How to Travel on British Rail

1.

Plan your trip using a British rail map, which is available online in a flash version. Find routes and determine which connections you'll need to reach your destination if direct service is unavailable.

2.

Buy a BritRail Flexipass, BritRail England Flexipass or BritRail Consecutive Pass, which are available for purchase online, at local British rail stations and at travel agents in the U.S. and abroad. Opt for unlimited travel on the national rail networks. The consecutive pass permits four, eight, 15 or 22 days or one month of consecutive travel. The Flexipass permits three, four, eight or 15 days of consecutive or nonconsecutive travel in a two-month period.

3.

Purchase a point-to-point rail ticket. For example, point-to-point rail tickets are available from London to Edinburgh, which is just over four hours; London to Glasgow, which is just under five hours; London to Oxford, which clocks in at just under two hours; London to York, which is just under an hour's journey; and London to Manchester, which is about 2 ¼ hours.

4.

Tour your favorite cities using British rail. Head to Stratford-upon-Avon for the Royal Shakespeare Theater or travel to Anne Hathaway's Cottage, where Shakespeare's wife's lived before marrying him. Go pub hopping in York, where there are more pubs per square mile than in any other city in England.

Tips and Warnings

  • Book an airport transfer if you are flying in from the U.S. and boarding the national rail networks of Great Britain for the first time at Heathrow, Gatwick or Stansted.
  • Choose between first- and second-class seating.
  • Just like on a plane, first class accommodation is more spacious and comfortable. Some train journeys offer first-class passengers complimentary food and drink service.
  • Overcrowding can lead to standing in the second-class seating area, so arrive early to take advantage of limited seating.
  • Follow station signs, which are centrally located, to find your departure gate.
  • Britain is home to such major cities as London, Edinburgh and Manchester. Travelers in search of a weekend or even a monthlong train-hopping adventure across the country can use consecutive or flexible rail passes that are good at a variety of stations along the national rail network.