Mainline trains to London

Train is often the quickest and greenest way to travel and London is the hub of the UK's extensive rail network. All aboard!

As well as being a much greener mode of transport, trains to London are often faster than driving or flying.

If you're coming from Europe, the Eurostar train via the Channel Tunnel is also a great option. The Eurostar's London terminal is at St Pancras International station.  

London by train within the UK

London is the hub of the UK's rail network, with frequent services to all corners of the country from the city's centrally located mainline railway stations. 

Rail services in the UK are run by a set of private train operating companies. Your point of departure will determine the best service to take and at what station your train will arrive in London.

The fastest city-centre-to-city-centre journeys to London are:

  • Bristol: one hour and 45 minutes (via First Great Western)
  • Cardiff: two hours (via First Great Western)
  • Birmingham: one hour and 30 minutes (via Virgin Trains)
  • Manchester: two hours and 10 minutes (via Virgin Trains)
  • York: one hour and 50 minutes (via East Coast Main Line)
  • Newcastle: two hours and 50 minutes (via East Coast Main Line)
  • Edinburgh: four hours and 30 minutess (via East Coast Main Line)
  • Glasgow: five hours (via East Coast Main Line or Virgin Trains)
  • Leicester: one hour and 25 minutes (via Midland Mainline)
  • Nottingham: one hour and 30 minutes (via Midland Mainline)
  • Derby: two hours (via Midland Mainline)
  • Sheffield: two hours and 30 minutes (via Midland Mainline) 

London's major stations

These are the major mainline train stations you can expect to travel from and to in London:

Arrive at the station in plenty of time and be sure to board your train a couple of minutes before the scheduled departure time, as many trains have automatic doors that shut 40 seconds before departure.

Most rail services offer First and Standard Class accommodation. Many long-distance and inter-city services have a buffet car or at-seat trolley service for drinks and snacks. 

All of the major stations have direct Tube links (the exception is Fenchurch Street, which is close to Tower Hill and Aldgate Tube stations). London's larger stations have shops where you can buy food and drink and something to read on your journey. A chemist is also standard. Some stations even boast retail outlets selling clothes, gifts and more.

Train tickets to London

Buy train tickets to London in advance to reserve a seat and save money. Visit the National Rail Enquiries website for further information about timetables, connections, stations and fares.

You can use an Oyster card on nearly all of London's commuter train services (zones 1 to 9). See the Transport for London website for full details.

Railcards and rail passes

Several different types of card are available offering up to one-third off train fares:

  • Young Persons (aged 16 to 25) and full-time students £30
  • Millennial Railcard (aged 26 to 30) £30
  • Family and Friends Railcard (up to four adults and four children aged five to 15) £30
  • Senior Railcard (aged 60+) £30
  • Network Railcard (off-peak services in south-east England) £30
  • Disabled Persons Railcard (disabled people and their carers) £20

Please note, that Network Railcard discounts are not available on Oyster pay as you go. For more information, see the Railcard website.

International visitors can purchase a BritRail Pass, which gives you the freedom to travel on all National Rail services for a set period of time. Note: BritRail Passes will only be available if you're accessing the form from outside the UK.

Using trains with a disability

There is variation in wheelchair accessibility for different trains and stations. It's a good idea to check before travelling to ensure a hassle-free journey.

Arrangements can be made for passengers with mobility impairments, including people who use wheelchairs. Train operating companies can usually arrange for staff to meet you at the station, accompany you to the train and see you safely on board. Ramps can be provided for people using wheelchairs, to get on and off trains easily.

See the National Rail Enquiries site for more information. 

A Disabled Persons Railcard qualifies you for up to a third off train fares. See the Disabled Persons Railcard website for details.