Posts in the “Trains” category...

Virgin Trains East Coast 50% Off Advance Fares Sale

by Continental Club on August 13, 2016  |  Leave a comment • Tagged as: , , , , , , , , ,

East Coast main line operator has launched a 50% off Advance Fares sale valid on its routes between London King’s Cross, the Midlands, Leeds, North East England and Scotland.

500,000 seats are advertised to be available, with example fares of:

Newcastle to Edinburgh from £5.05 each way
London King’s Cross to Leeds from £7.25 each way

Edinburgh to London King’s Cross from £12.50 each way

Bookings must be made by 18th August 2016 for travel between 5th September and 4th November 2016, excluding half term week 21st – 30th October.

For full details and to book, visit the special sale page at


Flash Sale: 25% Off First Transpennine Express Advance Fares

by Continental Club on May 3, 2016  |  Leave a comment • Tagged as: , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , ,

TPE NewUK rail operator First Transpennine Express has released a flash sale offering an additional 25% off Advance fares across its network. Routes between Edinburgh, Glasgow, Manchester, Liverpool, Leeds, York, Hull, Darlington, Durham and Newcastle are included, for tickets booked by midday on Thursday 5th May 2016 on the TPE website.


Tickets must be for travel between Wednesday 4th May and Saturday 23rd July 2016, and railcards can be used with the offer for even bigger discounts. Travel must be wholly on First Transpennine Express operated services, and can only be booked by visiting, where full terms and conditions are also published.


Virgin Trains West Coast Tickets From £4 One-Way

by Continental Club on March 1, 2016  |  Leave a comment • Tagged as: , , , , ,

Virgin TrainsVirgin Trains has announced a ‘BIG Spring Seat Sale‘ for travel on its West Coast route between London Euston and Birmingham, Manchester and Glasgow. 800,0o0 seats start from £4 one-way in Standard Class between London and Birmingham, with First Class seats on the route from £17.


Tickets must be booked at or on Virgin West Coast’s app by Midnight on Thursday 3rd March 2016, for travel between 18th March and 2nd May 2016.  Tickets are not available through other train operating company or third party websites.

The fuller list of sale fares is as follows:

London (one way)
From / to Standard  First Class
Birmingham £4.00 £17.00
Coventry £4.00 £17.00
Liverpool £10.00 £30.00
Manchester £10.00 £30.00
Glasgow £14.00 £35.00
Birmingham (one way)
From / to  Standard First Class
London £4.00 £17.00
Liverpool (one way)
From / to Standard First Class
London £10.00 £30.00
Manchester (one way)
From / to Standard First Class
London £10.00 £30.00
Glasgow (one way)
From / to  Standard First Class
London £14.00 £35.00


Group and railcard discounts are not available, and tickets are non-refundable. Amendments are possible for a £10 fee plus any difference in fare. Child discounts do apply.

To book, visit


Free Heathrow Express Business First Class Upgrade

by Continental Club on August 7, 2014  |  Leave a comment • Tagged as: , , , , , , , , , , , , , , ,

Heathrow Express LogoHeathrow Express, the fast rail link between London’s Paddington Station and Heathrow Airport, is offering members of the British Airways Executive Club complimentary upgrades from Express Class to Business First for a limited period.

Departing every 15 minutes, the non-stop journey time is 15 minutes to Heathrow Terminals 1, 2 & 3, with an additional 4 minutes on to Terminal 5. A shuttle service operates between Terminals 1, 2 & 3 and Terminal 4.


Business First Class principally offers larger ‘individual’ seating, with more legroom than Express Class.

To take advance of this promotion you must book your Heathrow Express ticket through this page at

British Airways Executive Club proof of membership is required, along with your ticket for inspection when on board the Heathrow Express. The offer is available to book between 1st August 2014 and 31st August 2014. Travel must be within three months of booking.

Tickets are valid for three months from date of transaction. Singles are valid for one journey within three months date of transaction. Return tickets are valid for one calendar month from date of outward journey, within three months of transaction date.

To join the British Airways Executive Club free of charge, visit

For full details and to book Heathrow Express tickets, visit


Eurostar 10% Off Discount Code

by Continental Club on January 31, 2014  |  Leave a comment • Tagged as: , , , ,

EurostarPassengers travelling between London and Paris, Brussels and Lille can save 10% on fares with a discount code launched today by SNCB Europe, the Belgian National Railways website. The discount is valid for journeys in all three travel classes: Standard, Standard Premier & Business Premier, and for both flexible and non-flexible tickets.

Eurostar Standard Premier

The code ‘AAKUAF14FF‘ should be added on the payment page to validate the discount, which may be used 250 times in total.

The code offers the greatest opportunity for savings on more expensive tickets, but not only thanks to the gross discount amount increasing proportionally with the fare.

Indeed, for the cheapest available tickets departing the UK, it may still be more cost-effective to book direct with Eurostar, especially if booking for one passenger and using a debit card. Belgian Railways charge a flat EUR3 fee whereas there’s no fee for debit card usage on the Eurostar website. SNCB also loads its exUK fares slightly to take into account the Sterling > Euro exchange rate. However, as transactions are completed in Euros, UK cardholders will also face (for the most part) an exchange rate penalty for a second time. Members of the Eurostar Plus Points scheme will not earn points on tickets booked with SNCB.

The greater the price of the ticket, the less compromising this is, and the net saving will increase with the fare level when booking with SNCB.

However, for journeys originating from Paris, Brussels or Lille, which are presumably priced in Euros to start with, the SNCB code offers a discount on all comparable tickets versus booking with Eurostar direct.

SNCB Eurostar tickets are self-print, and the discount code expires on the 28th February 2014, or when all 250 code applications have been made. For full details and to book, visit SNCB Europe at


ebookers Launches Online UK Rail Booking

by Continental Club on March 29, 2013  |  Leave a comment • Tagged as: , , ,

ebookersebookers has become the first of the major online travel agents to offer UK rail tickets alongside flights, hotels, car rentals and its other ‘traditional’ products. The new service is promoted with the promise of no booking fees, something which most other third party rail-only booking sites can’t say.

Continental Club has tried the system out using the ‘ticket on departure’ option familiar to many UK rail users – a reference number is provided upon booking confirmation, and the card used for payment is inserted into a ticket machine at the station to authorise ticket printing. The ebookers reservation worked perfectly.

The initial presentation of travel options on the ebookers site is clear and straightforward too, with the basic information displayed in a format more akin to one you’d expect to see when booking round-trip air travel. That differs from most rail booking sites which show outbound and return services separately – ostensibly to quickly facilitate mix-and-match itineraries.

ebookers RAIL

So far then, so good. If you’re looking for a straightforward Standard Class ticket and you’re paying by debit card, then there’s little to worry about.

However, it’s the things that you can’t do that currently mean ebookers first attempt at UK rail isn’t necessarily for everyone. If you’re hoping to travel in First Class, you’ll have to look elsewhere. It’s also not possible to use a railcard yet. Tickets can’t apparently be changed or cancelled online, even if the underlying fare conditions allow it (which, in all fairness, is very much the way that online travel agents deal with air travel and hotel bookings too). Credit card payments do attract a fee – again a situation which is not unusual with third party rail booking sites.

The bigger issue which applies to the new ebookers system, and generically to all third party booking sites, is that it can’t offer certain ticket types sold only by the train operating companies themselves, and sometimes only by the actual operating company for the service selected.

As an example, here’s a random trip for three passengers travelling between London and York, offered by the ebookers site:

ebookers RAIL GS3

The journey is operated by East Coast Trains, which offers a 2% discount on its own advance tickets when bought at There’s no booking fee and no card fee. They also offer East Coast Rewards points for ticket purchases of £22 and over.

In this admittedly rather extreme example, here’s the East Coast quote on its own site for the same journey and number of passengers:

East Coast Matrix GS3

Even paying by debit card in both cases, the East Coast quote is almost £118 cheaper for the group than ebookers – because quite apart from its own 2% operator discount, East Coast can also sell something called a 3plus ticket to parties of 3 or more, which reduces the individual ticket price by 33%. In fact, in this example, the ‘upsell’ button on the East Coast site shows that the party could travel in First Class for less than the ebookers Standard Class quote.

Continental Club’s general advice when booking UK rail has always been to check which train company operates on your chosen route, and then to visit the company’s own website for the best ticket prices. For a directory of all UK train companies, visit:

Continental Club | Travel Directory | Trains

One final thing to take into account is whether online seat selection is available on the operator site – some train companies allow you to pick your carriage and seat, which can be useful.

If there’s no saving on the operator website, and the operator in question doesn’t offer seat selection, then the current ‘best buy’ route is to join the East Coast Rewards Programme and book at

The ebookers launch is a good addition to their website though, and it can work well in the right circumstances. Hopefully, it will be developed to offer all the options that the individual operating companies’ sites do, and also link hotel and car rental bookings as well. It’s a good start, but for the moment and for many passengers, rail companies’ own websites will remain the first choice.



East Coast Trains: Double Reward Points Plus 20% Off Rewards

by Continental Club on March 25, 2013  |  Leave a comment • Tagged as: , ,

UK long-distance train operator East Coast has launched a sale for members of its East Coast Rewards programme. All redemptions have been reduced by 20% until 1st April 2013, and ticket purchases over £22 will earn double points.

East Coast Big Rewards

24 hours of on-board access is reduced from 50 points to 40 points, a £10 M&S voucher is down from 500 to 400 points, and a one-way First Class ticket on East Coast drops from 450 to 360.

East Coast operates from London King’s Cross to stations in the East Midlands, Yorkshire, North East and Eastern and Northern Scotland.

East Coast Rewards is a relatively unusual loyalty programme in that it principally rewards bookers rather than just travellers, and members can earn points booking tickets for use on any UK train operator. Although the free East Coast ticket reward is undoubtedly the best overall value for collectors, those bookers who are based away from the East Coast route can still gain some value in redeeming their points for non-travel awards such as wine cases or the aforementioned shopping vouchers.

East Coast does not charge a credit card or booking fee, discounts most of its own ‘Advance’ fares by approximately 2%, and ticket on departure from station FastTicket machines is free of charge – as is eTicketing where available.

Non-members can also benefit from the birthday promotion by signing up to the programme and earning a bonus 50 points.

For full details, visit


East Coast Rewards: Free Ticket & Travel Agent Booking Changes

by Continental Club on December 18, 2012  |  Leave a comment

East CoastThe East Coast Trains website at has long been one of the better places to book UK rail tickets, irrespective of train operator. Their own cheapest East Coast advance tickets are sold at a 10% discount to the fare available from station ticket offices, or from any other online retailer.

There is no booking fee, no card fee and no fee for collecting tickets from any UK station ‘FastTicket’ machine. Postage to a UK address is a flat £1.

Adding to the benefits of booking through their website, East Coast launched its East Coast Rewards programme in 2011, which uses the same underlying architecture as its forerunners from both National Express and GNER.

EC Rewards Update

While the scheme represents one of the most generous reward schemes available to rail ticket buyers, especially those who redeem reward points for free East Coast rail tickets, there have been a few significant frustrations for members.

The first is that it has not been possible to check for the availability of free tickets until after a ‘free ticket reward’ has been ordered – a reward which must then be used within 6 months. This met with particular annoyance from former members of GNERtime and National Express escape, who knew that the website system had, in the past, allowed them to search for free tickets before committing points which would otherwise remain valid for 2 years.

Secondly, members have not been able to redeem free tickets in exactly the way that East Coast encourages its revenue customers to buy tickets – as singles. So, even if there has been ‘free’ availability in one direction, it has not been possible to redeem at all for that part of the round trip, unless a dummy return has been booked on a random available service, that portion thrown away and a revenue ticket purchased on the required service.

The third is that (particularly) business travellers who use a travel agent to make bookings on their behalves have not been able to earn reward points – which has meant that some of East Coast most loyal travellers have not hitherto been able to participate in the loyalty programme.

These anomalies have now been addressed with East Coast’s announcement that, from 19th December 2012:

  1. Rewards members will be able to check East Coast Rewards ticket availability prior to redeeming their points
  2. All East Coast Rewards tickets will be offered as singles
  3. All existing (redeemed but not booked) East Coast Rewards tickets will be converted to singles

In addition, members booking tickets through selected travel agents will now earn Rewards points through a monthly credit tracked by matching member email address with the address attached to the booking by the agent.

For details on the changes to viewing availability and one-way ticketing, visit:

For details on earning Rewards points through selected travel agents, visit: