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Your essential need-to-know facts and information about travelling on the railway network in Britain.
From planning your journey to connecting in London, our travel guide has the essential information on train travel across the British railways network.
To ensure you get your trip off to a smooth start, begin by planning your journey in advance with a British railways network routemap or online journey planner.
There are several ways to buy tickets for travel on the UK railways. It’s usually cheaper if you buy your tickets in advance and travel off-peak (after 9.30am and before 5pm). At most staffed stations, you can buy tickets in advance or for travel on the same day, either from ticket machines or the ticket office. You can also buy tickets in advance from a number of online ticket retailers. They’ll either send the tickets to you by post, or enable you to collect them from ticket machines at many mainline stations.
Mainline trains in the UK usually offer two classes of service: First Class and Standard Class. You’ll usually find a range of services on board, from a buffet car and toilets to bicycle racks, at-seat power and wi-fi Internet. Select services offer at-seat service in First Class, a travelling chef or a dedicated dining car. Because trains can get busy at peak times, it’s usually worth making sure you’ve got a seat reservation.
Local and commuter trains offer fewer services, but many still offer First Class compartments as well as Standard Class. You’ll find toilets on most of these trains. Please check before you travel if you want to take a bicycle with you. It’s not usually possible to make reservations on local trains.
Many mainline and local services in the South of England connect via London. London is home to 13 different mainline terminus stations, with easy connections between them via the London Underground network, also known as the ‘tube’.
Facilities vary widely from station to station and line to line across the British railway network. Mainline stations in cities will normally have a full range of services including ticket offices, shops, bars, cafes, disabled access, taxi ranks and toilets. Rural and suburban stations tend to have far fewer services.