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5 best train companies for Standard Class food and drink

If you’re taking a long train journey, then you’re bound to feel peckish. Plus, not every station has a plethora of shops to choose from. So, what’s your next option? Well, here are our five best train companies for Standard Class food on the move.

What are the best train companies for Standard Class food and drink?

We’re going to base this on how consistently you can get food and drink, and how convenient it is to order. We know that Transport for Wales have their Premier dining service, and Great Western Railway have their Pullman, but these are on a very limited number of trains. They’re great, but you can’t jump on board and get them every single time! So, who can you rely on?


It doesn’t get much more convenient than LNER when it comes to Standard Class food. All you need to do is scan the QR codes on the back of every seat:

qr codes on lner trains for ordering standard class food


From there, you can access the Let’s Eat at Your Seat menu. You can order hot and cold sandwiches, snacks and drinks. If you do fancy a stroll, then you can also visit the café bar on the train. From our experience, this will be available on every train for most of the journey.

Avanti West Coast

Avanti West Coast has a similarly extensive Standard Class food menu to LNER. However, you can’t have it delivered to your seat. Previously, this option was trialled, but it was often not available. You can click and collect instead now, but we don’t know how reliable this is. The good news is that you can just pop to the shop:

avanti west coast standard class food in shop


This would probably win the award for best buffet on a train, as you can actually see what’s on offer. The only negative is how far down the train you need to trek to reach it. The good news? It’s advertised on all services.

Grand Central

Grand Central will also allow you to choose from their menu, and then click and collect from the buffet. The menu isn’t huge (and you won’t know the sandwich fillings in advance) but you’ll find it on every train. Of course, you can just pop to the buffet as well.


The LumoEats service is worth mentioning, as it’s a pretty interesting concept. It’s available on every train, but with a few caveats.

Basically, you can pre-order your food from a number of different station outlets, and they’ll bring it to your seat. The price isn’t very different to going to the shop yourself, and it can be a big time saver. The only issue is that you need to be getting on the train in either Edinburgh or London. You’ll need to do it in advance, as well. That said, you can do it up to two hours before you travel.

Once you’re on the train, a trolley will also come through regularly with smaller snacks and drinks.

TransPennine Express

Finally, we have TransPennine Express. They don’t offer food and drink on every train all of the time, but they cover the bulk of the time period that you’d expect to be able to order it.

It’s advertised between 07:00 and 18:30 on weekdays, and 09:00 and 18:30 on weekends. You’ll find it between York/Leeds and Manchester on the Hull, Saltburn and Scarborough services, and Sheffield and Manchester on the Cleethorpes services. It’s available on the entire Newcastle to Edinburgh and Newcastle to Liverpool routes.

On trains between Edinburgh/Glasgow and Manchester Airport, you can get it on the entire route, all day long. As for the menu, it’s pretty much what you’d expect. You can choose from sandwiches, snacks and drinks. Just keep an eye out for the trolley!

Is there anything else I should know?

Feeling peckish? Looking to book a ticket and have a trip with some great Standard Class food? No problem. You can do it all with Railsmartr. We don’t charge any extra fees either, even if you just change your mind about your trip.

All information quoted is correct as of August 2023, is subject to change, and is issued without liability. Railsmartr is not responsible for any disappointment or loss incurred as a result of the information provided.

5 buzzing cities for a weekend away by train

You can’t beat a good weekend away. It’s a chance to see a city at its most lively, and the perfect opportunity to explore somewhere new. So, why not leave the car at home? Here’s our round-up of some great cities for a weekend away by train.

Where can I go for a weekend away by train?

Looking for a great night out, a chance to sample some local delicacies or to just to see the sights? There’s something for everyone, here. We’ve visited all of these places ourselves, too. Just click the link at the bottom of entry to find out more.


Newcastle might have an atmosphere as a party city, but it’s so much more. By day, you can work your way around its free museums and art galleries, such as the Discovery Museum and the Baltic. Have a stroll around the Quayside and admire the many bridges, too:

newcastle quayside, which can be visited on a weekend away by train


Looking for a drink? Newcastle is filled with hip craft beer spots, cute cocktail bars and plenty of classic pubs for a pint. Best of all, Geordies have a reputation for just being pure friendly. Want to see what we got up to? Click here.


York is a perfect weekend away by train for history buffs and train geeks alike. You could walk the walls, visit the National Railway Museum and admire the facade of York Minster without spending a penny.

Don’t forget to explore the many independent shops on the Shambles, either:

york shambles


Or, perhaps you just want to go out of your way to find the brilliantly-named Whip-ma-Whop-ma-Gate. We paid a visit to see the sights, too.


So, what’s going on in the City of Seven Hills? Quite a lot, in fact, and definitely enough for a great weekend away by train! It’s filled with free museums, such as Kelham Island Museum and the Millenium Gallery. You can learn more about the rich history of Sheffield, as well as the people that make it great.

Why not shop till you drop in the Vintage stores of Division Street? Don’t forget the fried chicken at Lucky Fox, either. Or, you could take it easy and have a stroll around the Botanical Gardens:

sheffield botanical gardens, which can be visited on a weekend away by train


One of us lived and studied in Sheffield for four years, so we’ve got plenty of tips! Find out more here.


There’s something in Glasgow for everyone. Fancy admiring a wall covered in cars? You can do that at the Riverside Museum, for free:

arnold clark car wall, riverside museum


It’s home to the People’s Palace and Kelvingrove Museum, too. They don’t cost a penny, either. Fancy getting closer to nature? You can go say hello to the coos in Pollok Country Park, or admire the plants in the Botanic Gardens.

Peckish? Don’t pass on the fluffy soufflé pancakes at KoKo House. Find out more about what we saw and did here.


Liverpool is a perfect weekend away by train for music-lovers. It’s the home of so many class acts, after all. You can learn more about them in the Museum of Liverpool. No prizes for guessing which is the most famous act:

beatles statue, liverpool


As well as soaking up some art in Tate Liverpool, you could pop out of the city and enjoy a bracing coastal walk in New Brighton or West Kirby.

Of course, you could spend an entire weekend trying to spot all of the Superlambananas. Take a look at what we chose to do

Is there anything else I should know?

Feeling inspired? Looking to book a ticket and have a weekend away by train? No problem. You can do it all with Railsmartr. We don’t charge any extra fees either, even if you just change your mind about your trip.

How can I check if my train ticket is valid?

Whenever you take the train, you might hear announcements about making sure that your train ticket is valid. Cue some fretting and double-checking what your ticket says. So, what do you need to look for? Here’s our guide to checking if you’re good to go before you jump on board.

How do I know if my train ticket is valid?

Usually, it’s easy! You might have a ticket for a specific train, or you might have an Anytime ticket. However, if you’re stuck in disruption, or travelling with an Off-Peak ticket, it might not be so clear. Here are our top tips for travelling with ease.

Advance tickets

Your Advance train ticket is valid only on the date and service shown on it. If you jump on a different train without permission, then your ticket is as good as not having one at all!

All of this important information will be shown on the ticket itself. They’ll be shown as ‘Mandatory Reservations‘. Here’s an example:

advance train ticket showing which trains it is valid on


Certain types of paper ticket will have the ticket and the reservation on separate coupons. You’ll need both the ticket and the reservation in order to travel, if you have an Advance ticket.

Getting across London

If you’re making a journey that involves going across London, then only certain types of ticket are valid. For example, the London Underground does not accept eTickets. Your ticket will need to be a paper one that you can insert into the gate. As well as this, it’ll need to have a Maltese Cross symbol. Here’s an example:

paper train ticket which is valid for travel across london


Tickets to ‘London Terminals‘ aren’t valid on the Underground. You’ll need to use Contactless instead.

Off-Peak and Super Off-Peak

Off-Peak train times are a bit of a minefield. So, how do you know if your ticket is valid? Well, every ticket has a unique restriction code. This code will tell you when you can use your ticket. On an eTicket, you’ll find it near the bottom:

illustration of restriction code location on an eticket


You can find this out by visiting nre.co.uk/(your restriction code). For example, nre.co.uk/1l takes you to the dedicated page for restriction code 1L.

Here at Railsmartr, we’ll show you the cheapest ticket that is valid on the train you choose. So, you’ll not need to worry about this!

Day Returns versus plain ‘Returns’

Day Returns are pretty self-explanatory. But how do you know if your Off-Peak Return train ticket is valid, or an Anytime Return? It’s pretty simple:

When you’re using the return part of these tickets, you don’t need to do the entire journey at once. You can break it as many times as you like, for as long as the ticket is valid. If a staff member marks a date on the ticket, that doesn’t change this fact!

Day Returns are valid until 04:30 the next morning. If you’re travelling in the early hours (eg. at 1am), then a ticket from the previous day is still valid.

When things go wrong

If things go wrong, it can be tricky to know whether or not your train ticket is valid. But, here are some simple pointers:

Do you have an Off-Peak, Super Off-Peak or Anytime ticket? There’s no need to rebook. Just jump on the next train. If your ticket is only for a specific company, you’ll still need to obey that restriction.

If there’s major disruption, then other companies should accept your ticket. Other train companies cannot strand you if there aren’t any more services operated by the company on your ticket. You can find out more in our guide to disruption.

Is there anything else I should know?

Looking to book some train tickets now? No problem. You can do it all with Railsmartr. We don’t charge any extra fees either, even if you just change your mind about your trip.

All information is issued without liability and was correct at 29 August 2023. Railsmartr is not responsible for any losses or inconvenience incurred as a result of the information provided.

Our Top 5 tips for crossing London by train

The railway is pretty London-centric. The fastest trains usually go there, so the fastest journeys will involve going across it. For some people, that’s their worst nightmare. Which station do you need? How do you use the Underground? Is your ticket valid? Don’t panic. Here are our top five tips for crossing London by train.

What do I need to know about crossing London by train?

London is a huge city and it’s got a plethora of different railway stations. A number of different Underground lines link all of the stations together, and a couple of railway lines actually cross London, so you don’t need to change. We have a couple of tips that you’ll find handy when it comes to crossing London by train.

Have the right ticket

If you’re crossing London by train, and you have one ticket for your entire trip, then it’ll need to be a paper ticket in order for you to use the London Underground. It’ll also need to have a Maltese Cross symbol. Here’s an example:

paper rail ticket with maltese cross symbol which is valid for crossing london by train


If your ticket says ‘London Terminals‘, then it isn’t valid to cross London by train. You can find out more about what ‘London Terminals’ are, here.

No ticket? No need to queue

If you don’t have a ticket for the London Underground, then don’t queue up for one! All you need to do is tap any contactless bank card or device on the ticket gate, then tap out again when you leave. It’s much cheaper than queueing up for a paper ticket.

A typical single fare to get across London is £2.70. You can check how much you’ll be charged with the TfL Single Fare Finder.

Pick the right tube station

There are a couple of stations where it’s worth checking which Underground station is the best for you. This is usually the case where multiple Underground stations serve the same ‘mainline’ station, or there isn’t a dedicated one. Here are the main examples:

Avoid the tube

Looking to avoid the tube? Crossing London by train can be even simpler if you just stick to the train for the entire trip. The Elizabeth Line is London’s newest addition, and it connects Paddington and Liverpool Street, amongst other places. Meanwhile, Thameslink connects the Home Counties together. If you’re travelling from St Pancras to London Bridge, for example, you might find it easier to use Thameslink.

thameslink train, an option for crossing london by train


Alternatively, why not walk? King’s Cross and Euston are just a 10-minute walk apart. Meanwhile, it’s a 20-minute walk along the Thames between Waterloo and Blackfriars.

Avoid Central London

It’s sometimes possible to avoid crossing London by train entirely. We’d recommend taking a look at the different London Overground routes if you’d like to do this.

The Watford Junction to Clapham Junction route, operated by Southern, is also a useful train to catch. It allows you to connect between the North of England and the South Coast without the need to go through Central London. This is also a great way to get to Gatwick Airport

Is there anything else I should know?

Looking for more information about London? Take a look at our page about travelling around London. You’ll find everything you need to know, including how to navigate the brand-new Elizabeth Line, and your best options for reaching London airports, including Heathrow. We’ll even tell you which London station to use!

Ready to take a trip? You can book it all with Railsmartr. We don’t charge any refund or change fees, either. After all, why should you pay more if you’re changed your mind?

All information on this page was correct at 29 August 2023 and is issued without liability. Railsmartr are not responsible for any loss or inconvenience incurred as a result of the information provided.

Are there power sockets on trains?

Many of us want to stay connected while we’re on the move. So, it’s always good to know whether you’ll be able to charge up on the train. Don’t worry though, as we’ve put together this quick guide to power sockets on trains, so you’ll know whether or not you need to pack a power bank on your next trip.

Are there power sockets on trains?

In most cases these days, yes! Most trains have power sockets available for you to use. They might have a three-pin socket, a USB slot or both. They’ll either be on the wall, under the seat in front of you or under your own seat. If you’re sat at the table, they might be under the table itself or fixed to the table.

power sockets on trains on a class 385 scotrail train


If a socket is attached to the wall, then you can only access it if you have a window seat.

Where will I find power sockets on trains?

Here’s our quick summary of each company and whether you can expect to find a power socket on trains that they operate. It isn’t always as straightforward as ‘yes’ or ‘no’, but most companies have a pretty consistent approach.

Company Three-pin socket? USB port? Where?
Avanti West Coast Yes1 Yes1 On seat in front/on table/ wall
c2c No No N/A
Chiltern Railways Longer-distance services only2 No Wall/on table
CrossCountry On ‘Voyager’ trains only3 No Wall
East Midlands Railway InterCity services only Some ‘Regional’ services Wall
Elizabeth Line No No N/A
Gatwick Express Yes No Wall
Grand Central Yes No Wall
Great Northern Yes No Wall/under seat
Great Western Railway Yes Most trains Wall/under seat
Greater Anglia Yes Yes Under seat
Heathrow Express Yes Yes Wall
Hull Trains Yes Yes Under seat
LNER Yes First Class only Under seat (Azuma)/wall (Electric Train)
London Overground No Some trains Between carriages/behind drivers cab
Lumo Yes Yes Under seat in front
Merseyrail Yes4 Yes4 Under seat
Northern Some trains5 Almost all trains5 Under seat/wall
ScotRail Yes Some trains Under seat/wall/on table
Southeastern Most trains6 Some trains6 Under seat/wall
Southern Most trains6 Most trains6 Wall
South Western Railway All except ‘suburban’ services near London Some trains Wall
Thameslink First Class only No Under seat
TransPennine Express Yes Yes Under seat/wall
Transport for Wales Yes Yes Under seat/wall
West Midlands Trains Yes7 Yes7 Under seat/wall

Is there anything else I should know?

We’ve written some footnotes below where the situation isn’t quite so straightforward! Otherwise, you’re all set.

Looking to book some train tickets now? No problem. You can do it all with Railsmartr. We don’t charge any extra fees either, even if you just change your mind about your trip.


1 – Avanti West Coast are currently refurbishing their ‘Pendolino’ trains. On unrefurbished trains, you’ll only find sockets at tables in Standard Class.

2 – All London-Birmingham services and some London-Oxford services.

3 – Voyager trains run between Scotland/Newcastle and the South West, and Manchester and the South Coast.

4 – Merseyrail are currently replacing their fleet. Older trains do not have power sockets.

5 – Northern has a very diverse fleet of trains. Almost all trains will have either a USB socket or three-pin socket. A small number don’t have either.

6 – Southern and Southeastern are currently refurbishing their trains and adding sockets. ‘Javelin’ trains will soon be fitted with USB-C ports.

7 – All services except the ‘CrossCity’ line, and other trains that have a 3+2 seating layout.

All information is issued without liability and was correct at August 2023. Railsmartr are not responsible for any loss of inconvenience incurred as a result of the information provided.

5 great day trips in Kent by train

Looking to make some memories in Kent? Look no further. Here’s our quick round-up of five fun day trips in Kent that you can do by train. Whether you’re looking for beaches or former battlegrounds, we’ve got you covered.

What sort of day trips in Kent can I do?

Here are our five picks for day trips in Kent by train. No matter what you’re after from a day trip, there’s something for everyone. Just make sure to dress appropriately, as the British weather always likes to throw in a surprise.


Let’s begin in Rochester, which sits on the banks of the River Medway. How about paying a visit to Rochester Castle? It endured siege after siege in times gone by. These days, it enjoys a somewhat quieter life:

rochester castle, one of the day trips in kent by train


You could also take a look at the beautiful Restoration House. Did you know that it played the role of ‘Sattis House’ in Dickens’ Great Expectations?


Day trips in Kent don’t get any better than Canterbury. It’s steeped in history, for one. Why not pay a visit to the iconic Canterbury Cathedral or climb up Westgate Towers?


canterbury westgate tower


Looking for something a little more peaceful? You could enjoy a picnic in Westgate Gardens or take a punt down the Great Stour.


Dover isn’t just all about escaping to the continent? You could do as we did, and climb up to the edge of Western Heights. From these old fortifications, you can see the entire town:

view of dover, one of the day trips in kent by train


You’re also able to see Dover Castle. Of course, we can’t forget the White Cliffs, either. They’re walking distance from the town itself.


Whitstable has a great stretch of beach. It’s also home to an RNLI Lifeboat Station. So, when you pay a visit, you can learn more about the sea and its tides, and how they affect the town.

whitstable harbour


It’s also home to the Harbour Market. On a Thursday to Monday, you can come here and fill your boots with all sorts of artisan arts, crafts and other homemade goods.


This is one of the best day trips in Kent if you fancy a visit to the beach. After all, it doesn’t get much better than the golden sands of Margate:

margate beach


How about some more classic seaside experiences? You can’t have Margate without Dreamland, either. It’s basically your classic seaside theme park with plenty of rides (including rollercoasters) on offer. It’s free to get in, and you pay per ride.

Is there anything else I should know?

Looking to know more about day trips in Kent? You can find out more on our dedicated page where we’ll tell you more about how to get to your favourite destination with ease.

Ready for some more inspiration? We’ve written lots more content all about day trips by train. Whether you’re travelling from Newcastle, Leeds, London, Edinburgh or Glasgow, we’re sure to have something for you. Don’t forget that there are plenty of advantages when it comes to leaving the car at home.

Looking to book some train tickets? No problem. You can do it all with Railsmartr. We don’t charge any extra fees either, even if you just change your mind about your trip.

Top 5 cheapest station pints

We all love a bargain. That’s why we’ve been out this Summer sampling some beer at railway stations up and down the country (it’s a hard life, we know). But, this was all for a good reason. We wanted to find out about the best value beers. So, after we created our map, what did we learn? Well, here’s the top five cheapest station pints that we found (other than Spoons).

What are the cheapest station pints?

So, we’ve got one rule for this list, which is that we’re excluding Spoons. Otherwise, they’d practically run away with it. Everyone knows that they’re cheap, and they know what they’re going to get. Their Aberystwyth pub (Yr Hen Orsaf) actually has the cheapest station pint in the country, at an astounding £1.71.

Instead though, we’d like to give some shout outs to independents and small chains that serve rail travellers and locals alike, and serve them some great-value beer while they’re at it. We should add that these prices were correct as of June 2023, so they might have changed a little since.

5 – Urmston

We’re kicking off the list with Urmston (The Steamhouse). When we got in touch with them, they told us that their cheapest station pints were £3.75. This is a cask ale that rotates every month!

4 – Knaresborough

Next up, you can pay a visit to the Track and Sleeper and get yourself a pint for just £3.70. This changes pretty regularly, as we’ve visited twice, and it was different on both occasions.


It’ll be one of their very own Gorilla Brewery pints, though. Trust us when we say that they’re all worth a try.

3 – Huddersfield

At the Head of Steam in Huddersfield, you can enjoy a pint of Buckeye Pale Ale for £3.60. Everything rotates pretty regularly, so the cheapest station pints here will change often!

Luckily, they’ve popped a menu with prices on their site, so you can stay up to date before you visit.

2 – Doncaster and Hartlepool

We have a joint entry for the second-top position when it comes to the cheapest station pints. You can choose between The Draughtsman (Doncaster) and The Rat Race (Hartlepool). We visited the latter, with its rather eclectic choice of decor:

interior of hartlepool station pub, which serves one of the cheapest station pubs


At both of these pubs, the beer changes very regularly. So we’d recommend popping into both and finding out the latest offer for yourself.

1 – Codsall

Finally, a pint of Holdens at the station pub in Codsall will cost you just £3.30. So, this is the cheapest station pint that you’ll find somewhere that isn’t Spoons!

Is there anything else I should know?

So, have we quenched your thirst, or left you looking for more? You can find our full map of station pubs here. Looking for more about pubs? You can take a look at our favourite pubs in the North East or Yorkshire and the East Midlands. We’ve also taken a trip to find some of the best beer in East London.

Looking to book some train tickets to sample the cheapest station pints? No problem. You can do it all with Railsmartr. We don’t charge any extra fees either, even if you just change your mind about your trip.

All prices quoted were correct as of June 2023, and are subject to change. Railsmartr is not responsible for any disappointment or loss incurred as a result of the information provided.

Rail travel disruption – What do I do?

We don’t like it when things go wrong. But sometimes, delays and cancellations do happen. Don’t panic if you find yourself in the midst of rail travel disruption though, we’re here to tell you what to do during disruption and what your rights are. 

What to do during travel disruption

When there’s disruption, operators need to do everything they can to keep you moving, where they’re able to. It’s even in the National Rail Conditions of Travel, which say: 

“Where disruption prevents you from completing the journey for which your Ticket is valid and is being used, any Train Company will, where it reasonably can, provide you with alternative means of travel to your destination, or if necessary, provide overnight accommodation for you.”

National Rail Conditions of Travel, Section 28.2

If you have an advance ticket 

If your train is cancelled, you can jump on the next one operated by the same company. There’s no need to ask permission first. Train companies may also agree to accept each other’s tickets, meaning that you can travel on a different company. If this happens, staff will let you know.

No more trains operated by the company you booked with? Another operator should allow you to travel with them instead.

If this isn’t possible, you should be provided with replacement transport or accommodation. You should not be left stranded or made to buy another ticket.

If you have a flexible ticket 

You can use any trains within the route, operator and/or time restrictions of your ticket. In many cases, these restrictions will be lifted. Your rights to alternative transport, accommodation and refunds are the same as those stated above for Advance tickets. 

Split tickets 

Split tickets don’t affect your right to compensation or to alternative transport during rail travel disruption, so long as you make sure you leave enough time between each train. All of your tickets still form a journey, in the same way that a through ticket does.

If you miss a connecting train, you can still get another one. Just make sure you follow any restrictions on your ticket.

If you can’t go any further by train 

Let railway staff know as soon as possible. This should ideally be when you’re at a staffed station or still travelling on a train. They should make the relevant arrangements for you, which will usually involve providing a bus or taxi.

In some situations, train operators may be unable to provide alternative arrangements during rail disruption. If this happens, they might tell you to book a taxi or hotel then contact them to claim back the cost.

You’ll need to keep hold of all your tickets and receipts and send them to the customer relations department of the operator that caused you to become stranded.

You can click here to find out more about what to do in rail disruption

Our top tips for first-time train travel

If you’ve never travelled by train before in Great Britain, it can be an overwhelming thought. From navigating ticket types to train companies, there’s a lot to take in. So we’ve put together our top tips for first-time train travel.

Know what ticket you need

When it comes to first-time train travel, you’ll know that you need a ticket to get on the train! So, what kind of tickets can you buy?

This is the basic run-down, but there’s a little more to it if you’re interested. We’ve got our very own guide to tickets for that.

First-time train travel, First Class?

Sometimes, it pays to travel First Class. It could only be a little more expensive, and you might get fed, too! For a first-time train travel experience, it sounds idyllic.

But, be smart about this. If you’re travelling from one end of the country to the other, you’ll probably get a better seat and some food and drink. Travelling around the South East or on a local hop? There might be no difference other than the price.

We’ve done the legwork for you, though. Take a look at our ranking of every First Class product on trains in Great Britain.

3. Pack smarter!

Okay, so you’ve booked a ticket and decided where you’re going. Now you need to pack. There are a couple of rules, but it’s all common-sense really. Don’t pack more than you can physically handle, for one. So, you can only bring three items with you! There are a few things you also can’t bring:

The big exception to this is Lumo trains. They’re a low-cost company with limited space, so they have some additional rules that you can find on their website.

We also took a trip around the country with a cabin-size suitcase to test out the best train for luggage. You can find more about that here!

4. Finding your train

One of the big fears about first-time train travel is whether you’ll find your train. It depends where you’re travelling from, for one! Most stations will have a screen on the platform and by the entrance to tell you where to go, though.

At bigger stations, like in London, your train might not have a platform displayed. Don’t worry, this just means it isn’t ready to board yet. When it’s ready, they’ll show the platform.

What about finding your seat? When a seat is reserved for you, it’ll have a carriage letter and seat number. Most trains these days have screens like these on:

first time rail travel - screens showing carriage letters on trains

These tells you the carriage letter and where the train is going. Simply jump on the right carriage and look for the seat numbers either above the seat or on it.

5. Don’t be afraid to ask for help

Railway staff know that passengers have questions. After all, they’re there to help! Don’t be afraid to ask if you’re unsure.

If you need a little extra help, that’s no problem. There’s a dedicated Passenger Assist service for people who might need mobility assistance or just some extra reassurance. We’ve produced a handy FAQ to tell you more here.

What else should I know about first-time train travel?

The last thing to remember is that you should book smarter, too. When you book your tickets with Railsmartr, you’ll never pay any extra fees.

In fact, we’ll never charge an admin fee if you need to refund or change your tickets. Because why should you pay more when the unexpected happens?

How to travel smarter during a Rail Strike

When there’s a rail strike, the message from train companies is pretty much the same across the board. We’re all told that we shouldn’t travel and to find alternatives. But coach travel can become expensive on strike days and it’s slow. Plus, not everyone can just jump in the car instead. On some routes, trains will still be running and there’s no reason not to catch them.

So how can you travel smarter during rail strikes? Here are our top tips:

Know who’s involved in a rail strike

Most strikes affecting the railway involve the RMT union or ASLEF. So what’s the difference and how does it affect which trains can run?

RMT strikes can either affect Network Rail (who control the signalling systems) and some rail company staff. On an RMT strike day, most companies will usually run a limited service between around 7:30am and 6pm, with some finishing a little earlier.

As a general rule, ‘major’ routes will still run. So, if you’re going from Edinburgh, Glasgow, Newcastle, York, Leeds, Preston, Manchester, Liverpool or Birmingham to London, you can expect a reasonably regular service of at least one train every two hours. The more ‘rural’ or ‘remote’ a line is, the less likely that it is to run. This is because rural lines are usually controlled by lots of signallers in smaller signal boxes, while major routes are controlled by a smaller number of people in a bigger signalling centre.

ASLEF strikes affect train drivers and are more ‘major’ as some companies will not run any trains at all, including most major long-distance ones. However, not every operator is in dispute with this union, so some companies will run a largely normal timetable.

Check what’s running

You should always check before you travel with our dedicated strike page. We’ll tell you where to find the right information about your journey. You can also visit the National Rail website

As we mentioned above, an RMT rail strike usually means a limited network of trains running during limited hours, while an ASLEF strike means a normal service on some routes with no trains at all on others. 

If you want to still travel, don’t refund your ticket 

Advance train tickets are likely to be very limited or non-existent on a rail strike day. If you want to travel and know that you still can, don’t get a refund. You’ll either be able to amend your ticket to a service that is running, or Advance ticket restrictions will be lifted. 

You should know that if your ticket is only valid with a particular company, you’ll still need to stick to them where possible.

Leave as much time as possible during a rail strike

As on any other day, other disruptions can still happen. Don’t rely on the last train if you can, as there may be fewer staff around to help if something goes wrong. 

Despite what some operators claim, strike days usually aren’t extremely busy (unless there are lots of strike days in a row), so you won’t find yourself struggling to board every single train. 

However, it’s a good idea to check where your train starts from. If you’re boarding at the starting station, you should get there earlier in case it’s busy. Even better, make sure you have a seat reserved. 

Most importantly, know that it is possible to travel on strike days. Trains run on some routes, and your rights to compensation and help in the event of disruption aren’t any different. If there’s a train scheduled to run, go ahead and catch it!

Book smarter

No matter what happens, you’re covered when you book with Railsmartr. We’ll let you know if your train will be cancelled by any upcoming strike action.

If it’s cancelled, you’re able to get a fee-free refund or amendment, no matter what kind of ticket it is. If your train is running but you still don’t want to travel, that’s no problem either.


How to get cheaper train tickets

With rail fares going up, we all want to get cheaper train tickets more than ever. But we don’t have all day to scour the internet and find every possible combination to suit us! Here are some of the best Railsmartr tips on how to get cheaper train tickets with ease:

Look at slower routes 

Let’s start with looking at slower trains. Railsmartr will pick out the slower routes that you might not have thought of, particularly when it comes to travelling to and from London. The best examples include going between Manchester and London, and Birmingham and London. Take a look at how much we could save you on a last-minute London to Manchester trip:

cheaper train ticket on london to manchester route

You could also click here for our full guide on alternative routes to try that could save you a packet!

Pick the right time to travel

It seems obvious, but avoiding busier times can help, too. This doesn’t necessarily mean avoiding the traditional ‘peak’ times either. Did you know, for example, that the Friday morning ‘peak’ towards London is one of the quietest times to travel? Meanwhile, a Wednesday can be one of the busiest.

Know when to book in advance

Booking in advance is another example of how to get cheaper train tickets. You can even book advance tickets on some routes right up to the time that your train is due to leave! So long as you’ve paid and got your ticket before you jump on, you’re good to go. Just be careful that you don’t book too far in advance, as some sites will sell you a full-price flexible ticket without any reservations.

Let our guide to advance train tickets tell you more.

Single or return?

You should also make sure that a return ticket isn’t cheaper than buying advance single tickets. If you’re travelling at the last minute and need to make a return trip, a flexible return ticket (such as Off-Peak or Super Off-Peak) might be cheaper. It’ll give you more options, too!

Unsure what Off-Peak is? Click here, we’ve got you covered. The National Rail website will also tell you about when tickets are valid.

Book smarter!

Most train ticket retailers charge a fee for booking or refunding your tickets. In fact, refund and exchange fees could cost you up to £10 if you need to cancel your trip or change your journey to a different time. Railsmartr is committed to never charging you fees for bookings or refunds, so when you book through us, you’ll be saving too.

Ready to book? Visit the Railsmartr website.