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Train from Heathrow to Edinburgh Options

What is the best way to get from Heathrow to Edinburgh on trains? On the "Rail Line" I can purchase a ticket from Heathrow to Edinburgh, but it involves taking the tube to Kings Cross and getting on a train there. I am worried about the connection between the tube and the actual departure time for the train in Kings Cross. I almost purchased the ticket but it did not give any times such as when the tube would arrive at Kings Cross and what time the train actually leaves King Cross. Would it be better to purchase separate tickets to insure that boarding time is adequate? Would it be more prudent to take the high speed train from Heathrow to Paddington, then taxi to Kings Cross and purchase a train ticket from Kings Cross to Edinburgh? This is our first try in attempting this so would appreciate some expertise here!!

Posted by
22161 posts

You have a number of timing issues especially if arriving from the US. You need time to clear immigration (Passport control) and customs. Then find you way to the train/tube station. You can take the Piccadilly line from Heathrow to Kings Cross. Probably an hour to hour and half. A local will chime in on this I am sure. There is no really time schedule for the Tube - it runs about every ten to fifteens and sometimes more frequent so it is hard to predict when you would arrive at Kings Cross. The only time you should be concerned about is the departure time at King Cross for the Edinburgh train. To play it safe I would allow four to five hours from the time you land to the train departure. The tube to King Cross and the train to Edinburgh are two completely different systems. They may sell a ticket to Edinburgh that includes a tube ticket to King Cross. I don't know but I would focus getting the ticket to Edinburgh. You can always buy at tube ticket at the station. The price would be the same whether included with the ticket or not. But buying the Edinburgh ticket as soon as possible is critical since the last minute tickets can be expensive.

Posted by
970 posts

I've gone the Heathrow Express to Paddington Station and then cab to King's Cross route. The Express will be the shorter trip, about 15 minutes or so. Then you go outside the station and (very likely) join the queue at the taxi rank. I'd guess 45 minutes for the trip across town to King's Cross, but could easily be less or easily more. Total time from Heathrow to King's Cross might be about the same as the Tube from Heathrow.

The Express certainly costs more than the Tube but I find it more comfortable and more accommodating for luggage. The Tube will be relatively empty at Heathrow and packed before it gets to King's Cross.

If you avoid a rail ticket that's good for only a specific train at a specific time, you won't need to focus as much on arrival time at King's Cross.

Check elsewhere in this forum for discussion of how, and where, to buy advance rail tickets.

Posted by
21996 posts

Even if your flight arrives on time, it is absolutely impossible to predict when you will walk through the "Nothing to Declare" door and out onto the airport concourse. Then you have to get to the tube station. You'll need to buy a ticket. None of this is at all difficult; they speak your language if you have a question. However, having arrived after an overnight flight (possibly sleepless and certainly jetlagged), you may be more than a little mentally foggy, so tasks may take longer than you expect. I have a friend making the same basic trip in July, and I suggested that she crash at an inexpensive Heathrow hotel on her arrival day so she doesn't have to guess what train departure time will be safe. If she is functional on arrival day (I am usually not), she will hop over to Windsor for sightseeing.

The issue with waiting until you arrive in England to buy the rail ticket north is that the cost is likely to be painfully high. There are very reasonable fares if you buy the ticket when your date first becomes available, but the best deals are for non-changeable/non-cancellable tickets. Of course, if your trip is coming up soon, the fare differential will probably be rather small, and you won't lose too much by waiting.

Here's where you can check schedules and fares: http://www.nationalrail.co.uk/ . Take a look at the fare for tomorrow and the fare for your travel date (or as close as you can get, using the correct day of the week)--maybe about 4 hours after you are due to land at Heathrow. (Note: There is no amount of padding that is guaranteed to be sufficient, because your flight conceivably could be cancelled, and you could be 24 hours or more late in arriving.)

It appears that the walk-up off-peak fare is £146, whereas I see £34 Advance fares for early May. I think sometimes there are even deals below £34, but even at that price, there's a potential savings of £112, or about $145 one way. But, again, buying that Advance ticket commits you to one specific train; if you miss it, you'll need to buy a new (presumably full-price) ticket.

Posted by
2 posts

Thanks to all of you for the tips. We are overnighting at Heathrow to catch up on jet lag. Thus, we only have to worry about the train the next day. I think I will check out the ticket prices now an buy just the ticket for Edinburgh and then decide how to get to Kings Cross later! I will compare the ticket types!

Posted by
5971 posts

As you will be starting early from Heathrow, you may want to consider flying to Edinburgh rather than taking the train. BA and Flybe operate this route. It will be much quicker.

Posted by
998 posts

Hi Suzanne -

The journey by Tube to Kings Cross from Heathrow takes about an hour. It is a very frequent service. You should allow another twenty minutes or so to walk from the tube station at Kings Cross to the mainline station - it’s signed in the tube station, just follow the signs - but it is a longer walk than you might expect. The tube is probably as quick, if not quicker, as taking the Heathrow Express and then taxi to Kings Cross, and certainly lots cheaper.

Booking Advance tickets to Edinburgh is a good idea, not only because it reduces the cost, but it is also possible to reserve seats (I don’t think this is an extra cost, but if it is it’s only nominal) at the same time as you book. This is important because the train to Edinburgh is likely to be very full at whatever time of day you catch it. Without reserved seats you run the risk of having to stand all the way to Edinburgh, not fun! You should be able to book all the way through from Heathrow to Edinburgh, which will cover your tube journey too (but NOT the Heathrow Express).

I usually allow about four hours to get from leaving flight at Heathrow to Kings Cross (our train to Yorkshire runs from Kings Cross so we make the journey relatively frequently). Tube will be largely empty at Heathrow. It will fill up as it passes through central London though. If you get to Kings Cross ahead of schedule, then there are plenty of cafes where you can eat breakfast or grab a drink - we like Leon, their ‘Porridge of the Gods’ is a particular favourite!

Hope you have a great trip.

Ian

Posted by
22161 posts

Just another wrinkle for your consideration. It appears that you have decided to overnight near Heathrow and proceed to Edinburgh in the next day. Actually a good idea. You haven't indicated when you are arriving. Personally I don't think there is anything very interesting around Heathrow. I would continue on the Kings Cross area. There are a bunch of hotels in the area along with restaurants and pubs within easy walking distance. When we made that run a couple of years ago we stayed in the Hotel California. Probably an average three star. Not the greatest hotel but adequate, very comfortable, and convenient. We had a great meal at an upstairs restaurant/bar around the corner. Don't remember the name. The area is fairly commercial and busy but interesting. The great advantage is that there is no great hurry in the AM, can have a leisurely breakfast and an easy walk to the train station.

I agree with Frank, immediately above. Don’t overnight near Heathrow. Get on the tube (NOT the Heathrow Express - the tube gives you one simple journey without changes)*. Take the a Piccadilly line direct from Heathrow to Lings Cross-St Pancras. The ride takes about an hour. Get yourself a hotel near Kings Cross - if you want clean & comfortable & reasonably priced, the Premier Inn St Pancras would be a good shout.

The next day, just walk across the road to Kings Cross to get your train.

Pre-book your train about 12 weeks in advance here: www.nationalrail.co.uk. Tickets marked Advance (capital A) are the cheapest. If you can get first class for a price you’re happy with, it’s worth a paying for on this journey. Advance tickets mean you must use exactly the train you’ve booked - the tickets won’t be valid on another train. But they’re also cheaper than other types of tickets.

*Others may prefer the Heathrow Express. It’s a fast but usually expensive service direct to Paddington - you’ll then need to change to a taxi or tube to get to Kings Cross St Pancras.

Posted by
8889 posts

I agree, don't overnight at Heathrow. When you land, take a tube to King's Cross and stay in one of the many cheap hotels nearby.
You can then by a ticket from King's Cross to Edinburgh for the following morning (on http://www.nationalrail.co.uk/ or https://www.lner.co.uk/ ) with confidence you can get there on time as you will only be a few steps away.

Second option (if possible), add a connecting flight to Edinburgh to your incoming flight. Make sure it is a connection (not a separate booking) so you are covered if your incoming flight is late, and your bags will be transferred.

Posted by
11992 posts

I am going to add to the suggestion you stay closer to Kings Cross unless you arrive at Heathrow late in the evening. (The previously mentioned Premier Inn St. Pancras is good.) From there it is a 5 -7 minute walk to Kings Cross.

Trains ars not like planes. About 20 minutes before departure, the track your train is departing from will be posted. Just go to the track and get on the train. No security to worry about. Find your car and seat (if reserved) and enjoy your journey.

Take the tube from Heathrow to Kings Cross. It is a subway system. They run every few minutes. Know the total time for the journey rather than exact departure and arrival times. Even if you get to Kings Cross early, there are plenty of places to get something to eat and drink.

Posted by
21996 posts

For what it's worth: Depending on how far in advance you make a reservation and probably also the day of the week, the Heathrow T4 Premier Inn may cost about £50, while the St. Pancras PI may be about £130. Those estimates are for Flexible (cancellable) rates. In both cases you can probably save by choosing the non-refundable ("Saver") option.

Normally, I'd be all for getting downtown before I totally crashed, to make the next day easier and eliminate any possibility of transportation issues the next morning, but we're probably talking about close to $100 here.

Posted by
9 posts

Hi Suzanne -
If your only going to go to Edinburgh, then the suggestion from from Jennifer (fly from Heathrow to Edinburgh) will probably be the least expensive and time consuming.

If, on the other hand, visiting Edinburgh is just the first part of visiting England then I suggest you share your itinerary so you will receive some ideas which would address your entire trip.

That said, one of the best tools for figuring out the "best" way to get from Heathrow (I'm guessing Terminal 5) to Kings Cross Rail Station (or your hotel) is www.citymapper.com

Don't forget to put in the time which you would be leaving Heathrow.

It will show you several ways* to get from Heathrow to your destination, including the time and cost.
*=Suggested, Rain Safe, Wheelchair Accessible

They (citymapper) also has an app (both android and iphone/ipad) which will give you the same information. I used it last fall . . . . it saved me a lot of time.

Enjoy your trip!

Posted by
2068 posts

If you haven't booked your flights yet, or if you can change them; why not just continue to fly on to Edinburgh from London on the same day?
It'll probably cost you the same as a night in London, a tube journey and a rail ticket to Edinburgh.
If you have to get the train from London to Edinburgh, book it as soon as you can, as tickets are very expensive and get more so as you get nearer the time.

Posted by
28827 posts

Buying a ticket which includes the Underground/Tube and the ticket from Kings Cross to Scotland as one combined ticket will almost certainly cost more than a Tube ticket plus the Advance fare to Scotland. Will you be coming back from Scotland by train?

Posted by
28827 posts

I'm another who has never heard of "Rail Line" and I've been professionally around the business end of British rail tickets for decades.

Posted by
21996 posts

I think the reference was probably meant to be to trainline.eu.

Posted by
27 posts

You can always look into the Caledonian Sleeper train https://www.sleeper.scot/ from Euston Station (London) to Waverly Edinburgh. Board at 11pm and arrive by 7am the next morning. Have completed this trip twice and love waking up in Edinburgh. My last trip I stored my luggage at Euston Station BagBNB so I could walk around London and have dinner at a local pub.

Posted by
34 posts

I just purchased tickets to Aviemore from Kings Cross in March. The LNER line is high speed from Kings Cross to Edinburgh, takes about 4 1/2 hours and leaves at noon. My tickets cost 60 pounds each. reserved seats, it should be cheaper just to Edinburgh.
We have travelled this way before, and we have also flown from Heathrow to Edinburgh. I prefer this to sitting in the airport!