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Review: Network Rail

Travel Service - Bus & train

Rail travel in England

  • By SilverTraveller Terry

    138 reviews

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89 people found this review helpful

One of our favourite TV programmes is "Great British Railway Journeys", and we also like to discover for ourselves the different parts of the country travelling by rail instead of taking the car. Driving these days can be expensive, tiring and frustrating. However, being mere mortals our choice of hotels tends to be less palatial than that of the TV presenter Michael Portillo!

Most journeys are enjoyable, but others can frankly be classed as a nightmare. With these facts in mind, I would like to share some advice for Silver Travellers.

First of all buy a Senior Rail Card – there are great savings to be made on every journey. Then book in advance online – we use There are others, but we find this more useful. Always reserve a seat as this makes all the difference, because younger travellers on long journeys never give up their seats.

Also consider going First Class, it can really be worth the extra. We have travelled First Class to London with Virgin Trains a few times. You get your own table with lots of legroom (this makes all the difference if you suffer with arthritis etc), reclining seat, reading light, free Wi-Fi, and table service with free food and drink. It is also so much better to relax in a First Class lounge with a comfy seat whilst waiting for your train. There are free (Fair-trade) drinks, snacks and newspapers available. There is also an electronic departure screen.Most importantly, for people of our age is a clean accessible loo!

We have also had comfortable and reliable train journeys with Arriva Trains, CrossCountry Trains, First Great Western Trains, Merseyrail, Northern Rail, Southern, London Midland and First TransPennine Trains.

To be quite honest though, we have found that East Midlands Trains have been awful. The price may be right, but that's about all. Invariably, even on longer journeys, there is only a two-car train. So your reserved seat counts for nothing – it's the first to barge in gets the seat. The last journey we took with East Midlands, there were pregnant ladies with young children and elderly people on sticks standing in the aisles. After you've been standing on a cold draughty platform whilst waiting for a train that's been delayed, it's definitely no joke.

Another thing we have found from experience is that there are more cancelled or delays to trains on Sundays and Bank Holidays.

I've not travelled a lot within London, but there are a number of ways to both save money and make it easier. You can download large print colour tube maps – don't even attempt to use those maps printed in your diary! Other guides to be found online are "Avoiding Stairs Tube Guide", "Tube Toilet map" and accessible guides. It is better to buy an all day ticket and this process is simple too. The machines on each station give clear instructions including a discount for Senior Rail Card holders. It's best of course to avoid the rush hours.

Fortunately, with decent forward planning, travel by train in Britain can be a pleasant way to see parts of the country you haven't visited before. Roll on our next Great British Railway Journey!

89 people found this review helpful

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This review is solely based on the opinion of a Silver Travel Advisor member and not of Silver Travel Advisor Ltd.

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