Advantages easy to navigate web site
Disadvantages charge for credit card payment
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I have been using thetrainline for quite a while since I work in another city and travel frequently during weekend. But as it introduced charging fees for credit card booking, I switched to virgin. But still most time I check tickets on thetrainline. Generally speaking, apart of credit card charge I think this is a quite good web site for booking train tickets. Even after I switched to virgin, I found it was powered by thetrainline. And I can use the same username and password for both systems.The web site is designed in a very clean and friendly way. On the main page, you can search available train schedules for your travel, which including trains in the U.K, Eurostar, International, and InterRail. There are basically two ways to search available train schedules. If you know the departure and arrival station name, you just simple type them in and provide your travel dates. If you don't know the station name, you can click on station search to get the nearest station for your destination. For both searching, you will see a list of available services in table, which shows you the possibilities around your chosen travel time. Under the list table, you can also navigate to earlier or later travel time.
To further check the availabilities, you have to register with them. But the registration process is very simple and easy. Meanwhile, the site allows you to buy tickets with railway cards, but only one card per booking. This can be annoying, if you want to book more than one ticket with railway cards, I'm afraid you have to do the same process again and again, and if you pay by credit card, be careful you may be charged for each of your booking.In availability checking page, you are able to view all kinds of ticket types and you may choose one at most cheap price and most suitable time for you. If you chosen to book return tickets, at this step, don't forget to check single tickets as well because there may be cheaper deals by buying two single tickets instead. As for most of my travel, I have to change at Birmingham station. So I always check for singles first for my travel, as most time they have cheap tickets for travel to Birmingham but not directly to my destination.
After you chose the suitable travel journey, the page will display your journey information, and in this page you will notice that the travel insurance is added into your booking by default. It's 1 pound for each journey. If you don't like to buy, just simple uncheck the boxes. Also in this page, they provide you a chance to book hotels as well. I have never used this service, so I'm better not to comment here. You can also choose your seat preference, but you may find it is not your choice when you are on board.Then in the next page, you will be told which type of tickets you have chosen, the route and the travel, the number of the tickets and the conditions may apply for the travel. You have to confirm these conditions in order to further process.
After that, you can choose how to get your tickets. There are several options: by first class post, collect from fast ticket machine at your chosen station, deliver in next day special delivery service (cost 6 pounds) or same day delivery (cost 10 pounds). What I normally do is to collect from fast ticket machine from the nearest station. You have to have your reference number and cards in hand in order to collect. Sometimes, you may find you don't need the reference number; just the credit card can let you get your tickets. But I would say having both in hand would be better just in case.Then you may need to update your personal information and to pay for the tickets. You will notice in the payment page, if you pay by credit card, there are extra charges for that. Normally it is about 2 pounds depends on your ticket price.
At the last step, don't forget to print a copy of your train schedule in case you may forget.I wrote a lot about the process, but in fact it's a very easy to use. As thetrainline is a very easy navigating web site, I would like to recommend you to use for searching train tickets. But considering its credit card charge, I would like you to try virgin online ticket as well. I may write a review about it later. This is the URL you may find useful: http://www.virgintrains.co.uk/
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