How to take a journey by train from Edinburgh to Birmingham

Glasgow to Birmingham by train

How to travel by train from Glasgow to Birmingham by train

Rail journeys from Glasgow to Birmingham are currently being impacted by the reduced timetables introduced in response to the pandemic.
The direct trains, which the info below refers to, have mostly been suspended until at least the early summer, the only direct train is available on Saturday evenings.
Hourly connections are available, and in most hours only change of train is required to complete the journey (in Wigan or Warrington).
Though what's a tad odd, is that most of the end-to-end journeys currently being sold by Avanti West Coast show an additional connection in Wolverhampton, but the train shown to Wolverhampton will be continuing on to Birmingham.

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Routes

From Glasgow Central to Birmingham New Street

Travel Information

Final Destination: London Euston

All trains also call at: Crewe (connect for Chester and Shrewsbury) and Wolverhampton

The only direct train on this route is currently departing Glasgow at 18:40 on Saturdays only

Pendolino trains are used on most of those services operated by Avanti West Coast

Current timetable:
1 x train on Saturdays

  • hourly connections

Usual timetable (pre pandemic)
Mon - Sat = 6 x trains per day
Sunday = 4 x trains
(These direct trains are currently suspended)

Tickets

Book Early and Save: Yes

Tickets Available From: 24* weeks ahead for travel on Mon-Fri; up to 12 weeks ahead for weekend travel.

*This booking ahead period available on the Avanti West Coast trains is longer than that offered by the majority of British train operators.

If you want to travel at the cheapest possible price, look for the 'Advance' tickets; though be aware that this type of ticket can't be refunded if you subsequently change your travel plans.

Though something to be aware of when booking tickets, particularly for journeys by Avanti West Coast with its extended booking periods, is that the more expensive Off Peak and Anytime type of tickets can be placed on sale before the Advance tickets will be available.
If that is the case, it won't mean that the 'Advance' tickets have sold out, instead you won't see them, because they haven't have been placed on sale yet.
end' and 'around' is necessarily vague as there doesn't seem to be a fixed time period in which these Advance' tickets will be placed on sale.

Though you won't typically have to book months in advance to obtain the cheapest possible price for a London to Liverpool train journey, particularly if you won't be travelling at business hours.

Travelling on Saturday-Sunday

Maintenance work on the railway is periodically undertaken, particularly 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 around 10 - 12 weeks ahead and the cheaper 'Advance' 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 Avanti West Coast website.

Making an end-to-end journey will still be possible, 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 are likely to be significant differences in prices between departures on your travel date, it's often possible to save more than £20 by taking an earlier or later train.

If you can be flexible with your travel times and dates, it's a good idea to use the Best Fare Finder service on the Avanti West Coast website

Reservations:

When you book an Advance ticket for a Glasgow to Birmingham journey by Avanti West Coast trains journey online, you will be automatically assigned a seat(s) because you will have to travel by that specific departure.

Because Off-Peak and Anytime tickets (usually) allow the freedom to choose between departures, you can request complimentary reservations when booking these tickets - find out more about this.

However, if you buy Off Peak or Anytime tickets just prior to boarding at the station, seat reservations won't be available
That's because reservations at stations need to be booked at least a couple of hours ahead of departure; so also keep that in mind if you will be using a rail pass, including a Britrail or Eurail pass.

Receiving Your Ticket(s)

If you book with Avanti West Coast, you will have up to four options for receiving and using your ticket(s) are:

(1) Using e-tickets: 
Book a ticket online and you will receive an e-ticket attached to your confirmation email.
Avanti West Coast allows multiple options for using these e-tickets, you can print them off OR download them to your mobile device, so when boarding you can access your ticket(s) on your phone and use it to open the ticket gates.

(2) Using m-tickets: 
If you book using the Avanti West Coast trains app, you can activate your ticket within the app and use your mobile device to open the ticket gates.

(3) Collecting from the 'Fast-Track' ticket machines at the station.

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 'Fast-Track' ticket machine.
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.

(4) Opt to pay an additional charge to have your tickets posted to you.

More information is available here.

Where to book
Ticket Provider Approximate Cost
Avanti West Coast *

Avanti West Coast Guide

Avanti West Coast only operates long-distance trains so it offers discounted Advance tickets on all of its routes.
It's booking engine doubles up as a 'Best Fare Finder' service, with the aim being to ensure that the cheapest tickets are offered for journeys by its trains, particularly when making return trips.

National Rail *

National Rail 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 *

On this journey

Journey Features

Scenic - YesMountain views

Good to Know

The train service between Glasgow and Birmingham is usually split between:

(1) These currently suspended trains, operated by Avanti West Coast, which take a faster route.

(2) Alternative trains operated by CrossCountry, that are two hours slower because they travel via Edinburgh and Newcastle.
However, because of that much longer journey, tickets aren't made available for travel between Glasgow and Birmingham by those CrossCountry trains.

So if the timings of these direct trains don't suit, the best alternative is to travel on this quicker route, but a change of trains will be required in Warrington or Wigan.
Even with a connection the journey will still be faster than taking the CrossCountry services.

Heading south from Carstairs Heading south from Carstairs
Approaching the Scottish Uplands Approaching the Scottish Uplands
Passing through the Scottish Uplands Passing through the Scottish Uplands
Between Lockerbie and Carlisle Between Lockerbie and Carlisle
Looking from the right towards the Lake District in the distance Looking from the right towards the Lake District in the distance
Through the Lune Gorge between Penrith and Oxenholme Through the Lune Gorge between Penrith and Oxenholme
Approaching Oxenholme station on the left look out for Low Gill viaduct Approaching Oxenholme station on the left look out for Low Gill viaduct
South of Oxenholme heading towards Carnforth South of Oxenholme heading towards Carnforth
Look out on the right for the glimpse of Morecambe Bay Look out on the right for the glimpse of Morecambe Bay

For most of the first half of this journey the train will travel through a majestic landscape.

South of Carstairs the railway follows a route through the beautiful Southern Uplands.
After the train has passed through Lockerbie station, the views as the railway climbs and then descends over Beattock summit, are particularly special.

Between Carlisle and Lancaster the railway takes a route between The Lake District to the west and the Pennines to the east; so there are great views to be enjoyed from both sides of the train towards distant mountains.

Approximately 10 minutes north of Oxenholme comes one of the highlights of the journey when the railway travels through the Lune Gorge - though here the best views are from the left (when facing the direction of travel).

A beautiful landmark to look out for on the left, just after the train enters the gorge, is the spectacular sight of Low Gill Viaduct, on a now abandoned railway.
Around five minutes north of Lancaster, the West Coast Main Line, briefly lives up to its name with a fleeting glimpse of Morecambe Bay, the only sea view on the journey.

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