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Thread: London to Fort William sleeper train

  1. #16
    Senior Member CambridgeSkip's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by Neil Williams View Post
    It won't have been a through ticket, it will have been a pile of tickets. TCV through ticketing basically doesn't exist any more and hasn't for years.

    You can break a UK journey up like that too - and if you are using the Sleeper you are probably very well advised to do that as the "dedicated" seated sleeper fares are very good value compared with a regular walk-up ticket for a journey of that distance.

    So use the Caledonian Sleeper website to book the bits on that, then book the rest separately. Make sure you leave a decent connection time (the minima vary by station, but there aren't any that are more than 30 minutes unless you cross London in which case you should leave an hour).

    Compare prices first though. brfares.com is useful for finding out what the walk up fares are.

    - - - Updated - - -

    By the way - loco2.com is good for pricing up complicated international stuff. It can also do UK tickets.
    I think we did indeed end up with a pile of bots of paper. However, from a customer service perspective it was a through ticket. We told their website where we were starting from and where we wanted to get to. The website told us which trains to use, demanded by credit card details and hey presto! Tickets arrived a couple of days later.

    Re the Scotland tickets good advice and the kind of thing I always do. Alas on this occasion necessity dictates we travel up on a Friday night. Never a good time for cheap fares. I've checked it out and basically we're out of luck for any discount tickets. I'll be checking again though at the station. Alas we do need a human being as complex arrangements having two people share a cabin one getting off at crewe on the way back and one carrying on to Euston.

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    By the way stations can do Caledonian Sleeper bookings as well - though some staff will claim they can't as they don't know how to. If you went to a large station they should have someone who can do all of it.

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    Senior Member CambridgeSkip's Avatar
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    All now booked but not without industrial levels of faff.

    Having been told on the phone that I can book through from Cambridge at the station I get to the station and get told that is no longer the case. You can only book between stations on the sleeper route. Various attempts made to do just that by he station staff who kept getting an error message on the screen.

    In the end I gave up and rang the Caledonian sleeper phone number again only to be quoted a price 40 cheaper than I'd been quoted earlier in the day by the same phone line! Booked that. But strewth what a pain it's all been.

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    You *can* book through, they were doing something wrong. But I suspect that by splitting the journey down you have probably got it cheaper.

    Of course it would be made easier if the UK switched to the common European (well, Romance - the Germanic countries use a system like ours) model of a separate ticket for each train that has to come with reservation - but we would lose a lot of flexibility that way.

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    Senior Member CambridgeSkip's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by Neil Williams View Post
    You *can* book through, they were doing something wrong.
    I suspect that is the case.

    the trouble is that until recently Cambridge station had a separate ticket office for advance tickets. The people that worked in it were fantastic and seemed to be the fountain of all knowledge on all kinds of tickets. We regularly take scouts places by train and without fail the advance office at the station has always produced the best quote with some quite imaginative ways of doing things. Included more than once sending some children on adult tickets.

    Alas though since the (desperately needed in fairness) rebuild the advance ticket office has been got rid off and you get served by whoever is on the ticket desk next who spend 95% of the day selling returns to London or renewing season tickets and don't seem to have the knowledge.

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    a quiver full of barbs merryweather's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by ianw View Post
    I went to Aberdeen from London on the sleeper, on the way to the Shetlands. I was 11. I can remember being at the train station, and I remember being on Aberdeen docks, huge jellyfish in the water, and eating chips. I remember nothing from in between. Or if I do, I don't know if it's my imagination filling in the details. I don't remember the ferry journey, another overnight I'd guess. No idea how we got to our croft on Yell either.

    Hmm, this isn't really helpful is it? Can't imagine doing that with my explorers now, let alone scout age kids. All to live in a croft for a couple of weeks, go for walks and play on the sandy beach.
    aberdeen to london on a sleeper train!!!??? i thought you were always someone up for a challenge not for hopping on a train and dozing off?

    aberdeen to penzance, 8.20 am weekday & saturday mornings, direct, no changes, 45 stations, just under 14h travel?

    iirc and not because i'm a sad railway geek!!

    however i will admit on my last train journey the other week, swansea to shrewsbury (with the train going on to crewe), recalling the announcer taking an age calling the 40 stations, then the 27 of these that were request stops, in english; and then all 40 stations, followed by the 27 that were request stops, in welsh.

    just the one coach (class 153 dmu). just 3 passengers travelling swansea to shrewsbury. there is a loo and they now do trolley service!

    you ain't travelled on a real train until you've done one of these journeys!

    TM
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  7. #22
    Senior Member roger-uk's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by merryweather View Post
    aberdeen to london on a sleeper train!!!??? i thought you were always someone up for a challenge not for hopping on a train and dozing off?

    aberdeen to penzance, 8.20 am weekday & saturday mornings, direct, no changes, 45 stations, just under 14h travel?

    iirc and not because i'm a sad railway geek!!

    however i will admit on my last train journey the other week, swansea to shrewsbury (with the train going on to crewe), recalling the announcer taking an age calling the 40 stations, then the 27 of these that were request stops, in english; and then all 40 stations, followed by the 27 that were request stops, in welsh.

    just the one coach (class 153 dmu). just 3 passengers travelling swansea to shrewsbury. there is a loo and they now do trolley service!

    you ain't travelled on a real train until you've done one of these journeys!

    TM
    You must be a glutton for pinishment
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  9. #23
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    Quote Originally Posted by roger-uk View Post
    You must be a glutton for pinishment
    That route (Heart of Wales, not Aberdeen to Penzance) is on my list, it's meant to be very scenic.

  10. #24
    ESL and DESC ianw's Avatar
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    See, my dad was my scout leader, and found the farmers fields for summer camp, they quite often seemed to be near steam railways. Dart valley in Devon, Bala in N Wales, okay, Brecon Beacons was the exception. In fact, the Dart Valley one, if he positioned his caravan in the right place, he could see the trains go past out the window, across the river and water meadows. That's a scenic train ride for sure. Mind you, my local steamer, the Watercress Line, on a warm summer's evening chuffing through the rolling farmland of Hampshire with a beer in hand is a delight too.

    Proper train services? The one from Barnstaple to Exeter is rather delightful. Sandstone station buildings request stops and all.
    Ian Wilkins
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    Senior Member Puzzledbyadream's Avatar
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    I love trains, and thus have been very quietly enjoying this thread. Agree about Barnstaple to Exeter, it's lush. Got a special place in my heart for the Norwich-Sheringham line myself.
    Nyika (formerly Bagheera)

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    Quote Originally Posted by merryweather View Post
    aberdeen to london on a sleeper train!!!??? i thought you were always someone up for a challenge not for hopping on a train and dozing off?

    aberdeen to penzance, 8.20 am weekday & saturday mornings, direct, no changes, 45 stations, just under 14h travel?

    iirc and not because i'm a sad railway geek!!

    however i will admit on my last train journey the other week, swansea to shrewsbury (with the train going on to crewe), recalling the announcer taking an age calling the 40 stations, then the 27 of these that were request stops, in english; and then all 40 stations, followed by the 27 that were request stops, in welsh.

    just the one coach (class 153 dmu). just 3 passengers travelling swansea to shrewsbury. there is a loo and they now do trolley service!

    you ain't travelled on a real train until you've done one of these journeys!

    TM
    Shrewsbury to Barmouth (Cambrian Coast line) on a summer Saturday was also one to sort the faint hearted from those made of sterner stuff. Usually rammed full leaving Shrewsbury (lost count of how many times I made that trip sitting on the luggage rack at the end of the carriage) and with it being a single track line, with limited crossing places for trains to pass, any loss of time on either the up or down service meant delaying trains in the other direction, which would then delay the next one each way. By 6pm on a Saturday the cumulative delays up near Barmouth could be quite spectacular. But its also a wonderful run - especially the bit up from Dovey Junction along the coast - just don't look down along the Friog section if you don't have a great head for heights!

    When I was very small my grandparents lived in Knucklas which is one of the stops on the Heart of Wales line - we used to regularly watch the trains coming round to the viaduct and if we were really lucky we'd get taken up the road (literally 200 yards) to the tiny station to get the train into Knighton. Only have very vague memories of that so must go back and do that again one day.
    Does anyone know what's going on?

  13. #27
    a quiver full of barbs merryweather's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by Neil Williams View Post
    That route (Heart of Wales, not Aberdeen to Penzance) is on my list, it's meant to be very scenic.
    HoWL is highly recommended and if you enjoy travelling, especially by train, then it's one not to miss. be aware that some views are restricted in high summer with the growth of trackside trees and shrubs. try to do a trip on the line every now and then (taking bikes down to Swansea to ride round the gower) last trip just a couple of weeks ago, to dolau first and then on to Swansea and then back to shrewsbury.

    a trolley service on the train is relatively new but very welcome. (the trolley service is only between shrewsbury and Swansea.) most guide books advise travellers on the service to go to the loo first and take plenty of sandwiches, flask of tea, and chocolate (but not needed now). just four services a day, weekdays and Saturdays. sometimes can be busy with tourists, sometimes the operator, arriva trains wales, ATW, puts on 2 or even (extremely rare) 3 coaches in peak season.

    generally runs from terminus platform at amythig (shrewsbury), platform 5. runs down the marches line to church stretton and craven arms and enters the latter station on the 'wrong platform' after picking up the token from the signal box. from this platform the lines branches off right about 100 yards past the end of the platform. you plunge into wild mid-wales. essentially all there is between here and Swansea are lots of small hamlets, a few villages, one or two small towns, more sheep, and bags of scenery which changes frequently as the line threads its way through the valleys and over the watersheds by bridges, viaducts and tunnels.

    first scheduled stop is tref-y-clawdd (knighton) in the teme valley. you have been and still are in England! (knighton the town is in wales but not the station) you soon enter wales and cross cnwclas viaduct. there are some stations called 'road' which is similar to the modern day use of 'parkway', which translated into English from railway speak means 'not any where near the place!' llandrindod is the only manned station on the line.

    Sugar Loaf railway station is a remote countryside station in Powys and is the most remote station on the Heart of Wales Line. The railway station is located at the foot of Sugar Loaf Mountain, Powys next to the A483 road. This station is mainly used by trekkers and cyclists since it is the nearest stop to the Sugar Loaf vantage point. the platform is very short - the train is longer - and there is just a small shelter.

    Dolau station OTOH is very pretty and maintained to an exceptional standard by volunteers. it has won a number of best station awards.

    most of the track is single line with occasional passing places such as at knighton, llandrindod, Llandovery and llanwrtyd. trains only pass though at the latter station but unusually not all of the train passes! the downtrain from shrewsbury normally gets in first to llanwrtyd followed by the uptrain from Swansea about 5-10 minutes later. the crew of the up train then swaps with the crew of the downtrain thus you have one crew on two trains on the south half and the other crew on two trains on the northern half. when the new crew gets on your train they normally check the tickets again (mainly checking to see who needs request stops between llanwrtyd and the end Swansea or shrewsbury).

    iirc, the last token change is at pantyfynnon signal box, which controls traffic on the line, and then the line doubles the rest of the way into Swansea. at llandeilo junction the HOWL joins the south wales main line and runs into Llanelli, from where the driver changes ends and it reverses out for gowerton and finally down the hill to Swansea.

    the HoWL has more entries in this book than most lines in the country: https://www.amazon.co.uk/Britains-Le.../dp/0993431607

    delightful.

    if you get on at shrewsbury with a ticket all the way to Swansea you can sometimes get a strange look from the conductor. on our last trip we came from Wrexham general catching a connecting train from there that was heading to Llanelli via the marches line and south wales main line arriving an hour earlier; hence, we had got on a train to Llanelli, got off it at shrewsbury, to get a much slower train to... Llanelli.

    it is worth it.

    TM
    going...going...still here...just

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  15. #28
    a quiver full of barbs merryweather's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by ianw View Post
    Proper train services? The one from Barnstaple to Exeter is rather delightful. Sandstone station buildings request stops and all.
    the tarka line from Exeter Central to Barnstaple is one of our great little railways. again, highly recommended.

    travelled it last summer staying at eggesford (in a tree house) for a few days. eggesford is one of the few scheduled stops on the line, most others are request stops. single track most of the way with passing loops - the main one being at eggesford where the trains cross. very easy to ride down to the station (200 yards) and hop on a train\, north to Barnstaple and the tarka cycle trail, or south to Exeter for the exe estuary trail.

    also has a few entries in the Britain's least used stations book I mentioned above.

    best deal was to get a devon day ranger - and use a railcard to knock 1/3 off - to get a ticket which is valid across all devon for the day for under 10.

    can also use the line on a sunday to get the branch to okehampton and ride the granite way trail.

    excellent.

    you haven't been on a real train unless you've been on the tarka line.

    TM
    going...going...still here...just

  16. #29
    a quiver full of barbs merryweather's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by merryweather View Post
    you haven't been on a real train unless you've been on the tarka line.TM
    and while i'm at it may i also plug the avocet line, exeter st davids to exmouth.did this too while i was down there last year while also doing the exe estuary cycle trail.we did the cycle trail starting at st davids, down to the river, along the west bank following the ship canal to turf hotel, then down the estuary to starcross, cross over on the ferry (which can carry bikes) to exmouth, and then back up the east bank following the trail which runs alongside the avocet line railway for much of the way.on other days we went on the train(s) to dartmouth via torquay and to exmouth again using the cheap day ranger.lots of estuary views from the avocet line. double track to exmouth junction (just after st jame's park) then single all the way with a passing loop at topsham.you haven't been on a real train until you've been on the avocet line.TM
    going...going...still here...just

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    The Conwy Valley is also highly recommended. You can do a loop around North Wales in summer when the Ffestiniog Railway is running, start at Chester or Shrewsbury then go to Llandudno Jn, Blaenau, Porthmadog, Machynlleth, Shrewsbury and Chester. Lovely scenery, there's a special ticket for it as well.

    And if you're up those parts the newly built Welsh Highland Railway is worth a go, it has a curious European mainline feel to it.

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