Looking towards the rear of the main concourse from platforms 4-5

London Paddington (London)

This guide to taking trains from and to London Paddington focuses on the more unconventional aspects of using the station.

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Terminus Station
Looking across the station, note the sets of stairs leading up from each platform Looking across the station, note the sets of stairs leading up from each platform
The main entrance to Paddington station on Praed Street The main entrance to Paddington station on Praed Street
This magnificent arched roof at Paddington dates from 1854 This magnificent arched roof at Paddington dates from 1854
Looking along at platform 1, the ticket office is at its concourse end on the right Looking along at platform 1, the ticket office is at its concourse end on the right
The access to the Underground station used by the Bakerloo and District lines The access to the Underground station used by the Bakerloo and District lines
Looking across the concourse towards the departure boards, platforms 1 - 8 are out of sight on the right Looking across the concourse towards the departure boards, platforms 1 - 8 are out of sight on the right
The platforms used by the long-distance trains are steps away from the concourse at Paddington The platforms used by the long-distance trains are steps away from the concourse at Paddington

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 by the Elizabeth line, or by these Underground lines, the 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 lines use is adjacent to the main concourse and you won't have to use any stairs when arriving on Circle and District line trains which are heading to Edgware Road; though you need to take an escalator to/from the Bakerloo line.
The Elizabeth Line entrances and exits are beside platform 1, there are escalators and lifts (elevators), which provide step-free access between its trains and this part of the mainline station.
All of other platforms within the main station have step-free access from Platform 1.

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.

Accessing platforms (tracks) 12 - 14 from the main concourse

These platforms/tracks are only used by the Great Western local trains, but they’re on the far right hand side of the station.
So they are 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 it means 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.

Taking the Underground (and taxis) to Paddington

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.

arriving by Underground trains to and from Hammersmith

This station used by some of the Underground trains is beside the main station This station used by some of the Underground trains is beside the main station
The shortcut to the trains leads off to the right The shortcut to the trains leads off to the right
One of the sets of steps which lead down from this bridge into the station One of the sets of steps which lead down from this bridge into the 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 on the other side of 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, which 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 3–5 minutes.

Arriving by train at Paddington station

A sign by the entrance platform 10 pointing the way to both of the Underground stations A sign by the entrance platform 10 pointing the way to both of the Underground stations
The Elizabeth line entrance is through the arches on the side of the main concourse by platform 1 The Elizabeth line entrance is through the arches on the side of the main concourse by platform 1

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.

The Elizabeth Line entrance is by platform 1, so when arriving by train at any other platform go straight ahead on to the main concourse and then when you reach it turn to the right.

To the taxis and the 'other' Underground station

One of the staircases on the platforms that are short-cut to the other Underground station One of the staircases on the platforms that are short-cut to the other Underground station
The entrance on the main concourse to the hidden passage which leads to the taxi rank The entrance on the main concourse to the hidden passage which leads to the taxi rank
The passage to platforms 12, 14, the taxis and the other Underground station The passage to platforms 12, 14, the taxis and the other Underground station
These escalators go up to the taxis and other Underground station, the elevators are to the right These escalators go up to the taxis and other Underground station, the elevators are to the right
The route to the other Underground station is to the left of the taxi rank The route to the other Underground station is to the left of the taxi rank
Follow this covered walkway to the part of the Underground station used by trains to and from Hammersmith Follow this covered walkway to the part of the Underground station used by trains to and from Hammersmith

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.

To central London from Paddington

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.

Though the opening of the Elizabeth Line has transformed the transfer between Paddington and many areas of the city centre, in particular its station at Tottenham Court Road, gives Paddington improved access to Soho, the Covent Garden area and the British Museum.

The Bakerloo Line also provides a link between Paddington station and London’s West End and calls at many stations not served by the Elizabeth Line; if you'll be heading to Leicester Square 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.

Though the Circle Line trains that travel via Notting Hill link Paddington to South Kensington for the museums, and to Victoria.

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.

by Hammersmith & City and Circle Lines via Kings Cross:

Boarding a train for the one-stop hop to Edgware Road Boarding a train for the one-stop hop to Edgware Road

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 east from Paddington to the likes of Great Portland Street and Barbican, 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.

Though the new Elizabeth Line now provides better connections to many of the stations which lie along this route, it provides a direct link to Farringdon and Liverpool Street; and an exit from Liverpool Street station is close to Moorgate.
Also the Bakerloo Line provides an alternative step-free route from Paddington to Baker Street.

by the Elizabeth Line:

The escalators down to the Elizabeth line are outside the main station building by platform 1 The escalators down to the Elizabeth line are outside the main station building by platform 1
On the other side of the escalators are the Elizabeth line elevators, over on the left On the other side of the escalators are the Elizabeth line elevators, over on the left

The Elizabeth Line has transformed the access between Paddington and many areas of central London, providing either new direct links, or faster access to multiple locations.
Plus the transfer between stations and street at all of the stations served by the Elizabeth Line is step-free.
From west to east, the stations served by the Elizabeth Line are:

Bond Street
This station gives Paddington a new link with the retail hub of London, the station is a 3min walk from Selfridges department store, and is also on the northern edge of Mayfair.

Tottenham Court Road
This station now provides a new direct link between Paddington and Soho, the Covent Garden area and the British Museum.

Farringdon
Taking the Elizabeth Line between Paddington and Farringdon will be around 10 mins quicker than taking the Underground with improved step-free access to and from the trains at both stations.
At Farringdon an easy interchange is available between the Elizabeth Line and the Thameslink trains which are direct to St Pancras for Eurostar and the stations at Luton and Gatwick Airports; and to the likes of Brighton, Cambridge and St. Albans.
The route between Paddington and both Gatwick and Brighton is now much easier when travelling via Farringdon compared to travelling via Victoria.

Liverpool Street
Taking the Elizabeth Line between Paddington and Liverpool Street will be around 15 mins quicker than taking the Underground with improved step-free access to and from the trains at both stations.
The Elizabeth Line station at Liverpool Street also has an exit on to Moorgate.

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