This guide to London Victoria railway station focuses on the more unconventional aspects of using it to depart and arrive by train.
Victoria railway station is in effect two terminals in one, the Southeastern trains depart from one side of the station using platforms 1 -8, while the other part of the station, platforms 9 - 19 is where the Southern and Gatwick Express trains leave from.
Though the division between these two parts of the station is less stark than it used to be as the division between the two separate adjacent concourses has largely been removed.
A two storey building, which has a roof deck bar on its upper level, is located between the two parts of the station.
The Southeastern trains to Bearsted (for Leeds Castle), Canterbury, Chatham, Dover, Margate, Ramsgate, Rochester and Whitstable, depart from a distinct part of the station, under an elegant arched roof.
When facing the trains it is over on the left and it houses platforms (tracks) 1 – 7.
If you will buying a ticket at Victoria and taking a Southeastern service, something worth knowing is that the only staffed ticket desks at the station are on the other concourse.
In front of this ticket office over on the other concourse, you will also find many more ticket machines than are available on the concourse, which the Southeastern trains depart from.
It doesn't matter which machine at the station you use to purchase tickets.
Platform 8, which is occasionally used by the Southeastern trains is further back from the main concourse - it is to the right of the left luggage office, which is located beside platform 7.
The special trains and the excursion trains also use this part of the station; so don’t be surprised if you see a steam engine!
The main concourse at Victoria is on the right and it provides the access to:
An alternative route to platform (track) 8.
The trains which usually depart from platforms 12 and platforms 15 – 19 are the Southern trains to more distant destinations including, Arundel, Bexhill, Brighton, Chichester, Eastbourne, East Grinstead, Gatwick Airport, Hastings and Portsmouth.
Dozens of trains leave from Victoria station in every hour so you’ll need to keep a close on the rapidly updating departure boards to check which platform (track) your train will be leaving from - UNLESS you will be taking the Gatwick Express, because that service has a dedicated departure board.
The main ticket office at the station is located along the rear wall of the main concourse and most of the ticket machines at the station are in front of it.
Some of the stores and food/drink outlets in this part of the station are at an upper level.
At the platform end of the main concourse, to the right of the ticket gates which give access to the Gatwick Express trains, is an escalator which leads up to a mini-mall named 'Victoria Place'.
If you will be heading to a swathe of destinations including Arundel, Brighton, Chichester, Eastbourne, Hove, Lewes, Portsmouth and Worthing from Victoria station you will be taking a train operated by Southern Railway.
As seat reservations aren’t available on these trains, if you want to be sure of a seat for your journey, it’s best to be on the concourse and ready to board with your ticket, a minimum of 15 minutes before the train you will be taking will be leaving.
The platform (track) number for each departure will appear on the main departure board around 10 – 15 minutes prior to departure.
The details of the destination and the trains calling points will appear first, the departures move across these screens in sequential order, so the details of the train will initially appear on the right.
The platform (track) number will be added later without any fanfare, it usually won’t be announced, so keep an eye on the screens.
These longer-distance Southern trains usually depart from platforms (tracks) 15 -19 which are furthest away from the main entrances to the station and the Underground
However, if you'll be heading into Victoria train station from the Coach Station, you can use the side entrance on Buckingham Palace Road, which is right by the access to these platforms.
When you're on the main concourse platforms (tracks) 15 -19 are out of sight, they are accessed by a passage way which is to the right of the departure board, on the other side of the escalators which lead up to the Victoria Place mall (don't go up the escalators).
Something else to watch out for is that two trains serving different destinations can be joined together on departure from Victoria, the trains will be divided during the journey.
So pay attention to any information alerting you to where specific coaches on a train will be heading to.
And then where you are walking along the platform to board the train some basic counting may be required, so that you can find the ‘front four coaches’ etc.
Also the trains nearest to the entrances to the platform may not be going anywhere soon, but the train you will be taking will be leaving from the far end of the platform.
This is also another reason for not having to hurry against the clock when taking a train from Victoria.
Many of the trains leaving Victoria are 12 coaches long, so having to rush down to the more distant far end of a platform is a scenario best avoided.
Victoria Underground station is served by the Circle & District lines and the Victoria line.
The main access point into the Underground is somewhat out of sight as its just outside the main railway station.
When arriving by South Eastern trains you need to cross the concourse to the left-hand corner.
When arriving by Southern trains or the Gatwick Express, take a diagonal route across the concourse and be guided by the signs; the access to the Underground is by a passage way to the right of the ticket desks.
Taking the Circle and District Lines:
The Circle and District Lines share the same tracks in their own part of the the station, which is just below street level, so it isn’t connected to the concourse of the Underground station by escalators; though elevators are now available.
Any westbound Circle or District Line train will go to South Kensington station, which has easy access to the Natural History, Science and Victoria & Albert museums.
Any eastbound Circle and District Line train will call at Westminster and Embankment stations – the latter is within a 10 minute walk of numerous attractions including Covent Garden, the National galleries and the South Bank arts complex.
However, many destinations that are linked by train to Victoria are also served by trains to and from London Bridge, Blackfriars and City Thameslink stations.
So if they’re an option, taking trains to and from those stations on eastern side of the city centre, will be quicker than travelling via Victoria.
Taking the Victoria line:
The Victoria line is the only Underground line that heads north into the heart of the city, so it is constantly busy; though if you’re in luck you’ll be boarding one of the few northbound trains that will be commencing its journey at Victoria.
Some welcome news is that the ticket hall at Victoria station has been enhanced, so it’s now less crowded than it used to be.
This Underground ticket hall and the parts of the station used by the mainline trains are now linked by an elevator, so you don’t have to take the stairs when using the main access from/to the Underground station.
You need to pass through the main ticket hall in the Underground station, when transferring from an Underground train to the trains which leave from the main station.
If you arrive on a Victoria Line train, when you pass through the ticket gates, you will be in this main ticket hall.
If you take the Circle Line or District Line to Victoria, when you pass through the ticket gates you will be in a different part of the Underground station and you'll need to use a clearly signposted passage way to access the main ticket hall.
At the far end of the main ticket hall there are two staircases on either side of the lift (elevator) which lead up to the main station and provide access to the trains.
(1) The stairs on the left lead up to the Southeastern concourse for trains to Canterbury, Chatham, Dover, Margate and Ramsgate.
(2) That on the right leads up to the main concourse with access to the trains to Brighton, Gatwick Airport, Hastings and Portsmouth.
Victoria train station has a bus station immediately outside its main entrance (the long distance bus/coach station is in a different location), so accessing the buses which leave from it is step-free.
These buses which depart from THIS bus station serve areas of central London, which are not linked to Victoria by direct Underground lines.
Bus route/line 38 from stop D in the bus station connects Victoria with Piccadilly Circus, Shaftesbury Avenue (for Soho) and The British Museum.
Bus route/line 390 from stop C in the bus station connects Victoria with Hyde Park and Selfridges.
To the right of the bus station around the corner in Wilton Road, by one of the exits from the station, near platform/track 2, is bus stop H.
From this stop:
Route/line 2 goes to Marylebone station
Route/line 36 goes to Edgware Road and Paddington .
Route/line 52 goes to Knightsbridge for Harrods.
These stations are all linked to Victoria station by the Victoria Line, but if time is on your side, you can avoid travelling on some of London’s most crowded Underground trains, by taking the bus instead.
Bus line/route 390 departs from the bus station in front of the station and stops right by those three other stations.
Westbound Circle Line, trains heading to Edgware Road are scheduled to depart every 12 mins, but the waiting time can be longer.
Though a tick in the box is that at Paddington station, making the transfer to the main concourse from the part of the station that these Circle Line trains arrive at, couldn’t be easier.
To Liverpool Street:
Eastbound Circle Line trains go direct to Liverpool Street from Victoria, but if you're in a hurry, you can usually save 10 - 15mins by taking a northbound Victoria Line train to Oxford Circus, then connecting there for an eastbound Central Line train.
Of the seemingly multiple options for making the transfer between Victoria and Heathrow by public transport, this is the routing that ShowMeTheJourney recommends:
(1) Take a westbound District Line train to Baron’s Court station – though you will need to take care that you will be boarding a train heading to Ealing or Richmond.
(2) Baron’s Court is a quiet station and the Piccadilly Line trains to Heathrow will depart from the opposite side of the platform, so making the transfer here couldn’t be easier – though make sure you’re boarding a train to Heathrow, as some Piccadilly Line trains go to Rayners Lane or Uxbridge instead.
An unusual feature of Victoria station is that it has two distinct taxi ranks and drop-off areas.
In common with many stations it has a taxi rank on its forecourt immediately outside the main station building.
Head for this tax rank if you arrive on a South Eastern train (the trains from Kent), or if you have luggage and arrive on a Southern train service (the trains from Surrey and Sussex) - this taxi rank is on the same level on the trains.
If you will be taking a South Eastern or Southern train service tell the driver, that you want to be dropped off in front of the station.
The other taxi rank is particularly convenient for the Gatwick Express trains.
When arriving at Victoria by the Gatwick Express, if you want to take a taxi, you don't need to head to the main concourse.
Just beyond the front of the train there will be escalators and elevators, which go up to an upper level taxi rank - located above the platforms (tracks) used by the Gatwick Express trains.
When heading to the station tell your driver that you will be taking the Gatwick Express and the taxi will drop you at this upper level entrance to the part of Victoria station used by these trains.
There are elevators and escalators down to the platforms (tracks) which these trains leave from.
If you're on a Southern Train which arrives at platforms (tracks) 15-19, (the trains from Brighton, Eastbourne and Portsmouth usually arrive here) and you don't have heavy luggage, you'll save time if you head to this upper level taxi rank.
It's why the 'Taxi' signs* you'll see will direct you up the escalator into the Victoria Place mall.
Once you're in the mall keep an eye on the signs hanging from its roof.
The access to the taxi rank is through an easy to miss passage way over on the left - don't head for the far end of the mall.
*If you have heavy luggage, ignore the signs and keep going straight ahead across the concourse to exit through the front of the station - the taxi rank will be over to the right.
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.