The city of London needs little introduction considering it is has long been a major cultural, political and economic centre as well as home to the world’s most famous royal family and the iconic Big Ben clock tower. When taking a train to London you should know that the city has literally hundreds of train stations but only a handful of those which accept both domestic and international railway traffic are considered "major stations". Among the cities from where you can get frequent domestic train service to London are Edinburgh, Birmingham and Manchester while Brussels, Paris and Amsterdam are among the most popular international routes for railway service to the British capital city.
Avanti West Coast succeeded Virgin Trains operating service on the West Coast Main Line route in 2019 and provides direct service to London from several UK cities including Liverpool, Birmingham and Manchester. There is daily service from each of these locations Monday through Friday with reduced service on weekends and holidays. The average journey time for your trip will to vary according to location, for example service from Liverpool Lime Street Station takes about 2h 20min to London while you can travel to London by train from Birmingham Moor Street Station in just under two hours. All Avanti West Coast trains regardless of point of origin will terminate at London Euston Station, one of the city’s major railway terminals.
Eurostar is the primary operators of intercity commuter trains from France, Belgium and the Netherlands and operates frequent service to London from Paris, Brussels and Amsterdam which are among its most popular train routes. You can get daily service from these European cities to London on a daily basis but you should expect reduced service to occur on weekends and holidays. The average duration of train times will depend on station of origin, for example service from Paris Gare du Nord takes about 2h 20min while trains to London travelling from Amsterdam Centraal Station require about 4h 20min for direct trips. All Eurostar trains regardless of station or country of origin will terminate at London St. Pancras International, the city’s main rail terminal for international railway traffic.
London Big Ben. Source: Shutterstock
London St. Pancras International is the only terminus for international travel by train to London and by this measure can be considered the most important railway station in London. As the international transit point for Eurostar train traffic it remains open 24h daily. Considering its status you can expect it to offer a full complement of facilities and services such as ticket office and vending machines, WC with baby changing facilities, ATMs and currency exchange offices, free Wi-Fi throughout the station, numerous shops and restaurants, chemists (pharmacy), luggage storage, lost property office and Information Point among them.
London St. Pancras International is also fully accessible to disabled passengers and is located in Central London. London Kings Cross Station is managed by Network Rail, the largest operator of railway networks in the UK and is located within one mile of London St. Pancras International in the heart of the capital. Another one of the city’s major railway stations, London Kings Cross offers you a range of facilities and services including ticket office and vending machines, WC with baby changing facilities, ATMs and currency exchange offices, free Wi-Fi throughout the station, several shops and restaurants, luggage storage facilities, lost property office, showers and Information Point to name a few. Station hours of operation: Monday-Friday from 5:00 a.m. to 1:40 a.m., Saturday from 5:00 a.m. to 1:11 a.m. and Sunday from 5:30 a.m. to 1:36 a.m. London Euston Station is another major railway station located in Central London and the terminus for Avanti West Coast train traffic from cities across the UK to the capital.
Among the facilities and services you can find here are ticket office and vending machines, WC with baby changing facilities, ATMs and currency exchange offices, free Wi-Fi throughout the station, a variety of shops and restaurants, luggage storage facilities, lost property office, showers and photo booth among them. Station hours of operation: Monday to Friday: 4:30 a.m. to 1:34 a.m., Saturday: 4:30 a.m. to 2:00 a.m. and Sunday 5:15 a.m. to 1:34 a.m.
On Avanti West Coast trains you are allowed two pieces of luggage and one handpiece which must fit into the overhead racks or luggage compartment. Pets are allowed onboard provided the animals are properly leashed/muzzled and stored in a pet carrier while assistance animals can travel free of restrictions. Folding bikes can be stored in overhead racks but full bicycles must be reserved at the time of booking due to limited space. When you are hungry you can take advantage of the at-seat food and drink ordering service so you never have to leave your seat in order to find refreshment.
All by Avanti West Coast trains are accessible to disabled passengers and Wi-Fi service is free to all passengers. You are allowed two pieces of luggage and a handpiece when travelling on Eurostar trains as long as they fit into the overhead racks or luggage compartments provided. Up to two pets are allowed per passenger provided they are properly leashed, muzzled and stored in a pet carrier but this does not apply to service animals.
Folding bikes are allowed onboard but you must register them at the time of purchase. Eurostar provides a food and beverage car - Café Metropole - where you can purchase refreshments and toilets with baby changing facilities are installed on each carriage. All Eurostar trains are accessible to disabled passengers and Wi-Fi service is free but you should expect interruptions when they travel through tunnels.
Avanti West Coast offers you two types of classes: Standard and First Class where Standard includes any time, Advance and Off-peak ticket types while First Class is a premium ticket with upgraded benefits. When purchased online you can take advantage of any available discounts for students and seniors or programs such as the Family and Friends special which is great for groups travelling together. Be advised that terms and conditions regarding cancellations, changes and refunds apply to most ticket types so review them before making your final purchase. It is also recommended that you travel with a hardcopy of your ticket and be able to produce a valid ID if necessary.
On Omio buying train tickets to London is fast and easy and can be stored in your Omio account. If you’re travelling on Eurostar trains to London you have the choice of three ticket classes: Standard, Standard Premiere and Business Premiere with escalating benefits accordingly and it is recommended you should familiarise yourself with the terms and conditions attaching to each with regards to refunds, changes and cancellations. Discounts or special offers for students, seniors and groups may apply if you buy your tickets online as long as you can provide a valid ID if/when necessary.
E-tickets are allowed on Eurostar trains if you can produce them on your mobile device but a valid ID and passport is required for international travel. On Omio buying train tickets to London is fast and easy and can be stored in your Omio account.
London Bridge Sunset. Source: Shutterstock
There are many unique reasons to visit the UK capital, many of which are cherished structures such as The Tower of London and Westminster Abbey which have played their part in the illustrious history of this metropolis in the south of England. However, there are few spectacles which can compare with the daily changing of the royal guard at Buckingham Palace. Granted you’ll have to rise early to obtain a choice vantage point but once the actions starts it as thrilling a sight as anything else the city has to offer.
If you can’t get a tour of that royal residence you can head over to the Tower which is actually considered a royal palace and a World Heritage Site as well as one of history’s most famous prisons. Helping you to navigating the square mile and its plethora of historical attractions is a vibrant and extensive public transport network anchored by the London Underground metro network connecting Central London with the Greater London Metropolitan area. This is augmented by a secondary rail system (Docklands Light Rail, Thameslink), a comprehensive bus network and a bike-sharing system, Sandander Cycles.
London is a city filled with monuments, parks, squares and gardens so you can spend a great deal of time outdoors visiting as many as you can fit into the day as long as the weather cooperates. Perhaps the best known of these is Trafalgar Square, a memorial to the historic battle with its immense fountains at the base of Nelson’s Column which serves as a cool spot to hang out and enjoy a light lunch. If you prefer a bit of flora and fauna beforehand, check out Royal Botanical Gardens, Kew or Kew Gardens which sits on 330 acres of natural splendour and is an ideal place for a picnic for two or the entire family.
St. James’s Park and Crystal Palace Park with its historic exhibition building are excellent alternatives, or you can take to the sky and enjoy the view from the London Eye or the Emirate Air Line cable car from Greenwich to the Royal Docks. No London Experience is quite complete without taking in a show in the West End, a visit to the Tate Modern Museum or enjoying some tasty Chinese and Indian cuisine down Brick Lane way.
Using Omio to search for Virgin Train deals to London gives you the option to choose from two different types of ticket: Standard and 1st Class. If you’ve chosen a Standard ticket, you’ll have the option to upgrade to a Standard Premium coach once on board. Extra facilities with Standard Premium include roomier seats, a guaranteed tabletop, at-seat order (so you can order food and drink from the comfort of your seat), free Wi-Fi and access to Avanti’s on-board entertainment system.
This service is offered on Pendolino trains only and not on Voyager routes. Avanti has Passenger Assist for disabled travellers, allowing them to get in touch at least six hours before departure to discuss their requirements. This can be booked using this online form: Passenger assist Wheelchair users are advised to get in touch with Avanti at least 24h in advance to arrange space for their wheelchair.
There are lots of ways to keep costs down when booking cheap train tickets to London. Generally, the further in advance you book the higher your chances are of bagging a good deal. Tickets are available for sale on Omio about three months before the journey departure date. If you know the exact date you want to travel, booking your tickets in advance as possible means you’ll get them much cheaper. Another way to save money is to travel off-peak (i.e. outside the hours of 6 a.m.-10 a.m. and 3 p.m.-7 p.m.). Travelling during the middle of the day is often an easy way to keep your ticket fare low. Finally, if you can be flexible with your travel dates then you might find it easier to find a good deal. It’s also worth experimenting with your route, to see if choosing a connecting train or slower journey might save you money.