Edinburgh to London by train

How to take a rail journey from Edinburgh to London

There are two options available for taking the train from Edinburgh to London

  1. A train operated by LNER...
  2. ...A more basic, and much less frequent service operated by Lumo
  3. OR travelling overnight on one of Europe's smartest night trains.
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Routes

Option 1: travel during the day with LNER

Travel Information

Final Destination: London King's Cross

Some trains also call at: Doncaster and Peterborough

The Edinburgh to London King's Cross rail service has been transformed - on Mondays to Fridays there will now be 2 x trains per hour during the day and after 41 years of service, the 125 trains have ceased operating on the East Coast main line!

Aside from environmental considerations there are two very good reasons for opting to take the train from Edinburgh to London

(1) Edinburgh Waverley station has a fabulous location in the heart of the Scottish capital, so you will be departing from the city centre,
(2) Much of the Edinburgh to London train journey is glorious.

The alternative overnight train:

Travel by these daytime trains and you won't arrive in London until at least 09:40, but the overnight train is scheduled to arrive in the capital at 07:07.
The overall journey time will be around three hours longer, but you will be travelling on Europe's newest overnight train service.

Though note that the overnight train arrives at Euston station and not at King's Cross station.

Monday to Saturday = 2 x trains per hour
Sunday = 25 x trains (1 - 3 x trains per hour from 09:00)

The timetable is typically arranged so that the fastest trains depart at 30 mins passed each hour (these trains are typically non-stop from York to London); with the slower services departing at 00 passed each hour

Though at weekends maintenance work on the railway line can also cause trains to be diverted on to longer routes.

Tickets

If you want to travel at the cheapest possible price, look for the 'Advance tickets', though the two key things worth knowing about booking and using 'Advance' tickets are:
(1) This type of ticket can't be refunded if you subsequently change your travel plans, or miss the train in circumstances not to do with a connecting train.
(2) A £10 admin fee will be payable if you want to exchange your ticket to a different departure to the same destination, to that which you selected when making your booking PLUS you will ALSO be charged any price difference with the new ticket you'll then have to purchase.

On the least busy Monday to Friday departures 'Super Off-Peak; tickets are usually available, they'll be more expensive than Advance tickets, but will give you greater flexibility with your travel-plans.
You will only have to pay any price difference with the new ticket - if you swap them to a different departure more than  24 hours ahead, there will usually be no difference in price to pay.
They can also be refunded for an admin fee of £10.

Travelling on Monday - Friday:

Tickets are usually available 12 weeks ahead of the travel date.

However, when you look up a journey you may see dates further ahead on the calendar, but you'll be informed that tickets aren't yet available for those dates.
On the LNER website you'll be prompted to sign up to a Ticket Alert service - if you will be using a PC, over on the right on the screen you'll be taken to, you'll see the furthest date ahead that tickets can be booked for.

Travelling on Saturday-Sunday

Tickets are usually available 12 weeks ahead of the travel date, but maintenance work on the route is periodically undertaken at weekends and if it is scheduled on your travel date, it can affect when tickets will be released for sale.

If you're looking up a journey less than 12 weeks ahead and tickets aren't available, it can be a good indication that works will be impacting on your travel date.
It can be worth checking this on the National Rail website - enter LNER as the operator.

Making an end-to-end journey will still be possible, so it can be worth signing up to LNER's ticket alert service, though you MAY ultimately have to take a substitution bus service for part of the trip.
It's the confirmation of these alternative travel arrangements which can hold up the release of the tickets for sale.

Choosing a departure

There can be significant differences in prices of Advance tickets between departures on your travel date, it's often possible to save more than £30 by taking an earlier or later train.
The LNER website makes it clear what the cheapest price is available per day.

Reservations:

When you book an Advance ticket for an Edinburgh to London train journey, you will be automatically assigned a seat(s), but if you book the other types of ticket ahead, you can request a complimentary reservation - more info on this
Tickets can now be booked online up to a couple of hours prior to departure

However, if you buy Off Peak or Anytime tickets just prior to boarding at the station, a seat reservation WON'T be automatically included with your booking.

That's because reservations at stations need to be booked by the end of the previous day for morning departures and around two hours ahead for afternoon/evening departures - so also keep that in mind if you will be using a rail pass, including a Britrail or Eurail pass.

Receiving Your Ticket(s)

The four options for receiving your ticket(s) are:

(1) You will receive a booking reference number on your order confirmation email and you can use this reference number to collect ticket(s) from a ticket machine.
Some stations will have dedicated ticket collection machines, but standard ticket machines will also have an option for collecting pre-booked tickets.

You will need to enter your reference number into the machine, so make sure you'll have easy access to it when you are using the machine.
You will also need to insert the specific credit or debit card you used when making the booking, so have that with you too.

Showing the email you have received to staff at the ticket gates won't get you on to the train, nor will this be valid if you can only show the email to the conductor when you are on the train.

If you forget to bring your ticket(s) with you to the station, but do have the card with you that you used when booking, you can use the machines to collect your ticket(s).
Take your time and take care that you have picked up all your ticket(s) and seat reservations.

(2) Print off the tickets you receive before heading to the station - the instructions for doing this are available here.

(3) Opt to pay an additional charge to have your tickets posted to you - not available when booking tickets from outside the UK.

(4) Mobile tickets - if you select this option when making a booking you will need to download the LNER Travel Buddy app so that you can 'Activate' your ticket.

The LNER website states that 'Advance' tickets will be automatically activated, but there's no suggestion on the LNER website that it will be OK to save the ticket(s) you will receive as a PDF to your mobile device.
So download the app to be sure that you can use a mobile ticket.

Where to book
Ticket Provider Approximate Cost
LNER from £34

LNER Guide

LNER offers a couple of services which offer additional benefits to how tickets are usually sold for long-distance journeys:
They are:

  • a https://www.lner.co.uk/tickets-savings/your-ticket/price-promise/ service, which enables its customers to claim refunds for the differences in price between LNER and other booking agents for journeys by LNER trains.
  • LNER Perks is a useful service for those who regularly travel by LNER trains.
  • Seatfrog is a service by which those who have book Standard Class tickets can 'bid' to upgrade to First Class seats.
    In effect you can set the additional price you will be willing to pay to travel in First Class and if your price matches the winning bid, you'll be able to upgrade.
NationalRail from £34

NationalRail Guide

In Great Britain each Train Operating Company provides its own booking service for journeys by its trains, but many of their websites also sell tickets for nationwide journeys, regardless of which company operates the trains on the routes you wish to travel by.

The National Rail website is plugged into all of the train operator's booking services, so when more than one of these companies offers tickets for a route, it in effect offers a price comparison service.
It isn't a ticket agent, so you will be connected to the website of your choice in order to make a booking.

RailEurope from £34

On this journey

Journey Features

Scenic - YesCoastal views

Good to Know

There are also up to seven trains per day, which are operated by Avanti West Coast, which take an alternative route and arrive at London Euston station.
But it's best to avoid those trains as the journey time to London is around two hours longer and there isn't a particular advantage to be had in arriving at Euston station instead of King's Cross.

Journey description:

The route from Edinburgh to London by train is a journey of three phases:

(1) Until Darlington,vfor the first two hours of travel it's an epic journey, with coastal views and numerous other highlights.
However all of the best of the views are on the left hand side of the train (when facing the direction of travel).

(2) Between Darlington and Hitchin the train predominantly travels through pleasant, but unremarkable countryside; though if you are in a forwards facing seat on the left, look out for a view of York Minster as the train nears the station.

(3) For the final 20 -25 minutes the train is travelling through the London suburbs and the commuter towns which surround the capital - though look out for the view from Welwyn Viaduct around 15 before journey's emd.

If you haven't lucked out and have been assigned a seat(s) on the right-hand side when making a booking, when boarding see if you can find available seats on the left hand side of the train.
If you move to a different seat(s) it won't affect the validity of your ticket.

For most of the part of the journey between Edinburgh and Newcastle the railway lives up to its name of the 'The East Coast Mainline'.
The trains take a route on which the coast can be seen before the train has even left Edinburgh behind; and the sea views initially continue until south of Dunbar.

To the north of Berwick-upon-Tweed the train will travel across the clifftops as it crosses the border into England, these are the most dramatic coastal views on the journey.

Minutes after the train has passed through Berwick-upon-Tweed, the next highlight is the view from the majestic Royal Border Bridge.

Between there and Alnmouth there are views on the left over the dramatic Northumberland coast.

The next highlight of the journey is the passage over the River Tyne, as the train departs from Newcastle Central station and heads over the King Edward VII Bridge.

Looking to the left, five other bridges that span the river can be seen; and there are also some great views of the Tyne Bridge as the train arrives in Newcastle station.

Around 15 mins after leaving Newcastle comes the final highlight of the journey, the stunning views over the city of Durham.

Over on the left before and after the station, the town's stunning castle and cathedral can be clearly seen in all their glory.

Sadly there is  no guarantee of rainbows as the train leaves Edinburgh behind Sadly there is no guarantee of rainbows as the train leaves Edinburgh behind
Look out on the left for the view of the Bass Rock Look out on the left for the view of the Bass Rock
By the coast to the south of Dunbar By the coast to the south of Dunbar
Look out for the view of Lindisfarne as the train travels through Northumberland Look out for the view of Lindisfarne as the train travels through Northumberland
A glimpse of the ruins of the smugglers bothy at Lamberton Skerrs south of Berwick A glimpse of the ruins of the smugglers bothy at Lamberton Skerrs south of Berwick
Looking left on the Royal Border Bridge just after departing Berwick Looking left on the Royal Border Bridge just after departing Berwick
Leaving Berwick-upon-Tweed behind Leaving Berwick-upon-Tweed behind
Passing the village of Alnmouth Passing the village of Alnmouth
The view of the Tyne Bridge as the train arrives in Newcastle The view of the Tyne Bridge as the train arrives in Newcastle
Looking down on the River Tyne as the train departs Newcastle Looking down on the River Tyne as the train departs Newcastle
The stunning view over the town of Durham The stunning view over the town of Durham

Option 2: travelling overnight

Travel Information

Final Destination: London Euston
Note that this is a different station to King's Cross, where the daytime trains arrive.

The train also call at: Watford Junction where connections are available into a train which serves multiple destinations in West London including Shepherd's Bush, Kensington Olympia, West Brompton (connect for Earl's Court) and Clapham Junction.
The daytime trains take a completely different route so do not call at this station.

On Board - summary:

More information is available by clicking the 'train guide, but if you make this journey you will be travelling on Europe's most modern overnight trains.
You can opt to choose from three different types of sleeping cabin, one of which offers the opportunity to travel in a double bed, OR you can travel in reclining seats.

There is no departure on Saturday evenings.

Tickets

Unusually for UK train tickets, you can book journeys on the Caledonian Sleeper up to twelve months ahead.
If you want a full choice of accommodation in the summer months or around holiday times, it's best to book at least a month in advance.

When making a journey by these Caledonian Sleeper trains, you can choose from three types of sleeping cabin, or you can opt to travel in reclining seats - If you want to travel in the reclining seats, you will in effect only be paying the journey costs.

In common with how tickets are sold to travel in sleeping cabins on other European night train services, there are two elements to the total cost of the sleeping cabin ticket price;

  • the cost of making the journey, and
  • the accommodation costs of travelling in the cabin.

On these Caledonian Sleeper trains the sleeping cabins have a fixed price, so how the total costs are calculated is dependent on how the sleeping cabins will be occupied.

If you will be making an individual booking you will have sole occupancy of a Club Room or Classic Room - booking a Caledonian Double isn't an option for solo travellers.
Although the total cost per person is more expensive if you will be travelling individually, because if you travel solo you pay the cost for the Club Room or Classic Room, plus a cost for making the journey.
But two people travelling together pay the same charge for the Club Room and Classic rooms, and the additional cost comes from having to purchase two journey tickets.

Paying a higher price for single occupancy of a sleeping cabin is the norm on European night trains, but this particular pricing methodology makes the sleeping cabins on a Caledonian Sleeper service, a comparatively expensive option for solo travellers.

Travelling as a family group:

The costs of adults and children travelling together will be calculated during the booking process - here is the relevant information.

Using Rail Passes:

If you will be using a valid rail pass you can travel in a reclining seat at no additional charge, but you must reserve a place prior to boarding, by calling the Guest Service Centre on 0330 060 0500.

If you want to travel in a bed in a Club Room sleeping cabin, you need to pay a 'Room only supplement' of £170 if you will be travelling solo, or £200 if two people will be travelling together.
If you want to travel in a Classic Room sleeping cabin, the supplement is £120 for solo travellers and £140 if two people are travelling together.

These 'Room only supplements' can be booked online.

Where to book
Ticket Provider Approximate Cost
Caledonian Sleeper from £35.

On this journey

Journey Features

Night

Good to Know

On Mondays to Fridays the train is scheduled to depart Edinburgh at 23:40, with boarding available from 23:00; on Sunday the train is scheduled to depart at 23:15, with boarding available from 22:30

The train is due to arrive in London at 07:07, though passengers can remain in the cabins and leave the train at 07:30.
The earliest arrival into London by daytime trains is at 09:40.

Option 3: travelling during the day with Lumo

Travel Information

Lumo is a relatively new rail operator which offers a more-basic alternative to travelling on LNER's trains.
If you want to travel in Standard Class and...

  • are happy to take your own food/drink on board with you
  • want access to WiFi during the journey
  • won't be travelling with more than one medium suitcase per person
  • won't be taking a bike
  • and aren't that bothered by seeing the view from the windows (comparatively few of the seats on Lumo trains line up well with the windows)
    ...then travelling with Lumo seems to compare well with travelling with LNER.

The core differences between the Lumo trains and the Azuma trains used by LNER are:

First Class:
LNER = available
Lumo = not available

Bar/bistro car:
LNER = available
Lumo = not available

At seat catering:
LNER = available
Lumo = available, but more substantial items such as sandwiches need to be pre-ordered up to 10 hours prior to departure

Large suitcases:
LNER = yes
Lumo = no

Non-folding bicycles:
LNER = yes, spaces can be reserved
Lumo = no

Monday to Friday = 4 x trains per day
Sat/Sun = no service (for the moment)

Tickets

Book early and save: Yes

Online bookings usually open 24 weeks ahead of the travel date.

Lumo only offers two types of tickets for sale: Anytime and Lumo Fixed, which are its equivalent of discounted Advance tickets.
The prices of Lumo Fixed tickets will be cheaper the further ahead that they are booked and in common with Advance tickets they are departure specific, so include complimentary seat reservations.
They can be changed right up to the time of departure for any future without any admin fees, though any price difference to travel by the different departure will be payable.

Something to look out for is that the cheapest price of Lumo Fixed tickets are lower than cheapest prices of Advance tickets sold by LNER for Edinburgh journeys, but these cheapest prices will sell out at different rates on each operator..
So it's worth comparing prices on your travel date(s), particularly if you won't be booking months ahead, you may find cheaper prices available on some LNER departures.

Where to book
Ticket Provider Approximate Cost
Lumo *

On this journey

Journey Features

Scenic - YesCoastal views

Good to Know

Final destination: London Kin's Cross
All trains also call at Newcastle
Lumo trains do not call in York

The Lumo trains take the same route as the LNER trains.

Journey description:

The route from Edinburgh to London by train is a journey of three phases:

(1) Until Darlington,vfor the first two hours of travel it's an epic journey, with coastal views and numerous other highlights.
However all of the best of the views are on the left hand side of the train (when facing the direction of travel).

(2) Between Darlington and Hitchin the train predominantly travels through pleasant, but unremarkable countryside; though if you are in a forwards facing seat on the left, look out for a view of York Minster as the train nears the station.

(3) For the final 20 -25 minutes the train is travelling through the London suburbs and the commuter towns which surround the capital - though look out for the view from Welwyn Viaduct around 15 before journey's emd.

If you haven't lucked out and have been assigned a seat(s) on the right-hand side when making a booking, when boarding see if you can find available seats on the left hand side of the train.
If you move to a different seat(s) it won't affect the validity of your ticket.

For most of the part of the journey between Edinburgh and Newcastle the railway lives up to its name of the 'The East Coast Mainline'.
The trains take a route on which the coast can be seen before the train has even left Edinburgh behind; and the sea views initially continue until south of Dunbar.

To the north of Berwick-upon-Tweed the train will travel across the clifftops as it crosses the border into England, these are the most dramatic coastal views on the journey.

Minutes after the train has passed through Berwick-upon-Tweed, the next highlight is the view from the majestic Royal Border Bridge.

Between there and Alnmouth there are views on the left over the dramatic Northumberland coast.

The next highlight of the journey is the passage over the River Tyne, as the train departs from Newcastle Central station and heads over the King Edward VII Bridge.

Looking to the left, five other bridges that span the river can be seen; and there are also some great views of the Tyne Bridge as the train arrives in Newcastle station.

Around 15 mins after leaving Newcastle comes the final highlight of the journey, the stunning views over the city of Durham.

Over on the left before and after the station, the town's stunning castle and cathedral can be clearly seen in all their glory.

Sadly there is  no guarantee of rainbows as the train leaves Edinburgh behind Sadly there is no guarantee of rainbows as the train leaves Edinburgh behind
Look out on the left for the view of the Bass Rock Look out on the left for the view of the Bass Rock
By the coast to the south of Dunbar By the coast to the south of Dunbar
Look out for the view of Lindisfarne as the train travels through Northumberland Look out for the view of Lindisfarne as the train travels through Northumberland
A glimpse of the ruins of the smugglers bothy at Lamberton Skerrs south of Berwick A glimpse of the ruins of the smugglers bothy at Lamberton Skerrs south of Berwick
Looking left on the Royal Border Bridge just after departing Berwick Looking left on the Royal Border Bridge just after departing Berwick
Leaving Berwick-upon-Tweed behind Leaving Berwick-upon-Tweed behind
Passing the village of Alnmouth Passing the village of Alnmouth
The view of the Tyne Bridge as the train arrives in Newcastle The view of the Tyne Bridge as the train arrives in Newcastle
Looking down on the River Tyne as the train departs Newcastle Looking down on the River Tyne as the train departs Newcastle
The stunning view over the town of Durham The stunning view over the town of Durham
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