Search
Close this search box.

Reservations

Search
Close this search box.

Reservations

Luxury Travel

The Joys of Rail and Sail Holidays

Ferry companies and train operators are working together to make it easier for foot passengers to travel overseas from mainland Great Britain, says Richard Hammond. It's all about the joy of rail and sail

This is a feature from Issue 21 of Charitable Traveller.

The modernisation of ferry services has revolutionised the experience of travelling across the Irish Sea, North Sea, and The English Channel. This is especially the case for longer overnight crossings to the continent where you can travel in style on spacious ships, enjoy fine dining in à la carte restaurants, have a spa treatment, and sleep in comfortable en suite cabins, so on arrival, you feel refreshed for the onward journey. There are also plenty of facilities to keep children entertained during the crossing, including soft play areas, games rooms, live entertainment and cinemas.

Ferry services have long been the obvious option for car drivers, but cyclists and foot passengers can also enjoy the benefits of the improved services.

Europe has never felt closer. Ferry services have long been the most obvious option for car drivers, but cyclists and foot passengers can also enjoy the benefits of the improved services. The ports on both sides of the crossing are mostly well connected by public transport, so it’s easy to travel by bus or train to the ports in the UK, as well as disembark on the other side and continue the journey overland – see Green Traveller’s guide to travelling as a foot passenger.

One of the most popular initiatives in recent times to encourage passengers to take the train to and from a ferry crossing is Stenaline’s Sail & Rail ticket to the Netherlands. Known as the Dutchflyer, it’s a combined train and ferry ticket from London Liverpool Street (or any National Express East Anglia station, such as Cambridge, Colchester, Ipswich and Norwich) to Harwich International port, from where you can catch either the morning or overnight Stena Line ferry service to the Hook of Holland, and travel onwards to elsewhere in Holland.

Harwich International Railway Station is immediately adjacent to the port, so it is a quick transfer from the train platform to the ferry check-in, and on the other side, it’s the same quick transfer off the ferry to the Hook of Holland railway station, which has train services to Rotterdam, Amsterdam and beyond.

There’s a similar initiative for travelling from the UK to Ireland. Both Stena Line and Irish Ferries allow you to book both the rail and ferry legs of your journey in one go, known as a Sail & Rail ticket, at a price that is much lower than if you booked the two legs separately. This combined train and ferry ticket can be for journeys from anywhere in Great Britain to anywhere in Northern Ireland and the Republic of Ireland via the UK ferry ports of Holyhead, Fishguard or Cairnryan. The Sail & Rail option is also available back from Ireland to the UK.

There is no option to upgrade with these special Sail & Rail fares, but one of the distinct advantages of this Sail & Rail package is that the fares come at a fixed price, which doesn’t increase in peak travel periods or are dependent on how far in advance you book. There’s a 50 per cent discount for children aged 5–15, while those aged 0–4 travel free. Happy green travelling!

Next issue: The Renaissance of rail in Europe

This is a feature from Issue 21 of
Charitable Traveller.