Improving the British Rail Journey

Take a train to Snowdonia…

In light of the recent good news regarding the 26-30 Railcard, we have now entered into an unprecedented era of affordable rail travel – or at least as affordable as it’s ever likely to get.

To celebrate TFGB are going to be posting a series of articles highlighting all of the fantastic places that you can visit via the rail network. With reductions now available for many people, this really is an ideal time to book yourself a train somewhere that you’ve not visited before.

We’re starting our series off with a look at one of the most mountainous regions in the UK – Snowdonia!

When you should visit

Snowdonia offers some truly jaw-dropping sights throughout the year, but there are certain times of the year where it’s worth visiting. The summer months are far and away the most temperate during the year, however with this warm weather also comes more crowds. For the last few years Wales has been growing in popularity as a tourist destination, this is great news for local tourism however it also means that areas like Snowdonia can become pretty crowded during the peak summer holiday season.

When you choose to visit Snowdonia will depend on your budget (hotels and campsites hike their prices up during the Summer) and what kind of experience you’re looking for.

Getting there by train

You can catch a train straight into the heart of Snowdonia by setting Blaenau Ffestiniog as your destination. Trains into the region are fairly regular however don’t expect them to get you to your destination in any hurry. Train through Wales often take the scenic route, which is perfect for sightseers, but not so great for people in a hurry. The best thing to do is pack a robust packed lunch and watch the scenery float by!

Where you should go

The first place on any visitor’s checklist should be Snowdon. This immensely popular peak is far and away one of the most accessible in the region and is complemented by a handful of routes which offer varying challenges.

Thousands of people ascend Snowdon each year, even during the Winter you’ll find that dozens of people are scrambling up through mist to reach the top. For those not quite up to the task there’s always the Snowdon Mountain Railway which runs from mid-March through to the summer (check their website to find out more information). Snowdon aside, you’ll be able to enjoy adventurous days out at a number of stellar outdoor attractions including Bounce Below, Surf Snowdonia and Zip World Fforest.

Places to stay in Snowdonia

There are plenty of accommodation choices on offer in Snowdonia from cosy B&Bs to luxury hotels, where you choose to lay your head will depend on your budget. At the cheapest end of the spectrum are the two youth hostels on the outskirts of Snowdon itself. These hostels might not offer the most luxurious of stays, but they offer good value as well as affordable hot meals throughout the day, perfect if you’re on your way up or down the mountain.

Got a few more pounds to spare? The Saracens Head Hotel offers stylish rooms for just over £100 per night that are also dog friendly. You can bring two of your canine friends with you to stay in their Superior rooms for no extra charge. Click through to this guide to find more places to stay in Snowdonia.

What you can eat

Packed lunched are recommended for trips up the mountain, although there is a cafe at the top of the summit it’s best not to rely on whatever they have left in stock. If you’re thinking of staying in the area for some time then you might consider visiting one of the may outstanding restaurants in the area.

Tyddyn Llan is widely considered to be one of the best in the region and it even has a Michelin star to go with it, if your pockets aren’t quite deep enough then you can head to Beddgelert Bistro & Antiques for a more informal dining experience. Finally, Gallt y Glyn offers a deal that is hard to refuse: a free drink (usually a pint!) with every main meal, their excellent pizzas are definitely worth checking out.

Millennials Rejoice! The Railcard Has Returned

The wait is finally over!

We’ve suffered for countless years, we’ve paid over the odds for the shortest of train fares and we’ve been forced onto the Megabus on a couple of occasions (dark times), but finally the government has come through with a scheme that they’ve casually been discussing for years now. With much aplomb, the 26-30 Rail Card was released to the British public this year giving those within this age group a discount of 33% on a majority of tickets.

When can I get a Railcard?

If you’re between the age of 16-30 you are now eligible for the same discount and you can apply for your Rail Card right away! The easiest and quickest way to apply for a railcard is to go online to and click the option that is applicable to your age group. You’ll need to have a few pieces of information on hand in order to successfully apply, including proof of identity (such as a passport, driving license or national ID card) as well as a passport-style photograph that will be used in your Railcard.

How much does a Railcard cost?

The cost of a Railcard has (mercifully) stayed the same at a very reasonable £30 for a year. This means that you’ll only need to use your Railcard a handful of times in order to make a saving,so if you’re taking a particularly long journey you’ll be able to get into credit straight away!

What does a Railcard look like?

Gone are the days of those tricky blue plastic envelopes that would forever get lost in coat pockets, we’ve now got our feet firmly in the future; all Railcards can now be stored on smartphones via a nifty app. Once you’ve successfully applied for your Railcard all you’ll need to do is download the app and you’re good to go! When you’re travelling all you’ll need to do is show your rail ticket (which you can now get digitally too!) along with your Railcard to prove that you can get the discount.

When is a Railcard valid?

You can use Railcard on any train trip, however there are a few caveats worth keeping in mind. During peak times (4:30-10am, Monday to Friday) a minimum fare of £12 is required to use Railcard. There is no minimum fare on travel during the weekends, on Public Holidays, or during July and August – so the card will be of most use to students and those not relying on commuter travel.

What are people saying about the Railcard?

Since the launch of the Millennial Railcard initiative there has been huge support from those within the age range, as well as a mixed response from those who have been unfortunate enough to miss out completely on the savings. Any discussions on rail discounts are typically met with a disgruntled chorus of folks complaining that this discount is simply taking the price down to what it really should be in the first place, whilst many others are seeing the bright-side and are already planning a busy year of train travel to make up for lost time.…

Cheaper Travel Tips for the Thrifty

Right now – we’re paying more than ever for our train tickets.

It’s a sad truth that train fares are nowhere near as cheap as they used to be before the privatisation of our rails.

Unfortunately, unless a certain left-wing politician finds himself in a position of power, it’s unlikely that we’re going to see any change in the right direction. Unless you’re driving a car (which doesn’t come cheap these days either!) you’ll probably be aware that getting around the country can cost you an arm and a leg. Thankfully, there are a few little ways that you can reduce the damage to your ailing wallet…

Blah Blah Car

The age of the internet has ushered in more than online booking and too many passwords to deal with. There are a whole host of real-time ridesharing services that you can take advantage of today, all of which offer you a discounted rate of travel, especially when compared to a full price train ticket. Simply visit Blah Blah Car (or download the app) to see who’s driving from your area and to where.

You won’t be able to book as far in advance as a train, but you could have the chance of meeting a new friend along the way!


Now a truly international venture (you’ll see the bright blue busses work their way round mainland Europe and North America) Megabus has been offering dirt cheap travel since 2003. Book far enough in advance and you can get your fares for as cheap as £1 – there are some drawbacks though. Coaches are slow, they’re subject to the whims of the day’s traffic and they make a lot of stops. Any journey you take by coach might well take you three times as long as a train journey – just make sure to pack a travel pillow.

Red Spotted Hanky

If you’ve not got the stomach for the coach yet then you can reduce the cost of your train fare significantly by using this handy little website. Red Spotted Hanky will split up your fare into several smaller ones, to find the cheapest option for you. Whilst your journey might well involve a few extra changes (always check that you’ve got time to make the change before you book) sometimes the savings are truly significant.

Booking Well Ahead

Mum’s the word on this one and this is a tip that she never fails to remind you of. Booking as far in advance as possible for any form of travel will almost always benefit you. If you’re making plans in advance you may as well book your travel accordingly, guaranteeing you the cheapest prices available at the time. Train prices are known to increase sharply, the longer you wait to book your tickets – so don’t procrastinate!

Taking Advantage of Railcards

Lastly, there are railcards (and coachcards) available to certain groups of people, which are aimed to reduce costs for those with less financial means. If you’re a young person (aged between 16-25) then you can get a third off your ticket fare, these discounts also apply to National Rail’s Two Together Railcard which reduces costs for two adults. If you’re over 60 years old you can also get a third off your tickets by applying for a Senior Railcard.…

Three Alternatives to Leaving the UK this Summer

You might not have noticed in the past few weeks, but British Summer Time is now in full effect.

Glastonbury has been and gone and Wimbledon is now in full swing.

If you haven’t taken the opportunity to explore our wonderful country during the height of summer before, then do so soon, as there has never been a better time to do it! With wonderful offers including the Young Person’s and Couple’s Railcard, taking to the railways is a far more convenient and affordable option than taking a flight. What’s more, there’s no need to lose out exchanging currencies and you’ll never struggle when asking for directions!

Lets assume that your decision has now been swayed. Already, you’re cancelling the flight to Ibiza and scratching back your deposit on your luxury villa. You’ve got a tonne of cash to spend, and the whole of the UK to explore by rail: happy days. If you’re at a loss of what to do now, have no fear; here are three solid, thoroughly British holidays you can enjoy at the same price of one big summer blow-out.

1) Go to the Seaside

A classic British holiday resort of yore; there was nothing more that Victorian Brits loved than a lovely trip to the seaside. Whilst its fair to argue that a large swathe of British seasides have struggled in the advent of cheap air travel, there are still a handful of charming destinations left here that will have you shelling out a pocketful of ha’pennies for cockles and questioning the alarming amount of ankle on show. With train links to all sections of the coast, there are plenty of viable options.

The top pick from this writer is Llandudno, Wales. Having survived a handful of recessions, as well as few atrocious British Summers, this quaint town captures the very essence of the seaside. Grand, stately hotels line a stunning promenade with a fully functioning tram line, an amusement pier captures the charm of a retro arcade (without the modern-day distractions) and a wealth of Fish and Chip shops serve up the freshest incarnation of one of Britain’s favourite fast foods.

2) Go for a hike

If you’re not quite enthralled with the idea of taking a dip into our chilly waters, then maybe you should keep your feet on dry land and go for a hike through some of our wonderfully accessible mountain ranges. Thanks to our temperate summers, you won’t need to be a Bear Grylls or Ray Mears to survive the great British wilderness, (although packing a fur gilet or two probably wouldn’t be a bad idea!) all you’ll need is a sturdy pair of boots and a rucksack big enough to carry your picnic.

As far as unique destinations go there are a plethora to choose from, all accessible by rail. The top pick, in terms of sheer beauty and access has to be the Peak District. Just hop on a train to Buxton and within minutes of leaving the station you’re surrounded by some of the best countryside that England has to offer. Just make sure you stick to the paths, pack plenty of food and don’t forget that fur gilet; it may be Summer, but every Brit knows not to trust in England’s weather!

3) Take a break in the City

You don’t have to book an easyJet flight to enjoy a metropolitan weekend away. If you’re a country bumpkin in need of a shot of adrenaline or just a city rat looking for change of scenery, Britain’s major cities are packed full of culture, great food and awesome sights. The capital is always the soundest option when consistent weather is being sought after, but for those not wanting to sweat it out on the underground for a weekend, there are other options up North.

You may risk being rained on, but there’s a lot to be said for the big Northern powerhouses of the likes of Manchester, Liverpool and Newcastle. Not only will your money stretch further up there, but thanks to fresh money being pumped into these cities you’ll be able to find art galleries, shopping centres and architecture that really push the boundaries of what is expected in a modern British city. There are plenty of decent accommodation options from Air B&B alternatives to solid two-star hotels in the centre of the action, none of which are liable to break the bank, leaving you with more cash to enjoy the vast range of bars, pubs and restaurants on offer.

So there you have it, three rock-solid alternatives to leaving the country this Summer. You may not wow your Instagram followers with exotic locales or your hot dog-leg snaps, but you will be able to enjoy three times as much holiday as your jet-setting colleagues at half the price; and who doesn’t love a bargain?

Top 5 UK Train Stations

Great British architecture comes in all shapes and sizes…

…from the lowly yet iconic red phone box designed by Sir Giles Gilbert Scott, to great super structures such as Buckingham Palace and the magnificent St. Paul’s Cathedral.

However, there is one type of building that millions visit every day yet never linger long enough to appreciate. There’s usually one in every town and, due to their constant use, they are often in need of refurbishment or even demolition and rebuilding. Have you guessed it yet? Nope, its not public lavatories, those are actually the one public structure that local authorities are quite happy to leave derelict for decades. Train stations are, of course, the building’s I’m describing. What follows is a list of, in my honest opinion, the top five Great British Railway Stations.

5) London Victoria

In the heart of our great capital, what is needed more than a coffee chain on every corner is of course transportation. Victoria not only serves as one of the most important transportation hubs for the country, but also doubles as a top-notch shopping destination for those looking to spend that little bit extra on everyday objects such as milk, eggs, paper and staples. Located conveniently close to some of the major London attractions, as well as being just a five minute walk away from the coach station (also called Victoria, to avoid confusion); Victoria boasts stunning, you guessed it, Victorian architecture and easily makes the number five spot for this alone.

4) Birmingham New Street

Another classic Victorian train station that has undergone significant redevelopment and refurbishment; BHM, as its fondly referred to by Network Rail, is almost unrecognisable from its past self. A true train station of the future, New Street offers more than three exits and as many as ten individual urinals grouped into three toilet blocks. If this isn’t quite enough to convince you; there are new_stephenson_street_entrance_weba plethora of well known restaurant and café outlets, all selling slightly drier versions of well known foods such as sandwiches, sushi and spaghetti. With elegantly curved metal and glass combining with a strikingly distant workforce Birmingham New Street is a Great British Train Station well worth passing though.

3) Liverpool Lime Street

An absolute must-see for any train station enthusiast, Liverpool Lime Street combines the grand scale industrial feel of steam-punk Victorian liverpool architecture with the cold, comfort-less charm of modern railway stations. The immense iron structure which dates back to the eighteen-hundreds, has been left to rust and age gracefully whereas new conveniences such as an extortionate Marksindex & Spencer Food outlet softly goads the average consumer. The Liverpudlian traveller, perhaps homeward bound from London, can make their way home with ease thanks to the wonderfully convoluted Merseyrail network or one of Liverpool’s many perfectly safe black cabs.

2) Plymouth

Serving as the terminus to the Tamar Valley Line, Plymouth’s main station (one of six surviving, quality stations in the city) captures the very essence of 1960s architecture. Bold concrete flooring collides, with striking concrete walls, and stunning beige ceramic tiles to wonderful effect. A grand total of 6 platforms adorn this picturesque station, with some lines closing seasonally due to high tides in the Dawlish area. However, it is not simply the conveniences that make this a stand out British train station, it is the people of Plymouth that make it so unique. Rubbing shoulders with the local people eager for the first drag on their rolled up cigarettes, arguments often break out as there is inevitable confusion at the ticket turnstiles. These charming interactions are what singles out this idyllic location.

1) Tiverton Parkway

You’d think that the top spot on this list would be occupied by one of the big city stations, with their grand halls and wide plazas. However, space and luxury are not what makes a Great British Railway Station. Tiverton Parkway (named such as it is located seven miles outside of the town itself) captures the idyllic charm of country living – encapsulated in a transport hub. There are only
two platforms; a fishing lake and driving range border the quaint country lane and, despite the regular buses running through its car park, an air of peace and tranquillity reigns supreme. The public conveniences are squalid, concrete affairs and the vending machines are often broken; but these are minor trifles when compared to Parkway’s superlative charm.



Come Fly With Me...

Flying, it is most certainly a popular form of transport.

I remember my grandfather saying that when it first came out he would say: ‘It’ll never catch on, people hate planes and flying, the sound of planes just brings back the memories of falling bombs, of roofs falling in on your heads, crashing, banging, screaming. A screaming that will forever be ringing in your ears. Planes, they bring nothing but death’. But now look at them!

Every Tom, Dick and Harry are constantly flying around in their air planes showing off and doing twirly whirlies and flippy flops and big dippers. The ‘magic’ of flight is now employed so Mr and Mrs Fannyknacker can just run over to Asda in Greece or WHATEVER. All we do is fly now. Did you know that the average person spends 79% of their lives on board an in-flight aeroplane?

Yeah. That’s right.

But how do we get to these airports that everyone is talking about?

Trains are clearly the best option but sometimes some people want to actually park and leave their car sitting around in a bloody car park for two weeks or something! Yeah, you can save a bit of money by pre-booking your parking ( and you can maybe do a couple of other things to lower the price of everything.


All these people driving in their little cars and taking them to the airport and parking them up and going in. It’s preposterous, really, truly preposterous.

I hate it and I hate you.

5 Step Program

Our 5 Step Program


This our first step. We need to change the way we eat, change the way we drink, change the way we look at each other. We need to change how we conceive of travel, how we conceive of public. We have no public transport in this country, we only have private transport. And that’s not good enough.


When something’s not good enough, speak up! We need to speak up because no one else will ever speak up for us ever.


Yes, that’s right, you have an enemy. Oh, didn’t you know? Well, that’s because your enemy has paid people to tell you that they are your friend but they are not your friend, not one little bit!


This may be a metaphor. But then again it may not be. How does that make you feel? How far are you willing to go?


There will always be enemies. You must stamp them out.