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Unread 08-03-2011, 16:57   #1
markpb
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Default Sail & Rail

I'm thinking about travelling to London next week and since it's short notice, I've been checking out BE and S&R instead of flying. Perhaps I'm reading the site wrong but it looks like the Sail & Rail option is an hour slower than the bus?

BE leave Dublin at 20.15 and arrive in Victoria at 08.45
Stena leave Dublin at 19.45 and arrive in Euston at 08.36

Am I missing something?
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Unread 08-03-2011, 17:42   #2
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Nah what's more surprising is the length of the bus journey but then again it goes via Birmingham

There is a gap of nearly 4 hours between the arrival of the ferry and the departure of the train in holyhead that's why the train option takes so long.

Last edited by ThomasJ : 08-03-2011 at 17:45.
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Unread 08-03-2011, 22:28   #3
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Default Maybe Rosslare?

This may not be a lot of use especially if one doesn't have a lot of time so I'm posting it on the offchance it may be of interest/help. (I'm aware that Dublin to London is faster the traditional route via Dublin/Dún Laoghaire).

Unlike Holyhead, Rosslare offers an overnight service in the continuous sense each way seven days a week i.e. no prolonged wait of circa four hours for the train. Just a short wait of around half an hour from the time one disembarks the ship (Stena) to the time the train can be boarded.

A through ticket from Connolly to London via Rosslare can be purchased but as most readers of this forum probably know few trains actually connect to/from the ferries. The major disbenefit is getting from Dublin to Rosslare. The last train to connect with the 2115 sailing is the 1330 ex Connolly (not an option unless one wants to enjoy a long meal/few hours in a Rosslare pub/hotel). One could though take the 1630 Connolly to Wexford train (arr. Wexford 1904) and catch a Bus Éireann coach immediately outside the station to the steps of Rosslare ferry terminal. Coaches at 1920 and 2010. Journey scheduled to take 30 mins but in practice is achieved in several minutes less (coincidentally same coaches depart from Busáras at 1630 and 1730 respectively). Dublin-Rosslare Harbour 16.65 e single online. Wexford-Rosslare Harbour 5 euro single onboard.

There is a cafe in the terminal and the Stena Europe usually commences boarding around 2015. The onward train leaves Fishguard at 0150 (but available to board before half one). At Swansea it's necessary to change onto a First Great Western High Speed Train which will be open and ready to board at an adjoining platform. Arrival at Paddington is 0732.

If one left Dublin by coach at 1730 the overall journey via Rosslare is only about an hour longer than via Holyhead and more comfortable as there's no prolonged waiting around.

(The return is at 2015 ex Paddington, arriving Rosslare Harbour 0615 and Dublin train at 0750).

Last edited by Traincustomer : 08-03-2011 at 22:31.
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Unread 08-03-2011, 23:06   #4
Eddie
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I did the overnight trip once in the days when there was a 9.30pm HSS service from Dun Laoghaire which got into Holyhead about 11.45pm, and even then there was a 2 hour wait for the 1.50am departure to Birmingham, which took about 3 hours. Transferring to the first train from Birmingham at about 5.30am, got you into Euston at 7.30am, but the train would have been packed with London commuters. So now it's only an hour longer and I'd say the first direct service from Holyhead to London at about 4.30am would be pleasant enough once you're on it.

If you've ever got time to waste in Holyhead during the day, may be worth doing a "reckie" and finding a patch of grass on the hill nearby the port, with a view to taking a sleeping bag, a bivvie bag and an alarm clock and getting a few hours shut eye. Not very sophisticated, but with a bit of sleep there, and a bit more on the train and you'll almost be as refreshed as you would if you'd got the first flight over there. And there's probably a shower somewhere in Euston station so you're ready for the day.

There are about 4 direct services from Holyhead to London between about 4.30am and 9.30am - it's a shame the 2.15am Stena service from Dublin port to Holyhead doesn't take foot passengers and make a good connection with one of them.

On the other hand with the coach at least you're not having to get on and off, and you can just fall asleep, and wake up in London. I'd say it would be awful if it was packed though - I'd hate to be forced to be in an aisle seat next to someone I didn't know.

Last edited by Eddie : 08-03-2011 at 23:08.
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Unread 09-03-2011, 09:35   #5
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Thanks for the replies folks. I think I'll just take the bus, it's slightly cheaper and, like Eddie says, I don't have to wait or change - I can just get on and sleep. It's a pity the sail/rail connection isn't better but I guess the demand isn't there.
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Unread 09-03-2011, 21:00   #6
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Let us know how you get on...
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Unread 17-03-2011, 11:37   #7
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I did the trip from Dublin to London by Eurolines last night. Left Busaras a few minutes late so we pretty much drove straight onto the ship. Between the fog and a passenger who had trouble clearing immigration in Holyhead, we didn't leave there until around 2am after berthing at 12.45ish.

Traffic was predictably lousy approaching London so instead of arriving at Victoria at 8.45, it was closer to 10.15. Overall not too bad, not sure I'd do it again but it was interesting nonetheless.

A few points:

- The ticketing system offered a choice of economy or standard but didn't explain what they meant. I opted for standard but since neither the seats on the bus nor on the ship were assigned, I can't figure out what it's for.

- When you get off the ship at Holyhead, you have to get on the bus, drive for five minutes, get back off the bus, take your bags with you and queue up to get through immigration. Giant waste of time, especially having to bring your checked luggage with you but I guess there's not much Eurolines can do about that.

- Traffic around London is much worse than I imagined. I think our first stop (after Luton) was Golders Green so I'd imagine it would have been faster to get off there and get the tube the rest of the way.

- Seats aren't assigned on the bus so don't expect to get the same seat either side of the sailing.

- It was much busier than I expected, the bus was about 85% full although a lot of people got off at Birmingham.
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Unread 17-03-2011, 20:02   #8
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Default Forthcoming SailRail improvements & thoughts on Eurolines

Just been reading the previous interesting post about the Eurolines journey.

Having observed the London coach at Busáras on numerous occasions (whilst waiting for a provincial bus) it has been my experience that it being close to full is the regular situation whereas its counterpart to Leeds is not as busy but nonetheless used. I've very rarely used the London coach but on numerous occasions have used the Dublin-Liverpool-Manchester-Leeds one - it gives a through journey (not possible by rail). Though it's always my experience that the London coach gets priority at Holyhead's immigration check which is fair enough on account of the higher numbers and longer journey.

Bus Éireann employ a supervisor/inspector at Holyhead to oversee things. Same member of staff I understand will also oversee any passengers joining at Holyhead (e.g. someone travelling Holyhead to Manchester). This is why after the immigration check is complete the coach usually drives around to the Eurolines stop in the Port Bus Station.

The economy fare has a limited allocation and applies to passengers who book a week or more prior to travel but the disadvantage is that no refunds or amendments are allowed. The Bus Éireann e-ticketing for this service is a fairly recent thing but I fully agree the ticket types need to be explained better.

Like SailRail, it is possible to purchase an Eurolines ticket that commences from most provincial towns in Éire to your destination town/city in Britain. Bus Éireann market Eurolines reasonably well.

That London traffic was horrendous.

A thought I had is that perhaps UK immigration could take place at the ports on this side. Pretty much like the US clearance at Dublin Airport. But on second thoughts there may not be much merit in doing so - it's time on one side or the other regardless!

An item of good news on the SailRail front is that: Irish Ferries are soon to introduce an online booking system for SailRail ex Éire to Britain. The facility is promoted in their 2011 brochure but not up and running yet.

Last edited by Traincustomer : 30-03-2011 at 14:21. Reason: Premature mentioning of an expected timetable change without full confirmation of it.
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Unread 17-03-2011, 23:39   #9
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Thanks for the information cavanrailbus.

It will be interesting to see how this new 01:30 ex holyhead fairs, where will it go to?

Also regards the evening stena sailing ex Dublin take footpassengers?
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Unread 18-03-2011, 08:41   #10
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Quote:
Originally Posted by markpb View Post
- When you get off the ship at Holyhead, you have to get on the bus, drive for five minutes, get back off the bus, take your bags with you and queue up to get through immigration. Giant waste of time, especially having to bring your checked luggage with you but I guess there's not much Eurolines can do about that.
The time I used it, the bus was waved through customs/immigration on the way to London and on the way back, there was a superficial immigration check that lasted all of about 2 minutes for the entire (full) bus - half that time dedicated to a small group of Germans.

Quote:
- Seats aren't assigned on the bus so don't expect to get the same seat either side of the sailing.
But woe betide anyone who takes someone else's seat!

Quote:
Originally Posted by Cavanrailbus View Post
Having observed the London coach at Busáras on numerous occasions (whilst waiting for a provincial bus) it has been my experience that it being close to full is the regular situation whereas its counterpart to Leeds is not as busy but nonetheless used.
Depending on demand, additional buses will be provided, e.g. a bus that does Holyhead-London express without a Birmingham stop and one that does stop.

Quote:
A thought I had is that perhaps UK immigration could take place at the ports on this side. Pretty much like the US clearance at Dublin Airport. But on second thoughts there may not be much merit in doing so - it's time on one side or the other regardless!
Actually, you will find some UK immigration officers here and some Irish ones in the UK. they tend to do random stops of people boarding as opposed to checking everyone. I wonder if they could do the immigration on the ship. I'm not sure if its practical.
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Unread 18-03-2011, 10:02   #11
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Cavanrailbus View Post
The economy fare has a limited allocation and applies to passengers who book a week or more prior to travel but the disadvantage is that no refunds or amendments are allowed. The Bus Éireann e-ticketing for this service is a fairly recent thing but I fully agree the ticket types need to be explained better.
Thanks for explaining that!

Good news on the new train time, it definitely makes it a viable alternative but only if it goes direct to London.
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Unread 18-03-2011, 19:50   #12
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Glad my bits were of some interest.

I'm afraid I don't know the destination of the new circa 0130 train ex Holyhead but understand it to be an Arriva Trains Wales train thereby eliminating a direct service to Euston. I suspect it may be too early to head down The Marches line to Cardiff so Birmingham may be a reasonable guess at to its destination. Another possible destination is Manchester Airport as it could also pick-up from key North Wales stops for there. The first Crewe to Euston train is currently the 0536 (arr. 0728) Virgin Trains so even a 0135 departure from Holyhead will mean around an hour's wait at Crewe. Not perfect but still it's much better than the present lack of a connection.

On the Eurolines issue - several auxiliary coaches were provided at the time of the volcanic ash.

Liked that idea Colm of doing the immigration onboard the ship. Certainly saves time but agree with the practicalities being questionable. For instance, where would it be carried out onboard and would there be two sittings? I tend to like to watch the ship sail and dock as would others and if one needed to get a meal immediately upon boarding it wouldn't be bnice to endure a check first.

Yep, the 0820 and 2115 Stena Line sailings ex Dublin Port carry foot passengers though the 0215 and 1600 don't.
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Unread 22-03-2011, 20:14   #13
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That's great news about the 1.30am train. Presumably Stena and IF jointly have enough clout to put pressure on the train companies to operate a service.

I would guess it goes back to wherever the incoming connecting train for the night-time ferries originates from. It wouldn't surprise me if this currently goes back empty at present.

Won't be trying that London coach service in a hurry - thanks for the report by the way - the delays and full coach make it sound very unappealing.
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Unread 22-03-2011, 20:17   #14
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Quote:
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Won't be trying that London coach service in a hurry - thanks for the report by the way - the delays and full coach make it sound very unappealing.
I forgot to mention, on my way back (ex-London at 1750, ten mins ahead of schedule) there were only 10 of us on the coach leaving London and less than 20 leaving Birmingham so there were two seats per person. We got held up quite a bit leaving London but managed to make good time on the M1 and M6 so we sat in Corley for 1h10. After that, we arrived at Holyhead about 5 minutes before boarding started so I guess they timed the break just right.

We had to go through again C&I at Holyhead but since it was much quieter (we were the last coach instead of the first), it didn't take very long.
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Unread 25-03-2011, 11:03   #15
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Default Changes to Sail & Rail booking & pricing

For those of us booking in the UK, the Sail & Rail website has now disappeared and the previous dedicated call centre is no more. Instead customers are redirected to the main Arriva Trains Wales booking call centre (non-UK based) or website.

I made a booking using the old S&R call centre just last week. This UK-based call centre was excellent and the staff were experts in the service.

Based on my first experience of using it this week, I am very disappointed. I spoke with an agent who initially told me I needed to ring the previous S&R booking number. When I explained it no longer existed, she tried to make a booking for me. However she was totally unfamiliar with the service and was unable to find my Irish destination on her system. She then suggested I check the thetrainline.com website. Although Arriva Trains Wales and thetrainline.com websites now allow standard Sail & Rail journeys, neither include all Irish mainline train stations in their systems. I will now have to visit a mainline station to book my ticket!

Can anyone tell me if through journeys can be booked on the Fishguard – Rosslare route; for example, Cardiff via Rosslare to Dublin? I read somewhere that onward trains from Rosslare are not allowed on S&R tickets, despite it being possible to book trains from any UK station to any Irish station?

Although I thought there may be changes to S&R after Deutsche Bahn bought the Arriva group, I am surprised at the lack of any publicity on the changes to the booking systems and I also note that a price differential has appeared whereby the fast ferry is now more expensive than the conventional one.
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Unread 25-03-2011, 12:54   #16
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That's rather wearisome. Especially the recommendation to use thetrainline.com, which charges a booking fee that can be avoided by using the train operating companies' websites (even the ones that use thetrainline's engine!) I just went to East Midlands Train and had no hassle picking out a journey from London to Cork.

Do be aware that not all Irish stations are available for bookings (nor have they ever been). The National Rail system only includes major Intercity stations, and Boyle. You can normally book somewhere a stop or two later, but you're out of luck if you want to book somewhere between Ennis and Athenry, or Carrigtwohill or Midleton. There is a list of equivalencies in the National Fares Manual stating that if you want to go to X, use the fare to Y instead, but this requires the clerk to (a) know the list exists and (b) know how to issue a manual fare; most don't.

So what station were you trying to book to?
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Unread 25-03-2011, 14:52   #17
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Is it like the situation with NIR selling beyond Connolly, where the ticket is issued to the next zone boundary instead of every single stop?
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Unread 25-03-2011, 14:55   #18
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Yes.

Under rail sail the country is divided into zones and priced accordingly. IE issued sail-rail on old style manual CIV ticket stock so its handwritten so no problems there.

The UK system is automatic so the station has to be in the system which can cause problems

Irish Rail's new journey planner can handle sail-rail journeys with comprehensive itinerary. Wether or not that will be switched on is another question.
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Unread 29-03-2011, 07:21   #19
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Thomas Ralph View Post
That's rather wearisome. Especially the recommendation to use thetrainline.com, which charges a booking fee that can be avoided by using the train operating companies' websites (even the ones that use thetrainline's engine!) I just went to East Midlands Train and had no hassle picking out a journey from London to Cork.

Do be aware that not all Irish stations are available for bookings (nor have they ever been). The National Rail system only includes major Intercity stations, and Boyle. You can normally book somewhere a stop or two later, but you're out of luck if you want to book somewhere between Ennis and Athenry, or Carrigtwohill or Midleton. There is a list of equivalencies in the National Fares Manual stating that if you want to go to X, use the fare to Y instead, but this requires the clerk to (a) know the list exists and (b) know how to issue a manual fare; most don't.

So what station were you trying to book to?
Cardiff Bay (dep @ 21:42) to Dundalk via Fishguard/Rosslare on the over night ferry! Nationalrail.co.uk shows the itinerary but the question is whether it can be booked as a single journey? If not, I need to buy the Irish leg from Rosslare seperately which significantly adds to the cost of the journey.
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Unread 29-03-2011, 08:30   #20
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That journey should be possible

Tight connection at Connolly to get the Belfast train
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