TEN TOP UK RAIL ROUTES

Alex McWhirter se­lects a range of train jour­neys to try, whether for their scenery, speed or fre­quency

Business Traveller - - NEWS -

Our hotlist of scenic and speedy train ser­vices to try across the coun­try

This year’s round-up of ten top UK rail jour­neys cov­ers a va­ri­ety of routes mainly suit­able for busi­ness but also leisure travel. Rail fares are a mine­field and peak-hour flex­i­ble fares are costly. But travel off-peak and prices tum­ble (see “Blurred lines”, De­cem­ber 2016-Jan­uary 2017 is­sue).

Al­ter­na­tively, you can choose an Ad­vance ticket where avail­able. Most car­ri­ers re­quire book­ing by 6pm the day be­fore but the dead­line is much closer with Vir­gin Trains East Coast and Cross Coun­try. The former re­cently re­duced the Ad­vance book­ing pe­riod to two hours be­fore de­par­ture on se­lected ser­vices, while the lat­ter goes fur­ther with a 15-minute dead­line (pur­chased on­line only).

Re­mem­ber to claim De­lay Re­pay if your train is de­layed. UK rail prob­a­bly has the most gen­er­ous com­pen­sa­tion in Europe, with firms pay­ing out if the de­lay is 30 min­utes or more, or 15 min­utes in the case of some firms (see“The claim game”, April 2017 is­sue).

1. Lon­don Eus­ton-Glas­gow Fol­low­ing years of de­cline dur­ing the Bri­tish Rail era, An­glo-Scot­tish rail is on a roll. In last year’s route round-up (July/Au­gust is­sue) I fea­tured the Vir­gin Trains East Coast line to Ed­in­burgh – this time it’s the turn of Vir­gin Trains West Coast. Spec­tac­u­lar scenery can be en­joyed north of Pre­ston. Hourly trains; best jour­ney time four hours 31 min­utes. vir­gin­trains.co.uk 2. Leeds-Ed­in­burgh Cross Coun­try’s hourly trains speed up the East Coast Main Line in only three hours – no won­der there’s no air ser­vice on this route. There’s dra­matic scenery to be had be­tween New­cas­tle and the Scot­tish cap­i­tal when the line runs close to the coast­line north of Al­nwick. cross­coun­try­trains.co.uk 3. Lon­don Liver­pool StreetNor­wich Fans of former Bri­tish Rail stock will be pleased to know that Greater Anglia still op­er­ates these trains on its halfhourly sched­ule. New Stadler and Bom­bardier trains are ar­riv­ing in 2019-2020. Jour­ney time one hour 50 min­utes. great­eran­glia.co.uk 4. Lon­don King’s Cross-York Many read­ers have told us they pre­fer the Bri­tish Rail-era HST diesel trains to more mod­ern stock. And this is what you will find on all Grand Cen­tral ser­vices that link Lon­don with the pop­u­lar tourist city of York. Be­tween Mon­day and Fri­day (fewer at week­ends), there are five ser­vices a day with a jour­ney time of un­der two hours. grand­cen­tral­rail.com 5. Birm­ing­ham-Ply­mouth An­other route that Cross Coun­try has all to it­self, see­ing as Ply­mouth air­port has been closed. Jour­ney time about three hours 30 min­utes; hourly trains. cross­coun­try­trains.co.uk 6. Ed­in­burgh-In­ver­ness North of Stir­ling, there are splen­did High­land views be­fore reach­ing In­ver­ness. Trains de­part Ed­in­burgh ev­ery two hours; best jour­ney time three hours 20 min­utes. sco­trail.co.uk 7. Lon­don King’s Cross-New­cas­tle Un­less you are based near, or tran­sit­ing, Heathrow then Vir­gin Trains East Coast’s half-hourly trains are a nat­u­ral choice for this fast and pop­u­lar main­line route. Jour­ney time two hours 50 min­utes. vir­gin­train­seast­coast.com 8. Lon­don Padding­ton-Bris­tol Brunel’s fa­mous main­line will speed you there in just over one hour 40 min­utes with Great Western Rail­way, run­ning ev­ery half-hour. gwr.com 9. Sh­effield-Manch­ester A most scenic route across the Peak Dis­trict with Trans-Pen­nine Ex­press and East Mid­lands Trains, which to­gether pro­vide a half-hourly ser­vice with a jour­ney time of about 55 min­utes. Hourly Trans-Pen­nine trains con­tinue on to Manch­ester air­port, which can be reached some 85 min­utes af­ter leav­ing Sh­effield and is pop­u­lar with air trav­ellers. tp­ex­press.co.uk, east­mid­land­strains.co.uk 10. Lon­don Eus­ton-Liver­pool Liver­pool has long called for a di­rect air ser­vice to Lon­don in vain. Re­ally, there’s lit­tle need for an air link (un­less tran­sit­ing one of Lon­don’s many air­ports), as Vir­gin Trains’ fast Pen­dolino train­sets op­er­ate hourly and cover the dis­tance in only two hours 14 min­utes. vir­gin­trains.co.uk

Above: Great Western main­line near Bris­tol Left: Vir­gin Trains Pen­dolino

From top: Peak Dis­trict views be­tween Sh­effield and Manch­ester; Cross Coun­try train near Durham

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