This guide to taking trains from and to London King's Cross focuses on the less obvious aspects of arriving and departing from this station by train.
King’s Cross and St Pancras stations share an Underground stop, served by more lines than any other, but they’re totally separate stations across the street from each other.
King’s Cross is in effect two stations in one.
(1) The LNER, Grand Central and Hull Trains all depart from and arrive at platforms (tracks) 0-8 in the main part of the station under its glorious arched roof, which dates from 1852.
(2) The trains operated by Thameslink and Great Northern, which include the non-stop trains to Cambridge, primarily depart from platforms 9-11.
These are located in a separate part of station, which is to the left of the main concourse; though these trains can also depart from platforms 0-8.
(Although other Thameslink trains on these routes now depart from its part of St Pancras station, which is across the street named Pancras Road).
And yes King’s Cross has a platform/track 0. it’s best not to wonder why (it’s to do with the signalling).
What’s unusual about the welcome modernisation of the station, is that despite King’s Cross being a terminus station, the main concourse is located to one side of platforms (tracks) 0-8 and not in front of them.
The visually stunning main concourse at King’s Cross station is home to the main departure board.
The specific number of the platform (track) that each train is leaving from will usually appear on the main departure board and on the other departure screens around the station, around 10 -20 mins ahead of the departure time.
Most of the Great Northern trains will depart from platforms (tracks) 9-11, and these are located off to the left hand side of the main concourse, on the other side of the walkway which bridges the station at an upper level.
The trains operated by LNER, Grand Central or Hull Trains will depart from platforms (tracks) 0-8, but there are two different routes in the station to these platforms.
Though no matter which route you take to the trains, you will have to pass through ticket gates, so have your ticket(s) to hand as you make your way to the train.
(1) You can wait, along with the majority of your fellow travellers, on the concourse at GROUND LEVEL - and when the specific platform is confirmed, you will need to head to the right of the departure board to access your train.
You'll be passing through an area at the front of the station and will be accessing each platform (track) by the rear of the trains.
On entering the platform, you will initally encounter the First class coaches of the trains, with the Standard class coaches further along.
(2) Or you can separate yourself from the crowd and head up to the mezzanine level in the station, which is where most of the food/drink outlets in the station are located.
But you don't need to have something to eat or drink - and this area is also located opposite the departure board, so it's a good location for keeping an eye on the train information.
This mezzanine level can be accessed by escalator and lift (elevator) and on its far side, an elevated walkway leads across the concourse and into the part of the station, which houses platforms 0 -8.
This route is a short-cut if you will be travelling 2nd/standard class on a LNER train.
Escalators and lifts connect the walkway to each platform (track) and when you descend, you will be closer to the standard class coaches, than if you had used the main access point at the ends of the platforms.
If you take the Circle, Hammersmith & City, Metropolitan or Victoria* lines to King’s Cross there is only one obvious route to follow if you want to connect to the main station, just keep following the signs which say ‘To the trains’.
*The Victoria Line trains use a different part of the station to those other three lines.
However, if you arrive at King's Cross by Northern or Piccadilly line, there are two routes that can be used to transfer to the mainline station – and what's good to know is that the less obvious route is shorter.
When you step off a Northern or Piccadilly train there will be signs on the wall of the platform (track); those saying ‘The trains’ will point in you in one direction.
While other signs, pointing in the opposite direction, are showing the way to the ‘Euston Road’ exit.
The trick when transferring to the mainline station is to ignore the signs pointing the way to the trains and instead follow those signs pointing the way to ‘Euston Road’,
At the foot of the escalators, which will take you up to this Euston Road exit, there are other reassuring signs which also say to ‘The Trains’.
These escalators will lead up to an Underground ticket hall and from here, the access up to Kings Cross main station is just over to the right.
Follow the signs and you’ll then be in a passage way which leads under the concourse in the main station.
The first exit in this passage way will be over to the right, it will look as though it leads to the street, but it will take you up to a covered entrance which is right by the main concourse.
If you’ll be taking a Hull Trains, Grand Central, or LNER train and your train will be departing within the next 10 mins, then definitely use this exit - it will take you up by the access to platforms/tracks 0-8, which these trains leave from.
There is only one exit from each of the platforms (tracks) at King’s Cross, no matter which of them you have arrived at, you need to head towards the front of the train in order to leave the station.
If your train has arrived at platforms/tracks 0-8, the first access point to the Underground which you will see is over to the left, just outside the station.
At the foot of this access point, there are signs which say go left for the Circle, Hammersmith & City and Metropolitan Line trains and right for the Northern, Piccadilly and Victoria Lines.
But trust us on this one, if you’ll be heading for the Northern and Piccadilly Lines, also go to the left and NOT to the right.
Just a few steps away is one of the ticket halls in the Underground station, and this ticket hall houses an escalator which leads directly down to the Northern and Piccadilly lines.
The alternative route to these two lines, which the signs are suggesting you follow, is at least 5 mins longer, as it will lead you through a more distant ticket hall.
But if you arrive at platforms 9 – 11 the closest access to the Underground will take you down to that alternative ticket hall.
From there you can just follow the signs pointing you in the direction of each respective line, as there aren't any short cuts available.
St Pancras station is only steps away from Kings’ Cross and the route is well signposted
If you will be heading to Eurostar departures and your train has arrived at platforms 0-8, then the steps to take are as follows:
(1) When you exit the from the end of the platform, turn to the right.
(2) Enter the main concourse at King’s Cross, but walk straight ahead and across it.
(3) Then turn to the right into a curving passage way and walk passed the entrance to the bar of the Great Northern Hotel, which will be over to the left.
(4) The passage way will open out to the street, the entrance to Eurostar departures will then be directly ahead, on the other side of this street (named Pancras Road)
However, if If you will be heading taking an East Midlands, South-Eastern hi-speed or Thameslink train from St Pancras, carry on walking down the passage way.
You’ll soon see the main street entrance on Pancras Road into St Pancras International, and from Kings Cross, this entrance has the easiest access to the East Midlands, South-Eastern and Thameslink trains.
If you will be heading south towards Brighton or Gatwick Airport, then head for the Thameslink part of St Pancras station - it’s an easier and faster transfer than heading to London Bridge by the Northern Line and then making the connection there.
Once you enter St. Pancras, walk straight ahead of you, the main departure board will be on your left and then you’ll see the Thameslink entrance at the far end over to the right.
King's Cross railway station is located on the north-eastern edge of the central London area in a place where several major roads meet, so it's a constantly busy area, with the fact that St Pancras station is just across the street, adding yet more people and traffic to the mix.
The fact that two of London's busiest stations share a location is why the Underground station which serves them has more lines than any other.
Though if you take the Northern, Piccadilly and Victoria Lines to Kings Cross-St Pancras, you need to walk through fairly lengthy subways in order to access the mainline trains which leave from St Pancras International.
For a stress-free onward departure allow at least five minutes to make the transfer when taking the Northern and Piccadilly lines; and up that to seven minutes when taking the Victoria line.
Taking the bus
If you can spare the time, taking a bus to King's Cross station can therefore make for an easier transfer to the trains, particularly if you take routes 17; 30; 73; 91; 205 and 390 on routes heading north away from central London.
These six routes all arrive at stops on the same block as King's Cross terminal, so you won't even have to cross the street in order to enter the station.
Routes 30, 73 and 205 use a stop in front of the station, while routes 17, 91 and 390 arrive at a stop right beside the station on York Way.
It's a 10 - 15 min walk to King's Cross from Euston, so being a pedestrian is easier and cheaper than taking the Underground, but if the weather isn't conducive, take the Northern Line and avoid the Victoria Line; you won't have to walk so far on arrival at King's Cross.
Or take the bus; route 91 heading to Crouch End and route 390 heading to Archway, both depart from stops in front of Euston station and arrive at a stop right beside King's Cross station
It's only a three-stop hop and avoids the need to cross busy roads.
From London Bridge
If you're on a route which heads to Cannon St or Charing Cross stations leave the train at London Bridge, but don't connect to the Northern Line, instead take a Thameslink train.
Up to 12 trains per hour now depart from platform 5 at London Bridge and take 15-20 mins to make the journey to St Pancras International; where the exit across the street from King's Cross is steps away from the part of St Pancras station used by the Thameslink trains
So you can avoid having to make fairly lengthy transfers to the Northern Line at both stations; plus the trains will be air-conditioned and they have luggage racks.
Step free access by elevator, to and from the Thameslink trains, is also available at both London Bridge and St Pancras.
If you don't have heavy luggage:
Head to the Underground station at Paddington used by the Hammersmith & City line and take any eastbound train, including the Circle Line; the suggestion to take this route if you don't have luggage, is because the quickest route at Paddington is not step-free.
If you do have heavy luggage:
Head for the Underground station used by the District Line, as its eastbound platform has step-free access from the main concourse.
Take a District Line train for a one-stop hop to Edgware Road, where you should have a simple as can be cross platform transfer to the eastbound Hammersmith & City and Circle Lines.
(Though you may be out of luck and need to use the stairs at Edgware Road).
If you have time available take the comparatively frequent 390 bus heading to Archway, which will leave from the bus station right outside the main station.
It commences its journey at Victoria, so you should be able to find a seat and room to store any luggage; and it arrives at a stop right beside King's Cross station.
Taking the Victoria Line is obviously quicker, but its permanently crowded and the transfer on arrival at Kings Cross-St Pancras involves walking along seemingly never-ending subways.
There isn't a direct Underground Line from Waterloo, but of the many options, SMTJ's preference is to take the Northern Line northbound to Leicester Square and connect there into the northbound Piccadilly Line.
Or if your inbound train to Waterloo calls at Vauxhall station, then connect there for the Victoria Line.
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.