To England by train (part 2)

By Andrej Shadura

My attempt to travel to the UK by train last year didn’t go quite as well as I expected. As I mentioned in that blog post, the NightJet to Brussels was cancelled, forcing me to fly instead. This disappointed me so much that I actually unpublished the blog post minutes after it was originally put online. The timing was nearly perfect: I type make publish and I get an email from ÖBB saying they don’t know if my train is going to run. Of course it didn’t, as Deutsche Bahn workers went ahead with their strike. The blog post sat in the drafts for more than half a year until yesterday, when I finally updated and published it.

The reason I have finally published it is that I’m going to the UK by train once again. Now, unless railways decide to hold a strike again, fully by train both ways. Very expensive, especially compared to the price of Ryanair flights to my destination. Unfortunately, even though Eurostar added more daily services, they’re still not cheap, especially on a shorter notice. This seems to apply to the ÖBB’s NightJet even more: I tried many routes between Vienna and London, and the cheapest still seemed to be the connection through Brussels.

While researching the prices of the tickets, it seems all booking systems decided to stop co-operating. The Trainline refused to let me look up any trains at all, even with all tracking and advertisement allowed, SNCF kepts showing me overly generic errors (Sorry, an error has occurred.), while the GWR booking system kept crashing with a 500 Internal Server Error for about two hours.

Error messages at the websites of Trainline, GWR and SNCF
Trainline, GWR and SNCF kept crashing

Eventually, having spent a lot of time and money, I’ve booked my trains to, within and back from England. This time, Cambridge is among the destinations.

The map of the train route from Bratislava to Cambridge through Brussels and London
The complete route
Date Station Arrival Departure Train
26.4 Bratislava 18:37 REX 2529
Wien Hbf 19:44 20:13 NJ 40490
27.4 Bruxelles-Midi 9:54 15:56 EST 9145
London St Pancras 17:01 17:43 ThamesLink
Cambridge 18:43

I’m not sure about it yet, but I may end up taking an earlier train from Bratislava just to ensure there’s enough time for the change in Vienna; similarly, I’m not sure how much time I will be spending at St Pancras, so I may take one of the later trains.

P.S. The maps in this and other posts were created using uMap; the map data come from OpenStreetMap. The train route visualisation was generated with help of