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Best way from Heathrow to Eastbourne by public transport?

For my next trip to the UK, I'm headed straight to Eastbourne from Heathrow for a few nights at the coast (accommodation booked) then back to London for a few days before heading home. Could you tell me whether my transportation plan makes sense or if there are more efficient options available? Thanks in advance.

  • Tues Sept 18, arrive Heathrow Terminal 3 at 720 am
  • National Express coach from Heathrow Terminal 3 to Gatwick South Terminal (about 1.5 hours) - planning to prepurchase a refundable/changeable ticket for GBP27 at the nat express website
  • Train from Gatwick South Terminal to Eastbourne, about an hour, direct - planning to buy an anytime walkup ticket on arrival for GBP 16.50 rather than an advance restricted ticket in case there are flight delays or long queues at pp control
  • If all goes well, I should arrive to my accommodation by 1 pm.

Advice welcome - Thanks again.

Posted by
533 posts

What do you mean by "efficient"? It looks like it would be slightly cheaper and would take approximately the same amount of time to take the tube to Victoria station and get a train from there.

Posted by
8889 posts

I would not do it that way. Trains to Eastbourne start from London Victoria station. I would travel via Victoria:

  • Tube from Heathrow (tube departs from all terminals) to Victoria. First Piccadilly to Hammersmith, then an across-the-platform change to District line to Victoria.
  • Train from London Victoria to Eastbourne.

The time the bus takes to Gatwick is heavily dependent on traffic.

Posted by
408 posts

Thanks both for your replies. By "efficient", I guess I mean balancing journey time and money spent. For example, a private car service from Heathrow to Eastbourne might be the fastest (on other forums I saw that estimated as a 2-hour drive time) but pricey.

I assumed that taking the tube into Victoria Station and then train from Victoria to Eastbourne would be going the long way, but I hadn't factored in traffic delays for the coach between Heathrow and Gatwick. Then again, I've been delayed on the Piccadilly Line too.

Posted by
533 posts

I think the total travel time is close enough to a wash that it's not worth stressing over.

In my experience, National Express schedules tend to be padded to account for most traffic delays, so there's a good chance you'll arrive earlier than scheduled, so the travel time might be a bit shorter than it looks on paper.

On the flip side, the route via Victoria has the advantages of more regular tube departures throughout the day (the Heathrow to Gatwick coach is a hodgepodge of several different longer routes, so sometimes you'll have two departures within five minutes, and sometimes no coach for half an hour) and not having to prepurchase anything.

Posted by
1299 posts

I use the bus from Heathrow to Gatwick ( and then on to Brighton where I live) fairly regularly and this looks like a good plan to me. Although the bus can be delayed by traffic it generally isn’t too bad and, once you’re settled on a coach, you can relax more easily than on a tube.

So, for me, I’d stick with the OP’s original plan.


Posted by
408 posts

Thanks Alan. I do like the idea of being able to relax/nap a bit on the bus after the overnight flight. Given that the coach terminates at Gatwick it would be difficult, though not impossible, to miss my stop!