I often get rail & sail tickets which begin in Great Britain and end in Northern Ireland. These tickets usually specify which boat crossing they are valid on, but I've never seen them specify which rail routes they're valid on.

I've tried to work out exactly what routes are allowed - the tickets aren't international travel (they're all within the UK), so it would seem that the standard routeing guide should apply. However, I've found that the pink pages only list routeing points for Great Britain, not Northern Ireland. There's no mention of how to apply the routeing guide to these journeys (though there is an easement for Belfast to Glasgow Central via Paisley Gimour Street).

An example of the type of thing I'm trying to figure out is whether, when going from London to Belfast via Cairnryan it is permissible to use the East Coast Mainline, or just the West Coast Mainline. (But I'm more interested in how you work this out than the actual answer).

  • Don't you just need to work out which ferry you're allowed to use, then look up the routing guide as if you had a ticket to that ferry port?
    – Gagravarr
    May 19, 2013 at 15:00
  • The ferry port is in Cairnryan which also doesn't appear in the routeing guide (probably because it doesn't have a train station).
    – lucas
    May 19, 2013 at 20:20
  • What about the station you leave the train at then?
    – Gagravarr
    May 19, 2013 at 21:33
  • Well, this is typically Ayr (with a transfer bus provided to Cairnryan), but I don't know whether anything stipulates that it has to be Ayr. (For example, Stranraer is actually closer to Cairnryan, but would involve a longer journey by train).
    – lucas
    May 19, 2013 at 22:22
  • Have you tried asking ATOC? They maintain the routing guide, and ought to be able to give you an authoritative answer
    – Gagravarr
    May 24, 2013 at 9:43

1 Answer 1


I believe you'll find that any direct train route should be applicable.

The prices will vary, but as you specify from say, London, to say, Dublin, there'll just be a calculation done based on your route.

Indeed, Arrivatrainwales shows this - allowing you to enter in any two stations in either country.

As does directferries, which also explains transfers from the ferry to a station:

On arrival in Dublin, for onward travel to Dublin city or Dublin train stations for travel to other parts of Ireland you will need to make use of the transfer options available at the port. Transfers are not included in the price of the Rail Sail ticket and range between €2.50 and €5 per adult depending on your destination.

And finally, seat61 explains in great detail how to book the ticket, and how it works.

  • Also, when buying rail tickets in the UK you often have to specify the train, as they are all run by different operators. Rail tickets which are valid on all trains are more expensive.
    – Rory Alsop
    May 24, 2013 at 19:37
  • Fixed it up, sorry, I meant direct route, as indicated on those sites I linked to.
    – Mark Mayo
    May 26, 2013 at 1:27
  • 2
    If you know the routing rules + easements, you can discover which other routes are also valid, which can sometimes offer up some interesting options. You need to know which rules apply first though!
    – Gagravarr
    May 26, 2013 at 8:05
  • 3
    For Rail & Sail tickets, which the questions asks about, you do not specify the train.
    – gerrit
    May 15, 2017 at 13:12

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