Which BritRail Pass Should I Buy?

Dispatcher at Manchester Piccadilly Station
••• Dispatching Virgin West Coast Class 390 Euston Service from Manchester Piccadilly Station. Courtesy of ATOC

If you're thinking of buying a BritRail Pass before arriving in the UK, there are a few things to consider first to make sure you get the most bang for your buck. 

 

Compare Prices to See If You Really Need One

BritRail Pass are sold for a fixed period of time or a fixed number of days within a fixed period of time (10 non-consecutive days within a 30 day period, for example). During the period you buy, the pass offers unlimited travel so the more you use it, the more it is worth.

Buy one if:

  • you think you'll take at least three, one-way train trips across long distances of the UK.  
  • you like to travel spur of the moment. Britain's train tickets are much cheaper when bought several weeks in advance. So if you expect to use the trains when the whim strikes you, buy a BritRail Pass because last minute tickets can cost five or six times the price on some routes.

To compare prices, have a look at the National Rail Enquiries website and add up the cost of your planned trips, using the cheapest standard fare as your gauge. Don't pay too much attention to the very low, promotional fares that are often shown. These may be gone before you make up your mind. Look, instead for Standard Open or Saver prices. If you like to take a lot of day trips, check the off-peak, prices - both cheap day returns or one-way tickets (a pair of one way tickets are often cheaper than a round trip, or return, ticket).

Once you've got an idea of the price of conventional tickets for your travel, check out the prices of the various BritRail passes on offer online at the Visit Britain Shop.

Which Pass?

The kind of BritRail Pass you choose depends on your touring style. Although there are several variations, the two main categories are the Consecutive Pass and Flexipass.

Here's how they work:

Consecutive Passes: If you like to slip on a backpack and stay on the move, or if you expect to take loads of longer day trips from a central base, you should choose a BritRail Consecutive Pass. They entitle the user to unlimited rail travel for a fixed number of days. They can be purchased for 4, 8, 15, 22 or one month of consecutive days travel on the British rail networks. They are available for first or second class travel. But be aware that first class travel, when it is offered, is rarely worth the extra cost except for very long journeys where meals are offered. The Consecutive Passes that are offered include:

  • BritRail Consecutive Pass Unlimited travel in England, Scotland and Wales. Available as a Senior pass for those over 60 and as a Youth pass, usable up to the age of 26.
  • BritRail England Consecutive Pass Unlimited travel in England. Available as a Senior pass or a Youth pass.​

Flexipasses: Travelers who like to stop for a while to explore a region before moving on, or who want the freedom to choose when they will hop on a train during their vacation, should choose a Flexipass. They allow a fixed number of days of travel - that do not have to be consecutive days - during a two month period and can be purchased for 4, 8 or 15 days of travel.

These are the Flexipass types offered:​

  • BritRail Flexipass Pass Unlimited travel for a fixed number of days, during a one or two month period, in England, Scotland and Wales. Available as a Senior pass for those over 60 and as a Youth pass, for those under 26.
  • BritRail England Flexipass Unlimited travel in England for the 3, 4, 8 or 15 days during a one or two month period,. Available as a Senior pass or a Youth pass.

There are also Scotland and Southwest England passes as well as a London Plus pass which is useful for taking lots of day trips from the capital.

And Free Travel for Kids

As an added incentive for families traveling together, the Free BritRail family pass, allows one child (aged 5 to 15 ), with each adult or senior pass holder, to travel free of charge. There's no additional fee for this, just ask for it when you buy your BritRail Pass.