High Speed trains vs slow trains with a toddler

On the few occasions that we travel to London to visit my family, we take the train up. Living in Ramsgate, we luckily have the high speed trains to London’s St Pancras, which at 1 hour and 16 minutes, means little fuss and easy access to London. High speed train services aren’t the only trains on offer from Ramsgate to London. You can get to Charing Cross, London Victoria, Waterloo East and Stratford International on slower but convenient trains too. Like I said, we’re pretty lucky.

Travelling to my mums in south west London, easily takes a few hours anyway, as we need to get to St Pancras, then the Piccadilly line to Hounslow East, followed by a bus or walk to our hotel or see mum who lives in Isleworth. Overall the commute, is a bit of a slog, especially with a toddler. Trying to keep Emily entertained whilst travelling can be difficult but the big question is, what fares better? High speed or slower?

Last weekend, we really put it to the test as we travelled to London via the slower route which took 2 hours and 10 minutes to travel from Ramsgate to London Waterloo East. Admittedly, the train was a little longer in duration and took a different route as a tree had collapsed over Wye’s tracks, making the usual hour and 58 minutes journey a few minutes longer. It didn’t bother Emily and I much as the beautiful Kentish countryside and coast by Dover Priory and Folkestone was a glorious feast for the eyes.

The train was quiet, relaxed, much different to the usual dozens of people who get on the high speed train to St Pancras. We had the whole carriage to ourselves, which delighted Emily. We could sit at a table, not be bothered for taking over too much space, and just chill, Emily happily playing with her toys, play doh and colouring in pencils and I could daydream out the window. It was rather lush.

Even our journey back on the Sunday was rather chilled too. Although the carriages were a little more busier than Friday afternoons journey, it was still relaxed, this tie, Emily asleep, Sam and I ate our sandwiches, chilled without having to constantly apologise for being in someone’s way with the buggy or luggage. It may have been longer, but the difference in noise levels, made a huge difference.

I’m not saying I’ll do the slower train often, it’ll be on the odd occasion, as London Waterloo to anywhere is usually really busy, but I’d definitely do it again for the quiet, chilled journeys in comparison to the louder, busier high speed ones.

What’s the difference between high speed and slow speed train journeys?

High speed

  • The 140mph Javelin trains, are the UK’s only high speed train line
  • Runs from London St Pancras to other top destinations in Kent
  • The service has cut journey times from 2 hours to just 1 hour and 16 minutes from Ramsgate to London’s St Pancras
  • The high speed trains played a key role during the London 2012 Olympic and Paralympic Games as the Javelin shuttle service. Many of the trains are named after Olympic athletes
  • The Javelin high speed service was first introduced in June 2009
  • Travels to London St Pancras International or Stratford International to Ebbsfleet International and Ashford International, that go on to call at many stations across Kent – including Canterbury, Margate, Ramsgate, Dover, Whitstable and Folkestone

Low Speed

  • Chilled, quieter and longer journeys
  • You can travel to London, Kent and parts of East Sussex
  • Mainline trains throughout Kent are Bombardier Class 375 Electrostars. They travel at up to 100mph
  • Metro trains on the inter-city London routes are Class 465 and 466 Networkers and Class 376 Electrostars. They travel at up to 75mph.

As with all South Eastern trains, you get free WiFi, helpful staff and spacious seating areas.

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