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  The Chatter Box : Travel
Train: London to Edinburgh by sminobe on 5 May 2005 12:38am
I'll be traveling from London to Edinburgh in July. Which route is the most scenic? Is it expensive?

Any Palinites in Edinburgh want to meet for a drink (I hear Scotland has some pretty good whisky & MPs fav is Glenmorangie, yes?)?
Re: Train: London to Edinburgh by theoaktree on 5 May 2005 11:01am
Okay - practical advice first of all. For times and prices of trains between London and Edinburgh (and indeed any other journey in the UK) go to http://www.nationalrail.co.uk/planmyjourney/ . Prices without a railcard, and travelling via the questest rout route (East Coast Mainline) for a return ticket range between GBP39 and GBP293. In order to get the cheapest tickets you must book at least two weeks in advance. The journey via this route takes between 4h15 and 4h45.

The "alternative" route via the West Coast Mainline (put in "Preston" as the "via" station in the national rail search box)take between 5h20 and 6h and cost from GBP57 to GBP281. According to National Rail you will need to change at either Carlisle, Lancaster or Preston.

For more information call 08457 484950 - or for direct trains try their brilliant new automated system at 0871 200 4950 (when you call for a second time it even remembers your last journey!).

As for the scenic route, that is more difficult and really depends on your taste. I have travelled on the East Coast Mainline from London as far north as Durham, and on the West Coast Mainline as far as Lancaster, and really prefer the former. The scenery from the WCML was to me rather flat and boring (though it gets steeper north of Lancaster) and the cities it passes through are distinctly unimpressive (anyone for Crewe...?). The ECML on the other hand, though passing through some pretty industrial areas, also crosses some interesting bridges and viaducts, and has plenty to look at (Grantham Cathedral, York Minster, Durham Cathedral). I also understand that the line gets closer to the coast on its run from Newcastle to Edinburgh.

So, I would go for the ECML (with GNER from London Kings Cross) - though slightly more expensive than Virgin (according to the prices here) it is also a lot quicker (if you get the right train) and has some good scenery.

Re: Train: London to Edinburgh by Valarie on 5 May 2005 9:19pm
Robert gave you very good information. I took the ECML from King's Cross in March. It was very expensive ($375 for 2 tickets, if I remember correctly), but if I think you can get first class tickets for the same price as regular class if you buy them a week or so in advance. It's a nice journey, and infinitely preferable to flying.
Re: Train: London to Edinburgh by Ken Dunn on 5 May 2005 10:25pm
I live near Edinburgh and could probably get across on a Friday, Saturday or Sunday except for the weekend of 30 July when we'll be away.
Re: Train: London to Edinburgh by theoaktree on 5 May 2005 10:48pm
My information was from the National Rail website, which though not infalible is pretty authoritative on these things!

According to www.xe.com USD375 equals GBP195.79 , giving a ticket price of GBP97.90 per person. That is about the same price as a "First Class Off Peak 2" or a "Business Saver".

The thing you have to remember when travelling in Britain is that there is rarely one price to travel between two destinations. Take this route for instance. I have just asked for all tickets between London and Edinburgh on a weekday. The available tickets are:

"Special Exec" - GBP293.00
"First Open Return" - GBP281.00
"Standard Open Return" - GBP194.00
"GNER Leisure First" - GBP140.50
"First Class Off Peak 3" - GBP115.00
"Business Saver" - GBP99.00
"First Class Off Peak 2" - GBP95.00
"Saver Return" - GBP90.60
"Super Advance Return" - GBP68.00
"First Class Off Peak 1" - GBP59.00
"APEX Return" - GBP57.00
"APEX Return" - GBP54.00
"Standard Class Off Peak 2 Return" - GBP39.00

So depending on the time of travel you could be faced with a choice of thirteen different tickets! And some of them are called the same but have different prices and restrictions.

The main ticket types are:
Open Tickets: These have very few restrictions, and allow you to travel on any train at any time. They are fully refundable (bar the admin charge) and sometimes allow you to upgrade to First Class at weekends free of charge.

Saver Returns: These are much cheaper than Open tickets but allow a similar level of flexibility at Off Peak times. They are not accepted on Peak time services. The "Weekender" ticket is similar.

Superadvance and APEX: These tickets generally only allow you to travel on one specific train (if you miss it you'll have to buy another ticket) and cannot be refunded. In many ways they are similar to the cheaper airline tickets.

Please note that I have only summarised the differences, and you ought to look at the National Rail website (www.nationalrail.co.uk) to check the full restrictions.

Can it be this complicated in any other country?


P.S. Incase anyone is wondering, the reason why I am writing "GBP" instead of putting the pound sign is that I don't know how this system responds to such characters and I don't want to confuse anybody ... too much!
Re: Train: London to Edinburgh by sminobe on 6 May 2005 6:53pm
WOW! Thank you, theoaktree, for such thorough information -- I didn't realize just how many options there were! I see many hours of late night research... Fortunately (I think), my daughter & I will only need 1-way tickets.

Ken -- we'll be there July 11 (afternoon) through the 13th. We'll be making our pilgrimage to Doune Castle (with our coconuts) on either the 12th or 13th. Would that be any closer to you? Email me & let's get together! Apparently, this crowd is a bit fearful (see "Meet & Greet" thread in Blathering On), so we could meet in a public place with escape routes for our mutual pieces of minds. 8-)

[email protected]

PS: Got my Spamalot t-shirt, 2 cans of the collectors SPAM & a button that says "Ni! Ni! Ni!" yesterday!! I love my NY cousin!!
Re: Train: London to Edinburgh by simon1287 on 11 May 2005 8:37pm
Based upon personal experience with GNER- the ECML Train Operating Company between London and Edinburgh, it may be cheaper to buy a return ticket for a one way journey and just forget about the return portion.
However, check both one way and return options when purchasing/browsing as the system will rarely tell you that a return ticket is cheaper when searching one way options.
I usually use the ECML between Doncaster and Kings Cross but I travelled north to Glasgow (which travels via Edinburgh) back in March and I must say that the scenery between Newcastle and Berwick upon Tweed is quite marvellous and in my view, the only reason you need to decide upon the ECML (GNER) as opposed to the WCML.
Hope that helps. It's nice to see that my GNERTime membership paid off! :-)

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