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
Finally, value for money on public tranpsort!!!
Member Name: djwhite1982
Advantages: Cheap, uses same services as normal public transport
Disadvantages: a few minor things like only having one carriage to sit in.
For anyone who knows about and uses megabus, the same company have been slowly expanding the megatrain arm of their business, offering a similar service, only this time with trains. Go figure! In order to offer such cheap travel megabus had to sacrifice a number of comforts, in order that they could offer such cheap tickets. Obviously having to travel by bus also meant the journey took a lot longer, but thanks to megatrains a lot of these issues have vanished.
The concept is more or less the same as megabus, but to summarise, megatrain are basically a company who specialises in pre booked travel to and from various major cities in the UK via train, that can offer huge discounts compared to that of your normal train companies / train ticket websites.
The tickets can be purchased for rock bottom prices and tend to start at £1. So provided that you can book in advance and can be flexible with the time in the day that you travel (which tend to involve getting up early, or arriving late), then you can save an absolute fortune on train travel.
The best thing about megatrains is that the trains being used are just normal public services. Therefore it takes exactly the same amount of time for a megatrain customer to travel somewhere, as all the unfortunate people who are on the same train as you, going to the same place, but have just paid 50 times more for their ticket.
Unfortunately the megatrain network is somewhat limited at the moment, however it does seem to be slowly expanding. The link below gives you a map of the UK and highlights where the services can be used <http://www.megatrain.com/uk/timetables/index_m egatrain.php>
As you will see from the links there are currently only 3 train companies who have this agreement with megatrains for the use of their services, namely Virgin, East Midlands & South West, meaning you can't get everywhere in the UK via megatrains. However it is worth noting that even through you might not be able to get everywhere in the UK, it is often cheaper to book part of the journey through megatrains and then the final leg via a normal train company. For example a trip from London to Leeds would usually be around £70, however booking some cheap tickets to Sheffield, and then a normal ticket from Sheffield to Leeds could save you around £50.
The ticket booking process is reasonably straight forward and the megabus and megatrain tickets are all booked through the same website. (It is worth bearing in mind if you are specifically wanting to travel by train you will need to make sure you have selected this option.) The website will allow you to choose your dates of travel and will then show you any options you have and the cost of the ticket. There is an additional 50p charged at the end of the booking process for admin costs, and credit cards are charged a transaction fee.
Obviously, as you would expect, in order to offer such cheap tickets there are a few sacrifices that you have to make, however these seem to pale in comparison to the savings. The main drawbacks I noted were as follows:
1) You can only get on and off and the noted destinations. This shouldn't be a massive problem to anyone, but is worth mentioning in case you did have a change of plans and wanted to get off halfway along the journey. They state that the guards will not let you out of the station until you have paid a penalty fare, so bear this in mind!
2) Some of the train companies designate a specific coach which you must sit in. This means that seats might be limited as more people are crammed in a particular coach. I have travelled via East Midlands trains a couple of times and have been able to sit anywhere on the whole train so I'm not sure how busy the carriages can get. (I believe Virgin and SW trains operate this one coach policy).
3) You do not get an actual ticket and have to produce a reference number to train staff. The slight downside of this is partly that you have to get to the platform a bit earlier to get in the queue to "check in", and partly that it does give you a general sense of unease when you are sat on the train without a ticket. However I can assure you when the conductor comes along he will be expecting 50 people thrusting reference numbers at him instead of tickets - so don't worry!
So as you can see the negatives are pretty limited certainly when you consider the saving. I bought a ticket from London to East Midlands parkway (near Derby) which cost £10 for a return. The same ticket purchased on the day would have been £67. I have no idea how its so much cheaper, and how so few people seem to be aware of this company. Finally I can enjoy public transport feeling I'm getting value for money.
Summary: Always check megatrains first when going anywhere in the UK
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