Seat Reservations for Trains in the United Kingdom

Do I need train seat reservations?

When traveling with a BritRail or ScotRail pass, reservations aren’t necessary as you can just hop on the train of your choice! These passes give you maximum schedule flexibility. There are however occasions when train reservations are highly recommended, as having a rail pass doesn’t guarantee a seat therefore, rail pass holders can reserve a seat to ensure travel on a specific train. This is especially true if you plan on travelling at peak times, during holidays, on long haul trains or if you are on a tight schedule. When purchasing train tickets, a seat reservation may be included in the price, otherwise a seat reservation must be booked separately. If you are traveling on a Eurail or InterRail pass valid in the UK, you will need seat reservations on many trains. Please consult the following page for details.

Train Reservations in Britain

When traveling with a BritRail or ScotRail Pass, seat reservations are not required and you can sit in any available seat. If you would like to be assured a seat for a specific route, you can make a Britain Seat Reservation through this site or at any manned station in Britain up to about 2 hours before the train departs. In some cases a booking must be made further in advance.

Trains in Britain run very frequently.  Routes to and from London have at least one train an hour throughout the day in nearly every case and often more, especially to popular tourist destinations such as Bath, Edinburgh and York.  It is therefore perfectly acceptable to ‘turn up and go’ – most people do! Indeed, this is what we advise and suggest. The BritRail and ScotRail pass range is made for this type of flexibility. A touring vacation with a BritRail or ScotRail Pass means that itineraries or routes can be planned but last minute changes can always be made – if it is raining in London it probably isn’t in Norwich!  

It should also be noted that British trains are very different from American trains or European TGV style trains where a reservation is required.  In Britain, frequency is the key and is the big difference in making touring so easy.

Are there times when it is advisable to reserve a seat?

Whilst we advise maximum flexibility, there are some occasions when we do advise reservations:

  • Peak times on long haul trains, Fridays, Sunday afternoon/evenings during holidays and on Summer Saturdays to the country.
  • Like most people, Britons enjoy their weekends so Friday afternoons can also be busy especially out of London, particularly in Standard Class.
  • In First Class, if taking a very early morning business train (say before 9 am) from London, Leeds, York, Liverpool, Manchester, Bristol, Cardiff, Bath or Newcastle.
  • If travelling on a long journey in a small group, particularly if travelling from London to Scotland.
  • If travelling out of London during the evening rush hour.

Sleeper Reservations & Services

Sleepers heading to Scotland leave London Euston station Sunday to Friday nights with services to Edinburgh, Glasgow and most major stations on the routes to Inverness, Aberdeen and Fort William (Caledonian Sleepers). Sleepers also operate from London Paddington to Plymouth and main stations through Cornwall to Penzance (Night Riviera).

To travel in sleepers, an all-inclusive Caledonian Sleepers ticket must be purchased (for Scotland services) or a supplement in addition to a BritRail Pass.

For Caledonian Sleeper supplements for BritRail passholders cannot be booked on this site.  Please visit www.Sleeper.scot  for details.

For the Night Riviera Sleeper, supplements cannot be purchased through this site, please visit Great Western Railways at www.gwr.com for details.