Welcome to the guide to taking trains to and from the busiest station in northern England.
Leeds is the busiest station in Northern England, so it’s a constantly hectic space that’s arguably too small for the number of people and trains which now use it.
To accommodate all the trains which depart from the station, many of its 17 platforms (tracks) been subdivided into up to four sections ‘A’, ‘B’, ‘C’ and ‘D’ with many trains only using these specific parts of each platform.
Also each of these specific platforms (tracks) usually has multiple departures per hour.
So when taking a train from Leeds, you will usually have to pay close attention to which specific platform (track) your train will be leaving from, 9A is not the same as 9D etc.
Though some longer trains will occupy the entire length of the platform, so if only a number is used on the departure screens you can wait anywhere along the length of that platform to board a train.
The part of the station which the trains use is also in three distinct parts; all of which can be accessed by using the same ticket gate line, which separates the main station building from the platforms (tracks).
Platforms (tracks) 1 -6:
This part of the station is a terminus so it’s on the same level as the main concourse, though platforms 3 and 4 are more distant from the ticket gates.
The 'C' sections of these platforms are nearest to the concourse, but the A sections are furthest from the ticket gates.
This part of the station is usually used by these six Northern train services:
(1) to/from Bradford including trains which continue beyond Bradford to Chester and Manchester via Hebden Bridge and Halifax.
(2) the Wharfedale trains to/from Ilkley
(3) the Airedale line trains to/from Skipton via Keighley for the Keighley & Worth Valley Railway and Saltaire for Saltaire Mills
(4) the Harrogate Line trains
(5) the trains to Carlisle on the spectacular route via Hellifield and Settle
(6) the trains to Lancaster via Hellifield and Carnforth
Platforms (tracks) 7 and 8:
Platform 8 is right by the ticket gate line and is beside the main concourse; and platform 7 is at its far end, so the access to and from the trains which use these platforms is step-free
Platform 8 is usually used by the LNER trains to and from London.
Platforms (tracks) 9 -17:
The dominant feature of Leeds station is the huge bridge which connects these platforms to the ticket gate line, by the main concourse.
Both the concourse and each of these platforms (tracks) are connected to this bridge by escalators and lifts (elevators) - and there are also stairs available.
The long distance trains which use these platforms include:
If you arrive at Leeds station in time to have something to eat or drink before your train departs, the best location in which to wait for a train, is the glorious Art-Deco creation that is the Northern Concourse.
It is off to the right of the main concourse, on the other side of the ticket desks and the LNER first class lounge – it houses information screens, so you can keep an eye on the train departure details.
On the departure screens many of the platforms are shown as a combination of numbers AND letters; 5C, 9D and 15A etc.
If your departure is leaving from such a specific platform (track) you need to keep this combination of numbers AND letters in mind as you make your way to your train.
Platform (track) 9A is at the opposite end of the station to platform 9D etc.
The ‘D’ platforms are furthest from the main concourse, so allow a minimum of three minutes to make your way to trains which leave from here, if you don’t want to hurry.
If your train is departing from any part of platforms (tracks) 9 – 17, you will need to make your way to it, by using the bridge which spans the station; it can be accessed by escalators and lifts (elevators).
Though the escalators which link the bridge to platforms (tracks) 9 – 17 only lead upwards, so the options for descending down to the trains are to use to the stairs or the elevators.
If you use the stairs to descend from this bridge, you will be on the B or C sections of the platforms (tracks); the A sections will then be behind you on the other side of the bridge and the D sections will be ahead of you, at the far end of the platform.
If your train arrives in Leeds at platforms (tracks) 1 – 8 when you alight from it, you will be on the same level as the main station concourse.
To access it all you have to do is walk through the main ticket gate line; though you’ll need to open the gates with your ticket, so don’t leave it on the train.
If your train arrives at platforms (tracks) 9 – 17, you will need to ascend up to the huge bridge which spans the station, in order to access the exits.
On one side of the bridge there are escalators and stairs, while on the other there are lifts (elevators).
From this bridge there are also escalators and elevators, which lead down to the ticket gates that give access to the main concourse and its exits to the city centre.
Leeds station is located in the south west corner of the city’s central area, but Leeds has no tram or metro, so heading off on foot, or taking a taxi, or a bus, are the only means of accessing destinations in the city centre.
However, Leeds city centre is comparatively compact and its main retail area, which is only a 5 – 8 min walk from the station is pedestrianised, so walking is the best means of accessing the heart of the city.
There are two exits from Leeds station on its city centre side, the more obvious exit on the newly extended main concourse leads out to New Station Street and this is where the main TAXI RANK is located
You can turn left OR right and walk down New Station Street to access the city centre, so it’s a good idea to work out the location of your final destination in the city, before your train arrives in Leeds, so that you’ll know which direction you should take.
In summary go to the left if you are heading to Victoria Square, which is where the city’s art gallery, library, town hall and The Henry Moore Institute are located.
Turn to the right if you’re heading to The Victorian Quarter or The Corn Exchange.
The alternative city side exit is on City Square, it is at the other end of the northern concourse, turn left on exiting the ticket gates and walk by the ticket desks.
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Destinations and routes:
(1) London King’s Cross via Peterborough
(1) Glasgow via York, Durham, Newcastle and Edinburgh
(1) Blackpool via Bradford, Halifax, Blackburn and Preston
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.