Need help figuring out UK travel - Seat Reservations Required vs No Reservation

  • 23 February 2023
  • 26 replies

Hello! Newbie to rail travel and I’m trying to figure out how to get from point A to point B and when I need to book a reservation. I purchased a 5 day Eurail pass for myself and my daughter. I have read that it is possible to get around the UK without train reservations but I’m struggling with when I need to have a seat reservation and when I can use the Rail Planner app on the day of travel. I’m embarrassed to say that I’ve left it to last minute if I need to book a reservation because I see many options are not available now. This trip was fairly last minute to begin with so I’m trying to make it work! 🙂 I only booked my airfare less than 2 weeks ago!

I have booked and paid for a seat reservation on Eurostar for the trip from Paris to London and back. So yay! I’ve got that arranged. No other train travel or hotels have been booked/reserved yet. When I search for train times, ALL the trains are “Not available from” Both those requiring a seat reservation and those not requiring a reservation. Are there still tickets available on the ones that do not require a seat reservation?! This confuses me. 

Trip Dates: February 28-March 9

Destinations: London-Bath-York-Edinburgh-London

Travel Days/Plan:

Feb 28 (Tues): Paris>London via Eurostar arriving 9:57 (Booked)

London>Bath approx 11:30?? Note: plan to change terminals and catch the next reasonable available train from Paddington station. 

Mar 1 (Weds): Bath>York morning  

Mar 2 (Thurs): York>Edinburgh early morning

Mar 3 (Fri): Edinburgh. No travel day

Mar 4-Mar 6: 3 day Scottish Highlands and Isle of Skye guided tour. No rail travel needed.

Mar 7 (Tues): Edinburgh>London time to be determined based on total rail travel time. The express train from Edinburgh to London shows no available seat reservations. :-( 

Mar 8 (Weds): London. No travel day

Mar 9 (Thurs): London>Paris via Eurostar (Booked)

Which train routes for these destinations require seat reservations as the only option?

I’ve searched for an Edinburgh to London express train and none are available on any days. What are my options? There is a spot available on the Caledonian Sleeper with a Club Twin room. Is that the best option if I can’t get a ticket for the direct express? Or is there another option that doesn't require a reservation. Or some way to get a reservation? I tried the LNER website using the instructions here but it requires payment. What am I doing wrong?

Please offer any help or suggestions! I’m wondering if I need to change my itinerary in any way to make it work? 



26 replies

Userlevel 2
Badge +1

I travel up and down the LNER east coast line (London to Edinburgh line) and I have never ever been expected to have a seat reservation if I have a flexible ticket (which an Interrail pass is). As shown on the LNER app seat reservations can be made free of charge on the app up to 5 minutes before departure. The advice of LNER to make a seat reservation is just that-advice for your comfort