London to Cambridge by train

How take a rail journey from London to Cambridge

There are three options available for taking the train from London to beautiful Cambridge:

  1. There are non-stop trains from Kings Cross station operated by Great Northern, which complete the journey in under 50 minutes.
  2. Thameslink operates trains which cross central London and call at multiple stations; London Bridge, Blackfriars, City Thameslink, Farringdon and St Pancras International.
  3. Greater Anglia operates trains from Liverpool Street station.
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Routes

Option 1: travelling with Great Northern

Travel Information

Final Destination: Ely or King's Lynn

At King's Cross station take care that you will boarding the trains which make their first station call in Cambridge; these are the trains which will be usually heading beyond Cambridge to terminate in Ely or King's Lynn.
(Thameslink also operates 1 or 2 slower trains per hour, which complete the journey in around 1hr 25mins, so they are best avoided.
But those slower trains usually terminate at Cambridge, so they will stand out on the departure screens).

Note that this route is (was) is very popular with commuters, and as seats can't be reserved on these trains, try to avoid departing from London between 16:30 and 19:00.

Monday -Saturday: 2 x fast trains per hour
Sunday: 1 x fast train per hour

Tickets

Book early and save: No, you will pay the same price if you book tickets last-minute at the station.

On this London to Cambridge route operated by Great Northern you won't save money by booking in advance online, but the price you pay will depend on when you will be travelling
You will save money if you make a day trip by train from London to Cambridge on this route at a weekend, or on a national holiday.

The £17.50 is the 'Off-Peak' price for a single ticket, but Great Northern doesn't seemingly offer Off-Peak single tickets on Mondays to Fridays (except for national holidays).
So if you want to book a single ticket and travel on Mondays to Fridays, when they are working days, you will have to book the more expensive 'Anytime' tickets, no matter which departure you wish to travel by.

But if you will making a day trip to Cambridge by train, you can save money by booking Off-Peak Day Return tickets.
On weekends and national holidays, the price of a day return ticket is only around a £1 more expensive than an Off-Peak single ticket.
Similarly an Off-Peak day return ticket on Mondays to Fridays is only around £1 more expensive than an Anytime single ticket.

However, if you can book ahead and don't mind being committed to taking specific trains, you can travel each way for £8,. if you purchase the cheapest advance tickets on the alternative Greater Anglia services.
So on Mondays to Fridays you can save around £8 when making a day trip between London and Cambridge if you take that route.

Where to book
Ticket Provider Approximate Cost
Great Northern from £17.70

Great Northern Guide

Great Northern does not offer discounted Advance tickets for travel by its train, instead travelling at a cheaper price depends on the times at which you will be travelling.
Off Peak tickets are typically cheaper than Anytime tickets, but at weekends and on national holidays, Super-Off Peak tickets are cheapest of all; and Day Return tickets at a Super-Off Peak rate can also be available at those times.

National Rail from £17.70

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.

On this journey

Good to Know

Direct trains to Cambridge also depart from Blackfriars, City Thameslink, Farringdon, Liverpool Street and London Bridge stations.

All of those stations are also located on the eastern side of central London, but if you will be setting off from that area, be wary of journey planning apps, which show making connections into these Great Northern trains at King's Cross as the fastest end-to-end option.
Look twice to see if a slightly slower direct train will save you the bother of having to make a connection.

However, if the starting point of your end-to-end journey has convenient access to King's Cross station, which is likely if you'll be heading off from the West End of London, these Great Northern services can become the logical choice for a London to Cambridge train journey.

They're the only trains which are non-stop from London Cambridge, so they're the fastest option, once you head off from London.

But there are two alternative train services from central London to Cambridge:

(1) Thameslink trains cross central London on route to Cambridge.
Those trains call at, from south to north; London Bridge and Blackfriars and City Thameslink and Farringdon so if those stations suit you, you'll have an easier journey if you take that option.

Though those Thameslink trains also call at St Pancras station, which is across the street from King's Cross, so from the area around those stations, taking these Great Northern trains will be faster.
Between St Pancras and Cambridge the Thameslink trains make six station calls.

(2) Other slower trains operated by Greater Anglia depart from Liverpool Street station for Cambridge, so if setting on from that station would suit you, those services can be a better option.

If you can book tickets online a week or more ahead of your travel date and don't mind being committed to taking specific trains, you can also save money by taking that route.
If you will be making a day trip on a Monday to Friday and book 'Advance' tickets, you can save more than £8; with single tickets being cheaper by more than £12!

Travel Information

Final Destination: Cambridge

**These trains also call at: Blackfriars and City Thameslink and Farringdon and St Pancras International

If your train journey to Cambridge will be commencing near London Bridge, Blackfriars*, City Thameslink or Farringdon stations than taking these direct Thameslink trains will save you the bother of heading to King's Cross and making connections there.
*Blackfriars station now has an entrance on the south bank of the River Thames, conveniently located for the Tate Modern and the South Bank arts complex.

Note that this route is route is (was) very popular with commuters, and as seats can't be reserved on these trains, try to avoid departing from London between 16:30 and 19:00.

The journey time from St Pancras International to Cambridge is usually around 1hr 9 mins.

Monday -Saturday: 2 x trains per hour
Sunday: 1 x train per hour

Tickets

Book early and save: No - you will pay the same price if you book tickets last-minute at the station.

The £17.70 price applies if you board at St Pancras, tickets cost around £1-2 more if you board at London Bridge, Blackfriars, City Thameslink or Farringdon
Note that booking a direct train ticket from those four stations will be cheaper than taking the Underground to King's Cross station and then booking tickets there for the alternative, faster London to Cambridge trains.

On this London to Cambridge route operated by Thameslink you won't save money by booking in advance online, but the price you pay will depend on when you will be travelling
You will save money if you make a day trip by train from a station in central London to Cambridge at a weekend, or on a national holiday.
On weekends and national holidays, the price of a day return ticket is only around a £1 more expensive than an Off-Peak single ticket.

Similarly an Off-Peak day return ticket on Mondays to Fridays is only around £1 more expensive than an Anytime single ticket.

Where to book
Ticket Provider Approximate Cost
Great Northern from £17.70

Great Northern Guide

Great Northern does not offer discounted Advance tickets for travel by its train, instead travelling at a cheaper price depends on the times at which you will be travelling.
Off Peak tickets are typically cheaper than Anytime tickets, but at weekends and on national holidays, Super-Off Peak tickets are cheapest of all; and Day Return tickets at a Super-Off Peak rate can also be available at those times.

National Rail from £17.70

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.

National Rail from £17.70

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.

On this journey

Good to Know

If the starting point of your end-to-end journey has convenient access to King's Cross station, then a faster option for a London to Cambridge train journey is to take the alternative Great Northern services, which leave from there.

So if your journey will be commencing in the area around Kings Cross and St Pancras stations, the better option is to take those Great Northern services.
They depart across the street from St Pancras International, will cost the same price and will get you to Cambridge around 20 minutes faster.

Other trains operated by Greater Anglia depart from Liverpool Street station for Cambridge, so if setting on from that station would suit you, those services can be a better option (and they can be cheaper too).

There are some spectacular views over The River Thames when these trains call at Blackfriars station There are some spectacular views over The River Thames when these trains call at Blackfriars station

Option 3: travelling with Greater Anglia

Travel Information

Final Destination: Cambridge or Cambridge North

All trains also call at: Audley End

Aside from at evening business hours on Mon-Friday, in each hour one train makes fewer station calls than the other, so is around 12 minutes faster.

Not every departure will be by the newer Electrostar trains.
Some older trains which don't have Wi-fi and wheelchair facilities are also used on this route.

Aside from the price*, taking these Greater Anglia services are the best option for a train journey from London to Cambridge, if Liverpool Street station is convenient for the starting point of your end-2-end journey.
*if you want to purchase single tickets in particular

2 x trains per hour

Tickets

Book early and save: Yes

Tickets are usually placed on sale: From 12 weeks ahead of the travel date.

Greater Anglia operates these trains from Liverpool Street to Cambridge and it offers discounted 'Advance' tickets on this route.
They are available in limited numbers on most departures, but you need to book them online at least a day before you'll be travelling.
However, to obtain the £8 price, you will usually need to book at least a couple of days in advance and avoid departures at the busiest times.

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.

If you can track down those most heavily discounted tickets then they're the cheapest option for a London to Cambridge train journey, neither Great Northern or Thameslink offer Advance tickets on the routes which they operate.

Where to book
Ticket Provider Approximate Cost
Greater Anglia from £8

Greater Anglia Guide

Greater Anglia offers a price promise for journeys by the trains it operates, so booking Advance tickets online (along with other tickets) on its website, ensures that you will find the cheapest possible price.

National Rail from £8

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.

On this journey

Good to Know

If the starting point of your end-to-end journey has convenient access to King's Cross station, then a faster option for a London to Cambridge train journey is to take the alternative Great Northern services, which leave from there.

Though if the starting point of your journey is in the Liverpool Street area AND the one of the faster services from that station will be the next train to leave; you won't save time by heading to King's Cross in order to connect into the fast trains that leave from there.

Thameslink trains cross central London on route to Cambridge.
Those trains call at London Bridge and Blackfriars and City Thameslink and Farringdon so if those stations suit you, you'll have an easier journey if you take that option.

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