How to Catch a Train in Scotland
In your own City getting a train is no more difficult than ordering a coffee. Due to the globalisation of coffee companies this is a standard process wherever you are in the world (There was even a Starbucks in the forbidden City, Beijing!).
Train travel - despite its global coverage has not quite caught up with the coffee companies yet - for some reason it remains different in every country you find.
Scotland's train service is no exception but this brief guide will hopefully prevent delays, added anguish, or most importantly the enevitable wrestling match with the menacing pigeons that know no fear (I once lost my sandwich to a well drilled pigeon flock in Aberdeen - I don't like to talk about it!).
Buying a Ticket
It is always easiest to buy your ticket before travelling on trains in Scotland.
There are ticket machines on most platforms though these only accept credit or debit cards as payment. You type in the name of the station you want to travel to and follow the instructions on screen.
Tickets are also sold on the trains by the ticket inspectors - They can accept cash or card payment and are usually very helpful in assisting passengers with route information.
What Time Are You Travelling?
It is important to plan when you wish to travel. The rush hour in Scotland is finished by around 915am and then again in the evening by around 1830. If your travel crosses these times you may need to purchase an "Anytime" ticket.
An Anytime ticket allows complete flexibility to when you can travel but is more expensive.
If you know when you are travelling you should check the route information and book an "Off Peak" ticket (Peak here refers to the busiest time of the day for travel or rush hour).
All weekend travel is "Off-Peak".
There are many different discounts available depending on who is travelling, what time they are travelling and how flexible they can be.
All children under 16 get a discount. This is referred to locally as a "half fare".
Elderly people are also entitled to reductions but these don't apply during peak hours.
There are many discounts available for group travel;
3,4, or 5 person groups can benefit from Friends Fare or GroupSave reductions.
What Do I Ask For?
If you are travelling in one direction you would ask for "a single". While if you want a ticket to and from your destination you need "A return ticket"
For Example if you are travelling from Glasgow to Edinburgh - "Single ticket Glasgow to Edinburgh please."
Whilst if you are travelling Glasgow to Edinburgh then back to Glasgow - "Glasgow to Edinburgh return please."
There are also some good options for tourists travelling around Scotland.
1) Scottish people pride themselves on their friendliness - if in doubt of anything just ask someone - we LOVE being asked!
2) If you enjoy train travel and have time the West Highland Railway is a must. It travels from Glasgow to Fort William and the scenery is stunning.
3) During the months May to October there are runnings of the Jacobite Express between Fort William and Mallaig. This steam train is truly breathtaking combined with some fine scenery - a trip to remember!