London to Glasgow - Best seat and general advice

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s_har

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(Apologies in advance if this is the wrong place to be posting this. :))

In about a month I'm going to Glasgow as part of my easter vacation. I've never been to Scotland before so I thought I'd take the more scenic route of traveling from London to Glasgow by train as opposed to going by plane (also there are no direct flights from my current location in Norway to Glasgow anyway).

So my main question is what seat people here are generally considering to be 'the best' seat on this journey. Considering I'm going alone so I'd prefer a single seat, 1st class, preferably forward facing and with a window to the side that has the most spectacular views.

I'm assuming this journey will be served by a Virgin Pendolini? I did travel on a Pendolini from Manchester to London four years ago on carriage G, seat 02 (which was recommended to me at the time). I was very pleased with this seat with the exception of it being backward facing (Edit: unfortunately that particular seat and carriage G and K is seemingly unavailable for reservation).

Any advice on this would be much appreciated :)
 
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aylesbury

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Hope you enjoy your trip, could you go first class as this has all the perks plus a good environment? Go online at the national train times website at least a month or more before your trip you will be surprised at the fares, or else try Red Spotted Handkerchief they are competitive or go direct to Virgin but book as far as possible in advance. Good luck.
 

mbreckers

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So it's closed? I guess I'll need to look into that. I'm guessing since Virgin is currently selling tickets for London-Glasgow non-stop (stating it will take slightly less than 6 hours) it's possible to go all the way by train? I'll check it out. :)

.

No, Lamington Viaduct re-opened today
 

Optimo

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I do this route often, but rarely first class except on the weekends.

My top tip (may be frowned upon) is to watch realtimetrains.co.uk website for details of which platform the train is at, as it shows this info before it is displayed/announced to the other passengers on the concourse. Sometimes up to half an hour before departure.

Either you get to board the train before everyone and get comfy before it's announced (but this sneak may be thwarted by ticket inspectors at the gate to the platform), or you at least beat the scrum/rush across the station, and can be waiting at the platform first - have your ticket inspected, and board with all your suitcases and minimal barging. This isn't just the EUS-GLC route, and may be obvious I guess.
 

ScotTrains

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You may also want to look at the East Coast route. Prices are often similar. First class service is similar and in slightly better trains (mk3 and mk4 coaches), though this is debatable. First class lounges at most stations. There is one direct train but it is easy to get a connection from Edinburgh to Glasgow. The route is quite scenic between Newcastle and Edinburgh. You can also choose your seat through the East coast website. Journey may be slightly longer via the East coast but may be worth considering.
 

s_har

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I do this route often, but rarely first class except on the weekends.

My top tip (may be frowned upon) is to watch realtimetrains.co.uk website for details of which platform the train is at, as it shows this info before it is displayed/announced to the other passengers on the concourse. Sometimes up to half an hour before departure.

Either you get to board the train before everyone and get comfy before it's announced (but this sneak may be thwarted by ticket inspectors at the gate to the platform), or you at least beat the scrum/rush across the station, and can be waiting at the platform first - have your ticket inspected, and board with all your suitcases and minimal barging. This isn't just the EUS-GLC route, and may be obvious I guess.

Thanks for the tip. I'll be traveling during the weekend and seeing as this is a one off vacation trip I'll 'splurge' on a 1st class ticket. I'm thinking if I buy a 1st class ticket in advance with a seat reservation there won't be any point in boarding the train early like you suggest?
Since you do this route often do you have any suggestion as to what side of the train would be best in regards to scenery/sights? Should I go for a window seat to the left or to the right? And do you have any recommendations for a particular 1st class seat? :)


You may also want to look at the East Coast route. Prices are often similar. First class service is similar and in slightly better trains (mk3 and mk4 coaches), though this is debatable. First class lounges at most stations. There is one direct train but it is easy to get a connection from Edinburgh to Glasgow. The route is quite scenic between Newcastle and Edinburgh. You can also choose your seat through the East coast website. Journey may be slightly longer via the East coast but may be worth considering.

So London-Edinburgh-Glasgow? If the scenery is that much better it might be tempting, but seeing as I'm on a schedule (although not too tight of a schedule) I'd prefer going the direct route to Glasgow. I'll look into it though. Thanks. :)
 
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Bletchleyite

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The East Coast is not even remotely as scenic.

I'd recommend sitting on the right, for what it's worth. Indeed no rush to board if you have reserved. On a Pendolino all First Class table seats are window aligned properly.
--- old post above --- --- new post below ---
In my view sitting on the right northbound is better, by the way, the view is a little nicer. And every Mk4 I have been on (east coast) has ridden like a cart.
 
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DarloRich

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The East Coast is not even remotely as scenic.

I'd recommend sitting on the right, for what it's worth. Indeed no rush to board if you have reserved. On a Pendolino all First Class table seats are window aligned properly.
--- old post above --- --- new post below ---
In my view sitting on the right northbound is better, by the way, the view is a little nicer. And every Mk4 I have been on has ridden like a cart.

I would disagree - The east coast is MUCH better! ;)

It makes no difference on the West Coast where you sit. All the seats are awful!
 

Tetchytyke

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Thanks for the tip. I'll be traveling during the weekend and seeing as this is a one off vacation trip I'll 'splurge' on a 1st class ticket.

If you're travelling at a weekend then a 1st class weekend upgrade is £15. It may be cheaper to buy a standard class ticket and then the 1st class upgrade on board.

Seats in first class line up with the windows. Sit on the right hand side in direction of travel (northbound) as the views are better north of Lancaster. Sitting on the right gives you a real feeling of the tilt as the train goes up the Lune Gorge, my favourite bit of the whole line.
 
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All Line Rover

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H36 is quite good if travelling northbound.

There may or may not be a Coach G depending on the length of the train, which is why you can't reserve a seat in it. But you are free to sit in Coach G on the day should that coach be available.
 

D6975

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I would disagree - The east coast is MUCH better! ;)

It makes no difference on the West Coast where you sit. All the seats are awful!

Seconded.
And if you can pick on a HST diagram, even better.
On a Sat the 10:00, 14:00, 15:00, 16:00 and 17:00 off KGX are all booked HST
 
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berneyarms

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You may save money by buying a BritRail pass - available to anyone resident outside the UK.

It allows you unlimited travel on trains for a specified number of days, either consecutive or random within a period.

It gives the user a lot of flexibility.

Go to www.britrail.com for details.
 
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theironroad

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Seconded.
And if you can pick on a HST diagram, even better.
On a Sat the 10:00, 14:00, 15:00, 16:00 and 17:00 off KGX are all booked HST

While the scenery north of Lancaster is OK on the WC, I much prefer the nice and rugged Northumberland coastline, crossing the Tweed into Berwick, alnmouth, lindisfarne etc.
 

Optimo

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Also agree, East Coast is a more scenic route, views out over the east coast cliffs are stunning on a clear day, and the run into Edinburgh is quite nice. But yeah, does require a change at Edinburgh. If east coast, sit on the right as you are going North.

If you go West Coast, sit on the left if you're going North - you will see some coastline, the hills round the Lake District etc. Actually both sides West Coast are nice.

If you've got a ticket yes you would have a seat reserved, but if you do the weekend upgrade (as has been suggested, it might be cheaper) you would want to use the platform info to get ahead of the pack and grab a nice seat in the Unreserved 1st Class carriage. Obviously if you're splurging and get it all sorted ahead of time, that's one thing. But wow, first class advanced prices can be eye-watering.
 

Bletchleyite

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I would disagree - The east coast is MUCH better! ;)

The First Class service is better, the window size is better, but the Mk4s are cheap rubbish and ride poorly, with poor seats, and the route is mind-numbingly tedious except for the northernmost section - flatlands after flatlands with a periodic view of the sea you could get anywhere - you might as well ride across the Netherlands.

The WCML is scenic throughout - from urban sprawl, to the green rolling hills of Buckinghamshire and the Midlands, onto the mountains of the Lake District, Shap (my favourite bit) and near enough all the way into Glasgow.
--- old post above --- --- new post below ---
While the scenery north of Lancaster is OK on the WC, I much prefer the nice and rugged Northumberland coastline, crossing the Tweed into Berwick, alnmouth, lindisfarne etc.

That bit of the ECML is indeed scenic, but the rest of it is mind-numbingly boring. The whole WCML near enough is pretty - I do enjoy, when commuting, sunset over the Chilterns around Tring.
--- old post above --- --- new post below ---
If you go West Coast, sit on the left if you're going North - you will see some coastline, the hills round the Lake District etc. Actually both sides West Coast are nice.

I think the right is slightly nicer, personally. And it's also where most of the single First Class seats are.
 

lejog

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Whatever the state of the trains, the OP asked for spectacular views. The East Coast Main line between London and Newcastle is one of the most tedious long distance journeys on which it is possible to travel.

At least on the West Cpast route you get to go over Shap. I lived in Knebworth for a short spell many years ago and some locals claimed it was the highest point on the East Coast Main line. I don't know if its true, but it certainly goes over the 100m contour there which is unusually high for the route.
 
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47271

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I'm pretty certain the highest point on the ECML is just north of Grantshouse, between Berwick and Edinburgh, and indeed part of the most scenic section of the route. After that Stoke Summit.

Back on topic, I'd be equally content with the views on either side on the West Coast. The East Coast is very attractive north of Newcastle, so you could go out one route and back the other - it takes less than an hour to get from Glasgow to Edinburgh on Scotrail, an interesting trip in its own right - and not worry too much if it's getting dark between Newcastle and London!

On the West my strategy is to book a seat that I'd be happy enough with but move to Coach G if it's an 11-car Pendolino, which is very likely on a Glasgow train. You can sometimes find there's only three or four other people in there when the reserved coaches are quite full.

On East Coast First Class the mid-coach wide aisle 1+1 table areas on the electric trains (clearly visible in the online seating plans for coaches H, L and M) have huge amounts of space around them and are always my choice.

I also try to sit mid coach for a smoother and quieter ride away from the carriage ends and wheels, but that applies to any train on any route.
 

s_har

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Some very good advice here. Thanks! :)
As far as the western vs eastern debate goes I think I'll settle for the Western route direct to Glasgow like I intended this time around. If I enjoy the trip maybe I'll feel tempted to give the eastern route a go some other time. :)

On the West my strategy is to book a seat that I'd be happy enough with but move to Coach G if it's an 11-car Pendolino, which is very likely on a Glasgow train. You can sometimes find there's only three or four other people in there when the reserved coaches are quite full.

Alright! So even if I have an advance ticket for a different coach it's still perfectly okay for me to head straight for Coach G, seat 02 if it turns out it's an 11-car Pendolino? I won't be told to move when they are inspecting tickets or anything? :)

Apparently coach K is also unavailable for reservations (only H and J are available). Anyone has any experience with the single seats in coach K (windows to the left) right in front of the kitchen?

Right now I'm thinking I'll most likely reserve coach J, seat 02 as it's a single seat, forward facing with a window to the east (which most people here seemed to recommend for the scenery).

.
 

Bletchleyite

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Alright! So even if I have an advance ticket for a different coach it's still perfectly okay for me to head straight for Coach G, seat 02 if it turns out it's an 11-car Pendolino? I won't be told to move when they are inspecting tickets or anything? :)

No, that is fine.

Apparently coach K is also unavailable for reservations (only H and J are available). Anyone has any experience with the single seats in coach K (windows to the left) right in front of the kitchen?

The very rearmost one is decent, the others are I think slightly misaligned to the windows. But these seats are very popular so you'll be lucky to get it.

Right now I'm thinking I'll most likely reserve coach J, seat 02 as it's a single seat, forward facing with a window to the east (which most people here seemed to recommend for the scenery).

Looking at the older seat map this looks a reasonable choice.

To correct what I said earlier, there *are* a few seats in 1st with no view, but they are all in H and there are only 3 of them.

(I'm actually typing this from a Pendolino but I'm right up the other end so can't really go and check for you, sorry!)

Older, better seatmap:

http://www.nationalrail.co.uk/static/documents/content/timetables/Virgin_Trains_Seating_plan(1).pdf

Though I wish they'd mark the windows on it!
 
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Paule23

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I think both routes are scenic once you get far enough North, but whichever you choose the scenery is best from the right hand side of the train (as you travel North).

I'm not sure if it's possible, but id recommend Euston to Glasgow northbound and Edinburgh to Kings Cross southbound (sit on the left hand side southbound).

This way you get to experience the different scenery and pendolino vs mk3/4.
 

LNW-GW Joint

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I'd sit on the "off" side (right hand) throughout, for the depth of view across the other track.
Northbound this gives you the Lune Gorge and the best bit of the Beattock climb to the east, and views of the Solway Firth and Lakeland hills to the west southbound.
On a good day you can pick out Bowfell, the Langdale Pikes and Coniston Old Man from Grayrigg above Oxenholme.
Once past Beattock Summit you get the upper Clyde weaving along both sides of the train (over the just-reopened viaduct in fact).
Plenty of changing views throughout on the West Coast line, eg through the Chilterns (look out for the Whipsnade lion), the Cotswold ridge near Rugby, the Staffordshire Hills and Pennines to the east.
Three significant summits and a triumph of route engineering by Joseph Locke to avoid tunnels for more than 250 miles north of Stafford.

Half of the East Coast route, between Stevenage and Darlington, is pretty boring and flat.
As they say in Canada, it's better to cross the prairies at night, the scenery's better.
North of Darlington is fine, particularly through Durham and Newcastle and near the sea, but not up to West Coast grandeur.
On the other hand, the weather on the west side is more likely to be stormy/wet than the east.
If you go in March, I think the Edinburgh-Glasgow service is disrupted by the closure of Glasgow Queen St High Level for electrification work.
And Glasgow Central is a very impressive station, one of the best in the UK.
 
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70014IronDuke

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Ignore all of the above. Well intended, but wrong.

Go to St Pancras and catch an EMT to Nottingham. This will take you up and down hill through to the east Midlands. Be sure to spot Luton (both sides) and understand why it it is rated the worst urban living space in England after Kingston-upon-Hull (5 points) and sit on the right to spot Cardington Airship Hangars (largest enclosed space in Europe) around MP 46. (5 points, 10 if you can see a barrage balloon in the air, 100 points if you see it shot down in flames.)

At Nottingham, change to a Northern 156 to Leeds. Doesn't matter where you sit, closed collieries.steelworks and generally disused industrial revolution on both sides.
(5 points for even looking out of the window).

At Leeds, change to a Northern 158 to Carlisle. sit on right for best view of Ribblehead Viaduct. (5 points)

you earn another 500 points if you pass a steam-hauled special on the viaduct. Unfortunately this will mean you are unlikely to live to collect the points, but hey, not many Norwegians have died not to tell the tale of colliding with a steam-hauled special on Ribblehead Viaduct.

At Appleby, you will probably be lucky enough to go through the moderately ancient English custom of bustitution. Again, not many Norwegians have ever done this, so it's guaranteed to stop the conversation in any pub between Oslo and Stavnagar whenever you relate the story. (If you pass a steam special on Ribblehead Viaduct, it will be your friends who stop pub conversation with the story, not you.)

(10 points for enduring bustitution)

When you get to Carlisle, you do not take the easy way out, but insist on a Scotrail service via Kilmarnock to Glasgow Central in order to see Rabbie Burns' birthtown.

(5 points for telling the guard that it's Rabbie Burns' birthtown - you must get him to sign a paper to confirm this.)

Again, it doesn't matter which side you sit on: by the time you get to Dumfries, a) you will probably be asleep with fatigue and b) it will be dark.

You will arrive in Glasgow Central about 13 hours after leaving St Pancras 99% confident that you are more worn out and have taken twice as long as any other Norwegian travelling between the two great cities that day. (Another 10 points).

that's the really interesting way to go from London to Glasgow
:)
 
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route:oxford

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In about a month I'm going to Glasgow as part of my easter vacation. I've never been to Scotland before so I thought I'd take the more scenic route of traveling from London to Glasgow by train as opposed to going by plane (also there are no direct flights from my current location in Norway to Glasgow anyway).

Sometimes enjoying the trip is better than reaching the destination...

But, just in case, did you realise that you can fly direct from Oslo to Edinburgh return from just £15 (off peak)? Clearly a bit more expensive than that during the Easter Peak though - but return flights can still be bought for £26 during the school fortnight if you are flexible.

After arriving at Edinburgh, you just need to take the tram to Edinburgh Park station (12-15 minutes) for the stopping service to Glasgow, or stay on the tram to Haymarket (18-20 minutes) for a fast service to Glasgow (Approx 50 minutes).
 
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s_har

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@70014IronDuke
I'll consider that for next time! :lol:

The very rearmost one is decent, the others are I think slightly misaligned to the windows. But these seats are very popular so you'll be lucky to get it.

Thanks, that's good to know. I'll try and see if I can beat any others to that rearmost seat then. And if not I'll just slunk back to my reserved seat instead.
I guess the downside is that row of single seats in K has windows to the west (same with G, seat 02) while most people here seems to recommend getting a window facing east.

To correct what I said earlier, there *are* a few seats in 1st with no view, but they are all in H and there are only 3 of them.

(I'm actually typing this from a Pendolino but I'm right up the other end so can't really go and check for you, sorry!)

Older, better seatmap:

http://www.nationalrail.co.uk/static/documents/content/timetables/Virgin_Trains_Seating_plan(1).pdf

Though I wish they'd mark the windows on it!

Thanks. I'll make sure to stay clear of H when making my reservation then. :)



I'd sit on the "off" side (right hand) throughout, for the depth of view across the other track.
Northbound this gives you the Lune Gorge and the best bit of the Beattock climb to the east, and views of the Solway Firth and Lakeland hills to the west southbound.
On a good day you can pick out Bowfell, the Langdale Pikes and Coniston Old Man from Grayrigg above Oxenholme.
Once past Beattock Summit you get the upper Clyde weaving along both sides of the train (over the just-reopened viaduct in fact).
Plenty of changing views throughout on the West Coast line, eg through the Chilterns (look out for the Whipsnade lion), the Cotswold ridge near Rugby, the Staffordshire Hills and Pennines to the east.
Three significant summits and a triumph of route engineering by Joseph Locke to avoid tunnels for more than 250 miles north of Stafford.

Half of the East Coast route, between Stevenage and Darlington, is pretty boring and flat.
As they say in Canada, it's better to cross the prairies at night, the scenery's better.
North of Darlington is fine, particularly through Durham and Newcastle and near the sea, but not up to West Coast grandeur.
On the other hand, the weather on the west side is more likely to be stormy/wet than the east.
If you go in March, I think the Edinburgh-Glasgow service is disrupted by the closure of Glasgow Queen St High Level for electrification work.
And Glasgow Central is a very impressive station, one of the best in the UK.

Thanks. I'll be sure to keep this in mind. Which reminds me I'll have to make a list of what sights to look out for and where they are exactly. :)


Sometimes enjoying the trip is better than reaching the destination...

But, just in case, did you realise that you can fly direct from Oslo to Edinburgh return from just £15 (off peak)? Clearly a bit more expensive than that during the Easter Peak though - but return flights can still be bought for £26 during the school fortnight if you are flexible.

After arriving at Edinburgh, you just need to take the tram to Edinburgh Park station (12-15 minutes) for the stopping service to Glasgow, or stay on the tram to Haymarket (18-20 minutes) for a fast service to Glasgow (Approx 50 minutes).

Oh, definitely. I enjoy the process of traveling very much, particularly by train, which is one of the reasons why I opted for Oslo-London by plane, with a couple of days to enjoy London before taking the train to Glasgow. Thank you for the information though. :)


.
 

AndrewE

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I would agree that (going North) sitting on the left is better most of the way, but sneak across to the other side to see the Lune Gorge and on the climb to Beattock.
Also if you have any choice, avoid sitting under the pantograph which seems to crash down onto the roof at every neutral section! (South end/low seat numbers of coach H?)
A
 
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