The British train system has undergone many changes in the last half a century. Many of them have been of questionable value, to say the least, and British railways have gone through a long period of decline and neglect. In many ways, the trend has now reversed, and British railways are now once again a popular way of traveling throughout a country which is densely populated, and where the major cities are relatively close.
During the 1960s, much of Britain’s railway network was destroyed in an ill thought out attempt to save money. Unprofitable lines were closed, but the true cost to the nation has been exorbitant. In the 1980s, what was left was sold off into private hands, leading to higher prices and an even further decline in the standards of punctuality and service. Now, although the railways remain separate and in private hands, the trend of decay has started to reverse. The Channel Tunnel link has brought increased traffic to the major lines, and engineering improvements have been made.
On many of the major lines, journey times have been cut in half as 60mph trains have been replaced by 120mph trains. Journey times between major cities and the Channel Tunnel have been cut, and there has even been some improvement made to branch lines connecting to this network. There is still a long way to go, but the railway network is considerably better than it was fifteen years ago when the tunnel was built.
British train travel is vitally important. Despite the ridiculous amount of money poured into the road building program over many years, major roads remain congested and delays common. Inter city travel by air is scarcely practical as the distance between cities is so small. Airports are away from the city centers, so by the time you reach the center you have taken more time than if you had traveled by train. Britain is at last waking up, albeit far too late, to the importance of rail travel.
To use the British trains network, you need to buy tickets. These are usually best bought in advance, as substantial savings can be made. You can book the tickets online from anywhere in the world, and they are held for you at the ticket machines. When you arrive at the station, simply go to the machine and type in the reference number from the online booking, and enter your card for identity verification. Don’t worry, it will not be charged again. Once the machine is sure who you are, you will be given your tickets. British train travel is not cheap, so there is a lot of money to be saved by using this advance booking facility. Rail journeys become available three months before the date of travel, so it certainly pays to plan your journey in advance. If you have visited Britain in the past, you may be surprised by the improvement in the standard of British trains.