Newest Review: ... as an option, it's worth experimenting with getting part of the journey through Megatrain, and part through the usual provider, as t... more
How do they do it?!
Member Name: jasminesarah
Advantages: Same train, same journey, massive discount!
Disadvantages: Limited journey options
Most people are familiar with the Scottish based budget travel company Megabus, run by Stagecoach. The brightly coloured blue and yellow buses are road travel's answer to Ryanair and Easyjet - offering no frills trips at silly prices.
However, Stagecoach's more recent foray into the realm of budget train travel is less well known. I would usually use thetrainline.com to buy train tickets (or preferably southwesttrains.co.uk - who do not charge a booking fee) but recently I was buying tickets for a day trip to London and the cheapest price I was quoted, booking well ahead, was well over £100 for 2 people, returning the same day. In desperation I scoured the internet and came up with Megatrain.
Megatrain's price for the same journey, on the same day, was £32. For 2 people. It seemed too good to be true! Megatrain operate on a ticket-less basis in the same way as some budget airlines do. I was sent an email confirmation with Reservation codes - to print out and carry with us on the day.
We arrived at Exeter railway station and were advised which carriage of the train we should sit in. Megatrain is operated by South West Trains in the south of England and the train was a normal one, with megatrain posters in the windows of one carriage. The seats were not reserved, but there was plenty of room. (In fact I can't remember the last time I got on a train that wasn't packed!) As we sped towards Waterloo, other non-megatrain passengers joined us. It felt strange to know that most had paid at least 3 times as much as we had.
After an uneventful journey we arrived on time, and the return journey passed in a similar way. The guard checked our reservation code in the same way as tickets are checked. The whole procedure was very smooth, I can't recommend it enough! I don't often have cause to compliment South West Trains, or any train service operator, but this was one of the most pleasant rail journeys I have had.
Megatrain offer city travel, so not all routes are covered. From Exeter, for example, there is a choice of London, Plymouth or Newquay. However, most cities have some routes available and from London you can go almost anywhere across the country. Tickets are sold as singles, and prices vary. By experimenting with dates and times on the booking page on the website you can achieve the cheapest prices, especially if you have flexible travel times. (Our outbound journeys cost £10 each, for example, whilst the returns were only £6 each.)
I'm thinking about booking another day trip to London very soon. My advice - try this budget option and save yourself some money! It is the same train and the same route - what do you have to lose?
Summary: Check megatrain first
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