Virgin? They haven't operated XC for quite a few years, assuming that by direct you mean a XC service.Travelling to Birmingham in July and was wondering what is the cheapest way to get there ? Looked at Virgin , they want silly money to go direct , is there any cheaper way to get there
Tangential, but if you get one of the five minute connections at Banbury where the following Chiltern service stops only at Leamington, Warwick Parkway, Solihull and Moor Street then you will almost certainly be standing on a platform in Birmingham before you would on the Voyager. The Chiltern service always catches up the Voyager up at Leamington (Voyagers seem to have longer dwell times) and the route from Tyseley into Moor Street is significantly faster than it is from Tyseley into New Street. Even if you get a connection which stops at Warwick and Dorridge it is probably still worth it for comfort. A 168 has a much nicer saloon than a Voyager in my opinion.I often go to Birmingham from Winchester or Basingstoke. Obviously you will need to look at this closer to the time, but if you are taking XC then try tickets to Banbury, then a separate Banbury to Birmingham Moor Street/Snow Hill on Chiltern only trains. Usually there isn't much of a wait and the service isn't much slower overall depending where you are heading to in Birmingham itself, and the train will probably be much less crowded. Sometimes there is a noticeable saving, though at other times its more expensive! An additional advantage is being able to use a network rail card all the way up to Banbury if you don't have a national one, regardless if you use Chiltern or not.
Not much of a saving, but from BCU there is, and I'd imagine SOU to be much the same. I've generally found Basingstoke marginally cheaper on a day return, whereas Reading has the edge for anything longer.From Southampton there may be another potential split at Basingstoke or Reading as well.