London Rail Travel: Trains, Trams and the Tube

Information about getting around London city centre by train, tram or the tube (metro): where to buy tickets and find timetables...

There are a number of means of getting around the city of London by rail. See below for information on:

Getting Around London by Train

There are a number of train companies operating within London, linking the capital to the suburbs and cities to the north, south, east and west of the capital.

Like much of the city, the public rail network is often described by the destination's direction: north, south, east or west. Understanding this grid makes using the public transport network easier.

The train lines/routes are known by the name of the company providing the service. For example, First Great Western serves the communities west of the capital from London Paddington station heading west through Reading, Oxford and Bristol all the way to south Wales.

Rail lines to/from London

Rail lines in London each serve a different area of the capital and the country. It's useful to establish the line and the main stations it goes through for a specific commute. Generally a rail line has a specific destination/departure station in the capital.

In some areas of London it is easier, and sometimes cheaper, to get around by "over-ground trains", rather than the Tube, for example from north and southeast London.

  • For a detailed, line map of national rail in Greater London: Click here (PDF)

The main lines include:

  • Chiltern Railways: Marylebone station to Aylesbury, Banbury and Birmingham
  • First Capital Connect: St Pancras/King's Cross stations to Luton Airport, Bedford, Wellingborough, Kettering, Leicester, Nottingham, Derby and Sheffield
  • First Great Western: Paddington station to Reading, Oxford, Swindon, Bath, Bristol, West of England and South Wales
  • London Midland: Euston station to Milton Keynes, Northampton, Rugby, Coventry, Birmingham and the North West
  • National Express East Anglia: Liverpool Street station to Harlow, Bishops Stortford, Stansted Airport and Cambridge (north) and Shenfield, Southend, Chelmsford, Colchester, Ipswich and Norwich (east)
  • Southern: Gatwick Airport, Brighton, Eastbourne and Worthing
  • Southeastern: Charing Cross and Victoria stations to Tonbridge, Hastings, Ashford International, Canterbury, Folkestone, Dover, Margate and Maidstone
  • South West Trains: Waterloo station to Ascot, Bracknell and Reading (west) and Aldershot, Basingstoke, Salisbury, Exeter, Southampton, Bournemouth, Poole and Weymouth (south)

London Overground is a suburban rail network (managed by TfL) which serves many of the city's stations, with the main routes being Dalston Junction to West Croydon, Watford Junction to Euston, Richmond/Clapham Junction to Stratford and Gospel Oak to Barking.

Eurostar runs between St Pancras International station and Brussels, and French cities Lille, Paris and Calais. The route crosses the Channel in approximately one hour.

Train stations in London

The main stations include Paddington, Charing Cross, Euston, Victoria, St Pancras, King's Cross, Liverpool Street, London Bridge and Waterloo. Part of getting to, around and out of London by train requires getting from one of these main stations to another by underground Tube or overland bus.

  • For information on connections between London's main stations: Click here
  • The national Rail website has information on each station and its facilities: Click here and enter the station name

Train timetables online

  • For train timetables and to plan a journey in London: Click here
  • For information on the day's train disruptions: Click here
  • To find the cheapest train fares: Click here
  • For information on travel tickets on the National Rail network: Click here
  • National Rail Enquiries Tel: 0845 748 4950

Train times telephone service

TrainTracker is a paid-for service which provides real-time information by telephone on trains running. Travel planning questions can also be answered. Call the number and, using the voice prompts, request time or journey information over the phone.

  • Tel: 0871 200 4950 (calls charged)
  • For more information: Click here
Rail Tickets, Cards and Discounts

Tickets are sold at ticket offices and self-service ticket machines at stations. Staff in the station ticket booth can provide advice on the best route to take and - in large stations - where to find the platform. Ticket prices vary depending on the time of day the journey being made.

Passengers must have a valid ticket when boarding a train; ticket conductors pass through trains checking this. A passenger without a ticket will have to pay the full fare - Open Single or Return. Penalties may also apply. Exceptions apply if there are no ticket vending facilities at the station of departure, in these cases, tickets may be bought on board the train.

London Oyster card

Oyster card is a smartcard that can be used for travelling on the London public transport network. Oyster can be used on the Tube, trams, busses, the Docklands Light Railway (DLR) and on some boat services. They are valid on trains in Greater London.

Details of travelcards, railcards and passes can all be stored on an Oyster card. Travel credit can also be stored on the card and topped up when necessary (pay-as-you-go). There are thousands of outlets where the Oyster card can be bought or topped up. These include stations, bus and tram stops, newsagents, Post Offices and ticket machines.

  • For information on where an how to buy an Oyster card: Click here
  • Oyster cards can be bought online and delivered overseas before travelling to London: Click here

There is a small fee when buying the card; this is refunded as credit for journeys on public transport.

BritRail

BritRail passes are available for visitors to the UK, valid on all National Rail services.

  • For information see the BritRail website
  • For timetable enquiries from abroad Tel: +44 (0)20 7278 5240

Discounts for children

Up to two children under the age of five travel free with each fare paying adult.

Children aged five to fifteen get a 50 percent discount on a fare (older children are requested to carry proof of age).

Friends & Family railcards provide further discounts for small groups of children and adults making regular trips together

  • For details on the Family & Friends Railcard: Click here
Rail Travel for People with Disabilities

Assistance can be made available to passengers with reduced mobility. It is recommended that passengers contact the train company at least 24 hours prior to travel.

  • For information on train travel for disabled passengers: Click here
  • For a map of rail stations with access for people with reduced mobility: Click here

Passengers with disabilities may be eligible for a Disabled Person's Railcard. The card entitles the holder, as well as an adult accompanying them, to one third discount on train fares.

  • For further information on the card: Click here or
    Tel: 0845 605 0525
  • For information on eligibility: Click here
Docklands Light Railway (DLR)

The DLR has 40 stations running in London Transport Zones 1-4. They run from central London to east London, and all stations are north of the river Thames, apart from Woolwich Arsenal.

There are four lines. They are:

  1. Bank to Lewisham
  2. Bank to Woolwich Arsenal
  3. Stratford to Lewisham
  4. Tower Gateway to Beckton

To contact DLR:

  • Tel: 020 7363 9700
    Fax: 020 7363 9532
    Textphone: 020 7093 0999
    e-mail

Tickets

Fares are the same as on the London Underground, and an Oyster card can be used on the DLR.

  • For information on fares and tickets: Click here

Timetables

The first trains are at 05:30 and the last at 00:30 from Monday to Saturday. On Sundays trains go from 07:00 to 23:30.

Travelling for people with disabilities

All stations have lift or ramp access to platforms and easy access to trains. The distance between the platform and train is 7.5cm and the step up or down from the platform to the train is 5cm.

It is recommended that people in wheelchairs get on and off with the biggest wheel first.

Travelling with children

Children under the age of ten travel for free on the DLR as long as they are accompanied by an adult in possession of a valid ticket, Oyster Card or Pass. If travelling without an adult they need an Oyster card to benefit from free travel. Child rates apply for children aged 11 to 15, an Oyster card is required to benefit from child rates. Children aged 16 to 19 get half adult-rate fares if they have an Oyster card.

Trams

Tramlink runs through areas of south London, including Croydon and Wimbledon.

Tickets

Timetables

Trams generally run from 05:00 to 01:00.

Travelling for people with disabilities

All access is step-free so ramps are not needed in order to get on, and there are two wheelchair spaces on each tram. Wheelchair spaces are located next to an intercom, enabling people to speak to the driver if there is an emergency.

Tram travel is free for wheelchair users. No pass is required.

All tram stops have a line stopping the sight impaired from falling over the platform edge. The name of the next stop is announced.

Travelling with children

All access is step-free so people can easily take prams and pushchairs on Tramlink.

Under-19s who are in full-time education can travel for free, although they must have an Oyster card as do 11 to 18 year olds. Children up to the age of ten do not need a ticket or card as long as they travelling with an adult in possession of a valid ticket or card.

  • For information on tickets for students and children: Click here
Travelling with Pets

Domestic animals are allowed on trains (maximum two per passenger) if they are not dangerous and are kept under control on a lead or in a suitable container. Animals may not use the seats on public transport.

  • For information on travelling with animals from the National Rail website: Click here
Further Information
  • For up-to-date travel news for roads and public transport from the BBC: Click here
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