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-   -   Sail & Rail (http://www.railusers.ie/forum/showthread.php?t=13347)

markpb 08-03-2011 16:57

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?

ThomasJ 08-03-2011 17:42

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.

Traincustomer 08-03-2011 22:28

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).

Eddie 08-03-2011 23:06

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.

markpb 09-03-2011 09:35

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.

Eddie 09-03-2011 21:00

Let us know how you get on...

markpb 17-03-2011 11:37

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.

Traincustomer 17-03-2011 20:02

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.

ThomasJ 17-03-2011 23:39

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?

Colm Moore 18-03-2011 08:41

Quote:

Originally Posted by markpb (Post 61458)
- 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 (Post 61461)
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.

markpb 18-03-2011 10:02

Quote:

Originally Posted by Cavanrailbus (Post 61461)
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.

Traincustomer 18-03-2011 19:50

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.

Eddie 22-03-2011 20:14

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.

markpb 22-03-2011 20:17

Quote:

Originally Posted by Eddie (Post 61531)
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.

quartz 25-03-2011 11:03

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.

Thomas Ralph 25-03-2011 12:54

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?

Colm Moore 25-03-2011 14:52

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?

Mark Gleeson 25-03-2011 14:55

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.

quartz 29-03-2011 07:21

Quote:

Originally Posted by Thomas Ralph (Post 61561)
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.

Mark Gleeson 29-03-2011 08:30

That journey should be possible

Tight connection at Connolly to get the Belfast train

Thomas Ralph 29-03-2011 09:31

S&R tickets involving Fishguard don't appear to exist on the GB ticketing system.

Mark Gleeson 29-03-2011 10:59

Best option is then to call Stena and book manually through them.

If Stena says no let me know and I'll follow up with the Stena route director for Rosslare - Fishguard

Eddie 29-03-2011 22:41

Quote:

Originally Posted by Cavanrailbus (Post 61461)
2. An "overnight" train ex Holyhead circa 0130 is to be reintroduced in the new timetable from May 22nd. This will give a connection out of both sailings from Dublin Port viz. the 2055 hrs. Irish Ferries Ulysses (arr. 0020) and 2115 hrs. Stena Line Stena Adventurer (arr 0030) so no longer will there be a need for a prolonged wait for the first train at 0425.

Where did you hear this? I've plugged the time and date on www.thetrainline.com and nothing new is coming up yet for after 22 May.

Traincustomer 30-03-2011 08:06

I was told it in good faith and legitimately as a result of representations I've made on the SailRail issue since 2009. I do not wish to go posting details of Manager X in Company Z type of stuff here other than to say I'm just a humble user and not party to any inner workings but wouldn't have been told this in the correspondence I received if it wasn't true and going to happen.
Timetable should be out in next few weeks which will give exact details.
Hope this reply doesn't come across as being short as it's not intended to be:)

Thomas Ralph 30-03-2011 08:13

Quote:

Originally Posted by Eddie (Post 61597)
Where did you hear this? I've plugged the time and date on www.thetrainline.com and nothing new is coming up yet for after 22 May.

I recommend not using that website as it charges more than booking through any train operating company's site.

Having said that, www.nationalrail.co.uk isn't finding it either. It may not have been loaded into the system yet.

Mark Gleeson 30-03-2011 08:38

The UK system normally loads 8-12 weeks out so if its not there now its likely not going to be there. If it is, it assumes there is a connection somewhere to get you to Crewe

I would ask all posters not to post timetable information like this until there is positive proof of the exact timings and running dates, this is of even greater significance with international journeys

ThomasJ 30-03-2011 10:17

Seen as though we were talking about this earlier, I saw these faqs on the arriva sailrail website
http://www.arrivatrainswales.co.uk/SailRail/FAQs/

Quote:

Which routes can I travel on?
Available for standard class travel from any station in the UK to and from Dublin via Holyhead.
Available for standard class travel from any station in the UK to and from Rosslare via Fishguard.
Available on all rail operators’ services.
Please note: if you would like to travel from the UK to Belfast via Stranraer, please visit First ScotRail’s website for further information.
Quote:

Which Irish stations can I travel to?
SailRail tickets are available to most stations in Ireland.
Please note: for online sales, you can only purchase tickets to the following Irish Stations: Dublin Connolly, Dublin Ferry Port, Dublin Port Stena, Dun Laoghaire, Rosslare, Cork and Limerick. Other Irish stations will be available on the online booking system from May 2011.
If you wish to purchase SailRail tickets to other stations not listed above, please visit your nearest railway station.


Traincustomer 30-03-2011 14:24

While I posted it in good faith and with a helpful intent, I have nonetheless removed a section of my original post.

Thomas Ralph 30-03-2011 18:51

Just to confirm that a ticket from Cardiff Bay to Dundalk can be routed HOLYHD STENA CIV, HLYHD IRISHF CIV, or HLYHD SWIFT CIV.

However, if you pick a different journey like London Terminals to Rosslare Harbour, you're offered FSHGRD STENA CIV instead.

Traincustomer 30-03-2011 19:23

Irish Ferries SailRail booking facility now online (including provincial stations):
 
Gentlemen (and ladies), the online booking facility is now available on the Irish Ferries website. It must have been uploaded yesterday or today as have been keeping a regular watch for it and it wasn't there last time.

Two very pleasing points are that (1). WRC stations and Midleton are included and (2). it allows you to book extras viz. Club Class and or a bicycle.

All Éire stations appear to be in the list though not Dublin Suburban ones which traditionally have not been available for SailRail bookings (so the likes of Dunboyne would require one to purchase a separate ticket to town/ Dún Laoghaire).*

With doom and gloom all around it's good to see this "can do" approach. Compliments due in my view to Irish Ferries for bringing this to fruition.

(* Footnote - am talking in general in paragraph 3. If booking online with Irish Ferries one would have to buy a ticket/use a pass/Smartcard from given suburban station to town. In the case of Dún Laoghaire the same but only Stena sail from there (HSS once daily at 1315 from 1st April) and no online booking.)

I thought the Stena Express would do the initial sailings but the website confirms it's the HSS (Stena Explorer).

Eddie 30-03-2011 21:05

A brilliant addition, (if a long time coming). Booking over the phone was probably a poor use of staff time, and the internet will be able to handle the surges in bookings that occurred during last year's weather related incidents much better, though I am sure it required significant investment. Let's see if Stena follows...

Traincustomer 31-03-2011 07:54

Here here!
My thinking is that the actual issuing of tickets will remain unchanged (i.e. the coupon tickets we've had for decades) and that the online system will simply generate a pick list of what the customer wants, to be processed by the booking clerk in the usual way.

There is no reason why Stena Line and Irish Rail shouldn't be able to do likewise. The system required would essentially be the same leading to the possibility of a centralised SailRail booking facility (just my point-and not based on any knowledge/assumption that this will ultimately happen).

My only concern is that the online system wouldn't become the exclusive means of booking SailRail. Hopefully the online system will attract a strong level of bookings but the facility for booking in person at both the ports and certain provincial railway stations needs to remain (internet great but does not suit all people at all times in all places). Too often these days the assumption is made that everyone can do everything online.

Mark Gleeson 31-03-2011 09:59

Quote:

Originally Posted by Eddie (Post 61627)
A brilliant addition, (if a long time coming). Booking over the phone was probably a poor use of staff time, and the internet will be able to handle the surges in bookings that occurred during last year's weather related incidents much better, though I am sure it required significant investment. Let's see if Stena follows...

Stena already have a system but only if you are UK based

Irish Rail will sell by phone or at main booking offices (and given you have to start from a train station...) Under normal circumstances its walk up and go

Downside with online booking is it is endorsed on specific services/dates not the blank coupon Irish Rail uses

Thomas Ralph 31-03-2011 12:43

I am happy to help facilitate bookings (using my UK address) for people who need assistance.

Eddie 31-03-2011 14:10

Quote:

Originally Posted by Mark Gleeson (Post 61636)
Stena already have a system but only if you are UK based

True, but hardly comprehensive as you have to be going from one of 10 departure stations in the UK (out of 2400).

quartz 31-03-2011 14:20

Quote:

Originally Posted by Mark Gleeson (Post 61588)
Best option is then to call Stena and book manually through them.

If Stena says no let me know and I'll follow up with the Stena route director for Rosslare - Fishguard

Hi Mark, I called Stena today and they told me they are unable to book onward travel from Rosslare on Irish Rail. They told me it had been possible in the past, but was no longer the case. Any ideas?!

Mark Gleeson 31-03-2011 14:52

Quote:

Originally Posted by quartz (Post 61652)
Hi Mark, I called Stena today and they told me they are unable to book onward travel from Rosslare on Irish Rail. They told me it had been possible in the past, but was no longer the case. Any ideas?!

Hmm, the excuse is its a one way journey. There is no way to get from Dublin to UK via Rosslare without a ridiculous layover in Rosslare

comcor 31-03-2011 15:13

So was it accepted until the Rosslare-Waterford line was closed?

IIRC There was a Waterford-Rosslare train that connected to the 9pm boat and a train on from Fishguard after that arrived

quartz 01-04-2011 07:44

Quote:

Originally Posted by Mark Gleeson (Post 61654)
Hmm, the excuse is its a one way journey. There is no way to get from Dublin to UK via Rosslare without a ridiculous layover in Rosslare

That is a truly bizarre reason!

I was planning to get the overnight ferry from Wales to Rosslare and then get the northbound train at 07:50. I know there’s a bit of a wait at Rosslare after the ferry arrives, but I prefer the train than BÉ.

Would IÉ be able to book that S&R journey for me on a CIV paper ticket? If not I will just have to book the IÉ train separately.

Mark Gleeson 01-04-2011 08:32

If you try to get from Dublin to the UK its not easy via Rosslare.

All Sail/Rail tickets are issued under CIV rules, Irish Rail could certainly issue the ticket if the journey originated in Ireland but as it doesn't they probably can't

In this case you are probably best booking to Rosslare and then from Rosslare onwards. I did meet the route director in Fishguard last Summer so we have a contact in Stena line to chase.


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