London to Manchester by train

How to take the rail journey from London to Manchester

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

Good news, the most frequent rail service between European cities over a distance of more than 200km has been restored, as once again three trains per hour are travelling on this route!



From London Euston to Manchester Piccadilly

Travel Information

Final Destination: Manchester Piccadilly

All trains also call at: Stockport

Step on board Europe's most frequent service of trains between destinations more than 200 km apart

On Board - Summary

More information is available by clicking the on the 'train details', but the key things worth knowing when taking the Pendolino trains used on this route, are:

(1) These trains achieve their high end-to-end journey speed by tilting around curves in the railway line.
So if you are prone to motion sickness, taking preventative medication prior to boarding can be a good step to take.

(2) Also once the train has commenced its journey, if you have a seat reservation, you don't have to spend the duration of the train ride in the seat(s) you have been assigned, for your ticket to be valid.
If for any reason you want to move seats and the train isn't exceptionally busy, check whether alternative seats haven't been reserved during your journey - and if that is the case, you can transfer to them.

(3) Coach C on these Pendolino trains is usually set aside for travellers without reservations and this coach can often be less busy than the other coaches on the train.

3 x trains per hour (intended service)


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 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 the T&Cs of using Advance tickets have been made more flexible for journeys taken before November 30th).

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.

Though partially due to the frequency of the train service, you won't have to book months ahead to obtain the cheapest possible price for a London to Manchester train journey, particularly if you won't be travelling at business hours.

However, Advance tickets for travel by Avanti West Coast aren't taken off sale until around an hour prior departure; so it's worth checking to see if they're still available for the train you'll be taking before heading to the station, because if you book last minute at the station only the more expensive Off Peak or Anytime tickets will be available.

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 £30 by taking an earlier or later train.
When heading north, the trains which depart London in the middle of the day tend to be cheaper.

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


When you book an Advance ticket for a London to Manchester train 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 an hour 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 from £24

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 from £24

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.

Rail Europe from £24

On this journey

Good to Know

Two trains per hour take a route via Stoke-on-Trent, while the other travels to Manchester via Wilmslow, but which of these routes the train you will be travelling by follows, makes little difference to the journey time.

One route also isn't particularly more scenic than the other.
It is a pleasant but not particularly beautiful train journey, when the pioneering railway engineers constructed this route in the 1830s and 1840s, they didn't have a particularly challenging landscape to deal with.

There isn't a high speed railway line between London and Manchester, hence SMTJ hasn't classified this as a high speed journey), but this is one of the fastest European journeys by non high speed trains.
For much of the trip the train will be travelling at more than 200 km/h.

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