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Train or plane from Edinburgh to London?

I have flights purchased for my family's trip to Ireland/Scotland in June! We fly into Shannon and will be in Ireland for 1 week, then Scotland for 5 days, then will travel to London where we'll stay for 2 nights before flying out of there to come home. (And yes, I'm aware that it's not much time to see either, but we're not trying to cover the entire countries.) Of course we'll want to ditch the rental car prior to heading South to London. Is there a reason why we would take a train instead of a flight? Flights are super inexpensive and much faster. But I'm wondering how scenic the train ride is. Any suggestions?

Posted by
8889 posts

Seconded. Train is 4½ hours city centre to city centre. Plane will probably take longer city centre to city centre.
Trains is one comfortable seat with opportunity to walk around. Plane is lots of airport hassle and lack of comfort.

Train is one departure every half hour - you have lots of choice.
Look up train times and buy tickets here: https://www.virgintrainseastcoast.com/
Tickets for a random date in June are currently starting at £25 for off-peak times.

Posted by
615 posts

Not a recommendation, because I haven't done it, but consider the Caledonian Express overnight train. When you consider that you are saving a hotel room it is not more expensive. I love night trains.

Posted by
1291 posts

Everything Chris and Emma say. I would not even consider a flight to London for the time saving is negligable if that.

Posted by
73 posts

Thanks so much, everyone! Will definitely do the train.

Darren, I love your idea of a night train, and would have never thought of that. However, we have accommodations booked and pushing it back a night so we have a night for the train isn't possible, as it's booked.

Posted by
47 posts

Train! We took the train from Edinburgh to London last summer and found the ride to be a lot of fun. We broke up the trip by spending a night in York, which wouldn't be an option for you given your tight schedule. Be sure to reserve seats in advance so your family are guaranteed to sit together.

Posted by
73 posts

Thanks Jennifer! What line did you go with? I'm looking at Virgin, as they have a great price, but had to sign up for an alert to let me know when tickets go on sale to get that early bird fare. Want to be sure I'm not missing something.

Posted by
8889 posts

Virgin it is, they operate the "East Coast" route, which is the quickest route Edinburgh to London. Arrives at Kings Cross station.
Any other route would be longer, take more time and probably cost more.

York is the half way point, and worth 1-2 nights.

Posted by
73 posts

Thanks! We need to end at Blackfriars station, which is right by our hotel.

Posted by
8889 posts

In which case you will need to get the tube from Kings Cross to Blackfriars.
Two options:
1) The circle line (yellow). No changes required. See tube map here: http://content.tfl.gov.uk/standard-tube-map.pdf
2) Thameslink. From Kings Cross, cross the road to St Pancras and follow signs to Thameslink. This is underground (you go down to the platform), but is actually a suburban line, not tube. Take any southbound train, 3rd stop is Blackfriars. This line is shown on the "all rail lines in London" map here: http://content.tfl.gov.uk/london-rail-and-tube-services-map.pdf

I assume you know all about Oyster Cards, and either already have some (one per person), or will buy them at Kings Cross. If not ask here.

Posted by
14 posts

What is an Oyster card? I plan to travel from Belfast to Scotland and then to Edinburgh. I plan to ride trains as much as possible.

Never been out of US. The night train sounds wonderful.

Posted by
615 posts

You only need an Oystercard for London. It is a card you store money on for discounted pay as you go tube, bus and other fares.

Posted by
13 posts

There is also many deals you can get on train rides - if you go on the Scotland page of this website you will see them all. For example my friend and I are doing the overnight train from Edinburgh to London and we used the two together rail pass. There is a small cost however we are saving 40 pounds each.

hope you have a great trip!

Posted by
3 posts

Train, definitely. Possibly cheaper, more to see, much less hassle and time spent getting on/off than an airport. Besides that, a train will bring you right into London whereas you'd have to spend some time by tube or bus or whatever from the airport into the city.

Posted by
274 posts

We did the train and broke up one way in York. But it is scenic and the station is walkable in Edinburg from the Old Town and easy to get anywhere in London from Kings Cross. The other direction we changed trains in Preston and did go through the Lake District was very beautiful as we had a nice day and the price on that ride was less than the direct one from London to Edinburgh.

Posted by
62 posts

I took a British Airways flight from Edinburgh to London. We got a snack and landed in approximately one hour - no muss, fuss or hassles. It gave me more time to enjoy both Scotland and England.

Posted by
25742 posts

Joe, I'm interested in what you did.

What was the total time - door to door - from Edinburgh to London? Did you need to be at Heathrow anyway or did you go from the airport to somewhere in London? Did you take a taxi or tube? How did you get from your hotel in Edinburgh to the airport? Tram?

Thanks

Posted by
11262 posts

"I swear I just read somewhere that the bus from Edinburgh to London is 1/2 the cost of the train, FYI."

The bus can indeed be less expensive, particularly if someone has missed their chance to get lower priced train tickets. It also takes much longer. As so often in life, trade offs - time vs. money.

Posted by
8889 posts

I swear I just read somewhere that the bus from Edinburgh to London is 1/2 the cost of the train, FYI.

Quite possibly. It will also take at least twice the time and will be a lot less comfortable than the train. Cheapest train tickets are £25, you have to be on a seriously tight budget to do this by bus.

Posted by
29 posts

Even for a $22 flight I would opt to take the train. Will still likely be less expensive to take the train because if you are looking at bargain airline fares that $22 will not include bags (and carry on restrictions are basically impossible to meet) and seat selection. Also worth the extra couple of hours to see the scenic route. Just make sure you pick a forward facing train seat if you have motion sickness.

Posted by
940 posts

Hi, shandean,

If you do decide to fly, check to see which London airport you're flying in to. Some Edinburgh flights go to Heathrow, and some to Gatwick. If it's a budget flight, it may even take you to Luton, which is in the middle of nowhere. (Sorry, Luton residents!) Also, if it's a company like easyJet or RyanAir, they charge an arm and a leg for your luggage. I'm not sure about FlyBe. You may end up spending more than you would have spent for the train. Check everything before you commit! Also, factor in the cost of getting to the London airport to your destination in the city.

best wishes,

Mike (auchterless)

p.s.: The bus takes at least 6 hours. I've done it. I felt really sick afterward. They now have MegaBus in Britain, with low prices. But that would be my last choice!

Posted by
940 posts

Hi again, shandean,

Just checked with Flybe. They charge 24 pounds for luggage to be put in the hold. That's for up to 23 kg., which is about 51 lbs. And they do fly from Edinburgh to London Heathrow. If you go with RyanAir, be sure to print your boarding passes ahead of time. They have a reputation of charging an exorbitant amount of money if they print your boarding passes at the airport.

Posted by
73 posts

Back to this again, as we're leaving in 6 days for our trip and I'm trying to finalize transportation. Chris F told me the following earlier in the discussion, but I'm somewhat confused because according to the Virgin East Coast website, the train goes to Blackfriar Station... not sure if I'm missing something?

From Chris:
In which case you will need to get the tube from Kings Cross to Blackfriars.
Two options:
1) The circle line (yellow). No changes required. See tube map here: http://content.tfl.gov.uk/standard-tube-map.pdf
2) Thameslink. From Kings Cross, cross the road to St Pancras and follow signs to Thameslink. This is underground (you go down to the platform), but is actually a suburban line, not tube. Take any southbound train, 3rd stop is Blackfriars. This line is shown on the "all rail lines in London" map here: http://content.tfl.gov.uk/london-rail-and-tube-services-map.pdf

I assume you know all about Oyster Cards, and either already have some (one per person), or will buy them at Kings Cross. If not ask here.

Posted by
1849 posts

according to the Virgin East Coast website, the train goes to Blackfriar Station...

The train from Edinburgh terminates at Kings Cross. As Chris explained you then have a choice of onward travel to Blackfriars.

3) or take a black cab

Posted by
73 posts

Understood, but Blackfriars is the destination I was able to choose from the Virgin website. It tells me the train terminates at Kings Cross, but it looks like it includes the last leg of the following: Underground from London Kings Cross to London Blackfriars.

Am I wrong?

Posted by
8889 posts

but I'm somewhat confused because according to the Virgin East Coast website, the train goes to Blackfriar Station... not sure if I'm missing something?

Trains from Edinburgh definitely go to Kings Cross station.
On https://www.virgintrainseastcoast.com/ you can look up trains from any of the 2564 stations in Britain to any other one, for example Edinburgh to London Blackfriars. But if you expand one of the options and look up the journey details, it will show one train Edinburgh to London Kings Cross, a short walk and then a 9 minute train from St Pancras to Blackfriars.
And you can buy a ticket from Edinburgh to any of the 2563 other stations, including London Blackfriars.

Posted by
73 posts

Right, I do see that. But that last leg is included in the fare... correct?
Sorry to keep this going but it's not very clear.
I appreciate your help.
Another option is taking a train from Glasgow (actually that looks like a more convenient starting point for us).
Looks like that one goes to Euston, then includes a transfer to Blackfriars. Is this straightforward?

Posted by
73 posts

And why is it so much cheaper to buy the tickets from scotrail.com, as opposed to the Virgin website? The ticket below is $157 for 3 of us 1st class via ScotRail! The same tickets on Virgin are $220.

12:00 Glasgow Central

14:57 Crewe Virgin Trains
(First class)
15:22 Crewe
16:59 London Euston Virgin Trains
(First class)
16:59 London Euston
17:40 London Blackfriars Tube

Posted by
1849 posts

If you choose Blackfriars as your destination then your ticket includes a journey on another train from St Pancras to Blackfriars.

If you choose London Zone 1 as your destination, when you get off at Kings Cross keep the ticket and use it to take the Underground to Blackfriars.

If you choose London Terminals or London Kings Cross as your destination, once in London you’ll need to buy another ticket to Blackfriars.

Posted by
1849 posts

any difference in price means you're not looking at the same ticket types

what date are you travelling?

Posted by
73 posts

I'm so sorry to waste your time... I had the wrong quantity.

So there's no difference in buying from scotrail vs virgin, it appears.