Cheapest way from Reading to London

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Hi all,

I've been reading into this but am finding myself a bit confused! What exactly is the cheapest route from Reading to London these days, especially for off-peak leisure travel? A couple of complications:

  • I have a disabled railcard, which can be loaded onto an Oyster card but *not* contactless. Tap in/tap out works at Reading with contactless (and maybe a GWR card?) but *not* oyster...
  • I often travel with a 6 year old, and so she should be free with me between Reading and London on TfL rail (which is the Elizabeth Line trains?)
In the past I have always just bought a discounted paper day travelcard, to keep things as easy as possible. Seems like the cheapest option for me and my daughter would be to continue doing that, but to take the slower train so she is free?

Cheers!
 
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Watershed

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Hi all,

I've been reading into this but am finding myself a bit confused! What exactly is the cheapest route from Reading to London these days, especially for off-peak leisure travel? A couple of complications:

  • I have a disabled railcard, which can be loaded onto an Oyster card but *not* contactless. Tap in/tap out works at Reading with contactless (and maybe a GWR card?) but *not* oyster...
  • I often travel with a 6 year old, and so she should be free with me between Reading and London on TfL rail (which is the Elizabeth Line trains?)
In the past I have always just bought a discounted paper day travelcard, to keep things as easy as possible. Seems like the cheapest option for me and my daughter would be to continue doing that, but to take the slower train so she is free?

Cheers!
The cheapest option for you would likely be to buy a paper ticket seeing as you have a Railcard, which (as you say) cannot be used with contactless for the time being.

Splitting at Taplow is actually a little bit cheaper than a through ticket - £14.05 vs £14.95. With a split at Taplow, you would have to take a train that calls there, which generally only the EL services do (except for a handful of early morning and late night GWR stopping services). But if you want to use the free child offer you would be limited to EL services anyway.

If you will also be making some bus or Tube journeys whilst in London, then a Travelcard is probably worthwhile. In this case splitting at Maidenhead is also slightly cheaper, at £17.65 vs £18.45 for a through ticket.

If you have a concessionary bus pass then obviously using this for part of the journey (e.g. from Slough, which has TfL buses) may be cheaper still, albeit a lot slower.
 

Fawkes Cat

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Splitting at Taplow is actually a little bit cheaper than a through ticket - £14.05 vs £14.95. With a split at Taplow, you would have to take a train that calls there, which generally only the EL services do (except for a handful of early morning and late night GWR stopping services). But if you want to use the free child offer you would be limited to EL services anyway.

If you will also be making some bus or Tube journeys whilst in London, then a Travelcard is probably worthwhile. In this case splitting at Maidenhead is also slightly cheaper, at £17.65 vs £18.45 for a through ticket.
For these options, it might be worth bearing in mind that two trains an hour call at Taplow, but four at Maidenhead.
 

nickswift99

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If you have a concessionary bus pass and time is not of the essence, you might wish to take the 702 bus from Reading to Victoria. This would be free for you and, I think but the website is unclear, £4.50 for a child. Note that if you are a Reading resident, there's no time restriction on disabled concessionary passes.
 
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Thanks everyone! Hadn't considered splitting at Maidenhead, cheers. No disabled concessionary pass for me (TBH I do qualify for the disabled railcard, but I don't think I "should". I'm in on a technicality but not going to look a gift horse in the mouth.)

When I'm by myself I'll just continue to get a travelcard from Reading, but splitting at Maidenhead on the Elizabeth Line seems a great option when with daughter. Though those trains don't have toilets do they? Not ideal for an hour's journey with a small child!
 

PeterC

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Thanks everyone! Hadn't considered splitting at Maidenhead, cheers. No disabled concessionary pass for me (TBH I do qualify for the disabled railcard, but I don't think I "should". I'm in on a technicality but not going to look a gift horse in the mouth.)

When I'm by myself I'll just continue to get a travelcard from Reading, but splitting at Maidenhead on the Elizabeth Line seems a great option when with daughter. Though those trains don't have toilets do they? Not ideal for an hour's journey with a small child!
Correct they don't have toilets. IIRC the original intention was only to run as far as Maidenhead.
 

JonathanH

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IIRC the original intention was only to run as far as Maidenhead.
The original intention was to ensure that the cost of Reading station remodelling and electrification didn't sit on the Crossrail budget, risking its approval. It doesn't seem likely that running to Reading or Maidenhead swayed the toilet decision.

As it is, running Crossrail to Reading seems to have turned out beneficial from a fares perspective for many users, bringing contactless sooner, although maybe a split of the service at Maidenhead would have given more opportunity for passengers to have time to split tickets, in the instance where a touch out is required.
 

2192

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Presumably Maidenhead station has toilets, and no doubt someone here knows which platform(s) they are on?
 

matt_world2004

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If you need regular toilet access. My advise is get off the train at a station east of Hayes and Harlington ( The frequency increases east of Hayes.) All stations east of Hayes that the reading train stops at has toilets on the platform
 
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Cheers all! But when you have a kid with you it's much easier to walk down to an (admittedly filthy) toilet on the train than to ask them to wait 10 minutes then gather up all their belongings, etc. Paying a fare for her is worth it to avoid that!
 

Birmingham

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Yes, if I was in your situation I’d just pony up for the half fare for your daughter for the fast train. The hour all-stops journey must be incredibly tedious at the best of times, let alone with a kid.
 
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Yes, if I was in your situation I’d just pony up for the half fare for your daughter for the fast train. The hour all-stops journey must be incredibly tedious at the best of times, let alone with a kid.
It's not too bad actually, by myself. I grew up in an area where the train to the nearest city took an hour to cover 50 miles, so that feels about 'right' to me. Besides the toilet, the main advantage of fewer stops on the faster train is fewer obnoxious announcements!
 

extendedpaul

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If you have a concessionary bus pass and time is not of the essence, you might wish to take the 702 bus from Reading to Victoria. This would be free for you and, I think but the website is unclear, £4.50 for a child. Note that if you are a Reading resident, there's no time restriction on disabled concessionary passes.
I have also looked into whether I may use my recently-acquired bus pass on that route, albeit from Victoria to Reading, rather than catch a train from Paddington or Waterloo for a one-way-only journey next month, and could not find a definitive answer on the Reading Buses website. Does anyone know for sure ?
 
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Watershed

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I have also looked into whether I may use my recently-acquired bus pass on that route, albeit from Victoria to Reading, rather than catch a train from Paddington or Waterloo for a one-way-only journey next month, and could not find a definitive answer on the Reading Buses website. Does anyone know for sure ?
What kind of bus pass do you have? An ENCTS one? In that case it is valid on all registered bus services in England, after 09:30 on weekdays. Which would include the 702.
 

extendedpaul

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What kind of bus pass do you have? An ENCTS one? In that case it is valid on all registered bus services in England, after 09:30 on weekdays. Which would include the 702.
Perhaps this should be moved to the Buses & Coaches forum but I understand that on the 755/757 Green Line service from Victoria ENCTS passes are only valid to stops in Hertfordshire and not to Luton or Luton Airport. However very cheap rail ticket advances are available from St Pancras to Luton now so that's not a journey I would make by bus or coach anyway.

Paddington or Waterloo to Reading is significantly more expensive by train because as far as I know advance tickets are not available. I think Reading Buses 702 was formerly also a Green Line service, hence my uncertainty about using an ENCTS pass on that route to Reading or even on to Windsor. Is it now a registered bus service with ENCTS validity on the whole or part route ?
 

Haywain

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Perhaps this should be moved to the Buses & Coaches forum but I understand that on the 755/757 Green Line service from Victoria ENCTS passes are only valid to stops in Hertfordshire and not to Luton or Luton Airport.
Passes can be used on the 757 between London and Luton. I made a specific enquiry about this only a week ago with Arriva staff. The facility to use passes was withdrawn during Covid but has been reinstated now.
 

extendedpaul

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That's very useful. Thank you.

From a google search I reached www.arrivabus.co.uk/greenline/greenline-tickets and under a heading "Special travel deals for people over 60" it states "....concessionary bus pass ... not valid for free journeys from Luton or Luton Airport and a single discounted ticket must be purchased. "

I assumed that was still correct and applied to travel from London to Luton as well, although only Greater London residents are likely to qualify for concessionary travel at 60.
 

Haywain

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That's very useful. Thank you.

From a google search I reached www.arrivabus.co.uk/greenline/greenline-tickets and under a heading "Special travel deals for people over 60" it states "....concessionary bus pass ... not valid for free journeys from Luton or Luton Airport and a single discounted ticket must be purchased. "

I assumed that was still correct and applied to travel from London to Luton as well, although only Greater London residents are likely to qualify for concessionary travel at 60.
Well, that page is not in accordance with what the Arriva enquiries desk at Luton station told me about travel from Luton. A reduced fare is payable before 0930 (Mon-Fri) but otherwise free for ENCTS pass holders.
 

nickswift99

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I have also looked into whether I may use my recently-acquired bus pass on that route, albeit from Victoria to Reading, rather than catch a train from Paddington or Waterloo for a one-way-only journey next month, and could not find a definitive answer on the Reading Buses website. Does anyone know for sure ?
They are definitely valid. The 702 is a normal bus route and I know of users of this route who have used a concessionary pass.
 

lightbulb

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Well, that page is not in accordance with what the Arriva enquiries desk at Luton station told me about travel from Luton. A reduced fare is payable before 0930 (Mon-Fri) but otherwise free for ENCTS pass holders.

The situation on Green Line 755 and 757 is that ENCTS passes are not accepted for any journey commencing in Luton, but are accepted for any journey commencing in Hertfordshire (i.e. Bricket Wood) or London (i.e. Brent Cross – Victoria) in either direction. Therefore ENCTS passes are valid for travel from London and Bricket Wood to Luton, but not from Luton on any journey.

The easiest way around the restriction on boarding in Luton is to take the 321 to Bricket Wood, and then the 757 to London.
 

Haywain

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ENCTS passes are not accepted for any journey commencing in Luton, but are accepted for any journey commencing in Hertfordshire (i.e. Bricket Wood) or London (i.e. Brent Cross – Victoria) in either direction. Therefore ENCTS passes are valid for travel from London and Bricket Wood to Luton, but not from Luton on any journey
This is not what Arriva staff told me under a week ago.
 

lightbulb

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This is not what Arriva staff told me under a week ago.

As a weekly user of the 757 with an ENCTS pass, I'd like to assure you that the information you were given by Arriva staff recently is inaccurate.

Having tried to use my ENCTS pass in Luton, it was rejected by the card reader, and I was refused travel unless I bought a ticket. THe driver confirmed that the ticket machines were programmed to reject ENCTS passes in Luton, but not in Hertfordshire and London. The withdrawal of ENCTS passes on the 757 for journeys commencing in Luton occured a couple of years ago because both Arriva and the Local Authority (Luton) withdrew their support, and there was a page on the Luton.gov website outlining the situation at the time, although I cannot locate it now.

The Arriva website
says:

Special travel deals for people over 60

Your concessionary bus pass is valid for free travel when boarding in Hertfordshire or London. It is not valid for free journeys from Luton or Luton Airport and a discounted single ticket must be purchased.
 

Haywain

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As a weekly user of the 757 with an ENCTS pass, I'd like to assure you that the information you were given by Arriva staff recently is inaccurate.

Having tried to use my ENCTS pass in Luton, it was rejected by the card reader, and I was refused travel unless I bought a ticket. THe driver confirmed that the ticket machines were programmed to reject ENCTS passes in Luton, but not in Hertfordshire and London. The withdrawal of ENCTS passes on the 757 for journeys commencing in Luton occured a couple of years ago because both Arriva and the Local Authority (Luton) withdrew their support, and there was a page on the Luton.gov website outlining the situation at the time, although I cannot locate it now.

The Arriva website
says:

Special travel deals for people over 60

Your concessionary bus pass is valid for free travel when boarding in Hertfordshire or London. It is not valid for free journeys from Luton or Luton Airport and a discounted single ticket must be purchased.
The information I received was from the information kiosk at Luton Interchange, staffed by Arriva. I specifically referred to the change that had occurred around the time of CoVid, meaning that from Luton free travel was not available, and was clearly told that the situation had changed and that was no longer the case. Perhaps you should call in there and enquire of them, which I shall definitely be doing in the near future.
 

lightbulb

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The information I received was from the information kiosk at Luton Interchange, staffed by Arriva. I specifically referred to the change that had occurred around the time of CoVid, meaning that from Luton free travel was not available, and was clearly told that the situation had changed and that was no longer the case. Perhaps you should call in there and enquire of them, which I shall definitely be doing in the near future.

I enquired as you suggested, and was told that travel is now indeed permitted from Luton. So this evening I thought it would give it a go, changing from my usual route on the 321 to Bricket Wood, then the 757 from there. I took the Airparks bus from Slip End to the Airport, and boarded the 757 there. However, my pass was declined, and the driver informed me that I had to pay (£8 single) to London. I queried this, saying that the Arriva Travel Centre staff had told me that the situation had changed, and the driver agreed that it had, but that travel is still not permitted when boarding at Luton Airport in either direction. However, he did confirm that free travel is permitted from Luton Station, and so I took the Stagecoach 99 from the Airport to the Station, where I am now waiting for the next 757 to London...
 

yorkie

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It would actually be more expensive to walk, when considering the total cost, even ignoring the value of your time (which really shouldn't be considered to be zero, at least not for most people! )

As the question has been answered I'll lock this thread, but if they original poster has any further queries they can report this post to get it unlocked.
 
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