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London to York to Edinburgh By Train - Best Way and Time to Book

I am travelling to the UK from Australia in September and plan to travel by train from London to York and then from York to Edinburgh on different days.

I am a little confused about the train system, when is the best time to book, and which site to use as an international visitor. Is it best to book in advance at a fixed time, or are there other ways to book to reduce the stress of ensuring that I make it to the train station and get on the right train? As I will be carrying luggage with my partner, is it best to pay the extra to travel first class?

Posted by
6444 posts

Unless you are travelling at a weekend (when booking are closed due to awaiting details of possible engineering work) bookings are open now.
If you want the best fares then book the cheap Advance Fares valid on a specific timed train. There are also First class Advance Fares.
As well as space, you get the perk of lounge access before and after travel at all 3 stations, plus free food and drink on board.
Only you know if that is worth the extra to you.
LNER, who run that route, also happen to be the best site to book on for international visitors.
Either stay near Kings Cross Station the previous night, or plan your journey on the TfL website then add on an allowance you feel happy with (double or triple maybe, your choice) to allow for any train problems for you and the time to navigate Kings Cross station.

Posted by
23430 posts

We did that same run in reverse coming into London. And it was fine in second class. The really is no way to avoid booking an advance time and fare since you should be able to take advantage of some discount pricing. You could book the prior hour or so but the tickets will be the most expensive -- last minutes generally are. First class gains bigger seats and some other perks but not more luggage space.

Posted by
1302 posts

Hi jwallace -

Stuart is correct about the added benefits of travelling First Class. I have the LNER app on my phone and booked tickets Edinburgh - York, while in the Orkneys, two days before travelling. I booked Advance First Class, which, yes, tied us to a specific train, but got two tickets, downloaded onto my phone, for a shade under £70 (I also applied our Senior Railcards). This meant that by the time we’d had a couple of coffees and cakes in the First Class Lounge, been wined and dined while travelling (plus a side attempt of me trying to eat my own weight in shortbread) I think we were well in front on the deal, not to mention the extra leg room and comfier seats (“not the comfy chair!”) in First Class.

Certainly worth investigating. Not saying it would work every time and the ‘old gadgie’ cards help for sure, but if you don’t ask, you don’t get!


Posted by
2774 posts

As I will be carrying luggage with my partner, is it best to pay the
extra to travel first class?

I traveled first class on a LNER train to and from York and Edinburgh last year and I loved it. I have always found the first-class train cars to be less crowded so more room for luggage because there is less of it. I find the extra expensive worth it.

I was traveling on a strike day, so they weren’t offering the full meal service, but I did get snacks and tea. The employees were so friendly.

I used the LNER app and found it very easy to use. My train got “stuck” on the way to Edinburgh and I got a partial refund for the ticket price which was done automatically. I think I probably booked at least a month ahead of time, but then had to change my ticket due to the strikes. In fact, it was isn31c up above who helped me navigate the strike. So, don’t stress if there’s a strike on your travel days. You can always find great help here.

One way I reduce my travel stress is to arrive at the train stations in plenty of time to find the correct platform. I found the stations in York and Edinburgh to be well signed, but I did find the Edinburgh station (waverley) to be a little confusing. So, if you have any trains out of Edinburgh I would allow even extra time. I have not been to London yet, but I would assume those stations also have great signage. And everyone is so friendly in both those countries so don't hesitate to ask for help if you need it.

When you travel from York to Edinburgh, try to get seats on the right-hand side of the train for the best views.

I loved both York and Edinburgh. Have a great trip!!