This guide to taking trains from and to Edinburgh Waverley station focuses on the less obvious aspects of arriving and departing from this station by train.
For a central station Edinburgh Waverley has a beautiful location and it’s also spectacularly convenient for the city centre that it serves.
Central Edinburgh is in effect of city of two halves, its south side is dominated by the rock on which its old town and castle are located, while the Georgian splendour of its new town, on the other side of Princess Street, sits on a plateau to the north.
Edinburgh’s main station is in the valley between these old and new towns; meaning that the majority of the city’s most popular attractions, its castle, the Scottish National Gallery, the Royal Mile, the National Museum of Scotland and Calton Hill are within a 10-15 minute walk from the station.
Because Waverley station sits in a valley and is therefore below the level of the surrounding streets, after entering the station you'll need to descend when making your way to the trains.
So conversely when arriving at Edinburgh by train, you need to ascend up to the station exits, by using either stairs, escalators, or elevators, or the sloping walkways, or a combination of these.
Though the re-developments at the station have made this much easier in recent years; there are always alternatives to having to use the stairs, no matter which route you will following in, out, or within the station.
However, the valley location and the history of its construction means that the station has an unusual layout.
The core of the station isn’t at either end of the station, or above the railway lines, instead Edinburgh Waverley’s main concourse is in the centre of the station, with platforms (tracks) on all four sides of it.
So the route you will take through the station, very much depends on which platform (track) your train arrives at, or will be departing from, but the signposting at the station does a good job of making sense of a sprawling space.
What’s also unusual for a station of its size is that Edinburgh Waverley doesn’t have a main entrance or a station forecourt.
Instead its two most popular access points are two comparatively anonymous entrances on the streets on either side of the station, on Princess Street, which is Edinburgh’s main street, and Market Street, which is over by the old town.
How you take a train from Edinburgh's main station depends on how long you’ll have before your train will be departing AND which part of the station your train will be leaving from.
Though if you are not familiar with using the station aim to be at Edinburgh Waverly station a minimum of 10 mins before your train is due to depart.
Platforms (tracks) 1, 3, 4, 13 and 18 are all comparatively distant from the main entrances to the station.
Edinburgh Waverley station has an unusual layout, so if you've not taken a train from the station before, taking a look at the station plan is a good idea.
The station doesn't have a clearly defined main entrance and its concourse, which is home to most of the station's facilities, is in the middle of the station and below street level.
Platforms (tracks) 2-7 and 11-19 are all directly accessed off the main concourse, so no matter how you have entered the station, you’ll need to head down to it if your train will be leaving from one of these.
Those platforms (tracks) all have level access from the main concourse, though worth knowing platforms 3, 4, 13 and 18 are some distance away.
You’ll also need to head to concourse, if you want to use the ticket desks instead of the ticket machines.
Or if the specific platform (track) that your train is leaving room has yet to be confirmed, you can head to the main concourse to wait for your train.
It’s where most of the food/drink outlets at the station are and it’s also the location of Europe’s most beautiful station waiting room; the first class lounge can be accessed through the waiting room.
Platforms 1, 8, 9, 10 and 20 aren't linked to the main concourse, so the access to them is provided by the footbridge which spans the station; so you can either use this footbridge as a direct route to them, or use it to access them from the main concourse.
The clearly marked lifts and escalators on the left-hand side of the concourse connect to platforms 1 and 20, while the other clearly marked escalator and lift over to the right, will take you to platforms (tracks) 8 – 10.
When you come out of the waiting room or ticket hall, the escalator and lift leading up and over to platforms 1 and 20 is over to the right, and the escalator that gives access to platforms 8, 9 and 10 will be in front of you.
Also worth knowing is that platforms (tracks) 8 and 9 are split into two; 8E and 9E; and 8W and 9W and trains normally depart from each specific end of these platforms (tracks), E for east and W for west.
If you use the entrances to the station on Princess St, the most obvious route down into the station is by using a staircase known as The Waverley Steps, which thankfully has now also been equipped with escalators.
Then once you have descended to the bottom of the flight of escalators, you’ll find yourself on a mezzanine level, with the main concourse down ahead of you and over to the right; the main concourse is on the other side of a turning circle, which used to be used by taxis.
From this mezzanine level there are three routes to take to the trains:
(1) If you're train is departing from platforms (tracks) 2-7 and 11- 19 you need to head down another set of escalators (or remain in the elevators), until you are on the same level as the concourse. (Or if you need to buy a ticket, or await a departure in the waiting room, you'll also need to head to the concourse).
When you're at the foot of the stairs or escalators you need to initially walk ahead and then turn to the right.
(2) If your train is departing from platforms 8, 9, or 10, you can cross the station on a footbridge, which has stairs and elevator access to those platforms.
(3) If your train is departing from platforms 1 or 20, you can use the stairs or elevators, which lead directly down from this access area.
Ideally what you want to avoid is descending down to the main concourse and then having to go back up and down from the footbridge, in order to access your train.
Or as an alternative to The Waverley Steps, you can take the elevator from Princess Street which is out of sight behind the entrance to the Waverley Mall.
If your train will be leaving from platforms (tracks) 2-7 and 11- 19, leave the elevator at the bottom, concourse level.
But if your train is departing from platforms (tracks) 1, 8, 9, 10 or 20, exit on to the mezzanine level and be guided from the signage, all of these five platforms can be accessed by using other elevators.
If you use the entrances to the station on Market Street, you can use the stairs or elevators to access the footbridge which crosses the station.
If your train is departing from platforms (tracks) 8, 9, or 10, you will almost immediately come to the stairs and elevators, which lead down to them.
Further along the footbridge there are stairs and an elevator which lead down to the main concourse, which has access to platforms (tracks) 2-7 and 11- 19, though the most obvious route is to use the escalators, which you will see on the left.
Or if you need to buy a ticket, or await a departure in the waiting room, you'll also need to head to the concourse.
If your train is departing from platforms 1 or 20, you can cross the station on a footbridge, which will lead to a mezzanine area on the far side of the station.
Here you will find stairs and an elevator, which lead down to these platforms.
Ideally what you want to avoid is descending down to the main concourse and then having to go back up and down from the footbridge, in order to access your train. .
If you use the entrance to the station on Waverley Bridge, taxis most often drop their passengers here, you can walk down the slopes to the main concourse.
Platforms (tracks) 2-7 and 11-19 all have level access from the main concourse, though platforms 3, 4, 13 and 18 are some distance away.
You will need to use the escalators (and elevators), you'll see over to the left to access platforms 1 and 20, while those, you'll find over to the right will take you to platforms, 8, 9 and 10.
There are three main pedestrian exits from Edinburgh station, which lead up to the Waverley Bridge and Market Street and Princess Street.
So having an idea of which exit will suit you best can be a plus.
The Waverley Bridge exits are on the main concourse, which has an unconventional location in the middle of the station, sloping roadways with pavements (sidewalks) lead up to the road bridge which spans the the station.
Because of the station's unusual layout, it's a good idea to take a look at the Edinburgh Waverley station plan before stepping off your train.
The Market Street and Princess Street exits are at opposite ends of the footbridge which spans the width of the station.
So you need to ascend up to this bridge, using the escalators, lifts (elevators) or stairs, in order to access these exits.
The two parallel sloping roadways, which used to allow taxis to enter and leave the station, lead up from either side of the main concourse on to Waverley Bridge – a road which spans the station.
Use these Waverley Bridge exits if you want to:
If your train arrives at platforms (tracks) 2 – 7 these sloping roadways up to the Waverley Bridge exits will be ahead of you when you reach the concourse.
If your train arrives at platforms (tracks) 11 -19, these roadways will be behind you when you step on to the main concourse.
However, if your train arrives at platforms (tracks) 1, 8, 9 or 10 or 20, the better option is to use the Market Street or Princess Street exits
At the north end of the footbridge which spans the station, a series of escalators beside a flight of stairs, named The Waverley Steps, lead up to the exit on Princess Street.
Lifts (elevators) are also available.
These Waverly Steps can be accessed from a mezzanine level, so the first stage of this route from the main concourse is to use the escalators, which are to the right of the main concourse, on the other side of a turning circle, which used to be used by taxis.
The south end of the footbridge, which crosses the station is connected to a staircase and a lift (elevator) which lead up to Market Street; this exit is close by the middle of the Royal Mile, which runs through the Old Town.
How you ascend up to this footbridge will depend on which platform (track) your train has arrived at (see below), but multiple escalators and elevators are available, you won't have to use the stairs.
The Market Street exit also leads to the TAXI rank, when you exit on to Market Street, the rank is a little way down the street to the right; but there is no shelter from the weather, if you need to queue for a taxi.
Walk ahead to towards the front of the train and you will come to a staircase and a lift (elevator) which lead up to the footbridge which spans the station.
This end of the footbridge is adjacent to the exit on to Princess Street; so use the bridge to walk across the station if you want to use the exit to Market Street.
Both the Market St and Princess St exits have elevator access from this footbridge.
From this part of the station, The Waverley Bridge is not a convenient exit, if you want to access the bridge, use the Princess St exit and walk around to the bridge at street level.
Walk to the front of the train, the station buildings, including the left luggage office, will be on your left and you will pass by some retail outlets on the right.
Then ahead of you, on the other side of these buildings, by one of the roadways which come down into the station, is an escalator and lift (elevator).
They are marked ‘use this lift and escalator to access Platform 1, 20 and Princess Street’ – but the bridge it connects to, also gives access to the Market Street exit
The LNER and CrossCountry trains from England USUALLY arrive at these platforms.
Walk ahead to the front of the trains, keeping the buildings in the centre of the station on your right.
Before you reach the main concourse, over to the left you will see a lift (elevator) and over to the right there is a staircase up to the footbridge which you will see above you.
This footbridge leads to both the Market St and Princess St exits
To access the escalator which also leads up to the bridge, walk under this bridge and then turn to the right on to the main concourse - the escalator is by the entrance to the ticket office.
The signs on the escalator will point out that it leads up to Market Street and the taxi rank, but you can ALSO use it to access the Princess Street exit.
Or if you want to exit on the Waverley bridge, you can use either of the roadways which lead up from the centre of the station.
The Trans Pennine Express and Avanti West Coast trains USUALLY arrive at these platforms, which are located outside the main station building
In the middle of the platform is a staircase and a lift (elevator) which lead up to the footbridge which spans the station.
This part of the foot bridge is right by the exit on to Market Street, turn right on Market Street to access the taxi rank and beyond them, over to the right will be the buses to Edinburgh Airport.
At the other end of this footbridge is the access to the Princess St Exit.
If you want to head to the Waverley Bridge, turn right once you're on Market Street
By the front of the train, you will find the stairways and elevator up to the footbridge, turn left for Princess Street and right for Market St.
The Scotrail Inter7City trains from Aberdeen, Dundee, Glasgow, Inverness and Perth USUALLY arrive at these platforms
The only exit from these platforms leads to the main concourse – when you reach it, ahead of you over to the right will you see the lifts and escalators marked ‘use this lift escalator to access Platforms 8, 9 and 10 and Market Street and Taxis’.
Over to the left and out of sight, on the other side of the concourse, you will find the escalator marked ‘use this lift and escalator to access Platform 1, 20 and Princess Street’.
When you reach the main concourse, the sloping roadways up to the Waverley Bridge will be behind you.
By the exit from these platforms you will see the escalator marked ‘use this lift and escalator to access Platform 1, 20 and Princess Street’.
It will go to an interim mezzanine level, but from here if you turn to the right you can use the footbridge across the station to access the Market Street exit.
Train Operating Company:
(1) Aberdeen via Leuchars for St Andrews, Dundee, Arbroath and Stonehaven
(1) London King’s Cross via Newcastle, York and Peterborough
London Euston via Carlisle, Oxenholme Lake District, Lancaster, Preston, Birmingham and Coventry
(1) Manchester via Carlisle, Penrith North Lakes, Lancaster and Preston
Plymouth via Newcastle, Durham, York, Leeds, Sheffield, Derby, Birmingham, Cheltenham, Bristol, Taunton and Exeter
Overnight to London Euston
The majority of the trains between Edinburgh and other destinations in Scotland are provided by ScotRail.
Its train services to Aberdeen, Dundee, Glasgow Queen Street station*, Inverness and Perth usually depart from platforms (tracks) 12 - 19.
*When travelling to central Glasgow from Edinburgh target ScotRail's services to Glasgow Queen Street station
Some of the departures to Aberdeen via Dundee will be by CrossCountry and LNER trains, which call at Edinburgh on route to and from destinations in England.
One of the daily Edinburgh - Inverness services is also provided by LNER.
LNER is the exclusive provider of train services between Edinburgh and London King's cross station; the fastest route between the two capitals..
CrossCountry trains also link Edinburgh Sheffield, Derby, Bristol, Exeter and destinations in south-west England,
Both CrossCountry and Avanti West Coast connect Edinburgh with Birmingham and Coventry- though the trains operated by each company take completely different routes.
Manchester and now Liverpool are directly connected to Edinburgh by Trans Pennine Express services, but when heading to Manchester, the trains via Preston are faster and they also terminate at Manchester Airport.
Edinburgh’s central area is served by two stations, Edinburgh is the main station, while Haymarket station, is located at the far west end of the city centre.
To distinguish it from Haymarket station, Edinburgh’s main station can be referred to as Edinburgh Waverley, but the name ‘Edinburgh’ is now typically used, particularly on timetables and the departure screens at other stations.
If your final destination in in the western end of the city centre and if your train will be calling at Haymarket, it's worth looking up your final destination in the city, to check whether Haymarket will be more convenient.
All trains between Edinburgh station and destinations to the north call at Haymarket, as do the Trans Pennine Express and Avanti West Coast trains between Edinburgh and north-west England.
Some trains between Edinburgh and destinations to the north also call at Edinburgh Gateway or Edinburgh Park stations.
Both these stations offer a connection with the trams to both Edinburgh Airport and Murrayfield Stadium, so if these are your final destinations, you can avoid travelling via the city centre.
This map shows the local rail routes in the Edinburgh area.
This is one of more than 300 station 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.