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arrival time for train station

Hi folks, wondering how many minutes before departure should one arrive at St Pancras or Victoria Station before train departure time?

And do trains generally run on time?
Thank you!
Suzanne

Posted by
6026 posts

I think that what route you are taking matters. For example, the check in time for the Eurostar would be different than a regional train. Trains can be delayed, but generally run on time and don't leave early.

If it is your first time in that particular train station, I would plan on 20-30 minutes prior to the scheduled departure time for a regional train. That gives you time to make your way into the station, look at the departure board, and be ready to head to the correct track when it is posted. My disclaimer here is that I am a person who always likes to be early..........

PS You can also use the National Rail APP to monitor your train.

Posted by
11998 posts

If you are traveling within the UK, you need to be onboard before the train pulls away. Give yourself extra time to get acquainted with the layout off the station and where the tracks are located. Once the track number is posted to the departure board, make your way to that track. It's usually posted about 20 minutes prior to departure.

If you are going on Eurostar, then plan on being at St. Pancras at least one hour before departure to go through immigration and security. With the summer crowds, I might leave more time.

Posted by
1573 posts

If you are at one of the larger stations, most people start walking down the platform as soon as it is announced, and it can be a distance to get to your car.
All the cars are connected, and you could get on anywhere, but it's easier, with luggage, to get on the exact car.

Posted by
1996 posts

The trains usually run bang on time and they can lock the doors up to 1 minute before departure time. (Make sure your watches are set precisely to the minute). You wait in an area where you see the departure boards (at big stations) and go to your the train on the relevant platform. Note that your station may well not be the final destination but will be listed among the calling points. The trains don’t hang about at calling points so you must be ready to get off. Some coaches have reservations and some don’t. On some trains, no coaches have reservations. Some trains SPLIT en-route so you have to be sure you are in the correct portion. (This is likely on the trains from Victoria to Canterbury). At smaller stations, people just tend to walk straight to the platform to wait for their trains. Any concerns - just ask people who will always be ready to help.

You can see if the trains run on time by clicking the following website and putting a station in the location box plus the date. (Click back in time through the day that has just gone being as you are in the USA right now). The same train(s) tend to leave from the same platform every day. If you click on the train - you will see all the calling points and if it ran on time.https://www.realtimetrains.co.uk/search/detailed/

Posted by
641 posts

Just to avoid any confusion, in the UK, we use 'coaches' on trains. Cars are reserved for roads....

Posted by
28841 posts

If this is related to your still deciding on which route to Canterbury, both Victoria and St Pancras will be the origination station for the train. That's where they start. So the train will be at the platform, waiting. How long it will be waiting depends on when it gets in and if they close it for cleaning.

I wouldn't expect either in your case to be closed or cleaning. Not that they are dirty, just not that they are intercity trains like LNER or GWR or Avanti West Coast, who do that.

There are only 4 platforms upstairs at St Pancras for the high speed to Canterbury West. Trivial to find your train, but you do need to find the Southeastern area of the station, which is at the opposite end from the tube and Euston road, up escalators or lift - opposite the top end of Kings Cross Station. I'd allow 15 minutes to find your way around and grab a snack if you want. Dozens of places to grab a snack.

At Victoria there are a couple of dozen platforms, but they are all side by side in a sort of a fan shape. Reading the departure board is a bit of fun if you aren't used to it because it is so huge. The train probably will go from one of the lower number platforms - to the left as you look at the board - but you need to be very alert because the concourse will be heaving with people going every which way so you need to watch you don't get bumped into by people who do know where they are going, and the departure board is always changing so the train you are watching for will move around the board.

There's plenty of food at Victoria too. Personally for a newbie I prefer St Pancras although I have been dealing with Victoria for 60 years, and St Pancras for only about 12.

I'd want a good 15 minutes or more at Victoria just because of the congestion and complexity.

Posted by
28841 posts

they usually try to run on time, certainly at the origination, but depending on circumstances might lose a couple of minutes on the journey.

Posted by
28841 posts

Both routes will have open seating - find a seat you like and sit down. If you wait until just before departure you will have to take the seats (if any available depending on time of day) left by everybody else. That's why people go in a herd to the gate as soon as the train's platform is posted on the board.

Posted by
387 posts

Wesleys
we also use cars in relation to trains
we would say for example " three car train"
Nigel
There is a Wetherspoons at Victoria for cheap (for London) food and drink. Its on an upstairs level

Posted by
28841 posts

rogerbrown

Do I understand that you are actually encouraging people to go into a Weatherspoons?

Posted by
387 posts

Nigel
I did nip in there for a take away coffee on the way to East Grinstead to ride on the Blue Bell Railway and did call in for a pint at their East Grinstead pub before returning home via London
This was way back in 2018 when there were some great Advance Single tickets available
I paid £7.25 each way from Hatton (Warwickshire) with Senior Rail Card to East Grinstead including the Underground between Marylebone and Victoria

Posted by
3026 posts

also look for a map showing which coaches stop where at the platform, if that matters

Posted by
48 posts

Thanks to all! Very helpful, and appreciate the bonus info eg how to orient myself in the stations. And the food recs. The controversy makes me curious to try Weatherspoons!

Posted by
3725 posts

Regarding Wetherspoons, the founder and chairman was (is) a very vocal hard Brexit supporter and also donated a lot of money to the Vote leave campaign, that has upset many who are now boycotting Wetherspoons.

Ironically, Wetherspoons has had problems with staff shortages. I guess the single market had some benefits for them?

Posted by
48 posts

Aha thanks for clarifying. I misunderstood the comment as referring to quality of food.