London to Aberdeen by train

How to take the rail journey from London to Aberdeen

There are two options available for taking the train from London to Aberdeen:
1: taking the scenic journey by day, which involves travelling over the magnificent Forth and Tay Bridges.
2. Travelling overnight on one of Europe's smartest night trains.

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Routes

Option 1: travel during the day

Travel Information

These trains usually depart from London daily at 10:00 and 14:00 and also on Monday-Friday only at 16:00.

Final Destination: Aberdeen

All trains also call at: Dundee; Arbroath, Montrose and Stonehaven

Connecting for the ferry on to Orkney and Shetland

The ferries to Kirkwall on Orkney and Lerwick on Shetland usually depart Aberdeen at either 17:00 or 19:00.
So travellers connecting into the 17:00 departures have the options of:
(1) Taking that night train and spending the day in Aberdeen
(2) Taking the day trains and spending the night in Aberdeen.

However, for the 19:00 ferry departure, the 10:00 train from London is scheduled to arrive in Aberdeen in time to check-in for the sailing.

Monday-Friday = 3 x trains per day
Saturday-Sunday = 2 x trains per day

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.
In response to the pandemic these two usual ticket terms have been amended until September 30th.

Also what is unusual about booking with LNER is that Advance tickets are now available online up to only 5 mins before departure.
They will have sold out sooner on the most popular trains, and the earlier you can book the cheaper they will be, but before buying walk-up Off Peak or Anytime tickets at a station, just prior to departure, it's worth checking on your phone to see whether Advance tickets are still available, before heading to the ticket counter or machines.

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.

Reservations:

When you book an Advance ticket for a London to Aberdeen 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

Seat reservations aren't automatically included when booking Off Peak or Anytime tickets online, but you can add the complimentary reservation, once you've made choice of departure, either when booking or afterwards.
When booking walk-up tickets at a station ticket counter, if the Advance tickets aren't available for the next departure, confirm whether a seat reservation has been added to the booking of an Anytime or Off Peak ticket, in theory reservations will be available until around 5 mins pre-departure.

If you will be using a rail pass, including a Britrail or Eurail pass, you should be able to obtain a reservation, at no charge, from a ticket counter up until 5 mins before the departure; keep this in mind as it is not the norm when using rail passes in Britain.

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 *

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.

On this journey

Journey Features

Scenic - YesCoastal views

Good to Know

Yes it takes more than seven hours to reach Aberdeen from London by train, but if you travel by daylight, for more than half the journey time, you’ll be enjoying one of Europe’s greatest coastal train rides.
For once the train nears the Scottish border, the East Coast Main Line, which you’ll be travelling by, lives up to its name.

To take in those spectacular sea views you’ll need to be sat on the right-hand side of the train when facing north.

So to increase your chances of making the most of the stunning journey aim to be at King’s Cross station, ready for boarding, 30 minutes before departure.
Then if you discover when entering the coach in which your assigned seat(s) is located, that it is on the left, check to see if any unreserved window seats are available on the right.
If there are any free, you can occupy them for the journey, as you don’t have to sit in the seat(s) you have been assigned, for your ticket to be valid.

Journey description:

Travelling by train from London to Aberdeen is a journey of six distinct phases:

All of the videos were captured from a train travelling in the opposite direction, so when travelling towards Aberdeen, all of these views can be seen from the right.

(1) For the first 20 -25 minutes the train will be racing through the London suburbs and the commuter towns which surround it - though look out for the view from Welwyn Viaduct around 17 minutes into the journey

(2) Then between the fringes of London and Darlington the train predominantly travels through pleasant, but unremarkable countryside - though if you are in a backwards facing seat on the right, look out for a view of York Minster as the train departs the station.

(3) North of Darlington, approximately 2hr 25mins from London the journey becomes epic!

Around 15 mins after departing from Darlington comes the first highlight of the journey - the stunning views over the town of Durham.
Over on the right before and after the station, the town's stunning castle and cathedral can be clearly seen in all their glory.

After Durham the next highlight of the journey is the passage over the River Tyne, as the train approaches Newcastle Central station and heads over the King Edward VII Bridge.
Looking to the right, 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.

(4) Around 30 mins after departing from Newcastle, the village of Alnmouth comes into view on the right, and just to the south of it is the first glimpse of the North Sea, which can be seen on this journey.

For most of the remainder of the journey northwards the route lives up to its name of the 'The East Coast Mainline'.

The next highlight is the view from the majestic Royal Border Bridge as the train sweeps into Berwick-upon-Tweed.

Around five minutes after the train has either passed through or departed from Berwick, it begins to travel across the clifftops as it crosses the border into Scotland - these are the most dramatic coastal views on the journey.

The coast then comes back into view to the south of Dunbar...

...and there are distant glimpses of the sea available until the train reaches the suburbs of Edinburgh.

(5) More than four hours into the journey and many of the highlights are yet to come, which is why it’s a good idea to target the 10:00 departure from London year round, or the 14:00 train in the summer time when days are longer.

For much of the journey between Edinburgh and Dundee the railway line is beside the coastline of East Fife.
Virtually any time a UK coastal train journey is shown on film and television, what will be seen is a train travelling by the sea in South Devon, but from inside the trains, the views are just as spectacular on this journey – and they’re sustained for longer.

Though the views from the train as it travels by the shore are superseded by those from two of the most stunning train journey experiences which can be found anywhere in Europe!
Namely the views from the Forth Bridge, which occur around 12 -15 mins after the train has departed from Edinburgh...

....and the views from The Tay Bridge just before the train arrives in Dundee.

(6) Much of the final part of the journey north of Dundee also offers lovely sea views, particularly as the train leaves the city behind...

...and then north of Stonehaven, the railway line runs across the cliff-tops.

The harbour in Montrose, which is by the station is also rather lovely and is pretty-much the only location on the entire trip, on which the best of the views can only be seen on the left.

The castle and cathedral in Durham from a backwards facing seat to the north of Durham station The castle and cathedral in Durham from a backwards facing seat to the north of Durham station
Crossing the River Tyne as the train arrives in Newcastle Crossing the River Tyne as the train arrives in Newcastle
The view of the Tyne Bridge on departure from Newcastle The view of the Tyne Bridge on departure from Newcastle
The village of Alnmouth with the North Sea beyond The village of Alnmouth with the North Sea beyond
Arriving on the outskirts of Berwick-upon-Tweed Arriving on the outskirts of Berwick-upon-Tweed
By the sea to the south of Dunbar By the sea to the south of Dunbar
Looking towards the Bass Rock near Dunbar Looking towards the Bass Rock near Dunbar
The view looking east on the other side of The Forth Bridge The view looking east on the other side of The Forth Bridge
A typical view as the train travels along the East Fife coast A typical view as the train travels along the East Fife coast
Passing through Kinghorn Passing through Kinghorn
The view from The Tay Bridge looking east The view from The Tay Bridge looking east
Arriving in Montrose with its Basin harbour  on the left Arriving in Montrose with its Basin harbour on the left
Arriving in Broughty Ferry north of Dundee Arriving in Broughty Ferry north of Dundee
North of Dundee on route towards Arbroath North of Dundee on route towards Abroath
Looking down on spectacular Lunan Bay Looking down on spectacular Lunan Bay
On the clifftops north of Stonehaven On the clifftops north of Stonehaven
Looking left on the Royal Border Bridge just after departing Berwick Looking left on the Royal Border Bridge just after departing Berwick
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

Option 2: travelling through the night

Travel Information

Note that this overnight train departs from Euston station in London, but the daytime trains depart from King's Cross station.

All trains also depart from: Watford Junction, Crewe and Preston (between London and Scotland these trains take a different route to the day trains).

This train is usually scheduled to arrive in Aberdeen at 07:40, while the first of the daytime trains isn't due to arrive in the city until after 17:00.
Passengers can remain on board in Aberdeen until 08:00.

On Board The Trains:

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.

Connecting for the ferry on to Orkney and Shetland

The ferries to Kirkwall on Orkney and Lerwick on Shetland usually depart Aberdeen at either 17:00 OR19:00.
So travellers connecting into the 17:00 departures have the options of:
(1) Taking this night train and spending the day in Aberdeen
(2) Taking the day trains and spending the night in Aberdeen.

However, for the 19:00 departure the 10:00 day train from London is scheduled to arrive in Aberdeen in time to check-in for the ferry departure.

The shorter journey time applies to Mon-Fri departures

There are no departures 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, (1) the cost of making the journey and (2) the more expensive accommodation costs of travelling in the cabin.

On these Caledonian Sleeper trains the sleeping cabins  have a fixed price, regardless of how many people are using them, so how the total costs per travelller are calculated, is dependent on how the 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.
The total cost per person is more expensive if you will be travelling individually, because if you travel solo you pay the full cost for the Club Room or Classic Room, plus a cost for making the journey.
But two people travelling together, can in effect split the cost of travelling in the Club rooms and Classic rooms between them, 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 £45
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