This guide to taking trains from and to London Paddington focuses on the more unconventional aspects of using the station.
Paddington is arguably London’s most elegant station, it’s certainly one of the few large stations, which looks more magnificent after night falls, the lighting scheme is superb.
But depending on how you arrive at Paddington, it can also be somewhat awkward location in which to take a train.
Although note the use of the word ‘depending’.
If the first part of Paddington mainline station you access is its main concourse, and you’ll be taking a GWR express train or the Heathrow Express, it’s actually a comparatively simple station to use.
This is particularly the case if you arrive at Paddington on a Bakerloo Line train or by a Circle or District Line train which has travelled via Bayswater and Notting Hill.
The part of the Underground station that these trains use is adjacent to the main concourse and you won't have to use any stairs; though you need to take an escalator to/from the Bakerloo line, no lift/elevator is available.
Paddington is a terminus station, so you can wait in or around the main concourse, for the number of the platform/track that your train will be leaving from to be confirmed; though the Heathrow Express trains are always usually scheduled to depart from platforms/tracks 6 and 7.
Behind the main course is an atrium, which houses the main food court and a small shopping mall – handy for picking up last minute travel essentials.
If you will be taking an express GWR train, the number of the platform (track) that it will be leaving from, will appear on the departure screen around 10 – 20 mins before departure.
When it does, it usually prompts a stampede towards the train.
Join the throng if you don’t have a seat reservation, but if you do, hang back and avoid the rush.
You will need to use the ticket gates to access the train, so have your tickets in your hand as you head towards it.
These platforms tracks are only used by the Great Western local trains, but they’re on the far right hand side of the station.
They're somewhat out of sight from the main concourse, as they're not located under the main roof.
Platform (track) 14 is particularly distant from the main concourse, it's located off to the right towards the end of platform 12. (there is no platform 13).
Also trains which use platforms 11 and 12 often only use the far end of the platforms.
It makes for an easier interchange when using the Underground located at that end of the station, but a longer walk from the main concourse.
If you will be heading to Windsor by changing trains at Slough, those trains to Slough can depart from platforms 11-14.
The mainline station is in effect served by two separate Underground stations and what can be confusing is that they're both named Paddington.
The Underground station by the main concourse is served by the Bakerloo line and the District Line; but not by the section of the District Line which serves central London.
The part of the line which calls at Paddington is its Wimbledon - Edgware Road via Earls Court service.
The anti-clockwise Circle Line trains from South Kensington and Victoria also call at this part of Paddington Underground station.
The clockwise Circle Line trains from/to Liverpool Street via Baker Street and King's Cross use the other part of the Underground station at Paddington - which is located at the opposite end of the mainline station.
This part of the Circle line between Liverpool Street and Hammersmith shares a route with the Hammersmith & City line - so it doesn't matter which of these lines you take.
Though if you will be heading to Paddington from any station between Liverpool Street and Great Portland Street, take care not to board a Metropolitan Line train.
The exit from this Underground station is at an upper level, at the opposite end of the station to the main concourse.
It is adjacent to the current location of the main taxi drop-off and pick up area; hence this info also applying to arriving at Paddington BY TAXI.
When you step off the trains that use this part of the Underground station, you have to head up to the Underground station building above; in addition to the stairs there are also, easy to miss, lifts (elevators) available.
The main exit from this part of the Underground station opens out on to a walkway which runs beside the main station, its roof will be over to the right.
What can be confusing is that this walkway offers a choice of TWO routes to the trains in the main station:
(1) Route one; the short cut:
As indicated by the signs, if you’re happy to use stairs to access the platforms (tracks) which your onward train will be leaving from, you can head over to the right.
This access via the stairs is very close to the exit from this underground station, so it’s a short-cut to the trains; so if your train will be leaving within the next 5 mins, you should definitely take this route.
Though when ShowMeTheJourney was at Paddington recently, there were specific signs pointing to this short-cut for the Heathrow Express trains, but this route does ALSO lead to the Great Western trains.
Take this short cut and you’ll find yourself on a footbridge which spans the station and provides access, by steps only, down to platforms (tracks) 1-14, that the main line trains leave from - platform 1 will be on the far side of this footbridge.
What can be a touch confusing is that each pair of platforms (tracks) in the station has its own dedicated staircase down from the bridge, so take your time and work where your train will be leaving from.
However, only the trains leaving within 15 mins will have the platform (track) that they will be departing from, shown on the departure screens by the entrance to the bridge; and lingering here for the details of later departures to be confirmed, is best avoided.
(2) Route 2;the longer route avoiding the stairs:
If your train isn’t yet showing on the departure indicators (which you have to seek out by the access via the stairs), OR if you want to use the escalators or lifts (elevators) to access your onward train, then take this longer route.
You need to follow the signs which will be pointing the way to those escalator and lifts; which you won’t be able to see as they are a 2-3 min walk away.
As you walk ahead, the taxi drop off and pick-up area at Paddington will be on your left, then at the far side of this taxi area you’ll come to a set of escalators; and over to the left, you’ll see lifts (elevators).
Once you descend into the main station building, you will be in a passage way beside platform 12 and over to the right, at the end of this passage way, you’ll see the main departure concourse.
The transfer from the part of the underground station used by the trains to/from Hammersmith, via the escalators/lifts to the main concourse, will take around 3 – 5mins.
No matter which exit from the platform (track) you use, have your ticket(s) in your hand, you will need them to open the ticket gates.
If you will be transferring to the Bakerloo, District Line or taking a Circle Line train via Victoria, simply walk ahead when you step off the train – and exit on to the main concourse.
When you reach the concourse, the part of the Underground station, which gives access to those lines, will be directly ahead of you.
Paddington’s Underground station is in two separate un-connected parts, because the Hammersmith & City Line trains and the Circle Line trains via King’s Cross, use their own distinct Underground station.
Its entrance is on an upper level at the opposite end of the station to the main concourse, adjacent to the taxi rank.
If you don’t mind ascending stairs, there is a shortcut to this upper level.
Each of the main platforms (tracks) has a set of steps, which lead up to a footbridge that spans the station and leads to this Underground entrance.
If your train arrives at platforms (tracks) 1 – 12, the staircase up to the footbridge will be in the middle of the platform, so it might be behind you when you step off the train and can therefore be easy to miss.
Although if you’re travelling in the front coaches of a train, so will by the exit to the concourse when you step on to the platform (track); you may as well use the alternative route to that part of the Underground station, via the main concourse, which is described below.
If you want to take the longer route via the concourse, follow the signs route which say 'Taxis – by escalators and lift’ as you'll need to pass by the taxi rank
When you’re on the concourse head over to the far left, you’re heading to a somewhat out of sight passage way, which is behind platform (track) 12.
Once you reach it, ahead of you will see escalators which lead up to this upper level and there are also lifts/elevators over to the right.
Once you have ascended, the part of the Underground station used by the Hammersmith & City Line trains and the Circle Line trains via King’s Cross, will be out of sight, but straight ahead, on the other side of the taxi area.
If your seats are towards the back of a Great Western express train, and you take that main concourse route to this part of the Underground station making transfer can take 5 – 7 mins, but it will only a take minute if you use those staircases on the platform.
Paddington station is located at the tip of the north-west corner of central London, meaning that is more distant from the heart of the city than any other of the main stations which serve the capital.
Therefore taking a taxi can be a particularly expensive means of making the transfer from (and to) the station.
The Bakerloo Line is the main public transport link between Paddington station and London’s West End – if you’re heading to the Covent Garden area, Leicester Square, Soho or Chinatown from Paddington, you can take this line to Piccadilly Circus station.
It also calls at Waterloo, for the South Bank arts complex and connections to the main line trains which depart from there.
If you’ll be heading to stations between Temple and Tower Hill (for the Tower Of London), the quickest route from Paddington is to take a Bakerloo train to Embankment station and connect there for the eastbound District and Circle Lines; this will be faster than taking the Circle Line direct.
If your final destination is located along the Jubilee Line, including Westminster or London Bridge, for onward trains from the station, or Borough Market and The Shard - take the Bakerloo Line to Baker Street.
At that station the southbound Jubilee Line is directly beside the Bakerloo line, so the transfer couldn’t be more straightforward.
Though if your final destination is at Baker Street, take the Circle or Hammersmith & City Lines, because the part of that station, which those lines use, is much closer to street level.
All of the connections mentioned above involve taking trains from the Underground station at Paddington, which is by the main concourse.
But if you will be heading to Euston Square or King's Cross, St Pancras or Farringdon or Liverpool Street from Paddington, you need to take an eastbound Circle or Hammersmith & City Line train - and these lines use a separate Underground station.
What is a tad odd, is that when arriving at Paddington on a GWR or Heathrow Express train, you have to ascend to access this Underground station - it's entrance is on an upper level, adjacent to the taxi rank.
The shortest route to this entrance is to head up the staircases on the platform in the station.
If you won't be travelling beyond Liverpool Street it won't matter which train you take, the Circle and Hammersmith & City lines call at the same stations.
The alternative route from Paddington to Baker Street and beyond:
If time is on your side and you don’t want to use the stairs to access those eastbound Circle and Hammersmith & City trains, there is an alternative route when heading east from Paddington.
It also avoids making the long-ish transfer to that part of the Underground via the main concourse and the escalators/elevators.
The alternative is to head into the part of the Underground station at Paddington, which is right by the main concourse.
From here there is step-free access to the eastbound platform used by Circle and District Line.
From this platform all the trains travel only one stop to Edgware Road.
Though it’s best to take a District Line train, look out for the name of the line on the side of the train.
Then at Edgware Road there should be a straightforward cross-platform interchange with other Circle line trains, and the Hammersmith and City lines trains - which will be heading east towards Baker Street, Euston Square, King’s Cross and Liverpool Street.
The District Line trains to Edgware Road should depart around every 12 minutes.
They should alternate with the Circle trains, but the Circle Line trains terminating at Edgware Road don’t usually offer that easy cross-platform connection, with those trains that travel further east into central London.
Hence the suggestion to target the District Line trains, because the simple cross-platform transfer will be more likely, though it can't be guaranteed.
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.