From manchester to London (+Travelcards)

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jeanniehk

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I am based in Hong Kong, ie no railcard. I shall be travelling on July 10 morning from Manchester to London with 2 kids ( age 13 and 15). I want to check the cheaper fare, bear in mind that we have luggages with us. I want to see whether advance booking is required. Can I do it overseas or on site? Date of arrival in Manchester is July 8.

I need to get to East Finchley in London. I have checked that Euston should be the closest station. Can I buy the connection fare ( to tube) together with the rail ticket or do it separately upon arrival in Euston?:D

I am planning to buy a 7 days travelcard (zone 1-3) for myself (adult). Does it have to be consecutive 7 days. Does it come with a normal Oyster card. Do I need to pay activation fee?

My kids are 13 and 15. Can I buy normal Oyster cards for them? They are not travelling as extensive as myself. I have checked that the charge will cap at maximum equivalent to that of a day travel card, if we really have extensive travel. But are photos needed? Where can we buy it? Can we get the refund if there is photo on it?

Can I use my travelcard / Oyster card when travelling from London to places like Windsor, Oxford, Stratford upon Avon, which are of close proximity to London? If not, where can I buy cheaper tickets?

Sorry that this is a long list of questions. Thanks.
 
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cuccir

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I am based in Hong Kong, ie no railcard. I shall be travelling on July 10 morning from Manchester to London with 2 kids ( age 13 and 15). I want to check the cheaper fare, bear in mind that we have luggages with us.

You might want to purchase a Friends and Family railcard when you arrive. These cost £28 (presuming you want a 1 year one), and get 60% of children's tickets, and 33% of adults tickets. I'd have thought that you'd save by doing that.


I want to see whether advance booking is required. Can I do it overseas or on site? Date of arrival in Manchester is July 8.

It is required for some tickets - specifically Advance tickets - which are cheaper tickets tied to one train only. This regulation is followed quite strictly, so if this doesn't suit you then you would be better off buying a different ticket which is more flexible. You can buy on July 8th or 9th (before 16:00), but it may be cheaper to buy now as the number of Advance tickets are limited. You can buy online and arrange to collect them at a TVM (Ticket Vending Machine) at a UK station. I think you should be able to use foreign debit/credit cards at thesecan someone check this last fact?


I need to get to East Finchley in London. I have checked that Euston should be the closest station. Can I buy the connection fare ( to tube) together with the rail ticket or do it separately upon arrival in Euston?:D

You can do either; which is cheaper will depend on your other travel plans.

I am planning to buy a 7 days travelcard (zone 1-3) for myself (adult). Does it have to be consecutive 7 days. Does it come with a normal Oyster card. Do I need to pay activation fee?

My kids are 13 and 15. Can I buy normal Oyster cards for them? They are not travelling as extensive as myself. I have checked that the charge will cap at maximum equivalent to that of a day travel card, if we really have extensive travel. But are photos needed? Where can we buy it? Can we get the refund if there is photo on it?

A full, clear, independent guide to Oyster can be found here. Your questions will be answered there. Some highlights though:

A 7 day Travelcard must be for 7 consecutive days. You can buy a paper (ie, ticket-style) 7 day Travelcard, with no need for Oyster. If you want to travel for more than 7 days, you could get an Oyster card and then buy a 7 day Travelcard which will be loaded on it for the relevant dates. You could then use Oyster pay-as-you-go on the other days.

No photos are required for Oyster cards, and they are available for all passengers. You pay a deposit of £5 for them, but this can be refunded. They can be bought at tube stations, most London train stations, as well as a number of other locations.

Can I use my travelcard / Oyster card when travelling from London to places like Windsor, Oxford, Stratford upon Avon, which are of close proximity to London? If not, where can I buy cheaper tickets?
The short answer is no, not for journeys of that distance. What works out cheapest for you will depend on when you want travel - and as there are so many options, no-one can really guarentee finding the cheapest (for example, it can sometimes be much cheaper to travel on slower, indirect routes, but you may not want to do that). We can advise about specific journeys, however, the same general advice that I gave about the Manchester-London trip also applies.
 

sonic2009

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Depending on where abouts you are staying in the East Finchley area you may wish to consider National Express coaches from Manchester to Golders Green (London).
 

craigwilson

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I think you should be able to use foreign debit/credit cards at thesecan someone check this last fact?

I've seen people with US-issued credit cards have issues with the TVMs down here in East Kent, which seem to be generally this type of TVM. I can't speak for the ones at Manchester though - no idea what make they are.
 

bb21

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You can only use Oyster within the area shown on this map, within the red dash-dot border. If you travel outside the area without a valid ticket, you risk getting charged a Penalty Fare.
 

cuccir

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I've seen people with US-issued credit cards have issues with the TVMs down here in East Kent, which seem to be generally this type of TVM. I can't speak for the ones at Manchester though - no idea what make they are.

I'd suspect that a Visa or Mastercard would be fine.

One alternative for any tickets booked in advance would be to use 'Print-at-home'. You can print your tickets off at home before you come over - when on the train, you also need the card that you booked the tickets with as a form of ID.

A few other thoughts I'd didn't have time to add last night:

You can buy tickets from any Train Operating Company's website. Most of the time, the same tickets costing the same amount are available at each website. I like the interface at East Coast. Alternativley, you could use Virgin Trains, who are the company that you would probably travel with between Manchester and London, but to be honest there's rarely any advantage in doing that.


As a guide of costs for Manchester-London trip:
The three of you can travel for £30 on an Advance ticket. These tickets are currently available on all trains between 11:35 and 14:15 and as I said before, you have to travel on the booked train (if you try and travel on a later train, you won't be able to use your ticket at all). With a railcard, these tickets would cost you £18. Note that these tickets can sell out as you get closer to the date of travel.

An off-peak single would cost you £110.50 for three with a railcard, or £183 without. These are valid on all trains after 09:30; however, due to a special offer that Vrigin give to railcard holders, they are valid all day for this journey with a railcard (despite being cheaper!).
 

calc7

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An off-peak single would cost you £110.50 for three with a railcard, or £183 without. These are valid on all trains after 09:30; however, due to a special offer that Vrigin give to railcard holders, they are valid all day for this journey with a railcard (despite being cheaper!).

Can I just add here that many people consider long-distance Off-Peak Singles bad value, as Off-Peak Returns are nearly always priced a few pence or £1 more (this is certainly the case on the Manchester to London route).

If you are making a return trip and were considering the Off-Peak Single, then buy the Off-Peak Return.

If you are making a single trip but want the flexibility of an Off-Peak Single, you can get it almost half price by buying it from www.virgintrains.co.uk, searching for a return trip with your outward leg as the day/time you want to travel (choose the Off-Peak Single here) and the return leg as a late-night train around the end of August - select the cheapest Advance fare you can find for this and just throw it away.
 

bkhtele

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Does groupsave apply to this journey and would this work for the op, it would avoid the need for the rail card, although if they are going to make several journeys as a family a family rail card may be better?

I would avoid advance tickets as plane could easily be delayed. Flexible tickets allow you to book seats on a specific train and if you want to travel on another that is allowed without penalty should your travel arrangements change.
 
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hairyhandedfool

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Does groupsave apply to this journey and would this work for the op....

Virgin Trains do not accept or offer Groupsave tickets, so any benefit from using Groupsave for any length of the trip down from Manchester would probably be countered by the lengthened journey time and changes of train.
 

cuccir

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I would avoid advance tickets as plane could easily be delayed. Flexible tickets allow you to book seats on a specific train and if you want to travel on another that is allowed without penalty should your travel arrangements change.

Although as jeanniehk is travelling to London two days after her plane is scheduled to arrive, I'd hope that this wouldn't be a problem ;)
 

lyndhurst25

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For an overseas resident wanting to travel Manchester to London and then to visit places like Windsor, Oxford, Stratford upon Avon then it may be worth looking at getting a BritRail pass. See www.britrail.com. BritRail passes don't cover the London Underground though so you'll still need to buy Travelcards.

(I've just noticed that Isle of Man residents are entitled to buy BritRail passes! Forum members discuss....);)
 

jeanniehk

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[As a guide of costs for Manchester-London trip:
The three of you can travel for £30 on an Advance ticket. These tickets are currently available on all trains between 11:35 and 14:15 and as I said before, you have to travel on the booked train (if you try and travel on a later train, you won't be able to use your ticket at all). With a railcard, these tickets would cost you £18. Note that these tickets can sell out as you get closer to the date of travel.

An off-peak single would cost you £110.50 for three with a railcard, or £183 without. These are valid on all trains after 09:30; however, due to a special offer that Vrigin give to railcard holders, they are valid all day for this journey with a railcard (despite being cheaper!).[/QUOTE]

Thanks.

Can I buy the rail card on the spot? Do u mean the the rail card can be applied to advance booking too?
There will be a few days I am traveling without my kids, I learned from the web that the family rail card cannot be used. Which type should I buy?
 

LexyBoy

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You can buy tickets online in advance without the Railcard, but you must make sure you have it before travelling as your tickets will be invalid and you'll be charged for very expensive new tickets (same as if you got on a different timed train to that on the ticket). You can buy the Railcard at any staffed station - it will take about 10 minutes (you can pick up a leaflet and fill it in in advance to save time). You don't need to bring any ID etc with you.

Without the kid(s) you cannot use the F&F Railcard as you say; around London you can get a Network Railcard; this is only valid in the area and routes shown on the map in the link, and has time/minimum fare restrictions on weekdays, so it might not be worthwhile for you.

If you're travelling to stations in the South East but not covered by your Travelcard, you can ask for a "boundary zone" ticket - this is valid in conjunction with the Travelcard (but not Oyster PAYG) and effectively means that you're only paying for the journey from the edge of Zone 6 in London to your destination, which usually saves a few pounds.
 

lyndhurst25

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I've just had a thought. Imagine for a minute that you are from abroad, maybe English isn't your first language and you have no prior knowledge of British railway fares and ticketing. Now read all the sensible advice and options suggested above. Complicated isn't it? Now try and find out the all information yourself without knowing the terms to search for.

What chance has a visitor from overseas got of finding the cheapest way to travel and not get caught out for making an innocent ticketing mistake when good proportion of UK residents can't understand our railway fares?
 

cuccir

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I've just had a thought. Imagine for a minute that you are from abroad, maybe English isn't your first language and you have no prior knowledge of British railway fares and ticketing. Now read all the sensible advice and options suggested above. Complicated isn't it? Now try and find out the all information yourself without knowing the terms to search for.

What chance has a visitor from overseas got of finding the cheapest way to travel and not get caught out for making an innocent ticketing mistake when good proportion of UK residents can't understand our railway fares?

Because of the various questions and responses, I don't think its wise to drag this thread too far off topic - perhaps mods could split this off into a separate thread?

But to summarise - little to none. That said, I've made mistakes/bought tickets in error in other countries as well (I bought the wrong ticket in Gdansk the other week for a journey to Sopot, but thankfully it was only a few pounds) - it's not only the UK which is complicated!
 

island

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This is what I am confused about. My kids aged 13 and 15, if they are on oyster card. Are they charged on adult price ?
Children (which in rail terms means 15 years old or younger) cannot use a normal Oyster card but must apply online in advance for a Zip card, which can be collected from a small number of selected stations.

Children can use paper one-day travelcards and paper single and return tickets without any formality.
Thanks.

Can I buy the rail card on the spot? Do u mean the the rail card can be applied to advance booking too?
There will be a few days I am traveling without my kids, I learned from the web that the family rail card cannot be used. Which type should I buy?

A Family & Friends Railcard can be bought on the spot from most staffed stations. It can't be used for any journey where you won't have at least one child travelling.
 

IanD

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This is what I am confused about. My kids aged 13 and 15, if they are on oyster card. Are they charged on adult price ?


There are child fares but for Oyster child fares, you need a child photocard to get them and these have to be purchased in advance with a non-refundable £10 deposit.

Paper day travelcards may be the way to go here particularly for the under 16s. If the OP opts to purchase a F&F railcard when the arrive in the UK they can get day travelcards at a discounted rate if travelling off-peak.
 

jeanniehk

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I've just had a thought. Imagine for a minute that you are from abroad, maybe English isn't your first language and you have no prior knowledge of British railway fares and ticketing. Now read all the sensible advice and options suggested above. Complicated isn't it? Now try and find out the all information yourself without knowing the terms to search for.

What chance has a visitor from overseas got of finding the cheapest way to travel and not get caught out for making an innocent ticketing mistake when good proportion of UK residents can't understand our railway fares?

Correct, English is not my first language. And I think this system is very sophisticated. I am very impressed with you all( I assumer you are all locals). You are so friendly, helpful, resourceful and responsive. I have to say I had experience with a number of travel forums before, you certainly are the most wonderful and responsive one. Thank you so much.
 

bb21

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Adding to lyndhurst25's comments above, I think that if you would be travelling a lot around the South East of England, especially to places outside the travelcard area, then a BritRail London Plus Pass is worth considering, which covers the majority of the tourist areas (see validity map). There is no time restriction and you are free to travel anywhere on National Rail, including Heathrow Express. The only exceptions are the Underground, Docklands Light Railway and London Buses/Trams, for which you need a travelcard or to use Oyster prepay. However they are valid on National Rail services within London, including London Overground. If you want to get your hands on one, you need to act fast as they take up to 10 days to be delivered.

There is currently a promotion on the London Plus Pass, which gives you an extra free day for each pass purchased. You can choose from consecutive passes (valid for consecutive days) or flexi passes (valid for a certain number of days within a period of two months).

If the majority of your travel is within London then I would not bother.
 
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