The UK’s rail network is one of its great infrastructural achievements, connecting regions and bringing communities all the closer together. Today, it is relied upon by millions for everything from work commutes to connecting with family, to say nothing of the amazing day trips and holidays they facilitate. According to statistics from the Office of Rail and Road, over 359 million journeys were undertaken by rail between July and September of 2022 alone.
Baked-in as it is to our everyday lives, there is always a first time on the train for someone. If you’ve recently become independent, recently decided to give up your car or even recently moved to the UK, you might be approaching your first proper journey by train. What are some essential tips you should take with you to the platform?
4 Essential Tips for First-Time Train Travellers
Book in Advance
While with most short-distance rail operators it is possible to buy your train ticket while travelling, it is nonetheless a wise move to book your train travel well in advance of your journey. Some operators levy fines for not having purchased a ticket before boarding, but the key benefit comes from the savings you could accrue. Generally speaking, booking your tickets online ahead of time allows you to avail yourself of cheaper ticket prices – while ensuring you get a place on the train.
Trains are not known to leave early, but arriving at the station early is still a smart thing to get in the habit of. Arriving early gives you an opportunity to familiarise yourself with the train station and the platforms therein. You’ll have time to use the station facilities, buy some refreshments from a vendor or machine and locate the platform from which your train is departing.
Many train platforms give you a chance to buy a soft drink and a snack before boarding, whether from a kiosk or a vending machine. Some train services even have a refreshments trolley on board, for those last-minute teas and coffees. But both options can be expensive – and your coming journey could well be a long one. To this end, it would serve you well to stock up on some supplies before you set off. A bottle of water, a soft drink and a range of snacks will keep you satisfied as you travel.
If you are accustomed to holidaying by plane, you might be accustomed to hold luggage, baggage claim and a relatively short hop to the nearest taxi. Train travel is a little different. As such, you might do yourself a favour by packing as minimally as possible. There is overhead storage, and many trains have a baggage section in each carriage – but space is still at a premium, and hauling suitcases on and off trains, up and down platforms and over stairs is not the nicest way to take a trip!