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Travelling on regional trains in the UK

At a glance

  • Regional train
  • UK

Overview

© mmac72

Regional trains in the UK cover a wide range of services. They include rail services from London to destinations on the south coast such as Southampton, Brighton or Eastbourne, historic cities of Oxford, Canterbury or York, cross-country routes like Nottingham to Cardiff and longer rural journeys anywhere in Britain.

Generally, regional trains serve smaller communities, but there are some regional trains that dash between cities, for example the non-stop service between London and Cambridge. Generally, however, regional trains are practical rather than luxurious. Although there are occasional express services, regional trains tend to stop frequently.

Regional trains in the United Kingdom are operated by a number of companies, including Arriva Trains Wales, Scotrail, Northern, Great Western Railway and South West Trains.

Practical information

Before you board

Always make sure that you hold a valid ticket before boarding the train.

Some UK train stations require travellers to validate their tickets through automatic gates. Simply insert your ticket orange-side-up into the slot in the gate and it will pop back up through a slot at the top. Take your ticket and the gates will open. If there are no automatic barriers at the station, ticket control will take place once onboard.

Onboard

An increasing number of regional trains are air conditioned. This applies particularly to those serving longer routes.

Many passengers on regional trains are making relatively short journeys, so these trains are sometimes a bit tight for space when it comes to large suitcases. There is an at-seat trolley service in both First and Standard Class on some regional trains, for example on regional services offered by CrossCountry or South West Trains. Expect snacks, sandwiches and hot and cold drinks. During the week, some items of this food and drink service are complimentary in First Class.

Booking and printing options

Regional UK train tickets are open for bookings 90 days in advance.

Seat reservations are not mandatory on UK regional trains.

Get the lowest prices on UK regional trains by booking early and don’t wait until the last minute as cheaper seats sell out quickly.

Advance tickets offer discounts of up to 80% for bookings made well in advance.

Using a railcard may also help to get further discounts when booking UK trains.

Opt for off-peak UK regional trains when you have to travel at short notice. Off-peak trains are more affordable than ones that run mornings and evenings, Fridays and Sundays or during popular holidays.

Make the most of our Pricehack fares, or split ticket bargains on over 200 million train journeys in Great Britain.

Collect-at-station tickets are available for every UK train.

Classes of service

Many UK regional trains provide two classes of service, Standard Class and First Class. However, some regional trains serving longer rural routes only have Standard Class seating.

First Class

On regional UK trains seating is more spacious in First Class than in Standard Class, with three seats across a central aisle rather than four. During the week, some regional train services offer complimentary catering in First Class.

Standard Class

Seating in Standard Class airline-style unidirectional seats, in pairs. A small number of seats are arranged in seats of four around a table.

Child and youth passengers

The definition of "Child" and "Youth" varies by country and operator. This is why we ask for the age of young passengers.

Sometimes children below a certain age can travel without a seat for free. If you want to guarantee a seat for child passengers, enter '6' as the age of the child.

Read more about child and youth passenger ages. See also youth discounts and railcards.