Train Travel in England

When train travel in England was first invented in the 18th century, the English took to it with enthusiasm. Lines were built up and down the country, communications improved and businesses saw huge benefits.  Foods that were a local speciality - such as rhubarb and watercress - now made daily appearances in London markets due to special Rhubarb and Watercress Express trains, running overnight!

Soon, England had an extensive network of railways.

Passenger trains were introduced, speed records were set and in this Golden Age of the railways people began to see train travel in England as an adventure.Faster speeds cut journey times and soon people living in the big cities would enjoy days out by the seaside.

Seeing England by train is still an enjoyable way to travel, even though steam trains now only run on a few historic lines.

Most of England's extensive rail network is now electrified. But the scenery through which the lines run has not changed all that much. Some of the most dramatic feats of 19th century engineering - bridges, tunnels and vast cuttings - are still around.

Steam Train along the North Norfolk coastSteam Train along the North Norfolk coast ©

You will hear much in the news about 'commuter nightmares' such as overcrowded, cancelled or late trains and high fares. And there's no denying that the English railways have been starved of much needed investment for many years. But I feel that since I came to England 17 years ago, things have improved a lot.

And once more, train travel in England is an enjoyable way to see the country. It's relaxing, it's green and I promise that you'll see England in a very different way!

Scheduled Trains

England's rail network is extensive. Thousands of trains run every day. And since the privatisation of the rail network, different parts of the country have different rail operators. Sounds complicated? Don't worry. There's a one-stop shop for all your railway travel needs: The Trainline.

Here you can plan your journey, check out routes and time tables and book your tickets.In England, tickets bought online are usually cheaper than tickets bought at the station. You will also find cheaper fares if you can be flexible in your travel.

  • Travelling after 9:30am (i.e. after the morning rush hour) is often cheaper
  • And you can also save money if you book your tickets at least seven days in advance.

And while you're on the site, don't forget to check out the many special offers. Currently, travelling by train can entitle you to 2 for 1 entry to many top-class attractions in London, Bristol, Bath or Oxford. The Trainline website also offers special train + hotel deals that are worth checking out.

Special Train Journeys

If you want to experience rail travel in England how it would have once been, you'll have plenty of opportunities. Enthusiast volunteers have rescued many lines and old rolling stock and now operate steam railway lines all across the country, from the Poppy Line in Sheringham in Norfolk to the Avon Valley Railway in Bristol, from the Bodmin and Wenford Railway in Cornwall to the East Lancashire Railway.

So it matters little which part of the country you find yourself in. If it's a journey by steam train that you've set your heart on, you're bound to find a line not too far away!

And as well as ride on a steam train, you could actually drive one, or dine while travelling the English countryside. Or experience the glories of a proper English afternoon tea. Just check out this list of options...

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