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Best Transportation Option

cincinnati
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Best Transportation Option

Hello,

My family of 5 (2 adults & 19,16 & 10 yr old) will be in London arriving on 12/28, and leaving 1/7. I am having difficulty figuring out the best transportation approach for train and tube (i.e. TravelCard, Oyster Card, purchase rail passes or single tickets etc?)

We will need:

1) Transport to and from Gatwick to Kensington (I noticed confusing message about diverting trains and Gatwick Express?)

2) Use of tube for daily sightseeing

3) Transport to and from Oxford, Bath and possibly one other southern England City.

Liverpool, United...
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for Liverpool
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1. Re: Best Transportation Option

The best way to get to Oxford and Bath would be by train.

If you book in advance you can get some good cheap deals on tickets, but you have to travel on the train you are booked on to.

Check times and fares here:

www.nationalrail.co.uk

Vancouver, Canada
Destination Expert
for London
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2. Re: Best Transportation Option

Where in Kensington is your destination? At what time of day does your flight arrive at Gatwick? You will be eligible for GroupSave fares if you travel after 0855; all five may travel to London for £27.40 (but you should add Travelcards to the rail tickets from the airport so you may use those Travelcards on arrival in London).

Do not think past having written the words 'single ticket' that you should use them for travel in London, unless you would like to take a second mortgage.

Use seven day Travelcards for the bulk of your stay and one day Travelcards for the other days Buy those seven day Travelcards at a rail station ticket office and you may use them with the offers shown here: www.daysoutguide.co.uk

Although your youngest child may travel for free on the Underground, buses and DLR, s/he will need a rail ticket / Travelcard in order to use the offers. If you do not want to include your youngest in the offers then s/he will not need a ticket for travel in London (but will for the journeys to Oxford and Bath).

You will need free National Rail Photocards to buy seven day paper Travelcards at a rail station; you must supply passport size pictures of each person who obtains a card (they will be made for you at the ticket office).

Buy seven day paper Travelcards at Victoria on arrival from Gatwick. Ask for the validity period to start on 29 December as you should have purchased combination rail tickets / Travelcards at Gatwick.

Surrey UK
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3. Re: Best Transportation Option

I agree the reference to a diversion of the Gatwick Express is confusing unless you're familiar with the intricate railway geography of South London. There's obviously a lot of disruption (otherwise "engineering work" or "improvement work") planned for the lines in and out of Victoria station between Christmas and the New Year. But, if I read the website of the train operating company, Southern, correctly it should only mean a few minutes delay at worst for both the Gatwick Express and the (slightly) slower but cheaper Southern service. Victoria is more convenient for Kensington than any of the various other central London stations served from Gatwick.

Such is the complexity of fares, it may be best to go to the staffed ticket window at Gatwick and explain that you want to travel via Victoria and to include Travelcards for your first day. You should then be told the options, including GroupSave if available at the time you're leaving.

For trips outside London, look on the National Rail website for the options. As indicated above, you can get bargains so long as you make sure to travel only on the trains you have booked for. The longer ahead you make the booking, the lower the fare. But you can buy these Advance tickets (at stations as well as through the website) up until the day before travel and, in winter, it's no bad thing to check the weather forecast first (also -see above - the schedule of disruption for "engineering works" which can make journeys a misery).

Incidentally the UK along wih the rest of Europe writes dates the other way round. So you're arriving on 28/12 and leaving on 7/1. I aplogise if you know this already, but it can be confusing if you don't.

United Kingdom
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4. Re: Best Transportation Option

elizabyte

The message you are seeing about Gatwick Express and a diversion is because there Is engineering work on that route at various locations between 24 Dec and 1 Jan. with a half hourly service.

If you use the National Rail journey planner it will show the alternative First Capital Connect service which most people on this forum would recommend anyway.

There appears to be no engineering work on FCC over that period.

Beware the period from Christmas Eve to early January is often used as an opportunity to carry out railway engineering work all round the country, so check out the other journeys and destinations you had in mind.

http://www.nationalrail.co.uk/

nationalrail.co.uk/service_disruptions/…EW

cincinnati
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5. Re: Best Transportation Option

Thanks to all for advice! I purchased LondonPass/7 day Travel Card, and will purchase the single day travel cards in London when I get my rail tickets, so I have my travel within London covered.

I am still a bit confused about the rail. Our flight lands in Gatwick at 7:30 on 29/12 and leaves on 7/1 at 10:30 (thanks to papluviose for clarifying date format) . I have a trip to Watford Junction on 6/1 leaving in the afternoon and returning in the evening. I would like to go to Bath and Oxford via train, but want to stay a bit flexible on dates/times, depending on the whether. How should I approach purchasing rail tickets? Is there a single rail pass I purchase that is used for all travel, or do I buy for each trip? Do I buy ahead of time or wait until I get to the station if I am travelling off peak?

Advice is appreciated! Sadly we don't have a wonderful transportation system like this where I live, so I am not used to how it all works.

Watford
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for London
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6. Re: Best Transportation Option

You will need to book in advance to get the best fares.

For instance (using 31/12 as a random date) there are one way advance tickets to Oxford currently available for that day at £10.50 as opposed to the walk up fare of £22.40.

If you have computer access then cheap fares may well still be available even as late as the day before but there's no guarantee of that.

UK
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7. Re: Best Transportation Option

I purchased LondonPass/7 day Travel Card

======

Why? few would advise you to get the London Pass, and >>no one<< would advise you to get the associated Travel Pass.

Surrey UK
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8. Re: Best Transportation Option

I'm bumping this because I'm not sure the confusion has been fully cleared up. I'm also unclear myself about the Travelcards associated wih the London Pass and hope that another contributor can give authoritative guidance.

First, howver, for arrival at Gatwick, there are 3 altenative train services by different Train Operating Companies. Gatwick Express and Southern go to Victoria. First Capital Connect goes to London Bridge, Blackfriars, City Thameslink and St Pancras. Of these destination stations, the most convenient for Kensington (or at least the one offering the shortest and cheapest journey in a taxi, which I would recommend) is Victoria. Trains to Victoria are running on 29/12 but taking a diversionary route, not that anyone other than a regular traveller would notice.

With regard to the London Pass, it may be a bit late but there is a thread which analyses value for money. It's here

tripadvisor.com/ShowTopic-g186338-i17-k44961…

You need to click on the link to Hoogo's very useful spreadsheet which looks as though it's still being updated.

Suibject to correction, the Travelcard associated with the London Pass is for Zones 1-6. This isn't perhaps the best value for money for visitors but, if I'm correct about this (confirmation welcome), it simplifies travel for your 10-year old.

It will also reduce the additional cost of travel to Watford Junction. But Watford Junction is beyond the Zone 6 boundary and you will need to ask the ticket agent on departure for an extension fare.

This map may help make things clearer; it has the zones marked on it (albeit in barely legible pale blue and white).

tfl.gov.uk/assets/downloads/london-rail-and-…

The national rail passes which would cover journeys to Bath and Oxford are disproportionately expensive for what you're planning. You need to buy separate tickets. The cheapest are advance tickets which restrict you to specific trains. They need to be pre-booked (up until the day before departure, but they can sell out). You can order them online from www.nationalrail.co.uk or www.firstgreatwestern.co.uk, or you can buy them at any National Rail station. Alternatively you can pay quite a bit more for flexibility in which case, buy on the day. An off-peak day return is the least expensive flexible ticket but still subject to the restriction that you can't use it before 9.30 am.. You can get a small discount on it if you have Zone 1-6 Travelcards valid for the day in question and you ask for a fare from the boundary of Zone 6 rather than the London terminus (which, for Bath and Oxford, is Paddington).

I hope this helps. The advice will need tweaking if I'm wrong about the London Pass including 6 zone Travelcards.

Our public transport system would be very good indeed if it was less vulnerable to disruption and the fares were simpler and cheaper!

9. Re: Best Transportation Option

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Vancouver, Canada
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for London
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10. Re: Best Transportation Option

If one uses the zones 1 - 6 Travelcard (Londonpass travel option) the excess fare for the journey to Watford Junction will be £4.30 per person each way.

Since the Group Save return fare from Euston to Watford Junction is only £20.60 for all five travellers, it makes very little sense to pay £8.60 (return) per person for excess fares with Travelcards.

Use your Travelcards for the journey from Kensington (what hotel, street or road, please) to Euston, but buy Group Save tickets for the journey to Watford Junction.