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Best Train Operators for Independent Travellers

Off out for the day?  Visiting friends of family or planning a trip to Europe or even the world!

Then the train is a great way to travel and meet up with friends of family.  No traffic jams and expensive parking fees the other end.  A chance to take time out and enjoy your day from the minute you set off. And if you shop around and follow our TOP TIPS below, you’ll get some good deals. It could be cheaper to travel by train than you think.

3 TOP TIPS to make the most of your rail travel budget


Network Rail sets its final timetable 12 weeks in advance so train operators normally release their cheap ‘advance tickets’ shortly after.  The earlier you book the cheaper the ticket.  Start looking about 12 weeks before you plan to travel (or 4 months for EUROSTAR).


Who charges what?  If you’re buying you’ticket from one of the 5 main booking sites it can be very tricky and time consuming to work out ‘what one charges what’ until you click on the ‘pay here’ button. Here’s the 3 best train travel sites that DON’T charge booking fees and who DO give the best deals:



No extra charges for absolutely anything; booking, paying by credit or debit card or posting your tickets onto you.

No charges for absolutely anything either; booking, paying or posting your tickets onto you.

Was called East Coast Railway, but now Virgin Trains East Coast Railway, despite their name they sell tickets for all the train companies, no fees for booking or paying, but you will need to pay a small fee if you want your tickets posted onto you, (unless you opt to collect them from the station ticket machine).

As for the train operators themselves, Eurostar, Eurotunnel and Chiltern Railways are consistently voted THE BEST train networks to travel on by all the leading travel experts. Well worth remembering if you have a choice.


Latest published stats report that just over 86% of trains run on time., but if you’re train is more than 30 minutes late pick up a claim form from the station. You may be eligible for a full or partial refund.

Single travel by train

All aboard (sorry – couldn’t resist it!)

Planning to travel abroad or thinking about taking a rail holiday?

RAIL EUROPE (now joined up with Voyages – SNCF) are European rail experts and specialist in tickets; passes for rail travel around Europe Lots of experience in helping travellers whether it be a trip from the UK to the continent or a European wide rail adventure (if you are, please take us with you!)

If you’re planning a trip around the UK, Europe or even the, SEAT 61 really is a brilliant award winning site and a fountain of knowledge on train travel all around the world. Set up by a rail enthusiast and former Rail Manager, Seat 61 provides information on the best routes, fares and journey times from the UK to Europe and around the world.

Find Seat 61 and other holiday operators specialising in adventure holidays by rail for independent travellers in our specialist FIND A HOLIDAY section.