UK DEPARTURES

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The Independent Travel
Cheap day trips by rail to and from London are being heavily promoted by train operators in the Midlands and Yorkshire. The East Coast Main Line (0345 225225) offers a day trip to London King's Cross from Leeds for pounds 20 or from York for pounds 25; the same prices apply for travellers from London to Yorkshire. You must book by 2pm on the day before you travel, and use specified trains.

Chiltern Railways (0990 165165) is offering pounds 20 day tickets on the line between Marylebone and Birmingham Snow Hill. The journey takes about 30 minutes longer than from Euston, but saves pounds 35 compared with the peak fare from there. From Warwick and Leamington Spa, the company will throw in a London Travelcard with the pounds 20 day return to London.

The best deal of all is on Midland Mainline from Sheffield to St Pancras. The company is selling two, three or four seats for a total of pounds 29, reducing the price of a day trip to as little as pounds 7.25 per person (if four people travel together), compared with the standard "open" fare of up to pounds 78. You must book three days in advance at Sheffield station, or five days ahead on 0990 125240. The offer does not apply on Saturdays, nor for journeys from London.

The lights are going on all over England, or at least in Lancashire and the West Midlands. Joining a lineage that includes Stanley Matthews and Frank Bruno, the pop group Eternal will switch on the Blackpool illuminations just before 9pm on 30 August.

The Radio One Roadshow will also be at the resort that day, and will make a special live broadcast from 8pm to 9pm. Half-a-million lamps and lasers will be used for the lights. They will consume nearly 1,000,000 units of electricity (at a cost of pounds 60,000) before the switch-off on 3 November. The Blackpool tourist information line is 01253 21623.

In Walsall, the annual illuminations in the Arboretum start dazzling on 14 September and continue until 27 October.Call 01922 650000 for more details.

British Airways Express (0345 222111) has cut its return fare from Gatwick to Guernsey and Jersey to pounds 74 (including tax). To qualify, you must book before 4 September, stay away at least one Saturday night but no longer than a month, and complete all travel before 30 September. The pounds 74 fare applies only for flights from Monday to Thursday inclusive; weekend flights cost pounds 87 return.

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