Train travel is one of the most relaxing and enjoyable ways to explore Britain.
With over 2,500 train stations in Britain, visitors have the chance to discover both cities and countryside throughout England, Scotland and Wales. Travel times between key destinations are very fast, for example London Kings Cross – Edinburgh 4 hours 20 minutes, London Euston – Manchester 2 hours, London Paddington – Bath 1 hour 25 minutes, London Paddington – Cardiff 2 hours 5 minutes, London Kings Cross – York 1 hour 50 minutes and Manchester Piccadilly – Windermere, Lake District 1 hour 40 minutes.
The most cost effective way to explore Britain by train is with a BritRail Pass, which also includes many 2 for 1 attraction offers. With a BritRail Pass visitors can travel anytime and anywhere on the national train network, so they can just as easily uncover the delights of Scotland as they can relax on a beach in Cornwall.
If travelling solely within England, the BritRail England M Pass can be downloaded onto a smart phone and the QR code can be used at ticket barriers and on-board trains. This can be purchased just before travelling to Britain and up to eleven months in advance, providing a fully digital experience that saves time and is the simplest way to explore Britain by train.
Travelling by train is a fantastic alternative to flying as there is no need to check in and train stations are usually located in the centre of most destinations. And for the ultimate in comfort, the majority of trains have comprehensive on-board facilities, such as food and drink, toilets, luggage storage space and – for staying connected on the move – Wifi and plug sockets for charging mobiles and electronic devices.
From the New Forest National Park in the South of England (London Waterloo – Brockenhurst 1 hour 30 minutes) to the Highlands of Scotland (Edinburgh Waverley – Inverness 3 hours 20 minutes), the Britrail pass is a fantastic, hassle-free way to explore.
Britain’s fastest and most comfortable trains are those on the mainline routes. It is always advisable to reserve your seat in advance, especially if you want to travel at peak times, such as Friday evenings. Mainline trains have dining cars and air-conditioning, and they are fast – for example travelling from London to Scotland’s capital city Edinburgh takes just 4 hours and 20 minutes direct, or from London Paddington to Wales’s capital city Cardiff it’s just 2 hours direct.
If you are disabled and need assistance you can call National Rail Enquiries(at least 24 hours ahead of your journey) to book Passenger Assistance.
A yellow line above a train window indicates a first-class compartment. Note that even if the train is full, you cannot sit in the first-class area without paying the full fare.
Stations are usually well signposted to town centres and key sights, and buses usually stop outside. Trains on Sundays and public holidays can be slower and less frequent than normal.
A magical nine day tour of Great Britain by Rail – one American’s journey!
Gavin Landry joined the Visit Britain team in September as the Director of the Americas, he came to England and used some of our itineraries to familiarity himself what our amazing country. He summarised the trip and shared his experience below
My wife, Marea, and I decided to go on a whirlwind tour of Great Britain by rail to see places we had not been before. Throughout the trip, we encountered magical attractions, excellent food and drink but most of all we encountered the one thing that made our trip so special, the people of Great Britain. Throughout this blog, I will be sharing photos of not only the things we saw and did but also the people who we met along the way. All aboard for our Great Britain Tour!
Manchester and Liverpool
Bath and Stonehenge
Back to Edinburgh
Journeys across the country may involve changes since most lines radiate from London, which has 7 major terminals. Here are some example journeys:
London Euston – Birmingham (1hr 20mins), Chester (2hrs), Manchester (2hrs 5mins), Liverpool (2hrs 15mins), Llandudno Junction, North Wales (2hrs 50mins).
London King’s Cross – York (1hr 50mins), Lincoln (2hrs 20mins), Newcastle (2hrs 50mins), Durham (2hrs 55mins), Edinburgh, Scotland (4hrs 20mins).
London Liverpool Street – Cambridge (1hr 10mins), Norwich (1hr 40mins).
London Marylebone – Bicester Village (50 mins), Warwick (1hr 25mins), Stratford-upon-Avon (2hrs), Oxford (1hr 10mins).
London Paddington – Oxford (55 mins), Windsor (55 mins), Bath (1hr 25mins), Bristol (1hr 40mins), Cardiff (2hrs).
London St Pancras – Brighton (1hr 30mins), Paris with Eurostar (2hrs 25mins).
London Victoria – Brighton (55 mins).
London Waterloo – Salisbury for Stonehenge (1hr 20mins), Bournemouth (1hr 55mins).