How to buy tickets, what's on board the trains, how to use the stations, plus tips for making the journey
Final Destination: Bristol; Weston Super Mare (or Paignton or Penzance or Plymouth)
Most trains also call at: Chippenham
On Board Summary:
This service has recently been transformed by the introduction of the new Intercity Express trains to this London to Bath route.
More information is available by clicking the train details, but the key features of these trains are:
(1) enhanced Wi-fi connectivity
(2) a power socket at every seat
(3) typically more seats per departure
(4) more space for luggage
(5) dedicated bike storage spaces
First Class passengers will (usually) have complimentary food and drink served at their seats, but the Pullman Dining restaurant service is not available on any train between London and Bath.
Monday to Saturday = 2 x trains per hour
Sunday = 22 x trains (minimum of 1 x train per hour, but 2 x trains are available in some hours in the pm)
Book Early And Save: Yes
Online Bookings Open: Usually 12 weeks ahead, but this period can be longer if Great Western Railway is running a promotion
If you want to travel at the cheapest possible price, book an 'Advance' ticket - though be aware that this type of ticket can't be refunded if you subsequently change your travel plans.
In response to the pandemic these two usual ticket terms have been amended until November 30th.
If the booking period has been extended beyond 12 weeks, it seems as though 'Advance' tickets will be the only type of ticket available if you book more than 12 weeks ahead.
Also worth knowing is that on this route, Advance tickets will only be available until 18:00 (6pm) on the day before travel.
Though partially due to the frequency of the train service, you shouldn't have to book months in advance to obtain the cheapest possible price for a London to Bath train journey, particularly if you won't be travelling at business hours.
If you would like the flexibility to be able to obtain a refund if you subsequently change your travel plans, it's best to book 'Off-Peak' tickets, though this type of ticket lives up to its name, and may not be available on departures at peak business hours.
'Advance Tickets' are specific to the departure selected when making a booking, but they can be transferred to an alternative departure, though you will incur an 'admin fee' if you have booked an 'Advance' ticket.
Travelling on Saturday-Sunday
Maintenance work on the railway 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 around 10 - 12 weeks ahead and the cheaper 'Advance' tickets aren't available, it can be a good indication that works will be impacting on your travel date.
It can be worth checking this on the National Rail website - select 'Great Western Railway' as the operator.
Making an end-to-end journey will still be possible, though you MAY ultimately have to take a substitution bus service for part of the trip.
It's the confirmation of these alternative travel arrangements which can hold up the release of the tickets for sale.
Choosing a departure
There can be significant differences in prices between departures on your travel date, it's often possible to save more than £20 by taking an earlier or later train; the trains which depart London in the middle of the day tend to be cheaper.
Reservations (in usual circumstances):
When you book an Advance ticket for a London to Bath train journey online, you will automatically be assigned a seat(s) - because a guaranteed seat reservation is a benefit of using a website to purchase the ticket(s).
If you book an Anytime or Off-Peak ticket ahead of your travel date, you can request a reservation.
However, if you buy an Anytime or Off-Peak ticket at the station just prior to boarding, a seat reservation WON'T be automatically included with your booking.
That's because reservations at stations need to be booked by the end of the previous day for morning departures and 3 - 4 hours ahead for afternoon/evening departures; so keep that in mind if you will be using a rail pass, including a Britrail or Eurail pass.
On this route ShowMeTheJourney particularly recommends making reservations when travelling at these times
(1) Between 16:00 and 19:30 on Mon-Friday as this route is particularly popular with commuters.
(2) Any journey after 14:00 on Fridays and 16:-00 on Sundays.
Receiving Your Ticket(s)
The four options for receiving and using your ticket(s) you book on the Great Western Railway (GWR) website are:
(1) Using e-tickets:
You can opt to have an e-ticket attached to your confirmation email, which you can then download to your mobile device.
Then when boarding you can access your ticket(s) on your phone and use it to open the ticket gates.
Though if you opt to use this service, GWR will prompt you to make a test download prior to completing your booking, so that you can be sure that your mobile device is compatible with using this service.
(2) Opt to 'self-print', you will need then need to print off the ticket attached to your confirmation email.
(3) Collecting from the 'Fast-Track' ticket machines at the station.
You will receive a booking reference number on your order confirmation email and you can use this reference number to collect ticket(s) from a 'Fast-Track' ticket machine.
You will need to enter your reference number into the machine, so make sure you'll have easy access to it when you are using the machine.
You will also need to insert the specific credit or debit card you used when making the booking, so have that with you too.
Showing the email you will have received to staff at the ticket gates won't get you on to the train, nor will this be valid if you can only show the email to the conductor when you are on the train.
Take your time and take care that you have picked up all your ticket(s) and seat reservations.
(4) Opt to pay an additional charge to have your tickets posted to you (not an option if you book tickets from outside the UK).
|Ticket Provider||Approximate Cost|
|National Rail||from £15.50|
|Rail Europe||from £15.50|
In usual circumstances
If you board without a reservation (they are USUALLY optional) and can't find an unoccupied seat, a seats(s) should become available at the first station call of Reading, around 27 minutes into the journey.
At business hours, the trains which leave London between 16:00 and 19:00, can be particularly busy, this route is popular with commuters.
Even though it was opened in 1841 the Great Western Main Line route taken by the these trains was designed for speed, between the five or six station calls the train will frequently travel at 125 mph/200 km/h.
It's a pleasant journey through the English countryside, with the prettiest part of the route being west of Swindon, but its not exceptionally scenic.
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This is one of more than 100 train travel guides available on ShowMeTheJourney, which will make it easier to take the train journeys you want or need to make. As always, all images were captured on trips taken by ShowMeTheJourney.