London to Bournemouth by train

How to take the rail journey from London to Bournemouth

How to buy tickets, what's on board the trains, how to use the stations, plus tips for making the journey.



From London Waterloo to Bournemouth

Travel Information

Final Destination: Weymouth (or Poole)

All trains also call at: Brockenhurst (connect for Lymington)

One train per hour also calls at: Clapham Junction and Christchurch

2 x trains per hour*
*One of the hourly departures on Sundays is much slower and takes 2hr 30mins to complete the journey


Book early and save: Yes

The cheaper 'Advance' tickets tend to be available from around 10-11 weeks ahead of the travel date, but tickets can be booked up to 12 weeks ahead.
So if you look up a journey more than 10-12 weeks ahead and can't see any 'Advance' tickets, it will mean that they haven't been released for sale yet - it won't be because they have sold out.

The two disadvantages of booking an 'Advance' ticket is that they can only be used on the specific departure you select when making a booking - and then if you don't take that train, because you change your travel plans or don't get to the station on time, they can't be refunded.
In response to the pandemic these usual ticket terms have been amended until November 30th.

The big plus of booking an 'Advance' ticket is the price, they can be more £20 cheaper than booking last minute tickets at the station; because Advance tickets are taken off sale at 23:59 on the previous day.

Though before booking a ticket to Bournemouth station, it can be worthwhile looking up the location of your final destination, as at least one of these hourly express trains will call at other stations in the town.

Pokesdown station is conveniently located for East Cliff area, while Branksome station has easier access to the Canford Cliffs area and is closer to Sandbanks than the town's main station.

Where to book
Ticket Provider Approximate Cost
South Western Railway *

South Western Railway Guide

South Western Railways offers a wider range of tickets than are usually available for British train journeys.
They include:
Evening Out tickets for journeys of less than an hour's duration
Sundays Out tickets for journeys of less than an hour's duration
Super Off Peak tickets enables savings to be made at quieter times on journeys of more than an hour.
For return journeys, you can now travel back within 30 days so they can also save money when Day Return tickets are not an option.

South Western Railway has produced a summary of when these and other specific types of ticket can be used.

On this journey

Good to Know

Taking the train from London to Bournemouth is a tad unconventional due to a quirk of British railway history.

Due to its south coast location Bournemouth was served by the Southern Railway which conveyed most of its passengers to and from London on short-distance routes, operated by metro-style electric trains.
Then in the 1960s the decision was made to extend the metro-style track all the way to Bournemouth, despite it being more than 170km from London.

Travellers couldn’t be expected to put up with metro-style commuter trains for a journey of that distance, so this route has always been served by comparatively unique trains, which despite running on metro-style railway tracks, have the characteristics of long-distance expresses.

So they’re not the fastest trains in Britain, they don’t travel at more than 150 kmh, but they are amongst the more comfortable British trains, so a pleasant journey is more likely than not.

The scenery for much of the route, once the trains have passed Woking, is also pleasant rather than spectacular, though between Totton and Christchurch, the railway takes a route through The New Forest national park; if you’re lucky you might catch a glimpse of the wild ponies.

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