Following the privatisation of the UK rail service in 1997, a number of separate private train companies now operate across the UK. These include (but are not limited to):
Along with a consortium of other companies, Abellio run a number of train franchises across Britain, including:
East Midlands Railway (EMR): operates trains to London and stations throughout the East Midlands, including Leicester, Derby, Sheffield, Nottingham and Lincoln.
Greater Anglia: services from London Liverpool Street to Essex, Suffolk, Norfolk and parts of Hertfordshire and Cambridgeshire as well as many regional services throughout the East of England.
ScotRail: local and long distance services around Scotland. Also operates the Caledonian Sleeper services between London and Scotland.
West Midland Trains: services between London and the Midlands.
Arriva UK Trains
Avanti West Coast
InterCity West Coast Main Line, between London Euston, the West Midlands, North Wales, Manchester, Carlisle Liverpool, Edinburgh, Glasgow etc.
Operates trains from London Waterloo to: Antwerpen, Bruges, Ghent, Brussels, Namur, Lille, Paris, Disneyland Paris and Ski Trains.
Great Western Railway
Operates trains between London Paddington, South Wales, The Cotswolds and the West of England.
Operates trains from Heathrow to London Paddington, every 15 minutes.
Direct London to Hull service.
London North Eastern Railway
Operates the InterCity East Coast Main Line from London King's Cross to North East England and Scotland (formerly Virgin Trains).
London's underground railway - The Tube.
South Western Railway
Operates trains from London Waterloo to the South West.
Operates train services in south London, between central London and the South coast, through East and West Sussex, Surrey and also parts of Kent and Hampshire.
Operates the Essex Thameside railway.
Operates trains in the North of England, from Leeds to Liverpool, Manchester to Middlesbrough etc.
Passenger Rail Franchises
It should be noted that most of the above operators work on a franchise basis. Whereby, the operation of each passenger services is contracting-out by the British railway network for set time period. Such franchises/contracts are therefore subject to change at the end of each these periods. Railway freight services are run by a different method.
You can usually buy travel tickets from any of the train operators online, by phone or directly at a station ticket office.
A number of independent retailers also provide ticket buying services that allow you to book trains (and other services such as coach travel) for any destination in the UK, regardless of the train operator involved. These include:
These third-party retailers sell the same travel tickets, at the same prices as the operators (as listed the National Rail fares database). However, they do charge a small additional booking fee for their services.
You may find these independent services are more convenient to use, especially when using a mobile phone. They also provide additional useful travel information, such as possible savings on advanced bookings, off-peak travel savings and split ticketing services.
Train fares in the UK have a reputation for being complicated and expensive. Split ticketing is a method of fare saving on long journeys, especially where travel necessitates the use of more than one train operator. By splitting the journey into separate sections, the cost of each travel section can actually be cheaper. But this is not always the case, so it's worth checking the price with more than one retailer.
The following independent retailers offer a split ticketing service.
One of the biggest savings on railway travel in Britain is the use of a railcard. One third of the ticket price (or more) can saved for specific types of traveller. For example:
Railcards need to be purchased in advance and usually require a recent photograph.
For full details visit the Railcard website.