Trains: Wallet can't take the strain? Coach it.

GrahamG

Veteran
Location
Bristol
Normally take the train for leisure journeys? Read on...

OK, so I've recently moved from Birmingham to Bristol and I used to get the Chiltern Railways £15 return to London to visit friends.

Now we've only got First Great Western as the rail operating company, so I checked advance tickets on sale for a weekend in March for myself and my girlfriend - cheapest advanced singles come to a total of £69, with 'saver' open returns available at £98 (that's £49 each!). I'm starting to feel the sting at this point for what is normally a cheap weekend catching up with friends.

Now, as it's a leisure journey, we're not quite as time sensitive as we would be for business travel (for which the train is the default!), so I check out the National Express website. They do a totally flexible return for about £26 each but also do their own version of advance singles where you are more restricted - so I check availability as both journeys are 'off-peak' and it's no more restricted than the cheaper train option.....

£14 all in. For two people. To London. There and back.

It'll take an hour longer than the train according to the timetable and could be even longer with traffic taken into account. I think we can live with that when saving over £50.

Just thought I'd post this as I've not used National Express for a good few years with the exception of airport runs (for which they are not that cheap!), and didn't realise they did value tickets. Only other negative is that we can't just take our bikes to avoid using the tube.
 

Arch

Married to Night Train
Location
Salford, UK
I think it depends on the route, I just compared York to Leicester, and the price is about the same, but it takes 2 hours longer by coach - 4 hours as opposed to 2 (with a 40min wait at Leeds). I've done it before, and it stops at every town along the way...

And for Winchester, again, virtually same price, but a shortest journey of 7 hours (with 40mins in London) as opposed to just under 5hrs on the strain, and straight though.

I think if you are going to London, it makes sense, but for other places, perhaps not so much....
 

JamesAC

Senior Member
Location
London
I had to make a journey from London to Chesterfield at short notice (a funeral) so I booked a National Express coach day return.

The journey up was so uncomfortable - it took ages in cramped small seats, hot, sticky, airless, no proper loos, no buffet - that I booked a single home on the train, and hang the expense!!
 

Cycling Naturalist

Legendary Member
Location
Llangollen
Arch said:
I think it depends on the route, I just compared York to Leicester, and the price is about the same, but it takes 2 hours longer by coach - 4 hours as opposed to 2 (with a 40min wait at Leeds). I've done it before, and it stops at every town along the way...

And for Winchester, again, virtually same price, but a shortest journey of 7 hours (with 40mins in London) as opposed to just under 5hrs on the strain, and straight though.

I think if you are going to London, it makes sense, but for other places, perhaps not so much....
When I was at law school in Guildford, I tried to go home to Shropshire by coach. The coach driver got lost in Telford.
 

Arch

Married to Night Train
Location
Salford, UK
Patrick Stevens said:
When I was at law school in Guildford, I tried to go home to Shropshire by coach. The coach driver got lost in Telford.
Isn't that about the most exciting thing there is to do in Telford, get lost?

I have to say, on the couple of occasions I've used coaches, they haven't been that uncomfortable, but the extra time does drag, especially more than an hour, and if it's no cheaper....

I do remember the the Orkney Ferries coach, from JoG to Inverness, we travelled the long straight flat bit to Wick, and THEN, once we were into hilly twisty roads south of Wick, they dished up the hot drinks, which I thought, as hot tea slopped into my lap, was a tactical error.
 

TheDoctor

Resistance is futile!
Moderator
Location
Stevenage
I once made the trip from Dahn Sarf to North Wales on the coach. Dear oh lord. Took over 7 hours (as against under 5 on the timetable). I lost the will to live by Birmingham, and we were only half way there by then.
Ashamed to say, I've driven every time since, except for going on the train once. Change at London, Crewe and Chester, where I got the wrong train and had an inadvertent diversion to Wrexham and back.
 
U

User482

Guest
GrahamG said:
Normally take the train for leisure journeys? Read on...

OK, so I've recently moved from Birmingham to Bristol and I used to get the Chiltern Railways £15 return to London to visit friends.

Now we've only got First Great Western as the rail operating company, so I checked advance tickets on sale for a weekend in March for myself and my girlfriend - cheapest advanced singles come to a total of £69, with 'saver' open returns available at £98 (that's £49 each!). I'm starting to feel the sting at this point for what is normally a cheap weekend catching up with friends.

Now, as it's a leisure journey, we're not quite as time sensitive as we would be for business travel (for which the train is the default!), so I check out the National Express website. They do a totally flexible return for about £26 each but also do their own version of advance singles where you are more restricted - so I check availability as both journeys are 'off-peak' and it's no more restricted than the cheaper train option.....

£14 all in. For two people. To London. There and back.

It'll take an hour longer than the train according to the timetable and could be even longer with traffic taken into account. I think we can live with that when saving over £50.

Just thought I'd post this as I've not used National Express for a good few years with the exception of airport runs (for which they are not that cheap!), and didn't realise they did value tickets. Only other negative is that we can't just take our bikes to avoid using the tube.
Top tip: get off the coach at Earl's Court rather than Victoria - you avoid being stuck in a heap of traffic, and the stop's opposite the tube station. Unfortunately you can't do this on the way back to Bristol.
 
OP
G

GrahamG

Veteran
Location
Bristol
Good pointers there, thanks!

I understand many of the train comments as I use the trains a lot for work (driving would be verging on idiotic due to the massively variable journey time), and have also used coaches in the past. I think some of it has to do with First Great Western being so ridiculously expensive and having the monopoly on this little corner of the UK so some of my choice is on principle as well as economics.
The longer journey is a bit nasty, but we're just going to make sure we take a good book. Maybe travel scrabble too, and The Times, and maybe a copy of War and Peace.
 
Cambridge - Oxford

Train: £40 quid return off peak, three changes including Tube, 3 hours
Coach: £14 quid whenever, no changes, 3.5 hours.

A fairly simple choice for me!
 

Rob S

New Member
Location
Plymouth
GrahamG said:
Now we've only got First Great Western as the rail operating company, so I checked advance tickets on sale for a weekend in March for myself and my girlfriend - cheapest advanced singles come to a total of £69, with 'saver' open returns available at £98 (that's £49 each!). I'm starting to feel the sting at this point for what is normally a cheap weekend catching up with friends.
.
Which weekend in March is this? Easter weekend? I can sell Plymouth-London advance tickets for less than a total of £69 for two, return....so something looks wrong there.

And it's not just Great Western that are ridiculously expensive, all train travel over any significant distance where you don't book in advance seems to be embarrassingly high but then a quick look at a National Express timetable reveals why the coach is such a bargain. The network of services are tiny in comparison. Although Bristol to London is a reasonable hourly service as you would expect there are only about 50 seats per service. And go somewhere other than London and you see where the money is saved...if you fancy a day trip to Birmingham from Plymouth by train you can get there as early as 1000 and leave at 1930....go by National Express and their first coach will get there at 1320 and you'll have to be back on the last bus home at 1500.
 

jonesy

Legendary Member
IIRC, there may be cheaper fares available via Salisbury and Waterloo. There used to be a South West trains service that way and I think some of the fares may remain. Possibly one of those situations where you need two tickets, e.g. Bristol - Salisbury and Salisbury-Waterloo. Much slower than via Paddington, but nicer than a coach.
 

Keith Oates

Janner
Location
Penarth, Wales
I once did took the coach from Heathrow to Cardiff and was very happy with the journey. I forget the price but I know it was much cheaper than the train!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!
 

Paulus

Started young, and still going.
Location
Barnet,
Morrisette said:
Cambridge - Oxford

Train: £40 quid return off peak, three changes including Tube, 3 hours
Coach: £14 quid whenever, no changes, 3.5 hours.

A fairly simple choice for me!
Thank Mr Beeching for that There used to be a direct service between the two up 'till 1968.
 

summerdays

Cycling in the sun
Location
Bristol
Last August I took the train from Bristol Parkway to Slough with my 3 children - cost £10 total... £4 for me, and £2 each for them...
I couldn't believe it was so cheap, and kept expecting someone to ask me to pay the rest.
 
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