Related Content
Train Travel Info All Countries Great Britain by train

Great Britain by train

Welcome to our guide to traveling in Great Britain by train; it should save you time money and confusion!


How to travel by train in Great Britain:

There are many unique aspects to travelling by train in Great Britain, but more often than not, what are now typical aspects of taking a European train journey apply.
If you want to save money on a one-way, long distance journey on a direct train, then the start-to-finish steps of looking up a journey and booking it online aren't particularly unusual.
So if you book ahead you can often obtain a cheaper price, but then have to stick by the terms of the type of ticket you have chosen.

What can make planning train journeys in England, Scotland and Wales a tad bewildering are the multiple methods of saving money, which you may, or may not come across; particularly when making a return journey.
You may be offered a choice of different ticket types, prices or train services, depending on the journey you will be taking.

Something exceptional that does need explaining is the use of Great Britain as the country name in place of United Kingdom, as well as the references to British trains and tickets across SMTJ.
It's because train services in Northern Ireland are both managed separately and linked to the rail network of The Republic of Ireland, so they will be included when we add The Republic Of Ireland to ShowMeTheJourney.

Trains operated by multiple companies await departure from King's Cross station Trains operated by multiple companies await departure from King's Cross station
Pendolino trains on Europe's most frequent long-distance intercity route have arrived in Manchester Pendolino trains on Europe's most frequent long-distance intercity route have arrived in Manchester
A train arrives in Barmouth on the beautiful Cambrian Coast railway line A train arrives in Barmouth on the beautiful Cambrian Coast railway line
Eurostar trains line up at St Pancras International station Eurostar trains line up at St Pancras International station
Rainbows can't always be seen under the magnificent Forth Railway Bridge Rainbows can't always be seen under the magnificent Forth Railway Bridge
These new Intercity Express trains now operate all long-distance departures from Paddington station These new Intercity Express trains now operate all long-distance departures from Paddington station
Edinburgh station has a fantastic location Edinburgh station has a fantastic location
Take the delightfully scenic journey between London and Glasgow from £30 with Advance tickets Take the delightfully scenic journey between London and Glasgow from £30 with Advance tickets

Why the train operators matter:

Every European country takes a unique approach to how it operates its train services, but the core difference with Great Britain’s (England, Scotland and Wales) rail network is the lack of a dominant national rail operator.

Instead a multitude of private operators provide the train services, with each separate Train Operating Company (TOC) being responsible for its own network.
And two or more companies can provide the train service between cities and this can impact on how tickets can be used on such routes.

Which company (TOC) is providing the train service on a route impacts on both the ticketing and the journey experience.
That's because each specific TOC manages how its tickets will be sold, such as the types of ticket which will be available to purchase on each specific departure.
They also have the freedom to set the service levels provided to passengers on the trains, including which catering facilities will and won't be available and how the Wi-fi access will be managed.

A Javelin train operated by Southeastern A Javelin train operated by Southeastern
New electric trains operated by ScotRail New electric trains operated by ScotRail
New Intercity trains operated by Greater Anglia New Intercity trains operated by Greater Anglia
Azuma trains operated by LNER Azuma trains operated by LNER

When travelling by train:

The rail network is centrally managed by National Rail and its website is a great resource for planning journeys, looking up general ticket and national rail pass info and checking whether maintenance works will be impacting on the route you will be travelling by.
It also has the up to date info regarding the impact on rail services of the rail strikes.
It’s also a central resource for information and booking of mobility services for those that require additional assistance.


In general long distance train services are more frequent in Great Britain than any other country in Europe.

Many long distance routes between London and other major cities have 2 x trains per hour throughout the day, some have three!
When travelling between cities other than London, a minimum of an hourly service of express trains is the norm, some shorter distances routes such as Leeds <> Manchester have 4 x trains per hour!

Though on some routes fewer trains operate at weekends; particularly on Sundays, and journey times can be longer at weekends too. Many routes and stations outside the major cities have a particularly limited service on Sunday mornings.

Recent improvements:

One of the most unusual aspects of travelling by train in Britain is the breadth of the different types of train used to provide the services across the country.

Each TOC is responsible for its own fleet and buys trains to meet its needs, so more than 35 different types of train are used nationally.

Though normally only one, or occasionally two, types of train are used on each specific route; though that is changing temporarily because new trains are gradually being introduced on many routes.
(There's still many more trains to be added to SMTJ, so the Trains links on the Content menu doesn't yet provide a fully comprehensive list).

That's because long-distance train travel in Britain is in the midst of being transformed, because brand new trains have either recently entered service, or will soon be introduced on a swathe of routes across the country.

Shorter distance train travel has also been transformed for the better, particularly across northern England, because the notorious 'Pacer' trains, which were in effect buses on rails, have now been replaced.

Information on board:

In the coaches of most trains used in Britain there will be electronic information showing the calling points of the train, which is worth checking to see if the station you're heading to is the next calling point; the automated announcements which will say "this train is now arriving at..." usually occur only around a minute before the train will get to a station.

This destination info is usually all that's available on the info screens on British trains, info such as details of onward connections, where the trains is and the speed of the train, isn't shown.
So if you will be making an onward connection it can be worth asking the conductor, for the time and platform number of any subsequent train you will be taking.

The seat reservation info

Because seat reservations are optional on British trains, systems have to be used to inform passengers without reservations which seats are available.
Therefore information for reservations is assigned to each specific seat; on newer trains this is shown electronically, with the info being above the train windows, green lights can indicated available seats, but on older trains paper cards are inserted into the back of the seats

So if you have a reservation, the usual procedure is that you find your seat number(s), which will be on your reservation or ticket, find the matching seat number within the coach; the info in the train will confirm that this is the seat you have been assigned.

If you don't have a reservation then blank electronic displays, or green lights, or no cards on the seat backs, are indicators of available seats.
However, on busy trains it's worth checking the info displayed for each reservation, because the stations between which the seat has been reserved for, will be shown.
For example, you may be travelling from London to York and the reservation info for a specific seat may show that it has been reserved for travel between York and Edinburgh, but as you will only be travelling as far as York, you can occupy this seat.

Notes on stations:

Birmingham New Street Birmingham New Street
Liverpool Lime Street Liverpool Lime Street
London Bridge London Bridge
Newcastle Newcastle

Outside of London most cities only have one major station; the main exceptions are Glasgow and Manchester.

Until recently British stations didn't have any information which informed travellers of where to wait on a platform (track) for easy boarding into coaches in which reserved seats are located.

The platforms/tracks at British stations still aren’t usually divided into zones, as obviously as they are in France and Germany.
Instead the platforms (tracks) at many large stations, at which trains call at during a journey, now have comparatively small signs spaced along the platform, which show the coach numbers of the trains; usually the trains heading to and from London.

It's also a good idea to pay close attention to the information screens on the platforms (tracks) as many of them now show a lot more information than the destination and time of the next departure; they often now also tell travellers where to wait on the platform if you have a reservation.

On long distance trains heading away from London, the First Class coaches are usually at the rear of the train, when heading to London, they’re usually at the front.

Trains very rarely reverse directions at stations in Britain during their journeys, so if you prefer to face forwards, you will usually be facing that way for the entire trip.
The three major exceptions are:

  • Manchester <> Bristol/Exeter trains reverse direction at Birmingham.
  • Newcastle <> Southampton services reverse direction in both Birmingham and Reading.
  • Manchester <> Bournemouth services reverse direction at Reading.

Finding your train:

A typical main departure board, with all the calling points of each train listed in each column A typical main departure board, with all the calling points of each train listed in each column

A train numbering system in which every individual train is given a specific code isn't used in Great Britain, so there isn't, for example, a train 5743 to Edinburgh which is also calling in York. Therefore in Britain the departure time is the key piece of information, which specifies the train you will be travelling by.

So if you will be travelling to York with a seat reservation on the 11:30 train from London Kings Cross, the key piece of information on your reservation is the departure time.
When you're at King's Cross station you can look for which train you will be boarding on the main departure board.
You would be looking for the train leaving at 11:30, it's final destination will be Edinburgh, but beneath its destination, all of the other stations the train will be calling, at will be listed.
One of these other stations will be York, so this 11:30 train to Edinburgh, is also the train to York.

Therefore the train departures are arranged in vertical columns of lists of the stations that each departure will be calling at.
As each train departs, the columns shift to the left, because they are shown in departure order from left to right.

Top right on each column will be the platform (track) number, but when each departure is initially listed, it will often be blanked out.
So you'll know which departure you will be taking because you'll have matched your destination to the departure time, but you won't know, yet, which platform it will be leaving from.
You need to keep an eye on the departure board, because at some point the platform number will appear and it won't usually be announced; only untypical information is usually announced at stations.

On the platform

On the platforms at non-terminus stations, the departure info will also list all of the stations that the next train to depart will be calling at.
Though this info can be shown as scrolling text; this text is worth watching closely as it can also covey additional info other than the calling points.

Taking time out to check all of the info on the platform departure screens is recommended, particularly when travelling long-distance.
As explained above, you can often use the info to work out where to wait for boarding into the coaches in which your reserved seats will be located, but other useful info, not usually shown on the main departure boards, can include the scheduled arrival time at each calling point.

First Class travel:

Many train operating companies offer First Class long distance ticket holders complimentary food/drink ranging from snacks to a particularly generous full meal service; particularly when travelling on Monday – Friday.

Avanti West Coast and GWR and LNER offer particularly good First Class benefits.

First Class ticket holders can also access the First Class lounges provided at stations by the train operating company that they will be travelling by.

However, First Class is not available on some fairly lengthy regional express services, including those operated by, Northern, Transport For Wales and ScotRail.

Assisted travel:

Each Train Operating Company offers a specific MOBILITY ASSISTANCE services and details of how to book Assisted Travel can be found on these links below:

Avanti West Coast l Chiltern Railways l Cross Country l EMR l Grand Central l Great Northern l Great Western Railway l Greater Anglia l Heathrow Express l London North Western Railway l LNER l Northern l Scotrail l Southern l Southeastern l South Western Railway l TFW l Thameslink l Trans Pennine Express l

Works on the line:

Works on the railway lines tend to be carried out at weekends and when they are occurring, buses are often used as substitutes for the train services:
You can check which works are being carried out on all railway lines here.

When looking up tickets/journeys on the TOC's websites, it may not be particularly clear that works are being carried out on your travel dates.

Although if you’re only offered journeys with more changes than our journey summaries suggest, or the journeys are much longer, or Advance tickets aren't being made available on specific dates; it usually indicates that works are being carried out.

Bicycles on trains:

No charges apply when taking a standard non-folding bicycle on any British train - bike tickets aren't required.

However, each train operating company (TOC) has its own bicycle policy – only folding bikes may be allowed on some services/departures.

Certain Train Operating Companies including...

Avanti West Coast l Cross Country l EMR l Great Western Railway l Greater Anglia l LNER l Scotrail l South Western Railway l TFW l Trans Pennine Express

....request or insist that spaces for NON-FOLDING bikes are reserved before boarding on some or all departures; but there is rarely a charge for arranging this.
(Those links above go direct to the bike reservation/info pages for each company).

10 Most Scenic Journeys

The scenic sections of the journey are shown by the arrows:

  1. Glasgow - Dalmuir > Arrochar > Fort William > Mallaig
  2. Leeds - Skipton > Settle > Carlisle
  3. Exeter > Totness - Plymouth > Lostwithel (Cornwall)
  4. Inverness > Kyle of Lochalsh
  5. Machynlleth > Pwllheli
  6. Newcastle - Morpeth > Berwick upon Tweed > Dunbar - Edinburgh > Kirkcaldy > Dundee > Stonehaven > Aberdeen
  7. Lancaster > Carlisle > Carstairs - Glasgow and Edinburgh
  8. Edinburgh > Kirkcaldy > Perth > Inverness
  9. St Erth > St Ives
  10. Swansea > Llanelli > Llandrindod > Craven Arms - Shrewsbury

Short videos showcasing some of these journeys have been uploaded to the ShowMeTheJourney channels on YouTube dedicated to England and to Scotland.

Glasgow <> Mallaig Glasgow <> Mallaig
Machynlleth <> Pwlheli Machynlleth <> Pwlheli
Exeter <> Lostwithel Exeter <> Lostwithel
Leeds <> Carlisle Leeds <> Carlisle

Notes on the ticketing:

One of the not particularly unusual aspects of booking train tickets for British train journeys is that there are actually general nationwide terms for how tickets are sold; at most stations you can pick up a National Rail ticketing guide, which explains what they are.

For example, the names of the three main types of tickets sold are Advance, Off-Peak and Anytime, regardless of which website is selling the ticket, or which company is operating the train you will be travelling by.

However, the TOCs (Train Operating Companies) have the freedom to market tickets for the services they manage and the routes they operate.
So for example, they may not offer Advance tickets on all or any of their routes, or can offer cheaper Super Off-Peak tickets at particularly quiet travel times.

Therefore the information below is very much a general guide and refers to the most typical scenarios, travellers will encounter when booking and using tickets on British train journeys.

12 Things Worth Knowing:

Most train operators have temporarily changed aspects of their specific ticketing policies in response to the pandemic.
Though when travelling long-distance the typical scenario is that you will still save money by booking Advance tickets ahead of the travel date.

(1) 'Advance' tickets live up to their name, because you'll need to book this type of ticket ahead of your travel date or time, but you will save money, as this type of ticket is discounted.

Avanti West Coast, CrossCountry, EMR, Great Western, LNER, and TransPennine Express are among the Train Operating Companies which offer particularly large discounts on Advance tickets.

In contrast the two other key types of British train ticket - 'Off-Peak' and 'Anytime' aren't typically discounted if you book ahead.

More info is available on our in-depth guide to British train tickets.

(2) A fairly recent change to how British train tickets are sold is that if you will be travelling long-distance by Avanti West Coast, CrossCountry, Grand Central, Greater Anglia, LNER, Northern and TransPennine Express, you can now also obtain discounted Advance tickets online on the day of travel.
They'll be more expensive than booking Advance tickets ahead, but will be cheaper than buying last minute tickets at the station.

So if you’re travelling long-distance try to avoid buying walk-up tickets at a station ticket desk just prior to boarding, as only the more expensive Off-Peak or Anytime tickets may be available.
During peak business hours when Mondays - Fridays are working days, Anytime tickets can be more than 5 x more expensive than the most heavily discounted price of the Advance tickets.

(3) Because peak business hours have such a significant impact on prices when Mondays to Fridays are working days, if you travel at weekends or on national holidays, on most routes there will be a much wider choice of departures with tickets at cheaper prices.

(4) The further ahead you book, the bigger the savings, because the most heavily discounted Advance tickets inevitably sell out faster.

Tickets are typically placed on sale 12* weeks ahead of the travel date, though the discounted Advance tickets may only be placed on sale 10 - 11 weeks ahead.
*=Avanti West Coast places weekday journeys on sale 24 weeks ahead.

(5) There can be big price differences between departures on your travel dates; the cheapest Advance tickets sell out fastest on the most popular trains.

(6) However, if your journey involves changing trains AND using more than one Train Operating Company, then it can be cheaper to book separate tickets for each part of the journey operated by each company - in the UK this is known as Split Ticketing.

(7) There are four different types of online services which sell tickets for British train journeys:

  • The TOCs will sell tickets on their respective websites, most of them sell tickets for nationwide journeys, regardless of whether they operate the trains on those routes.
  • National Rail is the organisation which manages the railway network and its ticketing service will connect you with the website of the TOC providing the train service on the route you will be taking.
  • Independent ticket agents, which sell tickets for nationwide journeys, regardless of which TOCs will be operating the trains.
  • Other independent ticket agents, which specialise in split-ticketing.

(8) What can be particularly bewildering are the multiple options, which can be available for booking return (two-way) journeys.
The means of saving money can vary between travelling each way with Advance tickets, booking 'Open Return' or 'Day Return' tickets, or booking a different type of ticket for each direction of travel.

(9) On most services and routes you will have a choice of travelling First Class or Standard Class; the latter is the equivalent of Second class.

(10) CHILDREN aged 5 – 15 travel at a 50% discount on any UK train.

Those aged 4 and under can travel for free when accompanied by an adult ticket holder.
Though the terms for those 4 and under can vary between the Train Operating Companies re: how many infants can travel with an adult and whether those 4 and under have to travel in your lap.

(11) Up to two dogs per passenger can travel for free too.

(12) For those aged 60 and over, discounts are available when using a special railcard that both UK and visiting seniors can purchase (UK residents can buy this online or at station, but visitors need to purchase the card at a station).

When there is a choice of companies:

When travelling between some towns and cities multiple Train Operating Companies (TOCs) can provide the train service.

These TOCs can share a route, or take different routes between stations.

This can impact on tickets on how tickets can be purchased and used, depending on;

  • whether the trains will be taking the same or different routes,
  • whether you book ahead online,
  • if you'll be booking last minute at the station,
  • how far you will be travelling.

Find out more

How seat reservations are managed:

Seat reservations are another aspect of British train travel, which is managed differently, compared to what's typical in Europe.

Therefore the ten things most worth knowing about seat reservations on British trains are:

(1) Seat reservations are not usually mandatory on any British daytime train service, so you don't have to make reservations if you will be travelling with a rail pass such as a Britrail or Eurail pass, or if you will be using any type of 'Rover' ticket.

The exceptions when reservations are mandatory include a few summer Saturday express trains to Devon and Cornwall; and reservations are also required on The Night Riviera and Caledonian Sleeper services.

(2) Avanti West Coast, CrossCountry, EMR, Great Western, Hull Trains, LNER, ScotRail, TFW and TransPennine Express are the TOCs Train Operating Companies which make seat reservations available for long-distance journeys.
Greater Anglia also offers seat reservations on its London <> Norwich route.

(3) Reservations are automatically included when booking Advance tickets for journeys by those eight TOCs (train operating companies), because you need to travel by the specific departure(s) you selected when booking, in order to use that type of ticket

Seats are also assigned when booking Advance tickets for the longer-distance routes operated by London North Western Railway, Southern and South Western Railway, though when travelling with these operators, the reservations won't be marked on the trains.

(4) If you book Anytime or Off-Peak tickets on the longer-distance routes operated by Avanti West Coast, CrossCountry, EMR, Great Western, Hull Trains, LNER, ScotRail and TransPennine Express and on the London <> Norwich route, seat reservations won't automatically be included.
That's because the usual key selling point of these two types of ticket, is the freedom they typically provide of being able to choose between departures.
Though if you book these two types of ticket for journeys by those companies, you can opt to add a complimentary reservation, either when booking the ticket online, or later.

(5) However, the time limit for booking reservations at stations ahead of travel depends on the TOC providing the train service you will be travelling by; it can vary from a couple of hours to just 10 minutes
So if you will be departing the following morning, SMTJ's advice is to book reservations by the end of the previous day.

Keep this is mind if you will be using a rail pass, such as a Britrail Pass or an InterRail pass, because it typically won't be possible to book reservations at a station, just prior to boarding.
Though when using rail passes you won't be charged for booking reservations at stations, but you will need to use a staffed ticket desk and not a ticket machine.

(6) The need to book reservations ahead, is why they are not typically available when booking walk-up Anytime or Off-Peak tickets at stations, just prior to boarding.

(7) On services/routes on which seat reservations are an option, information for whether each specific seat has been reserved or is available, is typically displayed on board the trains.

(8) You won't usually have to travel in the seat(s) you have been assigned for your ticket to be valid.
So if alternative seats are available for your journey, you can sit in those instead.

(9) Reservations aren’t always available at all on some fairly lengthy regional services, particularly those operated by Northern AND on most 'commuter' routes to and from London - including trains operated by Chiltern Railways, Southeastern, Southern, South Western Railway and Thameslink.

(10) Despite the comparatively high frequency of departures, British trains can be overcrowded.
Therefore when reservations aren't available, try to avoid travelling into any major city between 08:00 and 09:30 and away from them between 17:00 and 19:00.

Also try to avoid travelling on long-distance train services, on which reservations aren't available, on any route at these times;

  • between 15:00 and 20:00 on Fridays and Sundays,
  • on routes to/from coastal resorts on summer Saturdays.

Two For One Visitor Attractions when using rail tickets:

National Rail, which has overall responsibility for how the trains are managed in Britain, has teamed up with a swathe of tourist attractions for a promotion which allows two entry tickets for the price of one when travelling to and from them by train.
How it typically works is:

  1. You can look for which attractions and guided tours are members of the scheme on the National Rail website; for those in London or all of the UK (including London).
  2. Having chosen an attraction you can then see how to book the special promotional tickets for it; when needed you can find promo codes on the dedicated page for each attraction on the National Rail Website.
  3. On the online booking page of the attraction you should see an option which corresponds to 'National Rail - Two for One offer'.
  4. Book your attraction tickets.
  5. On arrival at the attraction you present your attraction tickets and rail tickets to gain entry.

The offers are available to visitors to the UK as well as residents, so they can be a great way to save money when on a holiday.
The offers are also available when using BritRail passes, just be sure to have your passes with you when you visit the attraction.

Though what's good to know when buying rail tickets is:

  • You need to present the return part of a national rail ticket to gain entry, along with your attraction tickets, so Oyster Cards and other Travelcards aren't valid.
  • The ticket machines at stations will retain one-way tickets, hence return tickets are a must.
  • The two people entering the attraction on the 2-for-1 offer will both need return rail tickets.
  • The type of rail ticket, how much you paid for it and the distance travelled all don't matter, any pair of return rail tickets will suffice.
  • If you have one, you can use Railcards to book the rail tickets.
  • If you will be visiting London for the day by using a pair of rail tickets, you can gain entry to more than one attraction that day which is part of the 2-for-1 scheme.
  • Rail tickets are available as an alternative to Oyster cards when travelling between any two National Rail stations in the Greater London area; a National Rail station is any station not solely served by the Underground or DLR, so it includes stations solely served by the Overground or Elizabeth Line trains.
    Therefore you can buy return rail tickets to a central London station, or to a station located by an attraction, from another National Rail station in the London area.

However before booking the 2-for-1 offers on the attraction websites, carefully check how much you will be saving by only paying one entrance fee, compared to the costs of booking two rail tickets.
If you look up the journey on the National Rail website you'll get a good idea of the train ticket costs.
It's likely you won't be able to claim a refund on the attraction tickets, if you then decide not to go ahead, because the rail tickets + the 2-for-1 offer won't provide a significant overall saving.
Though it's highly likely you will make a significant overall saving.

But if you have already booked two return rail tickets and then find an attraction(s) that you want to visit, go ahead and book the 2-for-1 offer, as you'll then be certain of saving money!

Where can you go and what can you see

The full list of tourist attractions participating in the scheme can be found on the National Rail website.

Popular attractions in central London include:

Attractions in the wider London area, with easy access from local rail stations, include:

There's a clutch of attractions in Brighton including:

...and a clutch of attractions in Blackpool, including its Sea Life Centre and The Blackpool Tower Eye and Madame Tussauds Blackpool.

Those with an interest in transport and railways can save when heading to a number of attractions including;

Three amusement parks in south-east England are also participants in the scheme;

  • Chessington World Of Adventures which is walkable from Chessington South station, which has trains from London Waterloo.
  • Thorpe Park which can be accessed by taking a train from London Waterloo to Staines and then connecting into a bus service.
  • Legoland Windsor which can be accessed by taking buses from central Windsor that offer straightforward connections with trains from London Paddington and trains from London Waterloo.
    Though carefully check the full details for the amusement park offers as they exclude certain dates and periods of time, which tend to coincide with school holidays.

Tour Britain with Bookmundi

The Gems of Britain tour The Gems of Britain tour
The Real Britain tour The Real Britain tour
The England and Scotland Heritage tour The England and Scotland Heritage tour
the Heart Of England tour the Heart Of England tour

1. The "Gems Of Britain" trip starts and ends in London. The "Gems Of Britain" trip is a sightseeing trip that takes 5 days taking you through London, Edinburgh, London and Liverpool in Scotland and England.
This is a guided group trip that includes accommodation in hotels, transport, meals and others.

2. The "Real Britain" tour starts and ends in London. The "Real Britain" tour is a city sightseeing trip that takes 6 days.
Medieval castles and the inspiring beauty of the Lake District are highlights on this exciting England, Scotland and Wales trip. Learn about the runaway wedding capital, Gretna Green and Tudor history in Ludlow before you ascend to lofty Castle Rock for spellbinding views of Edinburgh.

3. Starting and ending in London, the trip "England And Scotland Heritage" is a guided adventure trip that takes 8 days.
You will be traveling through Glasgow, Scottish Highlands, Edinburgh and 4 other destinations in England and Scotland. "England And Scotland Heritage" is a group trip which includes accommodation in hotels, transport, meals and others.

4. The "Heart Of England" tour starts from and ends in London. It is a city sightseeing tour that takes 6 days taking you through Stratford-upon-Avon and London in England. "Heart Of England" is a guided small group tour that includes accommodation in hotels, transport, meals and others.
Highlights include Wiltshire’s ancient stone circles and movie-set good looks, the delightful hamlets of the Cotswolds, Oxford’s ‘dreaming

Visiting Britain and exploring by train

If you are not resident in the UK you can use Eurail and InterRail 'global' passes to see Britain by train in addition to other countries of your choice; though you'll need to be sure that your trip to and from England / Scotland / Wales falls within your selected period of time that your pass will be valid for.

For European citizens InterRail for Great Britain passes are available for 3, 4, 5, 6 or 8 days of non-consecutive travel.
Everybody else who solely wishes to explore Britain by train can make use of BritRail passes; and if you meet the InterRail criteria and aren't resident in the UK, there are BritRail passes valid for two days of travel which are cheaper than those InterRail passes valid for 3 days.
Eurail passes are not available solely for travel in Great Britain.

With any of these passes you can hop on any daytime national rail service, reservations are available but optional on most long-distance routes; and on daytime trains there will be no charge for making the reservation; special rates are available to rail pass users on the Caledonian Sleeper and Night Riviera services.

Users of Eurail and InterRail 'global' passes can book reservations on Eurostar, which can seem pricey, but the cost per day of using the pass + the reservation fee, is often much cheaper than booking Eurostar tickets.
However, BritRail passes are not valid on the Eurostar.


A Eurostar e300 train
Eurostar e300 International
A Eurostar e320 train at Gare Du Nord
Eurostar e320 International
An Intercity225 train heads north from London
LNER Intercity 225 (UK) National
All that's good to know about travelling on an Avanti West Coast Pendolino
Avanti Pendolino (UK) National
How to travel on IET trains operated by GWR
GWR IET (UK) National
Avanti Super Voyager (UK) National
A Desiro train to the right of a Pendolino train
LNWR Desiro (UK) National
First Class is always located at either end of the train
Southern Railway Electrostar (UK) National
A Thameslink 700 train on the Cambridge - Brighton route
Thameslink 700 (UK) National
These Gatwick Express are easy to spot as they're specifically branded
Gatwick Express Electrostar (UK) National
Chiltern Railways Mark 3 (UK) National
A Chiltern Railways Clubman train has arrived in Oxford
Chiltern Railways Clubman (UK) National
Azuma trains are now taking passengers from Edinburgh to London
LNER Azuma (UK) National
These Adelante trains can travel at up to 125 mph/200 kmh
Grand Central Adelante (UK) National
An Electrostar train operated by Great Northern heads to London
Great Northern Electrostar (UK) National
An Electrostar train operated by Greater Anglia awaits departure from Cambridge
Greater Anglia Electrostar (UK) National
Caledonian Sleeper (UK) National
A 125 train has arrived in Bristol on service between Plymouth and Edinburgh
CrossCountry 125 (UK) National
A 4 coach version of a CrossCountry Vogager train has arrived in Exeter...
CrossCountry Voyager (UK) National
A Javelin train has arrived in Canterbury
Southeastern Javelin (UK) National
The iconic 125 trains are used for the Inter7City services
ScotRail Inter7City (UK) National
A ScotRail Turbostar train has arrived in Dundee
ScotRail Turbostar (UK) National
Externally these long-distance Desiro trains look similar to Metro trains
South Western Railway Desiro (UK) National
One of the refurbished trains has arrived in Exeter
South Western Railway Express Sprinter (UK) National
The band of yellow indicated first class and a band of red indicates the mobility seating area
Southeastern Electrostar (UK) National
A press release photo of the recently redesigned bar car
Night Riviera (UK) National
A train awaits departure from Glasgow - note the cycle symbol
ScotRail eXpress (UK) National
TPE Nova 1 (UK) National
TPE Nova 2 (UK) National
The Scotrail Sprinter travel experience
ScotRail Sprinter (UK) National
The guide to taking a Lumo train service
Lumo (UK) National
Greater Anglia Intercity (UK) National
ScotRail Desiro National
The guide to travelling on TFW  Rail train used on routes to and from Manchester
TFW Rail Coradia (UK) National
Northern Civity (UK) National
TPE 185 National
EMR Express Sprinter National
Northern Sprinter (UK) National


Wemyss Bay (for the Isle of Bute)


# Jump to a city


Journeys from Edinburgh
Jump to cities
Edinburgh to Birmingham by train
Edinburgh to Bristol by train
Edinburgh to Dundee by train
Edinburgh to Exeter by train
Edinburgh to Glasgow by train
Edinburgh to Inverness by train
Edinburgh to Leeds by train
Edinburgh to London by train
Edinburgh to Manchester by train
Edinburgh to Newcastle by train
Edinburgh to Oxenholme by train
Edinburgh to Penrith by train
Edinburgh to Penzance by train
Edinburgh to Perth by train
Edinburgh to Plymouth by train
Edinburgh to St Andrews by train and bus via Leuchars
Edinburgh to Stirling by train
Edinburgh to York by train
Journeys to Edinburgh
Jump to cities
London to Edinburgh by train
Manchester to Edinburgh by train


Journeys from Glasgow
Jump to cities
Glasgow to Ardrossan by train
Glasgow to Birmingham by train
Glasgow to Dundee by train
Glasgow to Edinburgh by train
Glasgow to Fort William by train
Glasgow to Inverness by train
Glasgow to Leeds by train
Glasgow to Liverpool by train
Glasgow to London by train
Glasgow to Manchester by train
Glasgow to Oban by train
Glasgow to Oxenholme by train
Glasgow to Penrith by train
Glasgow to Perth by train
Glasgow to Stirling by train
Glasgow to Wemyss Bay by train
Glasgow to York by train
Journeys to Glasgow
Jump to cities
London to Glasgow by train
Manchester to Glasgow by train


Journeys from London
Jump to cities
London to Aberdeen by train
London to Aix - en - Provence by train
London to Amsterdam by train
London to Angers by train
London to Antibes by train
London to Antwerpen / Antwerp / Anvers by train
London to Avignon by train
London to Barcelona by train
London to Basel / Bâle by train
London to Bath by train
London to Berlin by train
London to Béziers / Beziers by train
London to Biarritz by train
London to Birmingham by train
London to Bordeaux by train
London to Bournemouth by train
London to Brighton by train
London to Bristol by train
London to Brugge / Bruges by train
London to Bruxelles / Brussels by train
London to Cambridge by train
London to Cannes by train
London to Canterbury by train
London to Cardiff by train
London to Den Haag / The Hague by train
London to Dijon by train
London to Dundee by train
London to Edinburgh by train
London to Exeter by train
London to Fort William by train
London to Frankfurt by train
London to Genève / Geneva by train
London to Gent / Ghent / Gand by train
London to Glasgow by train
London to Hamburg by train
London to Inverness by train
London to Köln / Cologne / Koeln by train
London to Lausanne by train
London to Leeds by train
London to Lille by train
London to Liverpool by train
London to Luxembourg by train
London to Lyon by train
London to Manchester by train
London to Marseille by train
London to Milano / Milan / Mailand by train
London to Montpellier by train
London to München / Munich by train
London to Newcastle by train
London to Nice by train
London to Nîmes / Nimes by train
London to Norwich by train
London to Oxenholme by train
London to Oxford by train
London to Paris by train
London to Penrith by train
London to Penzance by train
London to Perth by train
London to Plymouth by train
London to Portsmouth by train
London to Rennes by train
London to Rotterdam by train
London to Salisbury by train
London to Stirling by train
London to Strasbourg by train
London to Torino / Turin by train
London to Toulouse by train
London to Wien / Vienna by train
London to York by train
London to Zürich / Zurich by train
Journeys to London
Jump to cities
Barcelona to London by train
Basel / Bâle to London by train
Berlin to London by train
Bruxelles / Brussels to London by train
Edinburgh to London by train
Frankfurt to London by train
Genève / Geneva to London by train
Glasgow to London by train
Hamburg to London by train
Köln / Cologne / Koeln to London by train
Lille to London by train
Lyon to London by train
Manchester to London by train
Marseille to London by train
Milano / Milan / Mailand to London by train
München / Munich to London by train
Paris to London by train
Torino / Turin to London by train
Wien / Vienna to London by train
Zürich / Zurich to London by train


Journeys from Manchester
Jump to cities
From Manchester to Newcastle by train
from Manchester to Norwich by train
From Manchester to Oxford by train
from Manchester to Windermere by train
Manchester to Birmingham by train
Manchester to Blackpool by train
Manchester to Bournemouth by train
Manchester to Bristol by train
Manchester to Chester by train
Manchester to Edinburgh by train
Manchester to Glasgow by train
Manchester to Leeds by train
Manchester to Liverpool by train
Manchester to Llandudno by train
Manchester to London by train
Manchester to Penrith by train
Manchester to York by train
Journeys to Manchester
Jump to cities
Glasgow to Manchester by train
London to Manchester by train

Please support ShowMeTheJourney

Help keep us advertising and paywall free!


This second version of ShowMeTheJourney is exciting and new, so we are genuinely thrilled that you are here and reading this, but we also need your help.

We’re striving not to let anything get in the way of providing the most useful service possible, hence a facility has been set up with DonorBox which can be used to support the running costs and make improvements.

Instead of advertising or paywalls, your financial support will make a positive difference to delivering an enhanced service, as there’s a lot of ideas which we want to make happen.

So if you have found the info provided here to be useful, please consider saying thank you.

See if there’s a unique journey guide for your trip, featuring info on the trains, tickets & stations.
Leaving From
Going To

This is one of more than 100 train travel guides available on ShowMeTheJourney, which will make it easier to take the train journeys you want or need to make. As always, all images were captured on trips taken by ShowMeTheJourney.