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Travel to London by train and arrive in the capital after a scenic journey. As well as being a much greener mode of transport, trains to London are often faster than driving or flying.
How to get to London by train from within the UK
London is the hub of the UK's rail network, with frequent train services to all corners of the country from the city's centrally located mainline railway stations.
A set of private train operating companies run rail services in the UK. Your point of departure determines the best service to take and at what station your train arrives in London.
The fastest city-centre-to-city-centre journeys to London are:
- Bristol: one hour and 45 minutes to London Paddington on Great Western Railway.
- Cardiff: one hour and 50 minutes to London Paddington on Great Western Railway.
- Birmingham: one hour and 30 minutes to London Euston on Avanti West Coast.
- Manchester: two hours and 10 minutes to London Euston on Avanti West Coast or Northern.
- York: one hour and 55 minutes to London King's Cross on Northern.
- Leicester: one hour and 10 minutes to London St Pancras International on East Midlands Railway.
- Nottingham: one hour and 45 minutes to London St Pancras International on East Midlands Railway.
- Derby: one hour and 30 minutes to London St Pancras International on East Midlands Railway.
- Sheffield: two hours to London St Pancras International on East Midlands Railway.
- Newcastle: three hours and five minutes to London King's Cross on LNER.
- Edinburgh: four hours to London King's Cross on LNER or ScotRail.
- Glasgow: five hours to London Euston on Avanti West Coast.
London's major train stations
These are the major train stations you can expect to travel from and to in London:
Top tip: Arrive at the station in plenty of time and be sure to board your train at least a couple of minutes before the scheduled departure time, as many trains have automatic doors that shut 30 seconds before departure.
All of the major train stations in London have direct links to the Tube, except for Fenchurch Street, which is close to Tower Hill and Aldgate Tube stations.
London's larger train stations have shops where you can buy food, drinks and something to read on your journey. Pharmacies are also standard in large stations. Some train stations even boast retail outlets selling clothes, gifts and more.
The Elizabeth line
The Elizabeth line is a great option for travel to central London. The line connects east to west through central London with stations at some of the city's major interchanges, including Paddington, Farringdon, Liverpool Street, Stratford and Canary Wharf stations.
The Elizabeth line connects with the London Overground, DLR, National Rail and London Underground services, and offers fantastic links for travellers to and from London's Heathrow, Gatwick, Luton, Stansted and Southend airports.
From October 2022, the line is set to fully connect through central London, making the travel time from Heathrow airport to central London about 15 minutes and under 45 minutes to the ExCeL London exhibition centre.
Buying train tickets to London
Buy train tickets to London in advance* to reserve a seat and save money. Visit the National Rail website for more information about train timetables, connections, arrival and departure stations, and fares.
You can use an Oyster card or contactless payment card on nearly all of London's National Rail train services that run from zones 1 to 9.
Railcards and rail passes
Several different types of cards and passes are available which offer up to one-third off train fares:
- 16-17 Saver (aged 16 to 17)
- 16-25 Railcard (aged 16 to 25; full-time students also eligible)
- 26-30 Railcard (aged 26 to 30)
- Two Together Railcard (two named passengers)
- Family and Friends Railcard (up to four adults and four children aged five to 15)
- Senior Railcard (aged 60-plus)
- Veterans Railcard (those who served in Her Majesty’s Armed Forces or Merchant Mariners)
- Network Railcard (discounts on trains that depart after 10am Monday to Friday in London and south-east England)
- Disabled Persons Railcard (a traveller with disabilities and a friend)
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. BritRail Passes are available only if you're accessing the form from outside the UK.
How to find cheap trains to London
Travel to London by train and save money with cheap rail tickets.
Book train tickets well in advance of your departure date to get the best deals. Travelling during off-peak times also enables you to find cheap train fares to London. Two single tickets might even work out cheaper than a return ticket.
Use these helpful websites to plan your route to London:
- The Trainline*: compare fares and save on advance tickets.
- National Rail: check fares and train times to London and across the UK.
Accessible train travel to and from London
Different trains and stations have a variety of accessibility features for travellers with disabilities. Before you travel, check with the train operating company to ensure a smooth journey.
Train staff can make arrangements for passengers with mobility needs, including people who use wheelchairs. Staff can usually 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.
All of the stations on the Elizabeth line are set to have step-free access from street to platform level.
See the National Rail website for more information on accessibility and passenger assistance.