CrossCountry operates the only direct trains between Edinburgh and Bristol.
Though they do take a somewhat indirect route as they travel along the East Coast via Newcastle.
However, when looking up this journey it's worth paying close attention to the connecting times between trains on the alternative indirect journey options.
The transfer time between trains, particularly at Birmingham New Street, can be less than 10 minutes, so making these connections cannot be guaranteed.
Trains usually depart from Edinburgh hourly, but due to the length of the journey the final departure of the day typically leaves Waverley station before 17:30.
A mix of 125 and Voyager trains are used on this route, but there is no means of working out which of these trains will be used on the departure you will be travelling by.
Final Destination: Plymouth or Penzance or Bristol
All trains also call at: Cheltenham Spa and Bristol Parkway (this station is to the north of the city and is conveniently sited for motorway access, but take care NOT to leave the train here if you will be heading to Bristol city centre).
9 x trains per day
The usual timetable pre-pandemic was 1 x train per hour.
Book Early and Save: Yes
Online Bookings Usually Open: From 12 weeks ahead of travel of the travel date
Booking Advance Tickets
If you want to travel at the cheapest possible price, look for the 'Advance tickets', though the three key things worth knowing about booking and using 'Advance' tickets in usual circumstances are:
(1) Your ticket(s) will only be valid on the departure you selected when making a booking.
(2) But when travelling by CrossCountry trains, you can amend your ticket free of charge, regardless of when it was booked and when you will be travelling from 2 hours after purchase and up to 15 minutes before your train is due to depart, as long as the stations are the same.
(3) If the train you are booked on is delayed, you cannot then just hop on an alternative train operated by a different company.
Finding a late deal
CrossCountry atypically offers the ability to book Advance tickets until up to 15 minutes before departure.
However, because of the length of this route, you may be able to save money by splitting the tickets across separate sections of the journey.
When you book an Advance ticket for this train journey, you will be automatically assigned a seat(s), but if you book the other types of ticket ahead, you can request a complimentary reservation
However, if you buy Off Peak or Anytime tickets just prior to boarding at the station, a seat reservation WON'T be automatically included with your booking.
Though CrossCountry now offers a service buy which holders of Anytime and Off-Peak tickets can book reservations up to 10 minutes prior to departure time.
Travelling on Monday - Friday
Tickets are usually available 12 weeks ahead of the travel date.
However, when you look up a journey you may see dates further ahead on the calendar, but you'll be informed that tickets aren't yet available for those dates.
Travelling on Saturday-Sunday
Tickets are usually available 12 weeks ahead of the travel date, but maintenance work on the route is periodically undertaken at weekends and if it is scheduled on your travel date, it can affect when tickets will be released for sale.
If you're looking up a journey less than 12 weeks ahead and Advance tickets aren't available, it can be a good indication that works will be impacting on your travel date - a fairly common occurence on a journey as long as this.
It can be worth checking the National Rail website
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If when you board, you discover that your assigned seat(s) are on the right-hand side of the train, when facing the direction of travel, see if you can find available seats on the left of the train.
If you move to a different seat(s) it won't affect the validity of your ticket.
The sea views on this journey are on the left.
If your ticket(s) don't include reserved seats, then try to choose seats on the left, when facing the direction of travel.
The scenic highlights of this journey come within the first two hours.
The trains take a route on which the coast can be seen before the train has even left Edinburgh behind; and the sea views initially continue until south of Dunbar.
To the north of Berwick-upon-Tweed the train will travel across the clifftops as it crosses the border into England, these are the most dramatic coastal views on the journey.
Minutes after the train has passed through Berwick-upon-Tweed, the next highlight is the view from the majestic Royal Border Bridge.
Between there and Alnmouth there are views on the left over the dramatic Northumberland coast.
The next highlight of the journey is the passage over the River Tyne, as the train departs from Newcastle Central station and heads over the King Edward VII Bridge.
Looking to the left, five other bridges that span the river can be seen; and there are also some great views of the Tyne Bridge as the train arrives in Newcastle station.
Around 15 mins after leaving Newcastle comes the final highlight of the journey, the stunning views over the city of Durham.
Over on the left before and after the station, the town's stunning castle and cathedral can be clearly seen in all their glory.
Between Durham and Bristol he train will pass through a series of cities and large towns, which are separated by farm land; though north of Derby the railway travels through the foothills of the Peak District.
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