Those used in Britain did not work to fixed schedules but ran from Southampton to destinations as required. For example, one trip ran directly to Highclere on the Didcot, Newbury & Southampton lines, where Highclere House had been turned into a military hospital. Later it was to be the setting for Downton Abbey. Destinations in South Devon included Newton Abbott, Torre, Torquay, Paignton and Plymouth.
On the continent, the trains were a key part of the chain, which started with the field dressing trains on the front line. Movement by narrow-gauge train, lorry, bus or even mule was the link to the field hospitals set up further back. From the nearest point to the field hospitals, and sometimes under enemy shell fire, the ambulance trains then took wounded soldiers back to the larger hospitals in towns such as Amiens, Abbeville, Boulogne or Rouen, or direct to the ships at Boulogne or Le Havre. From there, hospital ships linked the French ports with Dover, Folkestone and Southampton and the British based ambulance trains took their patients to inland hospitals.