional services to Cambridgeshire and destinations north of London. ]]
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A vast network of lines provide services between towns and cities of regional importance (e.g. Liverpool-Manchester), local services (e.g. Settle-Carlisle) and commuter services around many major cities (the network is particularly dense around London, Manchester, Leeds/Bradford, Glasgow, Birmingham and Liverpool).
  
* '''High Speed 1''' (HS1) connects [[London]] with many destinations in [[Kent]] such as [[Canterbury]], Rochester, Dover, etc., and with the Channel Tunnel. Domestic services run at 225km/h (140mph) from London to cities and towns in Kent, and Eurostar international services run at 300km/h (186mph) to Paris and Brussels.  
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===Inter-city lines===
* '''East Coast Main Line''' - from [[London]] King's Cross to [[Leeds]] and [[Edinburgh]] (some to [[Aberdeen]] and [[Inverness]]), via [[Peterborough]], [[York]] and [[Newcastle_upon_Tyne|Newcastle]]
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* '''West Coast Main Line''' - from [[London]] Euston to [[Glasgow]], via [[Birmingham_(England)|Birmingham]], [[Manchester]], [[Liverpool]], [[Preston]] and [[Carlisle]].  
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[[Image:Kings Cross station concourse.jpg|thumb|250px|Main concourse at London King's Cross station, the terminus of the East Coast Main Line to Scotland and the north of England. It also serves local and regional services to Cambridgeshire and destinations north of London.]]
* '''Great Eastern Main Line''' - from [[London]] Liverpool Street to [[Norwich]]
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The inter-city network developed out of six historic mainlines. Line speed is up to 200km/h (125mph), but is 225km/h (140mph) for High Speed 1, 175km/h (110mph) for the Midland Main Line and 160km/h (100mph) for the Great Eastern line. All inter-city lines connect to London at one end, except for the Cross-Country Route. There are numerous stations in London, with each mainline terminating there calling at a different terminus.
* '''Great Western Main Line''' - from [[London]] Paddington to [[Bristol]], [[Devon]] and [[Cornwall]], and to [[Cardiff]] and [[Swansea]] in Wales.  
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* '''Midland Main Line''' - from [[London]] St. Pancras to midland destinations including [[Leicester]], [[Nottingham]] and [[Sheffield]].  
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*'''Cross-Country Route''' – connecting [[Scotland]], northern [[England]], the Midlands, southern and south-west [[England]]. Unlike all other inter-city lines it does not reach London and most services run via [[Birmingham_(England)|Birmingham]].
* '''Cross-Country Route''' - connecting [[Scotland]], northern [[England]], the Midlands, southern and south-west [[England]]. Unlike all other inter-city lines it does not reach London and most services run via [[Birmingham_(England)|Birmingham]] instead of [[London]]
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*'''East Coast Main Line''' from [[London]] King's Cross to [[Leeds]], [[Edinburgh]] and [[Aberdeen]] (some to [[Inverness]]), via [[Peterborough]], [[York]], other towns and cities in [[Yorkshire]], [[Newcastle_upon_Tyne|Newcastle]] and stations in eastern [[Scotland]]. Services also depart from here to [[Cambridge]].
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*'''Great Eastern Main Line''' from [[London]] Liverpool Street to [[Norwich]] via [[Colchester]] and stations in Essex and East Anglia.
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*'''Great Western Main Line''' from [[London]] Paddington to the West of England and to Wales: [[Bristol]], [[Bath]], [[Devon]] and [[Cornwall]], across the Welsh border to [[Cardiff]] and [[Swansea]]. Services also depart for [[Oxford]].
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*'''High Speed 1''' (HS1) connects [[London]] with many destinations in [[Kent]] such as [[Canterbury]], Rochester and the Medway Towns, Margate, Dover, etc., and with the Channel Tunnel to France. Domestic services run at 225km/h (140mph) from London to cities and towns in Kent, and Eurostar international services run at 300km/h (186mph) to Paris and Brussels.
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*'''Midland Main Line''' from [[London]] St. Pancras to destinations in the English Midlands, including [[Leicester]], [[Nottingham]], [[Derby]] and on to [[Sheffield]] in Yorkshire.
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*'''West Coast Main Line''' – from [[London]] Euston to [[Glasgow]], via [[Birmingham (England)|Birmingham]], [[Manchester]], [[Liverpool]], [[Preston]] and [[Carlisle]].
  
 
===Sleeper trains===
 
===Sleeper trains===
  
There are three scheduled sleeper trains in Britain that operate every night (except Saturday) in each direction. Travelling more slowly than their equivalent day time trains, they offer a comfortable means of overnight travel. All feature a lounge car that is open to passengers booked in berths (although on busy nights ScotRail sometimes restrict access to the lounge car to first-class passengers only). A buffet service of food and drinks is available in the lounge car, offering affordable snacks and beverages in retro surroundings reminiscent of 1970s British Rail.
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Until the late 1980s sleeper trains were operated between London and a host of destinations such as Manchester and Liverpool, and there were even sleeper trains within Scotland. Due to speed improvements there are now just three scheduled sleeper trains in Britain. These operate every night (except Saturday) in each direction. Travelling more slowly than their equivalent day time trains, they offer a comfortable means of overnight travel. All feature a lounge car that is open to passengers booked in berths, although on busy nights Caledonian Sleeper sometimes restricts access to the lounge car to first-class passengers only. A buffet service of food and drinks is available in the lounge car, offering affordable snacks and beverages in retro surroundings reminiscent of 1980s British Rail.
  
 
====London to Scotland====
 
====London to Scotland====
  
ScotRail [http://www.scotrail.co.uk/] operate two '''Caledonian Sleeper''' routes, with each train dividing/joining en route to serve multiple destinations in Scotland.
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[[Image:The Forth Bridge, South Queensferry.JPG|thumb|right|250px|The Forth Bridge connects the Scottish city of [[Edinburgh]] across the firth of Forth, to [[Fife]] and [[Aberdeen]].]]
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'''[http://www.sleeper.scot/ Caledonian Sleeper]''' operates two routes, with each train dividing or joining en route to serve multiple destinations in Scotland. This service was formerly operated by ScotRail, which from 1st April 2015 was re-launched under new owners.
  
*'''The Lowland Sleeper''' departs from/arrives in [[London]] Euston as one train, but divides at Carstairs in the early hours, with portions travelling to:
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Bookings can be made up to one year in advance, and even first class fares are incredibly reasonable. There are some bizarre pricings, with sometimes the first class fares being cheaper than the second class fares. Early bookings are highly recommended, and if your travel dates are flexible then entering different dates is a good way to save money.
** [[Glasgow]]
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** [[Edinburgh]]
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* '''The Highland Sleeper''' departs from/arrives in [[London]] Euston as one train, but divides at Edinburgh (passengers are not permitted to alight here, you should travel on the Lowland Sleeper instead) with portions travelling to (and calling at numerous stations on the way):
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Reservations are compulsory, and supplements may be payable on top of the basic fare to reserve a berth. Reclining seats don't require a supplement, nor do special advance-purchase tickets. They are available from the Caledonian Sleeper website.
** [[Aberdeen]]
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** [[Fort William]]
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** [[Inverness]]
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Reservations on ScotRail sleepers are compulsory, and supplements may be payable on top of the basic fare to reserve a berth. Reclining seats don't require a supplement, nor do special advance-purchase tickets known as '''Bargain Berths''', priced at £19, £29, £39 or £49 depending on destination and availability. They are only available from ScotRail's website [http://www.scotrail.co.uk/] and sell out fast (book well in advance for these).
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The two routes operated by Caledonian Sleeper are:
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*'''The Lowland Sleeper''', which departs from/arrives in [[London]] Euston as one train but divides at Carstairs in the early hours, with portions travelling to:
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**[[Glasgow]]
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**[[Edinburgh]]
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*'''The Highland Sleeper''', which departs from/arrives in [[London]] Euston as one train but divides at Edinburgh (passengers are not permitted to alight here, you should travel on the Lowland Sleeper instead), with portions travelling to:
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**[[Aberdeen]]
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**[[Fort William]]
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**[[Inverness]]
  
 
Caledonian Sleepers offer three kinds of accommodation:
 
Caledonian Sleepers offer three kinds of accommodation:
  
* Reclining seated accommodation (comparable to day time first class but with no at-seat service). Passengers to and from Fort William have to change carriages in Edinburgh. However, this may be uncomfortable on a long trip; bear in mind the Highland Sleeper takes 12 hours and the lights are left on all night (a blindfold may be provided).  
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*Reclining seated accommodation, comparable to day time first class but with no at-seat service. Passengers to and from Fort William have to change carriages in Edinburgh. However this may be uncomfortable on a long trip; bear in mind the Highland Sleeper takes 12 hours and the lights are left on all night, but blindfolds may be provided.  
* Standard Class (a cabin with two berths, upper and lower, and washbasin; solo travellers usually have to share with another traveller of the same sex)
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*Standard class cabins with two berths (upper and lower) and washbasin. Solo travellers usually have to share with another traveller of the same sex.
* First Class (an identical cabin but only one berth and more generous breakfast, toiletry pack and access to departure and arrival lounges at larger stations)
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*First class cabins are identical to standard class ones, except that they only have one berth. First class travellers can enjoy priority access to the lounge car, a full hearty breakfast delivered to your room, complimentary toiletries and sleeping packs and access to first class lounges at some stations.
  
 
====London to Penzance====
 
====London to Penzance====
  
First Great Western [http://www.firstgreatwestern.co.uk/Content.aspx?id=1555] operate the '''The Night Riviera''', which travels along a single route from [[London]] Paddington to [[Plymouth]], Devon and [[Penzance]], Cornwall, calling at numerous intermediate stations. Reservations on First Great Western sleepers are mandatory, and supplements are payable on top of the basic fare to reserve a berth. The Night Riviera offers three kinds of accommodation:
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Great Western Railway operates the '''[https://www.gwr.com/your-journey/journey-information/on-board/night-riviera-sleeper Night Riviera]''', which travels along a single route from [[London]] Paddington to [[Plymouth]], Devon and [[Penzance]], Cornwall, calling at numerous intermediate stations. Reservations on Night Riviera sleepers are mandatory, and supplements are payable on top of the basic fare to reserve a berth. The Night Riviera offers these kinds of accommodation:
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*Reclining seated accommodation, comparable to day time first class
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*Sleeper cabins (all standard class): either a cabin with two berths or (for a slightly higher supplement) a cabin with just one.
  
* Reclining seated accommodation (comparable to day time first class).
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As part of the ticket price, sleeper berth passengers will receive bottled water, towels, personally-controlled cabin lighting, in-cabin refreshments and a wake-up call with a complimentary breakfast. There are no showers on the train, but sleeper berth passengers may use showers at London Paddington station free of charge.
* Standard Class: either a cabin with two berths or (for a slightly greater supplement) a cabin with just one. Solo standard class berths also feature a wall mounted entertainment system preloaded with films and television programmes.
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==Planning your trip==
 
==Planning your trip==
  
{{infobox|Britain's longest train journey|The longest single train journey in Britain is the 08:20 from [[Aberdeen]] to [[Penzance]], operated by CrossCountry [http://www.crosscountrytrains.co.uk/]. According to the summer 2012 timetable, it takes nearly 13 and a half hours (arriving at 21:42) making thirty-three intermediate stops and covering 1162km (722 miles). It is operated by either a four or five coach Class 220 ''Voyager'' diesel train, and is prone to overcrowding at busy points on the journey.}}
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{{infobox|Britain's longest train journey|The longest single train journey in Britain is the 08:20 from [[Aberdeen]] to [[Penzance]], operated by [http://www.crosscountrytrains.co.uk/ CrossCountry]. It takes nearly 13 and a half hours (arriving at 21:43) making thirty-three intermediate stops and covering 1162km (722 miles). It is operated by either a four or five coach Class 220 ''Voyager'' diesel train, and is prone to overcrowding at busy points on the journey.}}
The best source of information is the '''National Rail''' website  at http://www.nationalrail.co.uk/. It has a very useful journey planner, gives live updates for all stations, has station information and plans, ticket information, as well as a useful '''Cheapest Fare Finder'''. Most of these services are also available by telephone from the National Rail Enquiries  phone service on +44 845 748 4950. The National Rail website gives prices but '''does not sell tickets'''  (however it will link to a choice of several websites which do). Among the train operators' websites, a useful one for planning travel and buying tickets is:
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The best source of information when planning your journey by train can be found on the official [http://www.networkrail.co.uk/ ''National Rail'' website]. This site has a very useful journey planner, real time departure and arrival information, lists of station facilities and plans, ticket information, accessibility details and a useful Cheapest Fare Finder.
  
* '''East Coast''' [http://www.eastcoast.co.uk/] is the only current state-owned train operating company (it operates high-speed inter-city services from London to Scotland via the East Coast Main Line). It has an attractive and easy-to-use ticketing system and like all train company websites, it gives information and sells tickets for all services in Great Britain operated by any company. This one is particularly useful because of the way in which the site allows you to compare the cost of two one-way tickets versus a return ticket. A lowest fare finder also quickly shows you the cheapest combination of trains. It makes no extra charge for credit/debit card payments nor ticket collection from a station ticket machine.  
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A complete national map in PDF format can be found [http://www.networkrail.co.uk/aspx/3828.aspx/ here]. There is also a useful phone app available, and most of these services are also available by telephone from the ''National Rail Enquiries'' phone service on +44 (0)845 748 4950. The National Rail website gives prices but does not sell tickets, however it will link to a choice of several websites which do.
  
[[Image:The Forth Bridge, South Queensferry.JPG|thumb|right|250px|The Forth Bridge takes the line north from [[Edinburgh]] across the firth of Forth, to [[Fife]] and [[Aberdeen]].]]
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The National Rail website also has route maps and an information page for every railway station in Britain together with accessibility details, facilities, ticket office opening hours, recommended connection times and real time departure and arrival information.
Various independent train booking websites also exist, but often charge unavoidable '''additional fees''' (e.g. for booking, using a debit card, using a credit card, receiving tickets by post or collecting them at the station).
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* '''thetrainline.com''' [http://www.thetrainline.com/] is the oldest, best known and most reliable of these train ticketing websites, and advertises frequently in the media in the UK. Be warned that it charges additional credit/debit card handling fees and a fee to collect your tickets from a station or to have them posted to you. However its useful '''Ticket Alert''' [http://www.thetrainline.com/ticketalert/] can help you plan advance travel by e-mailing you when cheaper Advance tickets become available for a particular route.
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Most train operating companies sell tickets through their own websites, including tickets for journeys that involve other operators, and do not charge booking fees. They may also offer further discounts on tickets for their own services from time to time.
  
==Buying Tickets==
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Various independent train booking websites also exist, but often charge unavoidable additional fees such as booking fees, debit/credit card charges and fees for receiving tickets by post or collecting them at the station. ''[http://thetrainline.com/ thetrainline.com]'' is the oldest, best known and most reliable of these websites, and advertises frequently in the media in the UK. Be warned that it charges additional credit/debit card handling fees and a fee to collect your tickets from a station or to have them posted to you. However, its useful [http://www.thetrainline.com/ticketalert/ Ticket Alert] can help you plan advance travel by e-mailing you when cheaper Advance tickets become available for a particular route.
[[Image:Nr_train_ticket.jpg|thumb|250px|A typical National Rail (UK) train '''ticket''', in this case the outward ('OUT') portion of a two part Standard ('STD') off-peak return ('OFF-PEAK R') from Queens Park in Glasgow to Norbiton, with a 16-25 Railcard ('Y-P') discount.]]
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A feature of the network is that you can purchase a through-ticket from any one station to any other in Great Britain, regardless of which or how many train companies you will need to travel on. '''NOTE: Some tickets are only valid for travel with a particular train operator, if this is the case it will expicitly state this on the ticket.''' You buy tickets at station '''ticket offices''' or '''ticket machines''' (bear in mind that smaller stations may have no ticket office and very minor ones will not have a machine). Alternatively, more and more travellers buy from one of the '''train company's websites''', all of which have a journey planner and sell tickets for all services, not just their own. If you buy on a website such as [http://www.thetrainline.com thetrainline.com] or [http://www.eastcoast.co.uk East Coast's website] or one of the other companies listed in the [[#Passenger Rail Companies|Passenger Rail Companies]] section above, you can have tickets sent to you by mail (if you live in the UK) or you can pick them up at any station you specify that has an automated ticket machine. If you are collecting tickets from a machine, you need the bank card used to purchase them plus the confirmation number. If you have forgotten the number, it is usually included with the confirmation e-mail. Some websites (such as those linked to above) also allow you to print the ticket at home on your printer on regular paper.  
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'''A ticket does not guarantee a seat''' unless you also have a '''seat reservation'''. Depending on ticket type and train company, this may come automatically with the ticket or you may be asked if you wish to reserve a seat - ask if you are unsure. Some trains (mostly local and commuter services) do not permit seat reservations. If you have no seat reservation, you may have to stand if the train is busy.
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===Connections between stations===
  
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When making a connection between two trains you may be required to transfer between two separate stations, sometimes via bus, tram or the London Underground. You will be warned of this when you book your tickets, and the connection will usually be included in the price and specified on the ticket itself.
  
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It is recommended to check beforehand whether a connecting journey between two stations is really necessary before you book your travel. For example, in Wigan the two stations are just 100 metres apart so booking a taxi from one station to the other would be a waste of money and time compared to a short two minute walk.
  
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Please note that some major towns, such as Bury and Oldham in Greater Manchester, have no national rail service because the rail lines have been converted to light rail, and therefore they cannot be found in the national timetables as they are no longer part of the national rail system. All light rail services (such as in Manchester, Sheffield, Nottingham and elsewhere) interchange with rail stations on part of their routes to connect with the national rail network, although through rail tickets may not be available. Therefore, if you are visiting a specific town in Britain then you can sometimes travel most of the way by train and then easily transfer to the local light rail services.
  
===Ticket types===
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When travelling within London, there are also [https://tfl.gov.uk/corporate/publications-and-reports/out-of-station-interchanges out-of station interchanges] which allow passengers to connect to other stations lacking a direct connection without being charged multiple fares, even between different systems such as the Underground, the Overground, the <abbr title="Docklands Light Railway">DLR</abbr> and Tramlink. In many cases an Oyster card or a contactless payment method is required; when travelling to/from the National Rail system it is usually possible to interchange using a paper train ticket.
[[Image:Nr_sleeper_reservation.jpg|thumb|250px|A typical National Rail (UK) '''reservation coupon''', in this case the paid standard class supplement required for a berth in the Glasgow to London sleeper (there is no charge for a seat reservation on a day time train). The reserved bed is in coach N, berth 23L ('L' for lower of two berths). Printed on the same format of card as a ticket, no reservation is valid without an accompanying ticket.]]
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Tickets come in three types. You can usually book up to three months in advance and the further in advance you book, the less expensive tickets are. You can choose between flexibility (generally move expensive) and value (less or no flexibility), similar to an airline.  
+
  
Off-peak times are usually any time after 9.30am and all weekends and public holidays, although some companies around London also have a weekday afternoon peak (16:30-18:30). Services are much more expensive outside these off-peak times. There can be exceptions for when Off-Peak tickets aren't valid, which vary by train company - if so these will usually be explained by posters at the station or the train company's website. If you are in any doubt about the validity of an Off-Peak ticket, ask a member of staff at the station or a ticket office before getting on a train, as ticket inspectors on board the train can be unforgiving. In increasing order of cost, tickets are classed as:
+
===Sunday travel===
  
* '''Advance''' - are the cheapest tickets. You must buy in advance (latest is 18:00 the day before, but most will have sold out by then), travel on a specific train only which will usually be off-peak, and they are available in limited numbers. Making a change of travel plan may involve an administration fee.  
+
Services are less frequent on Sundays. For over a hundred years, services on Sundays were few. Even at the height of the railways' popularity in the 1930s, many lines and most stations were closed on Sundays. Very few services ran, with some large towns having no railway services at all. This situation improved in the 1990s and 2000s – due in part to the legalisation of Sunday trading (which means shops can open on Sundays – typically 10.30am to 4.00/4.30pm).
* '''Off-Peak''' - Buy any time, must travel at 'off-peak' times, ticket is more expensive than Advance ticket. Change in travel plans possible.  
+
* '''Anytime''' - Buy any time, travel any time, most expensive ticket. Change in travel plans easily made, plus you can just travel any time you like.  
+
  
Advance tickets are only sold as single (one-way) tickets. To make a return journey, simply purchase two singles. Off-Peak and Anytime tickets are available as single or return. With the exception of some suburban and commuter trains, '''the cheapest fares are almost always Advance tickets'''. These are released for sale in limited numbers approximately 12 weeks in advance, and '''can only be used on the train specified on the reservation'''. If you travel on any other train or the wrong train, you will be charged an expensive full-price ticket or a penalty fare. If you cannot pay it straight away you will be thrown off at the next station. To check how far ahead 'Advance' tickets are available, visit National Rail's "Booking Horizons" page [http://www.nationalrail.co.uk/times_fares/booking_horizons.html]. '''If you have not booked in advance''', short-distance travel is still affordable if you buy on the day of travel, but if you try to buy longer-distance tickets on the day (e.g. London-Scotland) make sure your budget is prepared for truly eye-popping fares.  
+
However the frequency of service is reduced compared with weekdays and Saturdays, and that engineering work is more likely to take place on weekends and public holidays than on weekdays. During line closures, rail companies will usually offer a replacement bus service which is provided for rail passengers for no extra charge.
  
When purchasing a less restricted '''off-peak''' or '''anytime''' ticket, note that '''return fares are normally only a small amount more than a single (one-way ticket)'''.
+
Visitors should check with the ''[http://www.networkrail.co.uk/ National Rail Enquiries]'' website for information on any Sunday alterations or changes.
  
===Discounts===
+
===Overcrowding===
 +
The popularity of train travel in the UK has been soaring in recent years. If you plan to explore Britain by rail then it is worth noting that many parts of the network suffer from overcrowding, and that this is not restricted to commuter services as even rural services can be affected. Standing on a train for over 100 miles is not uncommon, as a ticket does not not guarantee a seat unless you also have a reservation ([[#Buying tickets|see below]]). Some long distance trains particularly in the rush hour can be so crowded that passengers are not allowed to board due to safety issues, and it is not unusual to encounter trains of ten carriages with upwards of 2,000 passengers crammed inside.
  
Discounts are available for:
+
Planning journeys outside the rush hours even for long distance services (06:00-09:30 & 16:00-19:00) can make tickets cheaper and journeys significantly more comfortable.
  
* Children - up to the age of 15
+
==Buying tickets==
* Small Groups – of between 3 and 9 people
+
* Large Groups – 10 or more people
+
* Railcards – discount cards for certain groups
+
* Regional Railcards – offering discounts within a specific region
+
  
====Railcards====
+
[[Image:Nr_train_ticket.jpg|thumb|250px|A typical National Rail train '''ticket''', in this case the outward ('OUT') portion of a two part Standard ('STD') off-peak return ('OFF-PEAK R') from Queens Park in Glasgow to Norbiton, with a 16-25 Railcard ('Y-P') discount.]]
 +
[[Image:Nr_sleeper_reservation.jpg|thumb|250px|A typical National Rail ''reservation coupon'', in this case the paid standard class supplement required for a berth in the Glasgow to London sleeper (there is no charge for a seat reservation on a day time train). The reserved bed is in coach N, berth 23L. Printed on the same format of card as a ticket, no reservation is valid without an accompanying ticket.]]
 +
An achievement of British Rail which is still in place today is that you can purchase a through-ticket from any station in Great Britain to any other station, including whatever changes of train, operating companies or even London Underground connections are needed. It must be noted however that whilst individual companies may offer very cheap tickets for their own services, a through ticket using different companies' trains may often be very expensive even for the same journey. The British often travel with several tickets using different companies to avoid the high "one ticket" fare.
  
The most widely used system of discounts on National Rail are Railcards. These provide a discount of 1/3 off nearly any off-peak ticket (although a minimum fare is charged for short journeys below a certain ticket price). Railcards can be purchased from any station ticket office (after completing a form and providing of proof of eligibility and a photograph) or online from http://www.railcard.co.uk/. Although these are primarily intended for British citizens, the discounts offered makes them useful for visitors to Britain who plan to travel a lot by train.  
+
Please note that some tickets are only valid for travel with a particular train operator, when this is the case it will explicitly state this on the ticket. Tickets should be purchased at the station ticket office or at a ticket machines, although smaller stations may have no ticket office and very minor ones will not have a machine. Alternatively, more and more travellers are buying from one of the train company's websites, all of which have a journey planner and sell tickets for all services and not just their own.
  
* '''16-25 Railcard''' offers a discount of 1/3 on most tickets for anyone aged 16 to 25 and full time students of any age. Currently costs £24 per year.
+
It is also possible to buy a ticket from the conductor on many lines if there is no ticket office or machine at the boarding station, but check before you travel as some places operate penalty fares.  
  
* '''Family & Friends Railcard''' offers a discount of of 1/3 on adult fares and 60% on child fares. Up to four adults and four children can travel on one Family & Friends Railcard. At least one named cardholder and one child must be travelling together for the whole journey. Currently costs £24 per year.
+
'''A ticket does not guarantee a seat unless you also have a seat reservation'''. Depending on ticket type and train company, this may come automatically with the ticket or you may be asked if you wish to reserve a seat – ask if you are unsure. Some trains (mostly local and commuter services) do not permit seat reservations. If you have no seat reservation, you may have to stand if the train is busy.
  
* '''Senior Railcard''' Offers a discount of 1/3 on most tickets for anyone aged 60 or over. Currently costs £24 per year.
+
The best deals are more easily found on the internet directly from rail company sites. Advanced tickets are available from ticket offices but there is no guarantee that the ticket clerk will get you the best deal or have the knowledge to do so. '''Visitors from overseas, booking via the Internet, may worry that they must have the actual tickets sent by post as there are virtually no companies who will accept 'print yourself' tickets.''' There is no need to worry when purchasing your tickets online, simply check the box which says you will collect your tickets from a self-service station ticket machine (it will suggest a station for you). Note down the unique reference number from your online confirmation. Then, simply go to the station ticket machine at any time from two hours after you have successfully purchased your tickets online and press the screen button "collect prepaid tickets", or a similar option. It will then ask you to insert the card with which you purchased the tickets online – you won't be charged twice. Then enter the unique reference number and the machine will print your ticket.
  
* '''Network Railcard''' An unusual relic of the pre-privatisation British Rail era: it is a geographically specific railcard that relates to the now obsolete 'Network SouthEast', the British Rail brand for the region of trains that radiate from London and the south east of England. It offers a discount of 1/3 on most tickets for the cardholder and up to three other adults(restrictions apply Monday to Friday) and up to four children, aged 5 to 15 can save 60% on the child fare. Costs £20 a year.
+
It is best to get your tickets by this means well before you travel, just in case if everything goes terribly wrong or the ticket machine is out of order. In these cases the train staff should allow you to get your tickets at your destination or transfer point.
  
* '''Disabled Persons Railcard''' Offers a discount of 1/3 to eligible disabled or mobility restricted passengers. Currently costs £18 for one year or £48 for three years.
+
===Classes of travel===
  
* '''HM Forces Railcard''' A similar 1/3 discount available to serving members of the British armed forces and their families. It can only be obtained from military facilities and cannot be purchased at a station.
+
[[Image:Set No 3 C TS 42290 Half Internal.JPG|thumb|250px|Standard class interior of a refurbished ''InterCity 125'', operated by CrossCountry.]]
 +
[[Image:Virgin Trains Super Voyager 1st Class.jpg|thumb|250px|First class interior of Class 221 ''Super Voyager'', operated by Virgin Trains.]]
 +
In the United Kingdom, there are two different types of ticket classes in operation:
 +
*'''Standard class''' (formerly called second class and referred to as ''coach class'' in the United States) accommodation has two seats either side of the aisle with a mix of facing table or more private airline-style seats on inter-city and many regional services, or five seats and an aisle in 2+3 rows without tables on commuter services.
 +
*'''First class''' accommodation has two seats and one seat either side of the aisle on inter-city services, or two seats either side of the aisle on commuter services, with larger seats and more legroom. On inter-city routes an at-seat service of drinks, refreshments and a newspaper are also available (not all at seat services are available at the weekend).
  
====Season tickets====
+
Unlike in the rest of Europe, first class travel is not considered by most non-business users as a treat worth taking as it is usually incredibly expensive and offers little value for money compared to standard class. Certain companies, however, offer special deals where at certain (off-peak) times first class travel is available for a small supplement.
  
{{infobox|Britain's most overcrowded train|The popularity of train travel in the UK has been soaring in recent years. If you plan to explore Britain by rail, it's worth noting that some parts of network - mostly commuter services around big cities - suffer from overcrowding. In response to a request for information under the 'Freedom of Information' Act in 2008, the government's Department for Transport released data [http://www.dft.gov.uk/foi/responses/2008/aug/foiresponsedespatch/congestiondata.pdf] that listed the most overcrowded trains in the country. They were - with actual passenger numbers, official capacity and percentage over capacity. It must be noted that capacity does not just mean the seats but an agreed "comfortable-standing" level. Thus a figure of 176% means that the train has all its seats full and its allowed standing quota plus on top of that 76% more passengers than that total. A carriage designed to seat 76 passengers and have twelve standing quota will (at be 176% occupancy) be crammed with some 155 people :
+
Many commuter trains and some local services offer standard class only. On commuter and local trains where first class travel is available, they only provide larger seating in a separate compartment and no refreshments or newspapers are provided.
  
# 07:15 Cambridge - London King's Cross: 870 (494, 176%)
+
In both classes, most trains also provide:
# 08:02 Woking - London Waterloo: 865 (492, 176%)
+
# 07:45 Cambridge - London King's Cross: 812 (494, 164%)
+
# 17:45 London King's Cross - King's Lynn: 808 (494, 164%)
+
# 08:22 Oxford - London Paddington: 482 (304, 159%)
+
  
Note that these are all commuter services. Planning journeys outside the rush hours (06:00 - 09:30 & 16:00 - 19:00) can make tickets cheaper and journeys significantly more comfortable.}}
+
*Free seat reservations (not commuter or local services), indicated by a paper tag or electronic display above each seat
 +
*A walk-up buffet or a trolley service of drinks and refreshments moving through the train
 +
*Air conditioning (not commuter or local services)
 +
*At least one carriage with a fully disabled-accessible toilet and baby changing facilities
 +
*On inter-city services, a wireless internet service (a charge may apply)
 +
*Most inter-city trains provide a Quiet Coach where use of mobile phones, conversations, and any other noise is not permitted. These can be found on trains operated by Virgin Trains East Coast, East Midlands Trains, CrossCountry, Virgin Trains (West Coast Mainline), Great Western Railway and Greater Anglia's inter-city services.
 +
 
 +
===Peak and off-peak travelling===
 +
 
 +
''Peak times'' (rush hour) usually begin from the first weekday morning services until 9.30am, and ''off-peak times'' cover weekdays after 9.30am and all day weekends and public holidays, although some companies around London also have a weekday afternoon peak (15:00-18:45). Services are much more expensive during peak times so travellers must choose the time of their journey very carefully, even for short spur of the moment trips. Wait until after 9.30am and your ticket price (if a "day return" is purchased) will be considerably lower. The difference can be as dramatic as £20.00 return (peak) to £4 (off-peak).
 +
 
 +
There can be exceptions for when off-peak tickets aren't valid, which vary by train company – if so these will usually be explained by posters at the station or the train company's website. If you are in any doubt about the validity of an off-peak ticket, ask a member of staff at the station or a ticket office before getting on a train as ticket inspectors on board the train can be unforgiving.
 +
 
 +
There are also ''super off-peak'' tickets available which are even cheaper than standard off-peak tickets but carry stricter restrictions over when you can travel, even when travelling on weekends. The validity times vary depending on the train operator so it is a good idea to check before you book.
 +
 
 +
===Ticket types===
 +
 
 +
Tickets are sold in three types. You can usually book up to three months in advance and the further in advance you book the less expensive tickets are, but booking just three days in advance can still produce huge discounts. You can choose between flexibility (generally incredibly expensive) and value (less or no flexibility), similar to an airline ticket.
 +
 
 +
In increasing order of cost, tickets are classed as:
 +
 
 +
*'''Advance''' – these are the cheapest tickets. You must buy in advance (latest is 18:00 the day before, but most will have sold out by then), travel on a specific train only which will usually be off-peak, and they are available in limited numbers. Making a change of travel plan may involve an administration fee.
 +
*'''Off-Peak''' – buy any time, must travel at off-peak times, ticket is more expensive than an Advance ticket. Change in travel plans are possible.
 +
*'''Anytime''' – buy any time, travel any time. This is the most expensive ticket available. Change in travel plans are easily made, plus you can just travel any time you like.
 +
*'''(Cheap) Day Return''' – for shorter journeys. Travel after 9am (or 9.30am for some areas/companies) and return the same day usually with no restrictions, or at any time on Saturdays and Sundays. A day return ticket is the ticket of choice for day trips, shopping etc. especially at the weekend. These are generally only purchased on the day; they can be purchased on the train only if there is no open ticket office at your starting station. Be warned that ticket conductors will rarely ask whether you want a Day Return, a single will be issued unless you specifically ask for a day return. Unusually, in rare occasions a single ticket can sometimes be more expensive than a Day Return.
 +
 
 +
Advance tickets are only sold as single (one-way) tickets. To make a return journey, simply purchase two singles. Off-Peak and Anytime tickets are available as single or return. With the exception of some suburban and commuter trains, the cheapest fares are almost always Advance tickets. These are released for sale in limited numbers approximately 12 weeks in advance, and can only be used on the train specified on the reservation. If you travel on any other train or the wrong train, you will be charged an expensive full-price ticket or a penalty fare – which you'll either have to pay on the spot or within 21 days. To check how far ahead Advance tickets are available, visit [http://www.nationalrail.co.uk/times_fares/booking_horizons.html National Rail's "Booking Horizons" page]. If you have not booked in advance then you can still buy an affordable short-distance trip on the day of travel, but if you try to buy longer-distance tickets on the day (e.g. London-Scotland) then the ticket price will almost certainly be considerably higher than an Advance ticket.
 +
 
 +
When purchasing a less restricted off-peak or anytime ticket, note that '''return fares are usually only a small amount more than, or occasionally even cheaper than a single ticket'''. You must ask for the cheapest ticket and check if the return is cheaper. The ticket sellers will not help you as their job is to try to sell the highest priced tickets for their employers, do not rely on them to help you obtain the best deal.
 +
 
 +
===Discounts===
 +
 
 +
Discounts are available for:
 +
 
 +
*Children – up to the age of 15
 +
*Small Groups – of between 3 and 9 people
 +
*Large Groups – 10 or more people
 +
*Railcards – discount cards for certain groups
 +
*Regional Railcards – offering discounts within a specific region
 +
 
 +
====Railcards====
 +
 
 +
The most widely used system of discounts on National Rail are Railcards. These provide a discount of 1/3 off nearly any off-peak ticket, although a minimum fare is charged for short journeys below a certain ticket price. Railcards can be purchased from any station ticket office upon completing a form and providing of proof of eligibility and a photograph, or online from http://www.railcard.co.uk/. Although these are primarily intended for British citizens, the discounts offered makes them useful for visitors to Britain who plan to travel a lot by train.
 +
 
 +
*'''16-25 Railcard''' offers a discount of 1/3 on most tickets for anyone aged 16 to 25 and full time students of any age. Currently costs £30 per year.
 +
*'''Family & Friends Railcard''' offers a discount of of 1/3 on adult fares and 60% on child fares. Up to four adults and four children can travel on one Family & Friends Railcard. At least one named cardholder and one child must be travelling together for the whole journey. Currently costs £30 per year.
 +
*'''Two Together Railcard''' offers a discount of of 1/3 on most adult fares for two named people travelling together. Currently costs £30 per year.
 +
*'''Senior Railcard''' Offers a discount of 1/3 on most tickets for anyone aged 60 or over. Currently costs £30 per year.
 +
*'''Network Railcard''' An unusual relic of the pre-privatisation British Rail era: it is a geographically specific railcard that relates to the now defunct ''Network SouthEast'', the British Rail brand for the region of trains that radiate from London and the south east of England. It offers a discount of 1/3 on most tickets for the cardholder and up to three other adults (restrictions apply Monday to Friday) and up to four children, aged 5 to 15 can save 60% on the child fare. Costs £30 a year.
 +
*'''Disabled Persons Railcard''' Offers a discount of 1/3 to eligible disabled or mobility restricted passengers. Currently costs £20 for one year or £54 for three years.
 +
*'''HM Forces Railcard''' A similar 1/3 discount available to serving members of the British armed forces and their families. It can only be obtained from military facilities and cannot be purchased at a station.
 +
 
 +
====Season tickets====
  
Commuters who use the train every day for travelling to and from work can make savings similar to those offered by a railcard (but at any time of day) by purchasing a season ticket. These are available from staffed ticket offices and ticket machines for a fixed route between any two stations you specify. Periods available vary from 7 days to 12 months. The National Rail website has a Season Ticket calculator [http://ojp.nationalrail.co.uk/en/pj/sts].  
+
Commuters who use the train every day for travelling to and from work can make savings similar to those offered by a railcard (but at any time of day) by purchasing a season ticket. These are available from staffed ticket offices and ticket machines for a fixed route between any two stations you specify. Periods available vary from 7 days to 12 months. National Rail has a Season Ticket calculator, which can be found on the [http://ojp.nationalrail.co.uk/en/pj/sts National Rail Enquiries website].
  
====Rail passes====
+
====Visitor rail passes====
  
 
There are two principal types of rail pass available to visitors to the UK which permit inclusive rail travel throughout the UK. Supplements are normally payable for Eurostar (international) and sleeper trains.
 
There are two principal types of rail pass available to visitors to the UK which permit inclusive rail travel throughout the UK. Supplements are normally payable for Eurostar (international) and sleeper trains.
  
* '''InterRail''' and '''Eurail''' are passes for EU and non-EU residents respectively. See [http://wikitravel.org/en/Interrail#Passes] for more information.
+
*'''InterRail''' and '''Eurail''' are passes for EU and non-EU residents respectively. See [[Interrail]] for more information.
* '''Britrail''' [http://www.britrail.com/] [http://www.britainontrack.com/] is primarily targeted at visitors from the United States of America, Canada, Australia and New Zealand, and must be purchased online or in your home nation before you depart for the UK.
+
*'''[http://www.britrail.com/ Britrail]''' is primarily targeted at visitors from the United States of America, Canada, Australia and New Zealand, and must be purchased online or in your home nation before you depart for the UK.
  
====Ranger & Rover tickets====
+
====Ranger and Rover tickets====
  
A relic of the nationalised British Rail era, '''Ranger''' and '''Rover''' tickets are tickets that permit unlimited travel with relatively few restrictions over a defined geographical area for a period of anything from one to fourteen days. There are numerous regions available, with a full list of tickets (with their terms and conditions) on National Rail's page [http://nationalrail.co.uk/times_fares/promotions/rangers_and_rovers.html]. These tickets include Rovers for almost every region of the UK, but notable tickets include:
+
A relic of the nationalised British Rail era, '''Ranger''' and '''Rover''' tickets are tickets that permit unlimited travel with relatively few restrictions over a defined geographical area for a period of anything from one to fourteen days. There are numerous regions available, with a full list of tickets with their terms and conditions on [http://nationalrail.co.uk/times_fares/promotions/rangers_and_rovers.html National Rail's page]. These tickets include Rovers for almost every region of the UK, but notable tickets include:
  
* '''All Line Rover''' - These national Rovers allow 7 or 14 days travel on almost all scheduled rail services throughout England, Scotland and Wales. As of May 2012, they cost £450 (7 days)or £680 (14 days) for standard class, and £680 (7 days) or £1040 (14 days) for 1st class, with discounts for children and railcard holders.
+
*'''All Line Rover''' – these national Rovers allow 7 or 14 days travel on almost all scheduled rail services throughout England, Scotland and Wales. As of September 2016, they cost £483 (7 days) or £731 (14 days) for standard class, and £731 (7 days) or £1117 (14 days) for 1st class, with discounts for children and railcard holders.
* '''Freedom of Scotland Travelpass: 4 days in 8 or 8 days in 15''' - £129 and £173 respectively, with concessions for children and railcard holders.
+
*'''Spirit of Scotland Travelpass''' – 4 days in 8 for £134, with concessions for children and railcard holders.
  
 
====Ticket add-ons====
 
====Ticket add-ons====
  
* '''PlusBus''' allows you to add a day's unlimited bus and tram travel in your destination city. PlusBus costs between £1.60 and £3.50, depending on your destination, but you must buy the PlusBus ticket with your train ticket before you board the train. Several operators now allow you to buy PlusBus from their site. You can also book by phone or by going to a major station.  
+
*'''Cross-London transfers''' where a journey involves crossing London – for example a journey between Brighton and Edinburgh would require you to change between Victoria and King's Cross stations in London to connect with the onward train – the ticket will usually allow you to use the London Underground to make the transfer.  A plus (+) or dagger symbol next to the route (e.g. "+ Any Permitted") indicates if this is permissible. However you can only enter and leave the underground network once.
 
+
*'''PlusBus''' allows you to add a day's unlimited bus and tram travel in your destination city. PlusBus costs between £1.60 and £3.50, depending on your destination, but you must buy the PlusBus ticket with your train ticket before you board the train. Several operators now allow you to buy PlusBus from their site. You can also book by phone or by going to a major station.
* '''Weekend First''' upgrades allow the holder of a standard class ticket to upgrade to first class on Saturday and Sunday on certain long distance trains. The supplement is payable on the train to the conductor, subject to availability. Upgrades usually start at £10, but passengers should note that on many long distance trains there is no complimentary at-seat service in first class at the weekend.
+
*'''Weekend First''' upgrades allow the holder of a standard class ticket to upgrade to first class on Saturday and Sunday on certain long distance trains. The supplement is payable on the train to the conductor, subject to availability. Upgrades usually start at £10, but passengers should note that on many long distance trains there is no complimentary at-seat service in first class at the weekend.
  
 
==Using the train==
 
==Using the train==
 
The National Rail [http://www.nationalrail.co.uk/] website has an information page for every railway station in Britain, with details of access, facilities, ticket office opening hours and recommended connection times. The 'live' Departures & Arrivals screen for every station can also be viewed online, with up-to-the-minute train running information.
 
  
 
===At the station===
 
===At the station===
  
[[Image:Departure board at Kings Cross station.JPG|thumb|250px|Departure boards at London Kings Cross station. ]]
+
[[Image:Departure board at Kings Cross station.JPG|thumb|250px|Departure boards at London Kings Cross station.]]
If you are unfamiliar with your journey, arrive at the station with time to spare. Stations in Britain are often architecturally significant, so if you are early, take the time to look around. Most stations have electronic departure screens listing trains in order of departure, platform, any delay, stations called at and the train operating company. At small or rural stations without electronic displays, signs will indicate which platform to wait on for trains to your destination. Platforms may not be announced until a few minutes before the train is due to depart, and can sometimes change if the train is delayed. Listen for audio announcements. Many stations now use automated subway-style ticket barriers you insert your ticket which opens the barrier, and your ticket is returned. Platform staff are always in attendance with these barriers and can also advise where to stand if you are travelling with a bicycle.  
+
Most stations have electronic departure screens listing trains in order of departure, platform, any delay, stations called at and the train operating company. At small or rural stations without electronic displays, signs will indicate which platform to wait on for trains to your destination. Platforms may not be announced until a few minutes before the train is due to depart, and can sometimes change if the train is delayed so listen for audio announcements. Many stations now use automated subway-style ticket barriers you insert your ticket which opens the barrier, and your ticket is returned. Platform staff are always in attendance with these barriers and can also advise where to stand if you are travelling with a bicycle.
  
British trains do not have publicly announced numbers; they are identified at each station by their departure time (using the 24-hour clock) and destination (eg. "The 14:15 to Manchester Piccadilly"). Only a few carry names, such as ''"The Flying Scotsman"'' between London Kings Cross and [[Edinburgh]] and ''"The Northern Lights"'' between London Kings Cross and [[Aberdeen]].
+
British trains do not have publicly announced numbers as they are identified by their departure time (using the 24-hour clock) and destination, e.g. the "14:15 to Manchester Piccadilly". Only a few carry names, such as ''The Flying Scotsman'' between London Kings Cross and [[Edinburgh]] and ''The Northern Lights'' between London Kings Cross and [[Aberdeen]].
 +
 
 +
Many trains close their doors at approximately 30-60 seconds prior to the scheduled departure time so you should arrive at the station with enough time to spare, especially if you are unfamiliar with the journey. Stations in Britain are often architecturally significant, so if you are early, take the time to look around.
 +
 
 +
If you have bought an advance ticket only valid on one specific train or series of trains then it is essential that you stick to this, otherwise you may be fined just as if you had no ticket at all.
  
 
===Boarding the train===
 
===Boarding the train===
  
If you have a seat reservation, watch the outside of the train as it arrives for your coach number (some major stations will have signs on the platform telling you where to wait). Coach A is not necessarily at the front of the train, and some letters may not be included. Most trains have power-operated doors, however you must press a button to open it, and they close automatically when the train leaves. If the weather is cold and you are the last person to board, it is polite to press the 'close door' button to prevent cold weather coming in. On older trains with manual doors (particularly sleeper carriages and ''InterCity 125'' trains), you open the door from the outside by pulling the handle downwards and pulling the door open. Close the door behind you and make sure it shuts properly (the handle will return to a horizontal position). When getting off, slide down the window and open the door with the external handle (having no internal handle is a safety feature aimed to prevent doors being opened with the train moving).
+
If you have a seat reservation then watch the outside of the train as it arrives for your coach number, some major stations will have signs on the platform telling you where to wait. Coach A may be at the front or back of the train depending on the direction of travel, and some letters may not be included.
 +
 
 +
Most trains have power-operated doors however you must press a button to open it, and they close automatically when the train leaves. If the weather is cold and you are the last person to board, it is polite to close the door to prevent cold weather coming in. On older trains with manual doors, particularly sleeper carriages and ''InterCity 125'' trains, you open the door from the outside by pulling the handle downwards and pulling the door open. Close the door behind you and make sure it shuts properly the handle will return to a horizontal position once it has closed. When departing the train, slide down the window and open the door with the external handle (having no internal handle is a safety feature aimed to prevent doors being opened with the train moving).
 +
 
 +
===Finding your seat===
  
===Finding your Seat===
 
 
[[Image:221129 C Super Voyager Standard Class Internal.JPG|thumb|right|250px|Standard-class interior of Class 221 ''Super Voyager'' operated by CrossCountry. On this train, seat reservations appear on the display above each pair of seats. Others may use paper tags inserted into each headrest.]]
 
[[Image:221129 C Super Voyager Standard Class Internal.JPG|thumb|right|250px|Standard-class interior of Class 221 ''Super Voyager'' operated by CrossCountry. On this train, seat reservations appear on the display above each pair of seats. Others may use paper tags inserted into each headrest.]]
Seat reservations are marked either with paper tags on the headrest or an electronic display above the window, as well as on your reservation ticket. Usually not all seats are reserved unless the train is very busy - if a seat has no tag, it is unreserved and any ticket-holder can sit there. However, remember that unless you also have a seat reservation, '''your ticket does not guarantee you a seat'''. The reservation tag or display at each seat will specify the stations between which the seat is reserved (e.g. "DUNDEE - YORK"). If you do not have a reservation and all the seats appear to be reserved, look for one where the reservation starts at a station the train has not reached yet (and be prepared to move seats when it reaches there), or where the reservation ends at a station already called at.  
+
Seat reservations are marked either with paper tags on the headrest or an electronic display above the window, as well as on your reservation ticket. Usually not all seats are reserved unless the train is very busy if a seat has no tag, it is unreserved and any ticket-holder can sit there. However, remember that unless you also have a seat reservation your ticket does not guarantee you a seat. The reservation tag or display at each seat will specify the stations between which the seat is reserved, e.g. "DUNDEE–YORK". If you do not have a reservation and all the seats appear to be reserved then look for one where the reservation ends at a station already called at, or where the reservation starts at a station the train has not yet reached (and be prepared to move seats when it reaches there).  
  
Keep your ticket and any reservation, pass and/or railcard with you when you move about the train (e.g. to go to the toilet or buffet car), as you may be asked to show it by the train guard or ticket inspector. It is also likely that you will need it to exit the platform at your destination station, because subway-style ticket barriers are in use at many stations. If you cannot find your ticket at one of these, you will be in big trouble and liable to a hefty penalty plus the cost of a new full ticket. '''So don't throw away your ticket!'''
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Keep your ticket and any reservation, pass and/or railcard with you wherever you are on the train, as you may be asked to show it to the train guard or ticket inspector. It is also likely that you will need it to exit the platform at your destination station, because subway-style ticket barriers are in use at many stations. If you approach an exit barrier and you cannot find your ticket then you will be liable to a hefty penalty fine plus the cost of the train fare. '''So don't throw away your ticket!'''
  
Station stops are normally announced over the public address system or on scrolling electronic displays in the carriage.
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===Travelling with luggage===
  
===Travelling with Luggage===
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Different trains vary in how much luggage space they provide. Most trains have overhead racks suitable for small items like a small rucksack, briefcase, laptop bag, or other small luggage. Inter-city and regional trains have luggage racks suitable for larger suitcases. However, these luggage racks can fill up quickly and on long-distance services there is usually not enough space for everyone so you should board the train as early as you can to get a space. If there is no space in the racks and rearranging the items there doesn't help then you may have to squeeze your luggage into any space you can find. This may be in the vestibule space and the ends of each carriage. Train staff do not tolerate luggage blocking aisles and doorways (this is dangerous in an emergency) and in extreme cases if it is an obstruction it may simply be dumped on the platform at the next stop. Theft of unattended luggage can be an issue so keep a close eye on yours.
  
Different trains vary in how much luggage space they provide. Nearly all trains (including all inter-city ones) have overhead racks suitable for small items like a small rucksack, briefcase, laptop bag, or other small luggage. Inter-city and regional trains have luggage racks suitable for larger suitcases. However, these '''luggage racks fill up quickly''' and on long-distance services there is usually not enough space for everyone, so '''board the train as early as you can to get a space'''. If you cannot get a space in the racks, and re-arranging the items there doesn't help, you may have to squeeze your luggage into any space you can find. This may be in the vestibule space and the ends of each carriage. Train staff do not tolerate luggage blocking aisles and doorways (this is dangerous in an emergency) and in extreme cases if it is an obstruction it may simply be dumped on the platform at the next stop. Theft of unattended luggage can be an issue so keep a close eye on yours.
+
You should never leave your luggage unattended at a station, particularly larger ones serving major cities. Doing so could risk a major security alert and may even result in your bags being destroyed by the British Transport Police's bomb disposal team. If you have lost your luggage at a station then speak to a member of staff, at major stations your bag may have been handed in to the left luggage office which can be returned for a fee. Any luggage that has become lost onboard a train is held by the train company running the service, so you should contact them for assistance.
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===Smoking and alcohol===
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Smoking is illegal on board trains in Great Britain (and in fact in any enclosed public place as part of the British smoking ban laws) and trains are fitted with smoke alarms, including in toilets. If you are seen smoking, train staff will arrange for the British Transport Police to wait for you at the next station, where you will be taken into custody. Note that smoking is also illegal on station platforms in England and Wales, although at smaller or rural stations it is generally ignored if you smoke in the open air as far as possible from the main waiting area.
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Alcohol in open containers (i.e. opened cans or bottles, not stowed out of sight) is not permitted on any station, but it is on board trains. Be careful, as although this rule is only enforced at major stations you will have the drink confiscated and you are liable to a hefty fine. However, in Scotland on trains operated by ScotRail from 20th July 2012, it is illegal to be in possession of alcohol or consume alcohol after 9pm or before 10am in the morning. This ruling does not apply to the Caledonian Sleeper service. It is also illegal to travel on a train while drunk. This is part of a Scottish Government crackdown on alcohol-fueled anti-social behaviour. Passengers seen with alcohol during these times or who appear to be drunk at any time are liable to be arrested by British Transport Police officers at the next station. In the United Kingdom alcohol may be consumed in public and purchased by anyone of 18 years or over.
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 +
===Catering===
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Food is served on most regional and nearly all inter-city trains. At a basic level it may take the form of a trolley service with light snacks, hot and cold drinks and perhaps some alcoholic drinks. Inter-city trains (except for CrossCountry services) often have a buffet counter, which may be termed the "buffet car", "shop" or "café bar" depending on the train operator. These serve all of the above, but may also offer hot food. A limited number of trains on the London-Swansea and London-Plymouth routes still offer restaurant cars which are open to both first class and standard class passengers for breakfast, lunch and dinner. First class on inter-city trains often features an attendant service of complimentary drinks and snacks, and sometimes hot food is included.
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 +
Quality has been improving in recent years but you will probably not get a full meal as the choice is limited, and the cost is higher than off-train services. If you wish to save money you should buy food before you board the train (not at the station as food at the cafés there can be quite pricey), and bring it with you onto the train.
  
 
==Stations==
 
==Stations==
  
 
[[Image:St_pancras_international.jpg|thumb|250px|[[London]] St. Pancras International, the UK terminus of the Eurostar high speed train, and domestic terminus for inter-city trains north to [[Leicester]], [[Nottingham]] and [[Sheffield]] and high-speed trains south to [[Kent]].]]
 
[[Image:St_pancras_international.jpg|thumb|250px|[[London]] St. Pancras International, the UK terminus of the Eurostar high speed train, and domestic terminus for inter-city trains north to [[Leicester]], [[Nottingham]] and [[Sheffield]] and high-speed trains south to [[Kent]].]]
There are approximately 2,600 railway stations throughout the UK, excluding urban rapid transit systems like the London Underground, Glasgow Subway, Tyne and Wear Metro and the Docklands Light Railway. All stations belong to  the state-owned Network Rail, who also manage day-to-day operation of the major stations (which comprises almost all of the central London terminals and those in major cities - such as Birmingham New Street or Edinburgh Waverley). Others are leased to the train operating company running most of the services there, who are responsible for the operation, upkeep and staffing of the station. Stations vary in their facilities (see information on the National Rail website) but you are likely to have difficulty finding a rubbish bin/trash can at major stations due to the risk of terrorism.  
+
There are approximately 2,600 railway stations throughout the UK, excluding urban rapid transit systems like the London Underground, Glasgow Subway, Tyne and Wear Metro and the Docklands Light Railway. All mainline stations are owned by the state-owned Network Rail, who also manage major stations such as most of the central London terminals and those in major cities like Birmingham New Street or Edinburgh Waverley. Others are leased to train operating companies, who are responsible for the operation and staffing of the station. Stations vary in their facilities but you are likely to have difficulty finding waste bins at major stations due to the risk of terrorism.
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Most stations are located in the centre of their respective town or city, or within walking distance. However, a station ending in ''Parkway'' (e.g. Bristol Parkway, East Midlands Parkway) means it is located far from the city centre, often in a distant suburb or even in the middle of nowhere. Usually there is a large car park so commuters can drive to it and then take the train to the city centre. However, parkway stations often provide a connecting bus service to an onward destination such as those which run from Luton Airport Parkway to Luton Airport. Another common idiosyncrasy is that some towns have two separate stations on completely unconnected routes – a remnant of the network's early days of development when feuding rival companies built duplicate routes to compete with each other.
  
Most stations are located in the centre of their respective town or city, or within walking distance. However, a station ending in '''Parkway''' (e.g. Bristol Parkway, East Midlands Parkway) means it is located far from the city/town centre, often in a distant suburb or even in the middle of nowhere. Usually there is a large car park so commuters can drive to it and then take the train to the city centre. Do not get off at a Parkway station if your destination is the city centre - for example, you would get off at Bristol Temple Meads and not Bristol Parkway. An exception is if you are connecting to a bus service to an onward destination. For example, shuttle buses run from Luton Airport Parkway to Luton Airport. Another common idosyncracy is that some towns have two separate stations on completely unconnected routes - a trait of the network's early development when feuding rival companies competed to build duplicate routes, and something the Beeching reforms of the 1960s often didn't (or couldn't) resolve - the best example of this being London's massive St. Pancras and King's Cross stations which were built side-by-side by two competing Victorian railway companies literally trying to out-do each other.
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Travellers should be aware than many retail outlets at larger stations may charge higher prices than shops outside stations. There is no restriction regarding eating one's own food on a train, and you can save money by buying sandwiches and drinks beforehand outside of the railway station.
  
 
===Major stations of London===
 
===Major stations of London===
  
When making a journey that involves a connection between London stations, a through ticket will normally allow connecting travel on London Underground services. In the 19th century it was made illegal to build railway termini too close to the centre of London as it was thought this would put historic buildings at risk. As a result, most were built in a ring which at that time was just outside the centre, but following London's expansion in the 19th and 20th century, is very much within it. Bold type indicates a terminus station; most London stations are termini as only a few lines cross the capital.
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[[Image:Statue of John Betjeman looking up at St. Pancras.jpg|thumb|right|250px|Statue of poet Sir John Betjeman looking up at the roof of London St. Pancras station. You should too! British stations are often impressive works of Victorian architecture.]]
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London, being the hub of the entire network is unique in that it has 12 major termini – there is no single "London" station. This is because in the 19th century it was illegal to build stations too close to the centre of London as it was thought this would put historic buildings at risk. As a result most were built in a ring which at that time was just outside the centre, but following London's expansion in the 19th and 20th century, is very much within it. Because of this, many journeys from the south of England to the north and vice versa require going into London, transferring between two of these major stations using the London Underground and then going back out again. When making a journey that involves a connection between London stations, a through ticket will normally allow connecting travel on the Underground – almost all of the major stations (Fenchurch Street being the notable exception) are on at least one of the Underground lines.  
  
{|  
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There is currently only one main line rail service which actually goes across the centre of London – it is known as the ''Thameslink'' route and runs underground between St Pancras and London Bridge on a north-south axis, forming a much longer route linking Brighton to Bedford and crucially connects Luton and Gatwick airports to the capital. A second, east-west rail link across London known as ''Crossrail'' is under construction and is due to be fully completed by 2019, and will allow main line trains to cross from the City and the East End onto the Great Western route, calling at Heathrow Airport.
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The following is a list of the major stations of London, those in ''italics'' indicate a terminus station.
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{| style="width:100%"
 
|-
 
|-
 
| style="vertical-align:top;width:50%;" |
 
| style="vertical-align:top;width:50%;" |
* Blackfriars
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*Blackfriars
* '''Cannon Street'''
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*''Cannon Street''
* Clapham Junction
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*City Thameslink
* '''Charing Cross'''
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*Clapham Junction
* '''Euston'''
+
*''Charing Cross''
* East Croydon
+
*''Euston''
* '''Fenchurch Street'''
+
*East Croydon
* '''King's Cross'''
+
*''Fenchurch Street''
* '''Liverpool Street
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*''King's Cross''
* London Bridge
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*''Liverpool Street''
 
| style="vertical-align:top;width:50%;" |
 
| style="vertical-align:top;width:50%;" |
* '''Marylebone'''
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*''London Bridge'' (Southeastern and Thameslink services do not terminate)
* Moorgate
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*''Marylebone''
* '''Paddington'''
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*Moorgate
* '''St Pancras International''' (underground 'Thameslink' platforms not termini)
+
*''Paddington''
* Stratford
+
*''St Pancras International'' (Thameslink services do not terminate)
* '''Victoria'''
+
*Stratford
* '''Waterloo'''
+
*''Victoria''
* Waterloo East
+
*''Waterloo''
 +
*Waterloo East
 
|}
 
|}
  
 
===Major regional stations===
 
===Major regional stations===
  
Outside [[London]], National Rail [http://nationalrail.co.uk/stations_destinations/connections/] list the following as major connecting stations, where passengers most often need to change trains on multi-leg journeys.
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Outside London, National Rail lists the following as major connecting stations where passengers most often need to change trains on multi-leg journeys.
{|  
+
 
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{| style="width:100%"
 
|-
 
|-
 
| style="vertical-align:top;width:33%;" |
 
| style="vertical-align:top;width:33%;" |
 
* [[Ashford (England)|Ashford]] International
 
* [[Ashford (England)|Ashford]] International
* [[London/Barking_&_Dagenham|Barking]]
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* [[London/East|Barking]]
 
* [[Basingstoke]]
 
* [[Basingstoke]]
* [[Birmingham]] International
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* [[Birmingham]] International *
* [[Birmingham]] New Street
+
* [[Birmingham]] New Street *
 
* [[Brighton (England)|Brighton]]
 
* [[Brighton (England)|Brighton]]
 
* [[Bristol]] Parkway
 
* [[Bristol]] Parkway
* [[Bristol]] Temple Meads
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* [[Bristol]] Temple Meads  
 
* [[Cambridge]]
 
* [[Cambridge]]
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* [[Cardiff|Cardiff Central]] *
 
* [[Carlisle]]
 
* [[Carlisle]]
 
* [[Chester]]
 
* [[Chester]]
Line 351: Line 438:
 
* [[Derby]]
 
* [[Derby]]
 
* [[Doncaster]]
 
* [[Doncaster]]
* [[Edinburgh]]
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* [[Edinburgh]] Waverley
 
* [[Ely (England)|Ely]]
 
* [[Ely (England)|Ely]]
* [[Exeter]] St Davids
+
* [[Exeter]] St Davids *
 
* [[Gatwick]] Airport
 
* [[Gatwick]] Airport
 
| style="vertical-align:top;width:33%;" |
 
| style="vertical-align:top;width:33%;" |
Line 364: Line 451:
 
* [[Leeds]]
 
* [[Leeds]]
 
* [[Leicester]]
 
* [[Leicester]]
* [[Liverpool]] Lime Street
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* [[Liverpool]] Lime Street *
 
* [[Macclesfield]]
 
* [[Macclesfield]]
* [[Manchester]] Piccadilly
+
* [[Manchester]] Piccadilly *
 
* [[Milton Keynes]] Central
 
* [[Milton Keynes]] Central
* [[Newark (England)|Newark]] North Gate
+
* [[Newark (England)|Newark]] North Gate *
 
* [[Newcastle]]
 
* [[Newcastle]]
 
* [[Newport (Monmouthshire)|Newport]]
 
* [[Newport (Monmouthshire)|Newport]]
Line 375: Line 462:
 
* [[Nuneaton]]
 
* [[Nuneaton]]
 
* [[Kendal|Oxenholme Lake District]]
 
* [[Kendal|Oxenholme Lake District]]
* [[Oxford]]
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* [[Oxford]] *
 
* [[Peterborough]]
 
* [[Peterborough]]
 
* [[Preston]]
 
* [[Preston]]
Line 392: Line 479:
 
* [[Swansea]]
 
* [[Swansea]]
 
* [[Tonbridge]]
 
* [[Tonbridge]]
* [[Wakefield]] Westgate
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* [[Wakefield]] Westgate *
* [[Warrington]] Bank Quay
+
* [[Warrington]] Bank Quay *
 
* [[Watford]] Junction
 
* [[Watford]] Junction
* [[Wigan]] North Western
+
* [[Wigan]] North Western *
 
* [[Wimbledon]]
 
* [[Wimbledon]]
 
* [[Wrexham|Wrexham General]]
 
* [[Wrexham|Wrexham General]]
Line 403: Line 490:
 
|}
 
|}
  
==Trains and Rolling Stock==
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Towns/cities marked * have at least one other major rail station that is not listed above.
  
Most trains are modern, comfortable and accessible to people with disabilities. Following major investment in the past ten years, all are fairly new or have been comprehensively refurbished within that time. You won't see many traditional locomotives pulling passenger trains (unless you travel on one of the sleeper trains), as most services are now operated by multiple-units, or else the locomotive(s) is permanently integrated into a specially-designed train such as InterCity 125 or InterCity 225. With about one-third of track electrified, diesel trains are common (including on inter-city services) but the same top speeds are usually achieved regardless of power source. British trains have a class number but most refer to them by the name (e.g. "I was on one of those Pendolinos today"). This section gives an orientation to the trains you're most likely to need to use and what you can expect. There are more classes which are less common, particularly of electric multiple-unit trains on local and regional services.
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==Trains==
  
===Inter-city services===
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[[Image:InterCity 125 GNER Class 43 at Newark North Gate on 6th September 2007.JPG|thumb|200px|An ''InterCity 125'' (HST).]]
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[[Image:Tamworth railway station MMB 03 390XXX.jpg|thumb|right|200px|Class 390 ''Pendolino'' speeds through Tamworth station.]]
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[[Image:220011 Newton Abbot.JPG|thumb|right|200px|Class 220 ''Voyager'' at Newton Abbot station, operated by CrossCountry.]]
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Most trains are modern, comfortable and accessible to people with disabilities. Following major investment in the past ten years, all are fairly new or have been comprehensively refurbished within that time. You are unlikely to see many traditional locomotives pulling passenger trains as most services are now operated by multiple-units, or else the locomotive is part of a specially-designed train such as the ''InterCity 125'' or ''InterCity 225''. With about one-third of track electrified, diesel trains are common including on inter-city services, but the same top speeds are usually achieved regardless of power source.
  
Inter-city trains in the UK usually travel at 125mph and tend to have the most facilities, including wireless internet access, and often a buffet or even on-board shop. Some inter-city services (e.g. between cities in Scotland) use ''Turbostar'' trains which are described in the regional section below.  
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British train carriages are smaller compared with those of North America and most of Europe. The legroom on British trains is far superior to airlines or buses, but North American/European travellers will find the interior space of British trains very much smaller than even those of a subway/metro in their own countries. There are no reclining seats on any trains, except for sleeper services.
  
'''InterCity 125'''
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British train types all have a class number but most people refer to them by the name (e.g. ''"I was on one of those Pendolinos today"''). Inter-city trains in the UK usually travel at between 100-125mph and tend to have the most facilities, including wireless internet access and often a buffet or on-board shop. There are many different types of train in operation, but this section will give you a brief orientation to the trains you're likely to travel in, and what to expect.
  
[[Image:InterCity 125 GNER Class 43 at Newark North Gate on 6th September 2007.JPG|thumb|200px|''InterCity 125'' (HST).]]
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;'''''InterCity 125'''''
Also often known as "HST", ''InterCity 125'' are found frequently all over Great Britain on many train companies' long-distance and inter-city services, from northern Scotland to London and the far south-west of England, including East Coast services that go north of Edinburgh and most inter-city Great Western services, among others. One of British Rail's few major successes, they introduced 125mph (200km/h) diesel service in the late 1970s and set speed records for a diesel train. All are still in service today, primarily due to the excellent design. While you need to open the doors using a handle (there is no handle inside so to get off you slide down the window and reach out), all have been comprehensively renovated in the last few years and are basically all-new inside. They have more luggage storage than most, with a large rack and toilet at each end of the 8 or 9 carriages. All have a quiet coach and most also have plug-points for recharging laptops/mobile phones and a useful buffet car serving hot and cold food and beverages.
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:Also often known as "HST" (High Speed Train), ''InterCity 125''s are found frequently all over Great Britain on long distance and inter-city services. Introduced in 1976, they operate at speeds of up to 125mph (200km/h) and many are still in service today primarily due to the excellent design.While you need to open the doors using a handle, all have been comprehensively renovated in the last few years and are basically all-new inside. They have more luggage storage than most, with luggage racks and toilets at each end of the train. All have a quiet coach and most also have plug points for recharging laptops/mobile phones and a buffet car serving hot and cold food and beverages.
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;'''''InterCity 225'''''
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:If you travel on Virgin Trains East Coast's inter-city services between London Kings Cross and [[Leeds]] or [[Edinburgh]], you will likely be on one of these electric trains introduced in 1990. They were designed for 140mph (225km/h) but are limited to the line's speed limit of 125mph. They have recently been comprehensively refurbished and have power-operated doors, a buffet car, plug points, luggage racks and comfortable seats (many of which have large tables good for families or groups). Coach B is the Quiet Coach.
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;'''''Pendolino'''''
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:This is an electric inter-city tilting train operated by Virgin Trains on the West Coast Main Line between London Euston, north-west England and Glasgow. Introduced in the early 2000s, they travel at 125mph (200km/h) and tilt up to 8 degrees around corners. They have a small on-board shop selling magazines/newspapers, hot and cold snacks and beverages. Coach A is the Quiet Coach.
 +
;'''''Voyager'' and ''Super Voyager'''''
 +
:These are inter-city diesel trains introduced around 2001. Operated by CrossCountry and Virgin Trains, they usually have four or five carriages and travel at 125mph (200km/h). Each carriage has an engine under the floor so are not as quiet as some others. The overhead luggage racks are quite slim, thus there is not as much luggage space compared to some other trains. Virgin's ''Voyagers'' have a useful shop/buffet like on the ''Pendolino'' but CrossCountry units only have an irregular trolley service.
  
'''InterCity 225'''
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==Heritage and steam railways==
  
[[Image:GNER Class 91s at King's Cross.jpg|thumb|right|200px|Three ''InterCity 225'' trains at London Kings Cross]]If you travel on East Coast's inter-city services between London Kings Cross and [[Leeds]] or [[Edinburgh]], you will likely be on one of these electric trains introduced in 1990. They were designed for 140mph (225km/h) but the signalling was never completed so are limited to the line's speed limit of 125mph. All ''InterCity 225'' have recently been comprehensively refurbished and have power-operated doors, a buffet car with hot and cold food and drinks, plug-points and comfortable seats (many of which have large tables good for families or groups). Coach B is the Quiet Coach. There are big luggage racks similar to ''InterCity 125'', but they still fill up quickly so board as early as you can.
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{{infobox|Seeing Britain's railway heritage|If you are interested in the role railways have played in British society, railway heritage or just have a general interest in historic trains, a visit to the award-winning, free and family-friendly [http://www.nrm.org.uk '''National Railway Museum'''] at [[York]] is a must. Sited next to the station, it is the most popular national museum outside London and the many exhibits include the fastest-ever steam locomotive, ''Mallard'', Queen Victoria's royal train, and the original ''Flying Scotsman''.}}
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Following the large-scale line closures and withdrawal of steam locomotives in the 1960s, enthusiasts began to band together to re-open lines as tourist attractions, using surplus or historic steam locomotives and vintage rolling stock. You can visit literally dozens of these, all over Great Britain, and they are popular for a day out.
  
'''Pendolino'''
+
Some run full-size trains on standard gauge track while others run on narrow gauge systems. The [http://www.rhdr.org.uk/ Romney, Hythe & Dymchurch Railway] in Kent is an example of a miniature rail system operated by tiny steam locomotives.
  
[[Image:Tamworth railway station MMB 03 390XXX.jpg|thumb|right|200px|Class 390 ''Pendolino'' speeds through Tamworth]]The Class 390 ''Pendolino'' is an electric inter-city tilting train operated by Virgin Trains on the West Coast Main Line between London Euston, north-west England and Glasgow. Introduced in the early 2000s and using Italian tilt technology (hence the name), they travel at 125mph (200km/h; but like the InterCity 225, were designed for 140mph/225km/h), and tilt up to 8 degrees around corners. They have a small on-board shop selling magazines/newspapers, hot and cold snacks and beverages. Coach A is the Quiet Coach. In 2007, faulty track caused a ''Pendolino'' travelling at high speed to derail at Grayrigg in Cumbria. Only one person was killed, with the lack of a higher death toll attributed to the unit's crashworthiness. However, the heavily-reinforced body means not all seats have a window.
+
While most operate steam trains, some also use heritage diesel locomotives or diesel railcars. Of the many such heritage lines, prominent ones include:
  
'''Voyager and Super Voyager'''
+
*The '''[http://www.bluebell-railway.co.uk/ Bluebell Railway]''' runs for nine miles through Sussex, from the National Rail station at East Grinstead. It has over 30 steam locomotives and has operated a public service by steam for over 50 years. It has appeared frequently as a movie location.
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*The '''[http://www.svr.co.uk/ Severn Valley Railway]''' runs for 16 miles through Worcestershire and Shropshire in the west of England, starting at the National Rail station at Kidderminster. Originally part of the Great Western Railway, a variety of steam trains appear alongside a handful of classic diesel units.
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*The '''[http://ravenglass-railway.co.uk/ Ravenglass and Eskdale Railway]''' is a miniature railway in Cumbria, starting from Ravenglass station on the National Rail network. The track gauge is just 15 inches and locomotives are miniaturised versions of the full-size originals. it runs for seven miles through scenic hill country.
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*The '''[http://www.keith-dufftown-railway.co.uk/ Keith and Dufftown Railway]''' (also known as "The Whisky Line") runs for 11 miles through Moray and Speyside in Scotland using classic Scottish steam trains and diesel railcars. There are numerous whisky distilleries in the area which can be visited. The line begins in Keith which has a National Rail station.
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*The '''[http://www.festrail.co.uk/ Ffestiniog and Welsh Highland Railway]''' is a narrow-gauge railway in the Snowdonia National Park in north Wales. It is a popular attraction in the area and originally carried slate from the mines nearby to harbour for shipping, and also carried passengers (which are now the only thing carried). Both are record-holding railways; the Ffestiniog is the world's oldest narrow gauge railway at almost 200 years old and the Welsh Highland is the UK's longest heritage railway at 25 miles. Unusual double-ended steam locomotives are used along with other unusual rolling stock.
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*The '''[http://www.talyllyn.co.uk/ Talyllyn Railway]''' is the world's first heritage railway and features in the Railway Series children's books by Rev W Awdry (Thomas the Tank Engine creator) as the "Skarloey Railway". The railway is seven and a quarter miles long and runs through the Afon Fathew valley, North Wales.
 +
*The '''[http://www.nymr.co.uk/ North Yorkshire Moors Railway]''' is a railway in the [[Yorkshire Moors]] that runs 18 miles between [[Pickering]] and [[Whitby]], with common stops being Goathland (famous for playing "Aidensfield" in ''Heartbeat'') and Grosmont, possibly the most famous locomotive to run on the railway is the LNER A4 Pacific ''Sir Nigel Gresley''.
  
[[Image:220011 Newton Abbot.JPG|thumb|right|200px|Class 220 ''Voyager'' at Newton Abbot, operated by CrossCountry]]The Class 220 ''Voyager'' and Class 221 ''Super Voyager'' are inter-city diesel trains, introduced around 2001. Operated by CrossCountry and Virgin Trains, they usually have four or five carriages and travel at 125mph (200km/h). Each carriage has an engine under the floor so are not as quiet as some others. The overhead luggage racks are quite slim and there is not as much luggage rack space as some other trains. Virgin's ''Voyagers'' have a useful shop/buffet like on the ''Pendolino'' but CrossCountry units only have an irregular trolley service even though some cover very long distances (e.g. Aberdeen - Penzance). The Class 222 ''Meridian'' on East Midlands Trains services is very similar but does have a shop/buffet.
+
The most up-to-date list is on the [http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/List_of_British_heritage_and_private_railways Wikipedia article].
  
===Regional, local and commuter services===
+
It must be noted that heritage railway tickets are very expensive and it is almost always not practical to use these lines as a true transport solution. Furthermore all heritage railways are only open for part of the year, usually during the summer months and certain other times including school holidays and the Christmas season. They are exclusively tourist attractions, based on the company's/enthusiasts' conception of heritage.
 
+
 
+
 
+
'''Turbostar'''
+
 
+
[[Image:171802 at NRM 01 June 2004.jpg|thumb|right|150px|Class 171 ''Turbostar'' operated by Southern]] These are the most numerous diesel multiple-unit trains built in the UK since railway privatisation in the 1990s. They can travel at up to 100mph (160km/h - you'll hear the engine under the floor of each carriage) and are used all over Great Britain by many train companies, with the electric ''Electrostar'' version mostly seen in the South-East of England. Class 170 to 172 ''Turbostar'' trains operate local, regional and some inter-city services and usually have digital information displays and automated announcements. There is usually a trolley service but no buffet or plug-points. They have two to four coaches and are sometimes coupled together to make a longer train. [[Image:Class 377 Electrostar at Lancing.jpg|thumb|right|150px|Class 377 ''Electrostar'' operated by Southern]]
+
 
+
'''Electrostar'''
+
 
+
These are the electric version of the ''Turbostar'', and are similar inside. They were introduced in the past ten years to replace hoardes of elderly units in the south and south-east of England. Class 357, 375, 376 and 377 ''Electrostar'' trains operate regional and commuter services there and like ''Turbostar'' can reach 100mph (160km/h) but with faster acceleration (being electric). As with them, there is usually a trolley service but luggage space is not as much as an inter-city train.
+
 
+
 
+
 
+
 
+
'''Express Sprinter'''
+
 
+
[[Image:Scotrail Saltire Livery Class 158.jpg|thumb|right|200px|Class 158  ''Express Sprinter'' operated by ScotRail]]The Class 158 and 159 ''Express Sprinter'' was introduced around 1990 by British Rail and are designed for medium- and long-distance regional services. They can reach 90mph (140km/h) with a diesel engine under each carriage, and are used particularly by ScotRail and numerous other companies in the north, south-west and west of England. They were quite prestigious when introduced and the ride is quite smooth. They have overhead and end-of-carriage luggage racks but not as much as an inter-city train. Unlike the ''Turbostar'', the doors are at the end of each carriage so cold weather doesn't come in when stopped at a station.
+
 
+
 
+
 
+
'''Sprinter and SuperSprinter'''
+
 
+
[[Image:153307 and 155342 Knaresborough.JPG|thumb|right|150px|Class 153  ''SuperSprinter'' operated by Northern Rail]]
+
These classes form a family of diesel multiple-units introduced in the 1980s (the ''Express Sprinter'' is the final development of this family). Class 150 ''Sprinter'' trains are used for local services or rural lines, with Classes 153 to 156 ''SuperSprinter'' being more sophisticated, comfortable and suitable for longer routes (e.g. the scenic West Highland Line) and all reach 75mph (120km/h). They do not usually have air conditioning, but this is not a problem for much of the year in Britain anyway and they are designed for shorter-distance services.
+
 
+
'''Networker'''
+
 
+
[[Image:365518 B Peterborough.JPG|thumb|right|150px|Class 365 ''Networker'']]
+
These electric multiple-unit trains (classes 356, 465 and 466) were introduced in the early 1990s. Class 365 ''Networker'' operates services up to 100mph in the east of England (for First Capital Connect), with comfortable surroundings, air conditioning, etc. New upholstery has been installed recently. The others are used on local and commuter lines south of London and can reach 75mph (120km/h) using the third-rail, with higher-density seating and resilient floors rather than carpets. You may also find the diesel versions, Class 165 and 166 ''Network Turbo'', on services running west of London.
+
 
+
'''Desiro'''
+
 
+
[[Image:South West Trains EMU train 450 103 at Alton Station - geograph.org.uk - 1415710.jpg|thumb|right|200px|Class 450 ''Desiro'' at Alton, operated by South West Trains]]
+
Until recently, all rolling stock was built in the UK, but recently Siemens (of Germany) have been building large numbers of new trains which are then shipped across. Legions of various classes of Siemens ''Desiro'' are now used throughout the country on electrified lines (mostly in the Midlands around Birmingham and the south of England such as services to Hampshire), reaching up to 100mph (160km/h), and a slightly different-looking diesel variant is used on TransPennine Express services. They all tend to have very fast acceleration (you really will need to hold on tight if you're standing), plus air conditioning, carpets and electronic information systems.
+
 
+
'''Pacer'''
+
 
+
[[Image:Class 142 train emerges from tunnel at Oldham Werneth - geograph.org.uk - 1499204.jpg|thumb|right|200px|Class 142 ''Pacer'' at Oldham Werneth, operated by Northern Rail]]
+
The Class 142, 143 and 144 ''Pacer'' were designed in the 1980s to provide an economical alternative to locomotive-hauled trains on lightly-used and rural lines at up to 75mph (120km/h), rather than closing entire unprofitable lines. You'll see them often on local services, particularly in the north of England, and they may remind you of a bus. This is because much of the bodyshell uses bus components to save money and development time. Most ''Pacers'' have recently been refurbished and are much more comfortable inside than before, although more basic than others as they are designed for short-distance services.
+
 
+
==Heritage and Steam Railways==
+
 
+
{{infobox|Seeing Britain's railway heritage|If you are interested in the role railways have played in British society, railway heritage, or just historic trains, a visit to the award-winning, free (and family-friendly) [http://www.nrm.org.uk '''National Railway Museum'''] at [[York]] is a must. Sited next to the station, it is the most popular national museum outside London and the many exhibits include the fastest-ever steam locomotive, ''Mallard'', Queen Victoria's royal train, and the original ''Flying Scotsman''. }}Following the large-scale line closures and withdrawal of steam locomotives in the 1960s, enthusiasts began to band together to re-open lines as tourist attractions, using surplus or historic steam locomotives and vintage rolling stock. You can visit literally dozens of these, all over Great Britain, and they are popular for a day out. Some run full-size trains, others (such as the Ffestiniog Railway in Gwynedd, Wales) use a narrow gauge, while others (such as the Romney, Hythe & Dymchurch Railway in Kent) are complete miniature systems with tiny steam locomotives. The most up-to-date list is on the Wikipedia article [http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/List_of_British_heritage_and_private_railways]. While most operate steam trains, some also use heritage diesel locomotives or diesel railcars. Of the many such heritage lines, prominent ones include:
+
 
+
* The '''Bluebell Railway''' runs for nine miles through Sussex, from the National Rail station at East Grinstead. It has over 30 steam locomotives and has operated a public service by steam for over 50 years. It has appeared frequently as a movie location.
+
* The '''Severn Valley Railway''' runs for 16 miles through Worcestershire and Shropshire in the west of England, starting at the National Rail station at Kidderminster. Originally part of the Great Western Railway, a variety of steam trains appear alongside a handful of classic diesel units.
+
* The '''Ravenglass and Eskdale Railway''' is a miniature railway in Cumbria, starting from Ravenglass station on the National Rail network. The track gauge is just 15 inches and locomotives are miniaturised versions of the full-size originals. it runs for seven miles through scenic hill country.
+
* The '''Keith and Dufftown Railway''' (also known as "The Whisky Line") rune for 11 miles through Moray and Speyside in Scotland using classic Scottish steam trains and diesel railcars. There are numerous whisky distilleries in the area which can be visited. The line begins in Keith which has a National Rail station.
+
* The '''Ffestiniog Railway''' is a narrow-gauge railway in the Snowdonia National Park in north Wales. It is a popular attraction in the area and originally carried slate from the mines nearby to harbour for shipping, and also carried passengers (which are now the only thing carried). Unusual double-ended steam locomotives are used along with other unusual rolling stock.
+
  
 
==International connections==
 
==International connections==
Line 483: Line 537:
 
===Eurostar===
 
===Eurostar===
  
[[London]] St. Pancras is the terminus for '''Eurostar''' high-speed trains to [[Lille]], [[Brussels]], [[Paris]] and seasonal French destinations such as [[Avignon]] (Summer Service) and the [[Alps]] (Winter Service). Connections to many major European cities can be made in [[Lille]], [[Brussels]], [[Paris]], and through tickets are available from Eurostar [http://www.eurostar.com/], RailEurope [http://www.raileurope.co.uk/] and staffed ticket offices to European destinations.
+
London St. Pancras is the terminus for high-speed trains to [[Lille]], [[Brussels]], [[Paris]] and seasonal French destinations such as [[Avignon]] (summer service) and the [[Alps]] (winter service). Connections from these stations to many major European cities can be made, and through tickets are available from the train operator ''[http://www.eurostar.com/ Eurostar]'', booking portal ''[http://www.raileurope.co.uk/ RailEurope]'' and staffed ticket offices to European destinations.
  
===Airports with railway stations===
+
Note that it can often be much cheaper to buy (from London) an advanced ticket to Lille, Paris or Brussels then to travel onwards on a ticket purchased abroad, even on the day. Through tickets purchased in the UK to European destinations, whilst convenient, are nearly always more expensive. If you are travelling to the East of Europe then purchasing two or three tickets for each operator from the point of origin can be much better value than a single through ticket purchased in the UK.
  
* [[Aberdeen]] Dyce - (advertised only as 'Dyce')
+
In the future, Eurostar will also be operating direct services from London to [[Amsterdam]] which are scheduled to start by the end of 2016.
* [[Birmingham]] International
+
* East Midlands Parkway (also close to [[Derby]], [[Loughborough]] & [[Nottingham]]
+
* [[London]] City (on the Docklands Light Railway, part of London's urban transport system)
+
* [[London]] Gatwick
+
* [[London]] Heathrow (has three rail links to London: the fast and expensive Heathrow Express, the slower and cheaper Heathrow Connect, and the slowest and cheapest Piccadilly Line of the London Underground)
+
* [[London]] Luton
+
* [[London]] Stansted
+
* [[Manchester]]
+
* [[Prestwick]]
+
* [[Southampton]]
+
* Teeside Airport - However this is one of the least used rail stations on the UK network as it is a good 15 - 20 minutes walk from the airport, however there are plans to rebuild the station far closer to the airport.
+
  
Most airports without integrated rail services offer a bus connection to the nearest station.
+
===Airports with rail stations===
 +
 
 +
The below table gives a list of major airports in Britain, each with its nearest station and connections information where applicable. Most airports without integrated rail services offer a bus connection to the nearest station.
 +
 
 +
{| class="wikitable" style="width:100%"
 +
|-
 +
! style="width:10%" | City !! style="width:15%" | Airport !! style="width:20%" | Closest station !! style="width:55%" | Connection notes
 +
|-
 +
|[[Aberdeen]] || Aberdeen Airport || [http://www.nationalrail.co.uk/stations/DYC/details.html Dyce] || Dedicated [http://www.aberdeenairport.com/transport-and-directions/buses-and-coaches/ shuttle bus link] and taxi services
 +
|-
 +
|[[Birmingham]] || Birmingham Airport || [http://www.nationalrail.co.uk/stations/BHI/details.html Birmingham International] || Direct
 +
|-
 +
|[[Cardiff]] || Cardiff Airport || [http://www.nationalrail.co.uk/stations/RIA/details.html Rhoose Cardiff International Airport] || Dedicated [http://www.cardiff-airport.com/by-rail/ shuttle bus link] and taxi services
 +
|-
 +
|East Midlands || East Midlands Airport || [http://www.nationalrail.co.uk/stations/EMD/details.html East Midlands Parkway] || Dedicated [http://www.emarailink.co.uk/ shuttle mini-bus link] and taxi services
 +
|-
 +
|[[Edinburgh]] || Edinburgh Airport || Edinburgh Airport tram stop || Connected via ''Edinburgh Trams'', with interchanges to [http://www.nationalrail.co.uk/stations/HYM/details.html Haymarket] and [http://www.nationalrail.co.uk/stations/EDP/details.html Edinburgh Park] stations
 +
|-
 +
|[[Glasgow]] || Glasgow Airport ||  [http://www.nationalrail.co.uk/stations/PYG/details.html Paisley Gilmour Street] ||  Public bus link (route [http://www.mcgillsbuses.co.uk/mcgills-bus-timetables/757-paisley-to-glasgow-airport.aspx 757]) and taxi services
 +
|-
 +
|[[Liverpool]] || Liverpool John Lennon Airport || [http://www.nationalrail.co.uk/stations/LPY/details.html Liverpool South Parkway] || Public bus link (routes [https://www.arrivabus.co.uk/north-west/80-80a---liverpool-john-lennon-airport--speke-to-liverpool/?direction=outbound 80A] and [https://www.arrivabus.co.uk/north-west/86-86a-86d---liverpool-john-lennon-airport--garston-to-liverpool/?direction=outbound 86A]) and taxi services
 +
|-
 +
| rowspan="5" | [[London]] || London City Airport || London City Airport DLR station || Connected via the ''Docklands Light Railway''
 +
|-
 +
| Gatwick Airport || [http://www.nationalrail.co.uk/stations/GTW/details.html Gatwick Airport] || Direct
 +
|-
 +
| Heathrow Airport || [http://www.nationalrail.co.uk/stations/HXX/details.html Heathrow Central] and [http://www.nationalrail.co.uk/stations/HWV/details.html Heathrow Terminal 5] || Direct, with a choice of three rail links to London: the fast and expensive ''Heathrow Express'', the slower and cheaper ''Heathrow Connect'', and the slowest and cheapest Piccadilly Line of the ''London Underground''
 +
|-
 +
| Luton Airport || [http://www.nationalrail.co.uk/stations/LTN/details.html Luton Airport Parkway] || Frequent dedicated shuttle bus which can be included with the rail ticket
 +
|-
 +
| Stansted Airport || [http://www.nationalrail.co.uk/stations/SSD/details.html Stansted Airport] || Direct
 +
|-
 +
|[[Manchester]] || Manchester Airport || [http://www.nationalrail.co.uk/stations/MIA/details.html Manchester Airport] || Direct, also connected to the ''Manchester Metrolink'' tram system
 +
|-
 +
|[[Newcastle]] || Newcastle Airport || Newcastle Airport Metro station || Connected via the ''Tyne and Wear Metro''
 +
|-
 +
|[[Southampton]] || Southampton Airport || [http://www.nationalrail.co.uk/stations/SOA/details.html Southampton Airport Parkway] || Direct
 +
|-
 +
|[[Southend]] || Southend Airport || [http://www.nationalrail.co.uk/stations/SIA/details.html Southend Airport] || Direct
 +
|-
 +
|Teesside || Durham Tees Valley Airport || Teesside Airport || This station is one of the least used rail stations on the UK network, with only two services per week, and is a good 15-20 minutes walk from the airport, and it is therefore not recommended to use this station to reach the airport. It is therefore recommended that travellers take a bus or taxi from the nearby town of Darlington.
 +
|}
  
 
===Seaports with railway stations===
 
===Seaports with railway stations===
  
Through tickets are available from any UK railway station to any station in [[Northern Ireland]] or the [[Republic of Ireland]]. In the west of [[Scotland]], rail and ferry timetables are often integrated, and through tickets are available. For details of routes and fares, contact SailRail [http://www.sailrail.co.uk/] or National Rail [http://www.nationalrail.co.uk/].
+
Through tickets are available from any UK railway station to any station in [[Northern Ireland]] or the [[Republic of Ireland]]. In the west of [[Scotland]], rail and ferry timetables are often integrated and through tickets are available. For details of routes and fares, contact ''[http://www.sailrail.co.uk/ SailRail]'' or ''[http://www.nationalrail.co.uk/ National Rail]''.
  
* [[Ardrossan]] (Harbour Station - there are 3 stations in Ardrossan) for ferries to the [[Isle of Arran]]
+
{| class="wikitable" style="width:100%"
* [[Aberdeen]] for ferries to [[Orkney]] and [[Shetland]]
+
|-
* [[Dover]] for ferries to France
+
! Seaport !! Closest station !! For ferries to
* [[Fishguard]] for ferries to the [[Republic of Ireland]]
+
|-
* [[Fleetwood]] near [[Liverpool]] for ferries to [[Northern Ireland]]
+
|[[Ardrossan]] || [http://www.nationalrail.co.uk/stations_destinations/ADS.aspx Ardrossan Harbour] || [[Isle of Arran]] and [[Campbeltown]]
* [[Gourock]] for ferries to [[Dunoon]] and [[Kilcreggan]]
+
|-
* [[Harwich]] for ferries to the [[Netherlands]] and [[Denmark]]
+
|[[Aberdeen]] || [http://www.nationalrail.co.uk/stations/ABD/details.html Aberdeen] || [[Orkney]] and [[Shetland]]
* [[Helensburgh|Helensburgh Central]] for ferries to [[Dunoon]] and [[Kilcreggan]]
+
|-
* [[Heysham]] for ferries to the [[Isle of Man]]
+
|[[Dover]] || [http://www.nationalrail.co.uk/stations/DVP/details.html Dover Priory] || [[Calais]]
* [[Holyhead]] for ferries to the [[Republic of Ireland]]
+
|-
* [[Largs]] for ferries to [[Cumbrae]]
+
|[[Fishguard]] || [http://www.nationalrail.co.uk/stations/FGH/details.html Fishguard Harbour] || [[Republic of Ireland]]
* [[Lymington]] for ferries to the [[Isle of Wight]]
+
|-
* [[Mallaig]] for ferries to the [[Small Isles]] and [[Skye]]
+
|[[Gourock]] || [http://www.nationalrail.co.uk/stations/GRK/details.html Gourock] || [[Dunoon]] and [[Kilcreggan]]
* [[Oban]] for ferries to the [[Inner Hebrides|Inner]] and [[Outer Hebrides]]
+
|-
* [[Pembroke Dock]] for ferries to the [[Republic of Ireland]]
+
|[[Harwich]] || [http://www.nationalrail.co.uk/stations/HPQ/details.html Harwich International] || [[Netherlands]]
* [[Poole]] for ferries to [[Guernsey]] and [[Jersey]]
+
|-
* [[Portsmouth]] Harbour for ferries to the [[Isle of Wight]], [[France]] and [[Spain]]
+
|Heysham || [http://www.nationalrail.co.uk/stations/HHB/details.html Heysham Port] || [[Isle of Man]]
* [[Rosyth]] for ferries to [[Zeebrugge]], [[Belgium]]. Free shuttle bus from [[Inverkeithing]] station. Note that both the stations are nearly 2 miles from the port.
+
|-
* [[Southampton]] for ferries to the [[Isle of Wight]]
+
|[[Holyhead]] || [http://www.nationalrail.co.uk/stations/HHD/details.html Holyhead] || [[Republic of Ireland]]
* [[Stranraer]] for ferries and fast ferries to [[Northern Ireland]]
+
|-
* [[Troon]] for seasonal fast ferries to [[Northern Ireland]]
+
|[[Largs]] || [http://www.nationalrail.co.uk/stations/LAR/details.html Largs] || [[Cumbrae]]
* [[Wemyss Bay]] for ferries to [[Isle_of_Bute|Rothesay]]
+
|-
 +
|[[Lymington]] || [http://www.nationalrail.co.uk/stations/LYP/details.html Lymington Pier] || [[Isle of Wight]]
 +
|-
 +
|[[Mallaig]] || [http://www.nationalrail.co.uk/stations/MLG/details.html Mallaig] || The [[Small Isles]], [[Skye]], [[Knoydart]] and [[South Uist]]
 +
|-
 +
|[[Newhaven]] || [http://www.nationalrail.co.uk/stations/NVH/details.html Newhaven Harbour] || [[Dieppe]] in [[Normandy]]
 +
|-
 +
|[[Oban]] || [http://www.nationalrail.co.uk/stations/OBN/details.html Oban] || [[Inner Hebrides|Inner]] and [[Outer Hebrides]]
 +
|-
 +
|[[Pembroke (Wales)|Pembroke]] || [http://www.nationalrail.co.uk/stations/PMD/details.html Pembroke Dock] || Republic of Ireland
 +
|-
 +
|[[Poole]] || [http://www.nationalrail.co.uk/stations/POO/details.html Poole] || [[Guernsey]] and [[Jersey]]
 +
|-
 +
|[[Portsmouth]] || [http://www.nationalrail.co.uk/stations/PMH/details.html Portsmouth Harbour] || Isle of Wight, France and [[Spain]]
 +
|-
 +
|[[Southampton]] || [http://www.nationalrail.co.uk/stations/SOU/details.html Southampton Central] || Isle of Wight
 +
|-
 +
|[[Stranraer]] || [http://www.nationalrail.co.uk/stations/STR/details.html Stranraer] || [[Northern Ireland]]
 +
|-
 +
|[[Troon]] || [http://www.nationalrail.co.uk/stations/TRN/details.html Troon] || [[Northern Ireland]]
 +
|-
 +
|Wemyss Bay || [http://www.nationalrail.co.uk/stations/WMS/details.html Wemyss Bay] || [[Isle of Bute|Rothesay]]
 +
|}
  
 
==Stay safe==
 
==Stay safe==
  
The railway network has a low crime rate, but you do have to use common sense. The most common incident is theft of unsupervised luggage. If travelling with bags, keep them within sight, especially during station stops if your bags are in racks near the doors of the carriage. The UK (except Northern Ireland) operates a '''railway police''' called the '''British Transport Police''' (BTP), and you may see signs for them at major stations. They are responsible for the policing of trains, stations and railway property. In an emergency '''all emergency services''' including the BTP can be contacted by dialing 999 or 112 from any telephone or mobile phone (these work even if you have no calling credit or the keypad is locked). If you wish to contact the British Transport Police themselves and it is not an immediate emergency, dial 0845 440 5040.
+
The railway network has a low crime rate, but you do have to use common sense. The most common incident is theft of unsupervised luggage. If travelling with bags then keep them within sight, especially during station stops if your bags are in racks near the doors of the carriage. ''British Transport Police'' (BTP) officers are responsible for the policing of stations and trains, and you may see signs for them at major stations. In an emergency the BTP as well as fire and ambulance services can be contacted by dialing 999 or 112 from any telephone or mobile phone, even if you have no calling credit. If you wish to contact the British Transport Police themselves and it is not an immediate emergency, dial 0800 40 50 40.
  
Due to the UK's history of terrorist incidents, unattended luggage is treated by the authorities as a potential explosive device and may be destroyed by controlled explosion. You may hear announcements asking people not to leave bags unattended. Unattended bags can and do lead to closure of entire stations (particularly in London) while a bomb squad investigates and carries out a controlled explosion. Posters often ask passengers to keep a sharp eye for and report any unattended bags straightaway.
+
Due to the UK's history of terrorist incidents, unattended luggage is treated by the authorities as a potential explosive device. This can lead to closure of the entire station (particularly in London) and the bag may be destroyed in a controlled explosion. If you see any suspicious luggage left unattended then report it to the nearest staff member or police officer, if this is not possible then you can use one of the Help Points situated on the platforms that will connect you to a member of staff.
 
+
Safety of rail travel in Britain is high with a low rate of accidents. After privatisation in the 1990s, the accident rate increased for some years. Inquiries found this was due to cost-cutting and profiteering by the private owners of the infrastructure and their subcontractors and this was one factor leading to the re-nationalisation of infrastructure in the 2000s. Since then, safety has improved massively and there have been very few major accidents in recent years. All trains display safety information posters on board, telling you what to do in the event of an emergency. The simplest advice is that '''unless your personal safety is threatened, you are always safer on the train than if you try to leave it'''.  
+
  
 
===In the event of an emergency===
 
===In the event of an emergency===
 +
 +
A conductor or guard is present on most trains. If they have not made themselves visible during the journey then they can usually be found in the cab at the rear of the train. Communication panels are normally located throughout the length of the train that will allow it to be stopped in an emergency. Most trains also have safety and evacuation notices posted on one or more of its walls and it is a good idea to familiarise yourself with these instructions.
  
 
Should there be an emergency, such as fire or accident to the train...
 
Should there be an emergency, such as fire or accident to the train...
#Get the attention of a member of staff, any staff member will do
+
 
#If you cannot get the attention of staff and you are certain that you, anyone else or the train is in danger '''because of the motion of the train''' - pull the emergency stop handle, this will be either red or green and will be visibly identified. Be aware that pulling the emergency stop handle between stations will make it more difficult for emergency crews or police to reach the train.
+
#Get the attention of a member of staff, any staff member will do.
#If you are in immediate danger try to move to the next carriage, internal doors can be pushed apart if necessary. '''Take nothing with you'''
+
#If you cannot get the staff's attention and you are certain that you or anyone else or the train is in danger then pull the emergency stop handle, this will be either red or green and will be visibly identified. Be aware that pulling the emergency stop handle between stations will make it more difficult for emergency crews or police to reach the train. This should be pulled for clear emergencies only, improper use will result in a fine of £1000 and possibly result in prosecution. '''Be aware, many communication panels are also emergency brakes.''' Unless someone's safety is threatened by the movement of the train, contact the guard or driver and wait for assistance or the next station stop.
 +
#Unless your personal safety is imminently threatened, '''you are always safer on the train than if you try to leave it.'''
 +
#If you are in immediate danger try to move to the next carriage, the internal doors can be pushed apart if necessary.
 
#If it is not possible to move to another carriage, only then should you attempt to leave the train via the external doors. Methods for unlocking and opening in an emergency differ between types of train however, the emergency open device will be located at the door with instructions.
 
#If it is not possible to move to another carriage, only then should you attempt to leave the train via the external doors. Methods for unlocking and opening in an emergency differ between types of train however, the emergency open device will be located at the door with instructions.
 
#If this is not possible, leave through an emergency window which will usually be identified as such. There may be a hammer located next to it. If there is no indicated window, use the most convenient one facing away from any other tracks if possible.
 
#If this is not possible, leave through an emergency window which will usually be identified as such. There may be a hammer located next to it. If there is no indicated window, use the most convenient one facing away from any other tracks if possible.
#Strike the hammer against the corner of the window (if you strike the middle it'll just bounce off) until both panes crack, then push them out with a piece of luggage.
+
#You should lower yourself carefully from the train and move away from it as quickly as possible. '''Take nothing with you.'''
#You should lower yourself carefully from the train and move away from it as quickly as possible.
+
#Watch for other trains, and possibly the electric third rail. '''Do not step or touch any rail, as serious injury or death will result.'''
#Watch for other trains, and possibly the electric 3rd rail. '''Do not step on any rail'''
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If an evacuation of a train is ordered by train crew, instructions will be given. Most carriages have specific windows that can be broken or pushed open for emergency escape.
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A conductor or guard is present on most trains. If they have not made themselves visible during the journey, they can usually be found in the cab at the rear of the train. Communication panels are normally located throughout the train. Emergency brakes are also available, but a heavy penalty can be fined against someone who unnecessarily stops the train. '''Be aware, many communication panels are also emergency brakes.''' Unless someone's safety is threatened by the movement of the train, contact the guard or driver and wait for assistance or the next station stop.
 
  
 
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[[WikiPedia:Rail transport in Great Britain]]
 
[[WikiPedia:Rail transport in Great Britain]]

Latest revision as of 09:35, 27 August 2016

    This article is a travel topic

Introduction[edit]

A high-speed diesel train crosses the Royal Border Bridge at Berwick-upon-Tweed with a CrossCountry service from England to Scotland.

With around 34,000km (21,000 miles) of lines, the National Rail passenger network of Great Britain is one of the densest and most used railway networks in the world, with frequent daily passenger services comprehensively serving all major towns and many hundreds of villages. Train travel is Britain's most popular method of public transportation, with passenger usage approaching record highs despite annual rises in fares. In the last financial year ending in April 2014, 1.59 billion passenger journeys were made across Great Britain.

Travelling by train is one of the fastest, most comfortable, convenient and enjoyable ways to explore Britain. From High Speed 1, which connects London to Kent and under the English Channel to mainland Europe, to preserved railways operating historic steam trains through idyllic countryside, to bustling modern commercial centres and small unspoiled villages, to the breathtakingly scenic lines of Scotland, the train can be an enthralling and affordable way to see all that the UK has to offer.

As for services across the English Channel to France and Belgium, the cross-channel rail operator Eurostar has become the dominant carrier in cross-channel intercity passenger travel on the routes that it operates, carrying more passengers than all airlines combined.

However, the complex system of privatised train operators serving an effectively state-owned network of stations and lines has resulted in a complex fare and ticket system that can be confusing to the visitor. The structure of the industry is still very much in a state of change as a result of a controversial privatisation programme in the mid 1990s, as train franchises routinely change hands between operators and routes reorganised to fit the needs of the travelling public. Despite this, the network provides seamless journeys even if travelling on trains serviced by multiple operators – tickets can be purchased from any station in Great Britain to any other, irrespective of train company.

This guide does not cover rail travel in Northern Ireland, which operates its own state-owned system called Northern Ireland Railways (NIR) which is separate from National Rail and even uses a different track gauge. NIR is owned and controlled by the government of the Northern Irish Executive in Belfast. It is well-integrated with local and provincial bus services operated by Translink and trains in the Republic of Ireland operated by Iarnród Éireann. For more details on rail travel in Northern Ireland, see Rail travel in Ireland.

The National Rail website provides timetables and a journey planner, which can be found at at http://www.nationalrail.co.uk.

Structure[edit]

The iconic double-arrow symbol signifies a railway station or the rail network throughout Britain. It appears on all stations, road signs and maps.

All infrastructure (e.g. track, bridges, stations etc.) is owned by the state controlled company Network Rail, a "not for dividend" company limited by guarantee and owned by the government, while trains are operated by private companies (usually multinational transport companies) which bid for particular franchises. The system is tightly controlled by the national and devolved governments in London, Edinburgh and Cardiff which heavily subsidise it. There are also operators controlled by local government bodies (the London Overground is one example) and a small number of open access (non-franchised) operators which run additional services across the country. Although the ownership and structure is complex you often won't notice it when making a journey, due to the integrated nature of the British rail system.

General service schedules and routes run by the train franchises are specified by the government, but the "detail" and actual level of service are operated by commercial train companies known as train operating companies (TOCs). These lease or own rolling stock to run the passenger services demanded in their franchise contracts. Companies compete to win franchises for a certain number of years. Their continued permission to operate, or ability to win extensions or future franchises, depends on factors including value-for-money, performance and customer satisfaction. Government officials and transport ministers play a heavy role in the process.

The Association of Train Operating Companies (ATOC) represents all the passenger train companies, and markets them collectively as National Rail. National Rail has inherited the iconic white-on-red "double-arrow" logo (see illustration) first used by British Rail in 1965, the former state-owned railway operator which was privatised in the 1990s. The iconic logo is used extensively to signify a railway station and on road signs, maps, tickets and other places.

Passenger Rail Companies[edit]

Some train operating companies cover a particular geographical region, while others operate inter-city lines which pass through various regions. As of December 2015 the National Rail network consists of the following passenger operating companies, all of which are private commercial organisations (mostly subsidiaries of global transport companies like FirstGroup, Stagecoach, Arriva and Virgin).

Franchised operators

Open access operators

Open access operators are train companies that do not operate under a franchise, but instead purchases individual slots on train lines. They provide additional services for routes that are in high demand that no franchise adequately cover. For example, First Hull Trains provides six daily services from London to Hull and back while its competitor Virgin Trains East Coast provides only one.

Historical background[edit]

From the 1930s, streamlined locomotives of the 'A4' class such as Mallard symbolised a golden age of rail travel. Mallard is now at the National Railway Museum, York
1940s and 50s railway posters used art to entice travellers to visit resorts by train.

The world's first public railway opened between Stockton and Darlington in north-east England in 1825. Passengers were originally carried in coaches pulled by horses until 1833, when they were replaced by Locomotion No. 1, the first ever steam locomotive to operate a passenger rail service. The financial success of the early pioneering railways resulted in a large number of entrepreneurs eager to capitalise in the fledgling industry, in a time known as "Railway Mania". From 1836 to 1847, about 8,000 miles of track were laid which eventually grew into a national network serving most towns and villages in Britain.

Many majestic stations such as London St. Pancras, Kings Cross, Paddington and Liverpool Street were erected, showcasing the success of the companies who built them. Iconic bridges and viaducts of the Victorian era such as the Forth Bridge have come to symbolise the regions they run through.

In 1923 the government decreed that the railways should be grouped into four large companies, which together were known as the '"Big Four". These were the Southern Railway (SR), the London and North Eastern Railway (LNER), the London, Midland & Scottish Railway (LMS) and the Great Western Railway (GWR). What followed is considered to be the golden age of speed records, with iconic locomotives such as the Flying Scotsman and Mallard becaming symbols of speed and modernity. Railway travel posters from the 1930s to the 1950s pioneered a style of art which enticed travellers to visit resorts by train and showcased the British rail system as an elegant yet everyday form of travel. Even today many modern train company names hark back to this era.

Following the Second World War, in which most of the infrastructure was worn down by war duties or destroyed by bombing raids, all of the Big Four companies were in dire financial straits and were unable to cope with the backlog of maintenance and repairs that had built up during the war. As a result, the government nationalised all railways in 1948. The resulting state-owned British Rail ran trains for nearly fifty years during a time of change. In an attempt to stem passenger losses resulting from increased car usage, steam locomotives were replaced by diesel and electric trains, while some lines were electrified and upgraded to allow for higher speeds.

The darkest era in British railway history came during the 1960s, in a time known as the "Beeching Axe". In an attempt to eliminate daily losses of £300,000, British Rail closed a large number of unprofitable lines and scrapped many passenger services. Spearheaded by a report published by civil servant Dr. Richard Beeching, nearly 4,000 miles of track and over 2,000 stations were abandoned with much of the land sold for redevelopment.

British Rail rebounded in the 1970s and 1980s as it fought back against the new motorways, developing a new unified brand for its long distance express services known as InterCity. Together with electrification of the two main line routes from London to Scotland and the introduction of InterCity 125 high speed locomotives that could travel up to 125mph, British Rail saw a boom in patronage that in turn safeguarded the loss making regional routes and saved the remaining branch lines from closure.

British Rail's iconic double-arrow logo and typeface, which were introduced from the 1960s, defined the look and feel of the railway in the modern era and are recognised as design classics of the period. The logo is still used to identify a station today.

However, decline and neglect were still very evident throughout the system as it suffered from a lack of government investment. With the political climate of the time favouring private operation of public services, it was inevitable that the network would be moved from state control to the private sector. In 1995 the network was fragmented, with different companies running track and rolling stock. Dozens of small companies began operating train services but with heavy government intervention, subsidy and control of the system.

The infrastructure (e.g. track, signals and stations) were re-nationalised in 2001, after Railtrack suffered financial meltdown resulting from spiraling costs incurred by delayed upgrade programmes, and culminated by the fateful Hatfield incident in October 2000. Since then the system has bedded in and developed into an effective transport system, albeit with some ongoing issues, to give a mixed public/private-sector railway.

Most scenic routes[edit]

View from train travelling on the West Highland Line.
Ribblehead Viaduct on the Settle-Carlisle Line, North Yorkshire.
Train departs Dawlish on the Riviera Line, travelling along sea wall.

Many lines cut through spectacular British countryside and run along dramatic coasts, particularly in Scotland, Wales and the north and south-west of England. In many places, elegant Victorian viaducts and bridges add to (rather than detract from) the beauty of the natural landscape. Of the many such scenic routes, here are a few that are part of the National Rail network and provide a transport service to the communities along the route, as well as attracting tourists. Preserved and heritage railways usually hauled by steam locomotives operate chartered services across gorgeous countryside (see the Heritage and steam railways section for more information on preserved railways).

  • The West Highland Line from Glasgow to the west-coast harbour towns of Mallaig and Oban is probably the most spectacular in the UK and regularly voted among the top railway journeys in the world. The nightly sleeper from London Euston to Fort William also runs on the route and in the summer there is a daily steam train called The Jacobite. Spectacular vistas on the 3-5.5 hour ride include Loch Lomond and the Gareloch, the dramatic Rannoch Moor, the Glenfinnan Viaduct (most famous for featuring in the Harry Potter movies) and spectacular views of Skye and the Small Isles from Mallaig.
  • The Settle-Carlisle Line runs 73 miles (120km) from Settle in North Yorkshire (or you can join the train earlier at the major city of Leeds) to the city of Carlisle, near the Scottish border. The most scenic railway in England, it runs through the dramatic Pennine Hills and the Yorkshire Dales National Park. Of the many viaducts, the dramatic Ribblehead Viaduct with its 24 stone arches is most notable, and there are walking paths from many of the stations on the route.
  • Exeter-Penzance (also known as the Riviera Line): Designed by the famous engineer Brunel as part of his Great Western Railway, this line runs from Exeter, Devon to Penzance, Cornwall and includes long stretches where the railway runs directly on the sea wall such as at Dawlish. It also runs through lush valleys, the dramatic Dartmoor, crosses viaducts by Brunel and enters Cornwall by the impressive Royal Albert Bridge across the River Tamar (pronounced TAY-mar). Images of waves breaking by the railway line at Dawlish are iconic of Devon.
  • The Far North Line from the rapidly-growing city of Inverness to Britain's most northerly town, Thurso, runs through impressive Highland scenery as well as alone the Moray Firth, the Dornoch Firth and the impressive coast of Sutherland. Another scenic route leaves Inverness for Kyle of Lochalsh, with its links to the spectacular isle of Skye.
  • Stonehaven-Aberdeen: The line north of Edinburgh to Aberdeen crosses the iconic Forth Bridge. At its northern end, between the pretty harbour town of Stonehaven and the city of Aberdeen it runs for 20 minutes or so along a dramatic, craggy coast with spectacular cliffs soaring down into the north sea. Rugged inlets and churning waves breaking on the rocks add to the scene. The route is especially impressive at sunrise, which may be seen if taking the Caledonian Sleeper from London to Aberdeen.
  • The North Wales Coast Line. There are a number of points where you can join this line but one of the best ideas is to start in Wrexham and continue the journey until its end at Holyhead. Along the way you will pass through the historic cities of Chester and Bangor. Much of the line travels through spectacular Welsh moutains and next to the beautiful Welsh coastline. You will also see castles, little fishing ports and a historic racecourse. Perhaps the highlight of the journey is passing over the Menai Straits bridge from mainland Wales onto Anglesey. The view over the Menai Straits is breathtaking. You also pass through the town with the longest place name in Europe: Llanfairpwllgwyngyllgogerychwyrndrobwyllllantysiliogogogoch.

Most of the services on these routes are run by modern diesel trains, however regular steam and heritage diesel hauled charters run across the network for which tickets can be purchased from the operator. Please note that "regular" train tickets are not valid on these services and tickets normally have to be booked in advance. Occasionally tickets maybe available on the day but this should not be relied on. Try UKsteam Info for more information on steam tours or Railtour Info for heritage diesel tours including some that are partially steam hauled.

Services[edit]

In the United Kingdom a 200 mile, or even a 100 mile journey, is considered "long distance". In the United Kingdom these long distance trains run at some of the highest frequencies in the world. For example, trains between Manchester and London run at least three times an hour. In the South East of England and the south of London in particular, many routes such as the London to Brighton service run at frequencies close to those of subways in major cities elsewhere in the world. In other areas, even many of the smallest towns are serviced with trains running at least hourly throughout the day even on Sundays, comparing favourably to long distance services from outside Europe which operate as infrequently as 1-3 times a week. Anything less than an hourly service during the day is regarded as low frequency.

The days of "checked baggage" (segregated storage for suitcases and other bulky items), which is still common in North America, are long gone in the United Kingdom.

Train speeds[edit]

Most inter-city services travel at 200km/h (125mph), even on non-electrified lines. Britain was the first country to introduce high-speed diesel services in the 1970s, using InterCity 125 trains that are still a mainstay of some routes today. Away from the inter-city lines, speeds are up to 160km/h (100mph) on main lines and less on more minor routes.

Unlike some countries, British high speed services do not cost more than others, with the exception of trains running on the High Speed 1 route from London St. Pancras to stations in Kent. Here you pay higher fares than slower services that don't use high-speed trainsets and there are no cheaper Advance or Off-Peak tickets.

On local and commuter services, you may hear the term fast, as in the following announcement: "Calling at Sevenoaks, Petts Wood, Bromley South, then fast to London Victoria". This does not refer to speed – it means that it is an express train. So the train in the above announcement would go past most of the stations between Bromley South and London Victoria without stopping. A semi-fast service will call at more stations along its route than a fast train, while a slow (local) service stops at all the stations that it passes.

Rural services[edit]

On some rural services, particularly those in Wales, Scotland and the south-west of England, have smaller stations that are request stops (flag stops). When approaching a request stop the train will slow down and sound its horn – if you wish to board the train then raise your arm so that the driver can see you. If you wish to alight at a request stop, you should notify the conductor as to which station you wish to get off at and he will signal the driver to stop. Request stops are normally indicated on the schedule and are announced on the train's public address system.

Regional, local and commuter lines[edit]

A vast network of lines provide services between towns and cities of regional importance (e.g. Liverpool-Manchester), local services (e.g. Settle-Carlisle) and commuter services around many major cities (the network is particularly dense around London, Manchester, Leeds/Bradford, Glasgow, Birmingham and Liverpool).

Inter-city lines[edit]

Main concourse at London King's Cross station, the terminus of the East Coast Main Line to Scotland and the north of England. It also serves local and regional services to Cambridgeshire and destinations north of London.

The inter-city network developed out of six historic mainlines. Line speed is up to 200km/h (125mph), but is 225km/h (140mph) for High Speed 1, 175km/h (110mph) for the Midland Main Line and 160km/h (100mph) for the Great Eastern line. All inter-city lines connect to London at one end, except for the Cross-Country Route. There are numerous stations in London, with each mainline terminating there calling at a different terminus.

Sleeper trains[edit]

Until the late 1980s sleeper trains were operated between London and a host of destinations such as Manchester and Liverpool, and there were even sleeper trains within Scotland. Due to speed improvements there are now just three scheduled sleeper trains in Britain. These operate every night (except Saturday) in each direction. Travelling more slowly than their equivalent day time trains, they offer a comfortable means of overnight travel. All feature a lounge car that is open to passengers booked in berths, although on busy nights Caledonian Sleeper sometimes restricts access to the lounge car to first-class passengers only. A buffet service of food and drinks is available in the lounge car, offering affordable snacks and beverages in retro surroundings reminiscent of 1980s British Rail.

London to Scotland[edit]

The Forth Bridge connects the Scottish city of Edinburgh across the firth of Forth, to Fife and Aberdeen.

Caledonian Sleeper operates two routes, with each train dividing or joining en route to serve multiple destinations in Scotland. This service was formerly operated by ScotRail, which from 1st April 2015 was re-launched under new owners.

Bookings can be made up to one year in advance, and even first class fares are incredibly reasonable. There are some bizarre pricings, with sometimes the first class fares being cheaper than the second class fares. Early bookings are highly recommended, and if your travel dates are flexible then entering different dates is a good way to save money.

Reservations are compulsory, and supplements may be payable on top of the basic fare to reserve a berth. Reclining seats don't require a supplement, nor do special advance-purchase tickets. They are available from the Caledonian Sleeper website.

The two routes operated by Caledonian Sleeper are:

  • The Lowland Sleeper, which departs from/arrives in London Euston as one train but divides at Carstairs in the early hours, with portions travelling to:
  • The Highland Sleeper, which departs from/arrives in London Euston as one train but divides at Edinburgh (passengers are not permitted to alight here, you should travel on the Lowland Sleeper instead), with portions travelling to:

Caledonian Sleepers offer three kinds of accommodation:

  • Reclining seated accommodation, comparable to day time first class but with no at-seat service. Passengers to and from Fort William have to change carriages in Edinburgh. However this may be uncomfortable on a long trip; bear in mind the Highland Sleeper takes 12 hours and the lights are left on all night, but blindfolds may be provided.
  • Standard class cabins with two berths (upper and lower) and washbasin. Solo travellers usually have to share with another traveller of the same sex.
  • First class cabins are identical to standard class ones, except that they only have one berth. First class travellers can enjoy priority access to the lounge car, a full hearty breakfast delivered to your room, complimentary toiletries and sleeping packs and access to first class lounges at some stations.

London to Penzance[edit]

Great Western Railway operates the Night Riviera, which travels along a single route from London Paddington to Plymouth, Devon and Penzance, Cornwall, calling at numerous intermediate stations. Reservations on Night Riviera sleepers are mandatory, and supplements are payable on top of the basic fare to reserve a berth. The Night Riviera offers these kinds of accommodation:

  • Reclining seated accommodation, comparable to day time first class
  • Sleeper cabins (all standard class): either a cabin with two berths or (for a slightly higher supplement) a cabin with just one.

As part of the ticket price, sleeper berth passengers will receive bottled water, towels, personally-controlled cabin lighting, in-cabin refreshments and a wake-up call with a complimentary breakfast. There are no showers on the train, but sleeper berth passengers may use showers at London Paddington station free of charge.

Planning your trip[edit]

Britain's longest train journey
The longest single train journey in Britain is the 08:20 from Aberdeen to Penzance, operated by CrossCountry. It takes nearly 13 and a half hours (arriving at 21:43) making thirty-three intermediate stops and covering 1162km (722 miles). It is operated by either a four or five coach Class 220 Voyager diesel train, and is prone to overcrowding at busy points on the journey.

The best source of information when planning your journey by train can be found on the official National Rail website. This site has a very useful journey planner, real time departure and arrival information, lists of station facilities and plans, ticket information, accessibility details and a useful Cheapest Fare Finder.

A complete national map in PDF format can be found here. There is also a useful phone app available, and most of these services are also available by telephone from the National Rail Enquiries phone service on +44 (0)845 748 4950. The National Rail website gives prices but does not sell tickets, however it will link to a choice of several websites which do.

The National Rail website also has route maps and an information page for every railway station in Britain together with accessibility details, facilities, ticket office opening hours, recommended connection times and real time departure and arrival information.

Most train operating companies sell tickets through their own websites, including tickets for journeys that involve other operators, and do not charge booking fees. They may also offer further discounts on tickets for their own services from time to time.

Various independent train booking websites also exist, but often charge unavoidable additional fees such as booking fees, debit/credit card charges and fees for receiving tickets by post or collecting them at the station. thetrainline.com is the oldest, best known and most reliable of these websites, and advertises frequently in the media in the UK. Be warned that it charges additional credit/debit card handling fees and a fee to collect your tickets from a station or to have them posted to you. However, its useful Ticket Alert can help you plan advance travel by e-mailing you when cheaper Advance tickets become available for a particular route.

Connections between stations[edit]

When making a connection between two trains you may be required to transfer between two separate stations, sometimes via bus, tram or the London Underground. You will be warned of this when you book your tickets, and the connection will usually be included in the price and specified on the ticket itself.

It is recommended to check beforehand whether a connecting journey between two stations is really necessary before you book your travel. For example, in Wigan the two stations are just 100 metres apart so booking a taxi from one station to the other would be a waste of money and time compared to a short two minute walk.

Please note that some major towns, such as Bury and Oldham in Greater Manchester, have no national rail service because the rail lines have been converted to light rail, and therefore they cannot be found in the national timetables as they are no longer part of the national rail system. All light rail services (such as in Manchester, Sheffield, Nottingham and elsewhere) interchange with rail stations on part of their routes to connect with the national rail network, although through rail tickets may not be available. Therefore, if you are visiting a specific town in Britain then you can sometimes travel most of the way by train and then easily transfer to the local light rail services.

When travelling within London, there are also out-of station interchanges which allow passengers to connect to other stations lacking a direct connection without being charged multiple fares, even between different systems such as the Underground, the Overground, the DLR and Tramlink. In many cases an Oyster card or a contactless payment method is required; when travelling to/from the National Rail system it is usually possible to interchange using a paper train ticket.

Sunday travel[edit]

Services are less frequent on Sundays. For over a hundred years, services on Sundays were few. Even at the height of the railways' popularity in the 1930s, many lines and most stations were closed on Sundays. Very few services ran, with some large towns having no railway services at all. This situation improved in the 1990s and 2000s – due in part to the legalisation of Sunday trading (which means shops can open on Sundays – typically 10.30am to 4.00/4.30pm).

However the frequency of service is reduced compared with weekdays and Saturdays, and that engineering work is more likely to take place on weekends and public holidays than on weekdays. During line closures, rail companies will usually offer a replacement bus service which is provided for rail passengers for no extra charge.

Visitors should check with the National Rail Enquiries website for information on any Sunday alterations or changes.

Overcrowding[edit]

The popularity of train travel in the UK has been soaring in recent years. If you plan to explore Britain by rail then it is worth noting that many parts of the network suffer from overcrowding, and that this is not restricted to commuter services as even rural services can be affected. Standing on a train for over 100 miles is not uncommon, as a ticket does not not guarantee a seat unless you also have a reservation (see below). Some long distance trains particularly in the rush hour can be so crowded that passengers are not allowed to board due to safety issues, and it is not unusual to encounter trains of ten carriages with upwards of 2,000 passengers crammed inside.

Planning journeys outside the rush hours even for long distance services (06:00-09:30 & 16:00-19:00) can make tickets cheaper and journeys significantly more comfortable.

Buying tickets[edit]

A typical National Rail train ticket, in this case the outward ('OUT') portion of a two part Standard ('STD') off-peak return ('OFF-PEAK R') from Queens Park in Glasgow to Norbiton, with a 16-25 Railcard ('Y-P') discount.
A typical National Rail reservation coupon, in this case the paid standard class supplement required for a berth in the Glasgow to London sleeper (there is no charge for a seat reservation on a day time train). The reserved bed is in coach N, berth 23L. Printed on the same format of card as a ticket, no reservation is valid without an accompanying ticket.

An achievement of British Rail which is still in place today is that you can purchase a through-ticket from any station in Great Britain to any other station, including whatever changes of train, operating companies or even London Underground connections are needed. It must be noted however that whilst individual companies may offer very cheap tickets for their own services, a through ticket using different companies' trains may often be very expensive even for the same journey. The British often travel with several tickets using different companies to avoid the high "one ticket" fare.

Please note that some tickets are only valid for travel with a particular train operator, when this is the case it will explicitly state this on the ticket. Tickets should be purchased at the station ticket office or at a ticket machines, although smaller stations may have no ticket office and very minor ones will not have a machine. Alternatively, more and more travellers are buying from one of the train company's websites, all of which have a journey planner and sell tickets for all services and not just their own.

It is also possible to buy a ticket from the conductor on many lines if there is no ticket office or machine at the boarding station, but check before you travel as some places operate penalty fares.

A ticket does not guarantee a seat unless you also have a seat reservation. Depending on ticket type and train company, this may come automatically with the ticket or you may be asked if you wish to reserve a seat – ask if you are unsure. Some trains (mostly local and commuter services) do not permit seat reservations. If you have no seat reservation, you may have to stand if the train is busy.

The best deals are more easily found on the internet directly from rail company sites. Advanced tickets are available from ticket offices but there is no guarantee that the ticket clerk will get you the best deal or have the knowledge to do so. Visitors from overseas, booking via the Internet, may worry that they must have the actual tickets sent by post as there are virtually no companies who will accept 'print yourself' tickets. There is no need to worry when purchasing your tickets online, simply check the box which says you will collect your tickets from a self-service station ticket machine (it will suggest a station for you). Note down the unique reference number from your online confirmation. Then, simply go to the station ticket machine at any time from two hours after you have successfully purchased your tickets online and press the screen button "collect prepaid tickets", or a similar option. It will then ask you to insert the card with which you purchased the tickets online – you won't be charged twice. Then enter the unique reference number and the machine will print your ticket.

It is best to get your tickets by this means well before you travel, just in case if everything goes terribly wrong or the ticket machine is out of order. In these cases the train staff should allow you to get your tickets at your destination or transfer point.

Classes of travel[edit]

Standard class interior of a refurbished InterCity 125, operated by CrossCountry.
First class interior of Class 221 Super Voyager, operated by Virgin Trains.

In the United Kingdom, there are two different types of ticket classes in operation:

  • Standard class (formerly called second class and referred to as coach class in the United States) accommodation has two seats either side of the aisle with a mix of facing table or more private airline-style seats on inter-city and many regional services, or five seats and an aisle in 2+3 rows without tables on commuter services.
  • First class accommodation has two seats and one seat either side of the aisle on inter-city services, or two seats either side of the aisle on commuter services, with larger seats and more legroom. On inter-city routes an at-seat service of drinks, refreshments and a newspaper are also available (not all at seat services are available at the weekend).

Unlike in the rest of Europe, first class travel is not considered by most non-business users as a treat worth taking as it is usually incredibly expensive and offers little value for money compared to standard class. Certain companies, however, offer special deals where at certain (off-peak) times first class travel is available for a small supplement.

Many commuter trains and some local services offer standard class only. On commuter and local trains where first class travel is available, they only provide larger seating in a separate compartment and no refreshments or newspapers are provided.

In both classes, most trains also provide:

  • Free seat reservations (not commuter or local services), indicated by a paper tag or electronic display above each seat
  • A walk-up buffet or a trolley service of drinks and refreshments moving through the train
  • Air conditioning (not commuter or local services)
  • At least one carriage with a fully disabled-accessible toilet and baby changing facilities
  • On inter-city services, a wireless internet service (a charge may apply)
  • Most inter-city trains provide a Quiet Coach where use of mobile phones, conversations, and any other noise is not permitted. These can be found on trains operated by Virgin Trains East Coast, East Midlands Trains, CrossCountry, Virgin Trains (West Coast Mainline), Great Western Railway and Greater Anglia's inter-city services.

Peak and off-peak travelling[edit]

Peak times (rush hour) usually begin from the first weekday morning services until 9.30am, and off-peak times cover weekdays after 9.30am and all day weekends and public holidays, although some companies around London also have a weekday afternoon peak (15:00-18:45). Services are much more expensive during peak times so travellers must choose the time of their journey very carefully, even for short spur of the moment trips. Wait until after 9.30am and your ticket price (if a "day return" is purchased) will be considerably lower. The difference can be as dramatic as £20.00 return (peak) to £4 (off-peak).

There can be exceptions for when off-peak tickets aren't valid, which vary by train company – if so these will usually be explained by posters at the station or the train company's website. If you are in any doubt about the validity of an off-peak ticket, ask a member of staff at the station or a ticket office before getting on a train as ticket inspectors on board the train can be unforgiving.

There are also super off-peak tickets available which are even cheaper than standard off-peak tickets but carry stricter restrictions over when you can travel, even when travelling on weekends. The validity times vary depending on the train operator so it is a good idea to check before you book.

Ticket types[edit]

Tickets are sold in three types. You can usually book up to three months in advance and the further in advance you book the less expensive tickets are, but booking just three days in advance can still produce huge discounts. You can choose between flexibility (generally incredibly expensive) and value (less or no flexibility), similar to an airline ticket.

In increasing order of cost, tickets are classed as:

  • Advance – these are the cheapest tickets. You must buy in advance (latest is 18:00 the day before, but most will have sold out by then), travel on a specific train only which will usually be off-peak, and they are available in limited numbers. Making a change of travel plan may involve an administration fee.
  • Off-Peak – buy any time, must travel at off-peak times, ticket is more expensive than an Advance ticket. Change in travel plans are possible.
  • Anytime – buy any time, travel any time. This is the most expensive ticket available. Change in travel plans are easily made, plus you can just travel any time you like.
  • (Cheap) Day Return – for shorter journeys. Travel after 9am (or 9.30am for some areas/companies) and return the same day usually with no restrictions, or at any time on Saturdays and Sundays. A day return ticket is the ticket of choice for day trips, shopping etc. especially at the weekend. These are generally only purchased on the day; they can be purchased on the train only if there is no open ticket office at your starting station. Be warned that ticket conductors will rarely ask whether you want a Day Return, a single will be issued unless you specifically ask for a day return. Unusually, in rare occasions a single ticket can sometimes be more expensive than a Day Return.

Advance tickets are only sold as single (one-way) tickets. To make a return journey, simply purchase two singles. Off-Peak and Anytime tickets are available as single or return. With the exception of some suburban and commuter trains, the cheapest fares are almost always Advance tickets. These are released for sale in limited numbers approximately 12 weeks in advance, and can only be used on the train specified on the reservation. If you travel on any other train or the wrong train, you will be charged an expensive full-price ticket or a penalty fare – which you'll either have to pay on the spot or within 21 days. To check how far ahead Advance tickets are available, visit National Rail's "Booking Horizons" page. If you have not booked in advance then you can still buy an affordable short-distance trip on the day of travel, but if you try to buy longer-distance tickets on the day (e.g. London-Scotland) then the ticket price will almost certainly be considerably higher than an Advance ticket.

When purchasing a less restricted off-peak or anytime ticket, note that return fares are usually only a small amount more than, or occasionally even cheaper than a single ticket. You must ask for the cheapest ticket and check if the return is cheaper. The ticket sellers will not help you as their job is to try to sell the highest priced tickets for their employers, do not rely on them to help you obtain the best deal.

Discounts[edit]

Discounts are available for:

  • Children – up to the age of 15
  • Small Groups – of between 3 and 9 people
  • Large Groups – 10 or more people
  • Railcards – discount cards for certain groups
  • Regional Railcards – offering discounts within a specific region

Railcards[edit]

The most widely used system of discounts on National Rail are Railcards. These provide a discount of 1/3 off nearly any off-peak ticket, although a minimum fare is charged for short journeys below a certain ticket price. Railcards can be purchased from any station ticket office upon completing a form and providing of proof of eligibility and a photograph, or online from http://www.railcard.co.uk/. Although these are primarily intended for British citizens, the discounts offered makes them useful for visitors to Britain who plan to travel a lot by train.

  • 16-25 Railcard offers a discount of 1/3 on most tickets for anyone aged 16 to 25 and full time students of any age. Currently costs £30 per year.
  • Family & Friends Railcard offers a discount of of 1/3 on adult fares and 60% on child fares. Up to four adults and four children can travel on one Family & Friends Railcard. At least one named cardholder and one child must be travelling together for the whole journey. Currently costs £30 per year.
  • Two Together Railcard offers a discount of of 1/3 on most adult fares for two named people travelling together. Currently costs £30 per year.
  • Senior Railcard Offers a discount of 1/3 on most tickets for anyone aged 60 or over. Currently costs £30 per year.
  • Network Railcard An unusual relic of the pre-privatisation British Rail era: it is a geographically specific railcard that relates to the now defunct Network SouthEast, the British Rail brand for the region of trains that radiate from London and the south east of England. It offers a discount of 1/3 on most tickets for the cardholder and up to three other adults (restrictions apply Monday to Friday) and up to four children, aged 5 to 15 can save 60% on the child fare. Costs £30 a year.
  • Disabled Persons Railcard Offers a discount of 1/3 to eligible disabled or mobility restricted passengers. Currently costs £20 for one year or £54 for three years.
  • HM Forces Railcard A similar 1/3 discount available to serving members of the British armed forces and their families. It can only be obtained from military facilities and cannot be purchased at a station.

Season tickets[edit]

Commuters who use the train every day for travelling to and from work can make savings similar to those offered by a railcard (but at any time of day) by purchasing a season ticket. These are available from staffed ticket offices and ticket machines for a fixed route between any two stations you specify. Periods available vary from 7 days to 12 months. National Rail has a Season Ticket calculator, which can be found on the National Rail Enquiries website.

Visitor rail passes[edit]

There are two principal types of rail pass available to visitors to the UK which permit inclusive rail travel throughout the UK. Supplements are normally payable for Eurostar (international) and sleeper trains.

  • InterRail and Eurail are passes for EU and non-EU residents respectively. See Interrail for more information.
  • Britrail is primarily targeted at visitors from the United States of America, Canada, Australia and New Zealand, and must be purchased online or in your home nation before you depart for the UK.

Ranger and Rover tickets[edit]

A relic of the nationalised British Rail era, Ranger and Rover tickets are tickets that permit unlimited travel with relatively few restrictions over a defined geographical area for a period of anything from one to fourteen days. There are numerous regions available, with a full list of tickets with their terms and conditions on National Rail's page. These tickets include Rovers for almost every region of the UK, but notable tickets include:

  • All Line Rover – these national Rovers allow 7 or 14 days travel on almost all scheduled rail services throughout England, Scotland and Wales. As of September 2016, they cost £483 (7 days) or £731 (14 days) for standard class, and £731 (7 days) or £1117 (14 days) for 1st class, with discounts for children and railcard holders.
  • Spirit of Scotland Travelpass – 4 days in 8 for £134, with concessions for children and railcard holders.

Ticket add-ons[edit]

  • Cross-London transfers where a journey involves crossing London – for example a journey between Brighton and Edinburgh would require you to change between Victoria and King's Cross stations in London to connect with the onward train – the ticket will usually allow you to use the London Underground to make the transfer. A plus (+) or dagger symbol next to the route (e.g. "+ Any Permitted") indicates if this is permissible. However you can only enter and leave the underground network once.
  • PlusBus allows you to add a day's unlimited bus and tram travel in your destination city. PlusBus costs between £1.60 and £3.50, depending on your destination, but you must buy the PlusBus ticket with your train ticket before you board the train. Several operators now allow you to buy PlusBus from their site. You can also book by phone or by going to a major station.
  • Weekend First upgrades allow the holder of a standard class ticket to upgrade to first class on Saturday and Sunday on certain long distance trains. The supplement is payable on the train to the conductor, subject to availability. Upgrades usually start at £10, but passengers should note that on many long distance trains there is no complimentary at-seat service in first class at the weekend.

Using the train[edit]

At the station[edit]

Departure boards at London Kings Cross station.

Most stations have electronic departure screens listing trains in order of departure, platform, any delay, stations called at and the train operating company. At small or rural stations without electronic displays, signs will indicate which platform to wait on for trains to your destination. Platforms may not be announced until a few minutes before the train is due to depart, and can sometimes change if the train is delayed so listen for audio announcements. Many stations now use automated subway-style ticket barriers – you insert your ticket which opens the barrier, and your ticket is returned. Platform staff are always in attendance with these barriers and can also advise where to stand if you are travelling with a bicycle.

British trains do not have publicly announced numbers as they are identified by their departure time (using the 24-hour clock) and destination, e.g. the "14:15 to Manchester Piccadilly". Only a few carry names, such as The Flying Scotsman between London Kings Cross and Edinburgh and The Northern Lights between London Kings Cross and Aberdeen.

Many trains close their doors at approximately 30-60 seconds prior to the scheduled departure time so you should arrive at the station with enough time to spare, especially if you are unfamiliar with the journey. Stations in Britain are often architecturally significant, so if you are early, take the time to look around.

If you have bought an advance ticket only valid on one specific train or series of trains then it is essential that you stick to this, otherwise you may be fined just as if you had no ticket at all.

Boarding the train[edit]

If you have a seat reservation then watch the outside of the train as it arrives for your coach number, some major stations will have signs on the platform telling you where to wait. Coach A may be at the front or back of the train depending on the direction of travel, and some letters may not be included.

Most trains have power-operated doors however you must press a button to open it, and they close automatically when the train leaves. If the weather is cold and you are the last person to board, it is polite to close the door to prevent cold weather coming in. On older trains with manual doors, particularly sleeper carriages and InterCity 125 trains, you open the door from the outside by pulling the handle downwards and pulling the door open. Close the door behind you and make sure it shuts properly – the handle will return to a horizontal position once it has closed. When departing the train, slide down the window and open the door with the external handle (having no internal handle is a safety feature aimed to prevent doors being opened with the train moving).

Finding your seat[edit]

Standard-class interior of Class 221 Super Voyager operated by CrossCountry. On this train, seat reservations appear on the display above each pair of seats. Others may use paper tags inserted into each headrest.

Seat reservations are marked either with paper tags on the headrest or an electronic display above the window, as well as on your reservation ticket. Usually not all seats are reserved unless the train is very busy – if a seat has no tag, it is unreserved and any ticket-holder can sit there. However, remember that unless you also have a seat reservation your ticket does not guarantee you a seat. The reservation tag or display at each seat will specify the stations between which the seat is reserved, e.g. "DUNDEE–YORK". If you do not have a reservation and all the seats appear to be reserved then look for one where the reservation ends at a station already called at, or where the reservation starts at a station the train has not yet reached (and be prepared to move seats when it reaches there).

Keep your ticket and any reservation, pass and/or railcard with you wherever you are on the train, as you may be asked to show it to the train guard or ticket inspector. It is also likely that you will need it to exit the platform at your destination station, because subway-style ticket barriers are in use at many stations. If you approach an exit barrier and you cannot find your ticket then you will be liable to a hefty penalty fine plus the cost of the train fare. So don't throw away your ticket!

Travelling with luggage[edit]

Different trains vary in how much luggage space they provide. Most trains have overhead racks suitable for small items like a small rucksack, briefcase, laptop bag, or other small luggage. Inter-city and regional trains have luggage racks suitable for larger suitcases. However, these luggage racks can fill up quickly and on long-distance services there is usually not enough space for everyone so you should board the train as early as you can to get a space. If there is no space in the racks and rearranging the items there doesn't help then you may have to squeeze your luggage into any space you can find. This may be in the vestibule space and the ends of each carriage. Train staff do not tolerate luggage blocking aisles and doorways (this is dangerous in an emergency) and in extreme cases if it is an obstruction it may simply be dumped on the platform at the next stop. Theft of unattended luggage can be an issue so keep a close eye on yours.

You should never leave your luggage unattended at a station, particularly larger ones serving major cities. Doing so could risk a major security alert and may even result in your bags being destroyed by the British Transport Police's bomb disposal team. If you have lost your luggage at a station then speak to a member of staff, at major stations your bag may have been handed in to the left luggage office which can be returned for a fee. Any luggage that has become lost onboard a train is held by the train company running the service, so you should contact them for assistance.

Smoking and alcohol[edit]

Smoking is illegal on board trains in Great Britain (and in fact in any enclosed public place as part of the British smoking ban laws) and trains are fitted with smoke alarms, including in toilets. If you are seen smoking, train staff will arrange for the British Transport Police to wait for you at the next station, where you will be taken into custody. Note that smoking is also illegal on station platforms in England and Wales, although at smaller or rural stations it is generally ignored if you smoke in the open air as far as possible from the main waiting area.

Alcohol in open containers (i.e. opened cans or bottles, not stowed out of sight) is not permitted on any station, but it is on board trains. Be careful, as although this rule is only enforced at major stations you will have the drink confiscated and you are liable to a hefty fine. However, in Scotland on trains operated by ScotRail from 20th July 2012, it is illegal to be in possession of alcohol or consume alcohol after 9pm or before 10am in the morning. This ruling does not apply to the Caledonian Sleeper service. It is also illegal to travel on a train while drunk. This is part of a Scottish Government crackdown on alcohol-fueled anti-social behaviour. Passengers seen with alcohol during these times or who appear to be drunk at any time are liable to be arrested by British Transport Police officers at the next station. In the United Kingdom alcohol may be consumed in public and purchased by anyone of 18 years or over.

Catering[edit]

Food is served on most regional and nearly all inter-city trains. At a basic level it may take the form of a trolley service with light snacks, hot and cold drinks and perhaps some alcoholic drinks. Inter-city trains (except for CrossCountry services) often have a buffet counter, which may be termed the "buffet car", "shop" or "café bar" depending on the train operator. These serve all of the above, but may also offer hot food. A limited number of trains on the London-Swansea and London-Plymouth routes still offer restaurant cars which are open to both first class and standard class passengers for breakfast, lunch and dinner. First class on inter-city trains often features an attendant service of complimentary drinks and snacks, and sometimes hot food is included.

Quality has been improving in recent years but you will probably not get a full meal as the choice is limited, and the cost is higher than off-train services. If you wish to save money you should buy food before you board the train (not at the station as food at the cafés there can be quite pricey), and bring it with you onto the train.

Stations[edit]

London St. Pancras International, the UK terminus of the Eurostar high speed train, and domestic terminus for inter-city trains north to Leicester, Nottingham and Sheffield and high-speed trains south to Kent.

There are approximately 2,600 railway stations throughout the UK, excluding urban rapid transit systems like the London Underground, Glasgow Subway, Tyne and Wear Metro and the Docklands Light Railway. All mainline stations are owned by the state-owned Network Rail, who also manage major stations such as most of the central London terminals and those in major cities like Birmingham New Street or Edinburgh Waverley. Others are leased to train operating companies, who are responsible for the operation and staffing of the station. Stations vary in their facilities but you are likely to have difficulty finding waste bins at major stations due to the risk of terrorism.

Most stations are located in the centre of their respective town or city, or within walking distance. However, a station ending in Parkway (e.g. Bristol Parkway, East Midlands Parkway) means it is located far from the city centre, often in a distant suburb or even in the middle of nowhere. Usually there is a large car park so commuters can drive to it and then take the train to the city centre. However, parkway stations often provide a connecting bus service to an onward destination such as those which run from Luton Airport Parkway to Luton Airport. Another common idiosyncrasy is that some towns have two separate stations on completely unconnected routes – a remnant of the network's early days of development when feuding rival companies built duplicate routes to compete with each other.

Travellers should be aware than many retail outlets at larger stations may charge higher prices than shops outside stations. There is no restriction regarding eating one's own food on a train, and you can save money by buying sandwiches and drinks beforehand outside of the railway station.

Major stations of London[edit]

Statue of poet Sir John Betjeman looking up at the roof of London St. Pancras station. You should too! British stations are often impressive works of Victorian architecture.

London, being the hub of the entire network is unique in that it has 12 major termini – there is no single "London" station. This is because in the 19th century it was illegal to build stations too close to the centre of London as it was thought this would put historic buildings at risk. As a result most were built in a ring which at that time was just outside the centre, but following London's expansion in the 19th and 20th century, is very much within it. Because of this, many journeys from the south of England to the north and vice versa require going into London, transferring between two of these major stations using the London Underground and then going back out again. When making a journey that involves a connection between London stations, a through ticket will normally allow connecting travel on the Underground – almost all of the major stations (Fenchurch Street being the notable exception) are on at least one of the Underground lines.

There is currently only one main line rail service which actually goes across the centre of London – it is known as the Thameslink route and runs underground between St Pancras and London Bridge on a north-south axis, forming a much longer route linking Brighton to Bedford and crucially connects Luton and Gatwick airports to the capital. A second, east-west rail link across London known as Crossrail is under construction and is due to be fully completed by 2019, and will allow main line trains to cross from the City and the East End onto the Great Western route, calling at Heathrow Airport.

The following is a list of the major stations of London, those in italics indicate a terminus station.

  • Blackfriars
  • Cannon Street
  • City Thameslink
  • Clapham Junction
  • Charing Cross
  • Euston
  • East Croydon
  • Fenchurch Street
  • King's Cross
  • Liverpool Street
  • London Bridge (Southeastern and Thameslink services do not terminate)
  • Marylebone
  • Moorgate
  • Paddington
  • St Pancras International (Thameslink services do not terminate)
  • Stratford
  • Victoria
  • Waterloo
  • Waterloo East

Major regional stations[edit]

Outside London, National Rail lists the following as major connecting stations where passengers most often need to change trains on multi-leg journeys.

Towns/cities marked * have at least one other major rail station that is not listed above.

Trains[edit]

An InterCity 125 (HST).
Class 390 Pendolino speeds through Tamworth station.
Class 220 Voyager at Newton Abbot station, operated by CrossCountry.

Most trains are modern, comfortable and accessible to people with disabilities. Following major investment in the past ten years, all are fairly new or have been comprehensively refurbished within that time. You are unlikely to see many traditional locomotives pulling passenger trains as most services are now operated by multiple-units, or else the locomotive is part of a specially-designed train such as the InterCity 125 or InterCity 225. With about one-third of track electrified, diesel trains are common including on inter-city services, but the same top speeds are usually achieved regardless of power source.

British train carriages are smaller compared with those of North America and most of Europe. The legroom on British trains is far superior to airlines or buses, but North American/European travellers will find the interior space of British trains very much smaller than even those of a subway/metro in their own countries. There are no reclining seats on any trains, except for sleeper services.

British train types all have a class number but most people refer to them by the name (e.g. "I was on one of those Pendolinos today"). Inter-city trains in the UK usually travel at between 100-125mph and tend to have the most facilities, including wireless internet access and often a buffet or on-board shop. There are many different types of train in operation, but this section will give you a brief orientation to the trains you're likely to travel in, and what to expect.

InterCity 125
Also often known as "HST" (High Speed Train), InterCity 125s are found frequently all over Great Britain on long distance and inter-city services. Introduced in 1976, they operate at speeds of up to 125mph (200km/h) and many are still in service today primarily due to the excellent design.While you need to open the doors using a handle, all have been comprehensively renovated in the last few years and are basically all-new inside. They have more luggage storage than most, with luggage racks and toilets at each end of the train. All have a quiet coach and most also have plug points for recharging laptops/mobile phones and a buffet car serving hot and cold food and beverages.
InterCity 225
If you travel on Virgin Trains East Coast's inter-city services between London Kings Cross and Leeds or Edinburgh, you will likely be on one of these electric trains introduced in 1990. They were designed for 140mph (225km/h) but are limited to the line's speed limit of 125mph. They have recently been comprehensively refurbished and have power-operated doors, a buffet car, plug points, luggage racks and comfortable seats (many of which have large tables good for families or groups). Coach B is the Quiet Coach.
Pendolino
This is an electric inter-city tilting train operated by Virgin Trains on the West Coast Main Line between London Euston, north-west England and Glasgow. Introduced in the early 2000s, they travel at 125mph (200km/h) and tilt up to 8 degrees around corners. They have a small on-board shop selling magazines/newspapers, hot and cold snacks and beverages. Coach A is the Quiet Coach.
Voyager and Super Voyager
These are inter-city diesel trains introduced around 2001. Operated by CrossCountry and Virgin Trains, they usually have four or five carriages and travel at 125mph (200km/h). Each carriage has an engine under the floor so are not as quiet as some others. The overhead luggage racks are quite slim, thus there is not as much luggage space compared to some other trains. Virgin's Voyagers have a useful shop/buffet like on the Pendolino but CrossCountry units only have an irregular trolley service.

Heritage and steam railways[edit]

Seeing Britain's railway heritage
If you are interested in the role railways have played in British society, railway heritage or just have a general interest in historic trains, a visit to the award-winning, free and family-friendly National Railway Museum at York is a must. Sited next to the station, it is the most popular national museum outside London and the many exhibits include the fastest-ever steam locomotive, Mallard, Queen Victoria's royal train, and the original Flying Scotsman.

Following the large-scale line closures and withdrawal of steam locomotives in the 1960s, enthusiasts began to band together to re-open lines as tourist attractions, using surplus or historic steam locomotives and vintage rolling stock. You can visit literally dozens of these, all over Great Britain, and they are popular for a day out.

Some run full-size trains on standard gauge track while others run on narrow gauge systems. The Romney, Hythe & Dymchurch Railway in Kent is an example of a miniature rail system operated by tiny steam locomotives.

While most operate steam trains, some also use heritage diesel locomotives or diesel railcars. Of the many such heritage lines, prominent ones include:

  • The Bluebell Railway runs for nine miles through Sussex, from the National Rail station at East Grinstead. It has over 30 steam locomotives and has operated a public service by steam for over 50 years. It has appeared frequently as a movie location.
  • The Severn Valley Railway runs for 16 miles through Worcestershire and Shropshire in the west of England, starting at the National Rail station at Kidderminster. Originally part of the Great Western Railway, a variety of steam trains appear alongside a handful of classic diesel units.
  • The Ravenglass and Eskdale Railway is a miniature railway in Cumbria, starting from Ravenglass station on the National Rail network. The track gauge is just 15 inches and locomotives are miniaturised versions of the full-size originals. it runs for seven miles through scenic hill country.
  • The Keith and Dufftown Railway (also known as "The Whisky Line") runs for 11 miles through Moray and Speyside in Scotland using classic Scottish steam trains and diesel railcars. There are numerous whisky distilleries in the area which can be visited. The line begins in Keith which has a National Rail station.
  • The Ffestiniog and Welsh Highland Railway is a narrow-gauge railway in the Snowdonia National Park in north Wales. It is a popular attraction in the area and originally carried slate from the mines nearby to harbour for shipping, and also carried passengers (which are now the only thing carried). Both are record-holding railways; the Ffestiniog is the world's oldest narrow gauge railway at almost 200 years old and the Welsh Highland is the UK's longest heritage railway at 25 miles. Unusual double-ended steam locomotives are used along with other unusual rolling stock.
  • The Talyllyn Railway is the world's first heritage railway and features in the Railway Series children's books by Rev W Awdry (Thomas the Tank Engine creator) as the "Skarloey Railway". The railway is seven and a quarter miles long and runs through the Afon Fathew valley, North Wales.
  • The North Yorkshire Moors Railway is a railway in the Yorkshire Moors that runs 18 miles between Pickering and Whitby, with common stops being Goathland (famous for playing "Aidensfield" in Heartbeat) and Grosmont, possibly the most famous locomotive to run on the railway is the LNER A4 Pacific Sir Nigel Gresley.

The most up-to-date list is on the Wikipedia article.

It must be noted that heritage railway tickets are very expensive and it is almost always not practical to use these lines as a true transport solution. Furthermore all heritage railways are only open for part of the year, usually during the summer months and certain other times including school holidays and the Christmas season. They are exclusively tourist attractions, based on the company's/enthusiasts' conception of heritage.

International connections[edit]

Eurostar[edit]

London St. Pancras is the terminus for high-speed trains to Lille, Brussels, Paris and seasonal French destinations such as Avignon (summer service) and the Alps (winter service). Connections from these stations to many major European cities can be made, and through tickets are available from the train operator Eurostar, booking portal RailEurope and staffed ticket offices to European destinations.

Note that it can often be much cheaper to buy (from London) an advanced ticket to Lille, Paris or Brussels then to travel onwards on a ticket purchased abroad, even on the day. Through tickets purchased in the UK to European destinations, whilst convenient, are nearly always more expensive. If you are travelling to the East of Europe then purchasing two or three tickets for each operator from the point of origin can be much better value than a single through ticket purchased in the UK.

In the future, Eurostar will also be operating direct services from London to Amsterdam which are scheduled to start by the end of 2016.

Airports with rail stations[edit]

The below table gives a list of major airports in Britain, each with its nearest station and connections information where applicable. Most airports without integrated rail services offer a bus connection to the nearest station.

City Airport Closest station Connection notes
Aberdeen Aberdeen Airport Dyce Dedicated shuttle bus link and taxi services
Birmingham Birmingham Airport Birmingham International Direct
Cardiff Cardiff Airport Rhoose Cardiff International Airport Dedicated shuttle bus link and taxi services
East Midlands East Midlands Airport East Midlands Parkway Dedicated shuttle mini-bus link and taxi services
Edinburgh Edinburgh Airport Edinburgh Airport tram stop Connected via Edinburgh Trams, with interchanges to Haymarket and Edinburgh Park stations
Glasgow Glasgow Airport Paisley Gilmour Street Public bus link (route 757) and taxi services
Liverpool Liverpool John Lennon Airport Liverpool South Parkway Public bus link (routes 80A and 86A) and taxi services
London London City Airport London City Airport DLR station Connected via the Docklands Light Railway
Gatwick Airport Gatwick Airport Direct
Heathrow Airport Heathrow Central and Heathrow Terminal 5 Direct, with a choice of three rail links to London: the fast and expensive Heathrow Express, the slower and cheaper Heathrow Connect, and the slowest and cheapest Piccadilly Line of the London Underground
Luton Airport Luton Airport Parkway Frequent dedicated shuttle bus which can be included with the rail ticket
Stansted Airport Stansted Airport Direct
Manchester Manchester Airport Manchester Airport Direct, also connected to the Manchester Metrolink tram system
Newcastle Newcastle Airport Newcastle Airport Metro station Connected via the Tyne and Wear Metro
Southampton Southampton Airport Southampton Airport Parkway Direct
Southend Southend Airport Southend Airport Direct
Teesside Durham Tees Valley Airport Teesside Airport This station is one of the least used rail stations on the UK network, with only two services per week, and is a good 15-20 minutes walk from the airport, and it is therefore not recommended to use this station to reach the airport. It is therefore recommended that travellers take a bus or taxi from the nearby town of Darlington.

Seaports with railway stations[edit]

Through tickets are available from any UK railway station to any station in Northern Ireland or the Republic of Ireland. In the west of Scotland, rail and ferry timetables are often integrated and through tickets are available. For details of routes and fares, contact SailRail or National Rail.

Seaport Closest station For ferries to
Ardrossan Ardrossan Harbour Isle of Arran and Campbeltown
Aberdeen Aberdeen Orkney and Shetland
Dover Dover Priory Calais
Fishguard Fishguard Harbour Republic of Ireland
Gourock Gourock Dunoon and Kilcreggan
Harwich Harwich International Netherlands
Heysham Heysham Port Isle of Man
Holyhead Holyhead Republic of Ireland
Largs Largs Cumbrae
Lymington Lymington Pier Isle of Wight
Mallaig Mallaig The Small Isles, Skye, Knoydart and South Uist
Newhaven Newhaven Harbour Dieppe in Normandy
Oban Oban Inner and Outer Hebrides
Pembroke Pembroke Dock Republic of Ireland
Poole Poole Guernsey and Jersey
Portsmouth Portsmouth Harbour Isle of Wight, France and Spain
Southampton Southampton Central Isle of Wight
Stranraer Stranraer Northern Ireland
Troon Troon Northern Ireland
Wemyss Bay Wemyss Bay Rothesay

Stay safe[edit]

The railway network has a low crime rate, but you do have to use common sense. The most common incident is theft of unsupervised luggage. If travelling with bags then keep them within sight, especially during station stops if your bags are in racks near the doors of the carriage. British Transport Police (BTP) officers are responsible for the policing of stations and trains, and you may see signs for them at major stations. In an emergency the BTP as well as fire and ambulance services can be contacted by dialing 999 or 112 from any telephone or mobile phone, even if you have no calling credit. If you wish to contact the British Transport Police themselves and it is not an immediate emergency, dial 0800 40 50 40.

Due to the UK's history of terrorist incidents, unattended luggage is treated by the authorities as a potential explosive device. This can lead to closure of the entire station (particularly in London) and the bag may be destroyed in a controlled explosion. If you see any suspicious luggage left unattended then report it to the nearest staff member or police officer, if this is not possible then you can use one of the Help Points situated on the platforms that will connect you to a member of staff.

In the event of an emergency[edit]

A conductor or guard is present on most trains. If they have not made themselves visible during the journey then they can usually be found in the cab at the rear of the train. Communication panels are normally located throughout the length of the train that will allow it to be stopped in an emergency. Most trains also have safety and evacuation notices posted on one or more of its walls and it is a good idea to familiarise yourself with these instructions.

Should there be an emergency, such as fire or accident to the train...

  1. Get the attention of a member of staff, any staff member will do.
  2. If you cannot get the staff's attention and you are certain that you or anyone else or the train is in danger then pull the emergency stop handle, this will be either red or green and will be visibly identified. Be aware that pulling the emergency stop handle between stations will make it more difficult for emergency crews or police to reach the train. This should be pulled for clear emergencies only, improper use will result in a fine of £1000 and possibly result in prosecution. Be aware, many communication panels are also emergency brakes. Unless someone's safety is threatened by the movement of the train, contact the guard or driver and wait for assistance or the next station stop.
  3. Unless your personal safety is imminently threatened, you are always safer on the train than if you try to leave it.
  4. If you are in immediate danger try to move to the next carriage, the internal doors can be pushed apart if necessary.
  5. If it is not possible to move to another carriage, only then should you attempt to leave the train via the external doors. Methods for unlocking and opening in an emergency differ between types of train however, the emergency open device will be located at the door with instructions.
  6. If this is not possible, leave through an emergency window which will usually be identified as such. There may be a hammer located next to it. If there is no indicated window, use the most convenient one facing away from any other tracks if possible.
  7. You should lower yourself carefully from the train and move away from it as quickly as possible. Take nothing with you.
  8. Watch for other trains, and possibly the electric third rail. Do not step or touch any rail, as serious injury or death will result.


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