This past summer I spent some time exploring the United Kingdom. I had previously been to London and the surrounding area. However, I hadn’t been further north. I’ve heard tales of the fairytale-like wonders found in the country of Scotland and I knew I had to see this beautiful area first-hand. Finding a nonstop flight from New York City to Edinburgh was near impossible. Therefore I opted to fly into London and try out the high-speed LNER train London to Edinburgh.
LNER Train London to Edinburgh Route Information
The London North Eastern Railway, or LNER, is the London area’s main train line. It is based out of the London King’s Cross Railway Station and offers routes all throughout the United Kingdom. Some of the more popular routes include London to: York, Leeds, Newcastle, and of course, Edinburgh.
The LNER Train London to Edinburgh departs from Kings Cross Station multiple times per day. Depending on the day of the week and time of day, this route is offered every thirty to sixty minutes. Do note, however, that there are no LNER trains running this route non-stop between 19:00 and 6:00. There are a few trains that are not “high-speed” and offer the route via transfers if you do desire to take a later train.
The journey itself will take between just over four hours to just under five. Depending your departure time, some of the trains will make multiple stops, while others will only make one or two. This is compared to the seven hours it would take to drive!
LNER Train Ticketing
Now the ticketing for the LNER Train London to Edinburgh can be quite confusing as a tourist or someone who has never used the service before. There are multiple ticket purchasing options on the LNER website for the train of your choosing. First of all, you can choose to go “first-class” or “coach.” Obviously, first class will be more expensive than coach. I personally chose coach, so I cannot speak to the difference between the two experience-wise. However, as you will see in a following section, I had a pleasant experience in coach and do not feel it is necessary to spend the extra money on first class.
When booking (and you will need to book before boarding), there is also a choice of purchasing a “flexible” ticket or a “fixed” ticket. Depending on how far in advance you choose to book, there can be quite a difference in price between the two. For example, I booked my London to Edinburgh ticket the day before my trip and the fixed ticket was astronomically more expensive than the flexible ticket. However, I booked the return ticket more than a week in advance and the fixed ticket was actually cheaper.
So what is the difference between a “fixed” and “flexible” ticket? A fixed ticket means that the time you choose on the website is the train you need to be on. Flexible tickets, however, allow you hop on any train, at any time, on the route you choose (i.e. London to Edinburgh).
LNER Train Seat Reservations
Fixed tickets will always come with a seat reservation. Flexible tickets, however, do not. You are required to reserve a seat prior to boarding the train. A link is emailed to you, that allows you to do this. The reservation system only holds a certain amount of seats for reservations. After that allotment is met, you can reserve your space, but no seat number is provided.
There are lights above each seat number on the train that alert you if a seat has been reserved. If you have an assigned number, you go directly to that seat. If not, you should search for the green light, which identifies that the seat has not been reserved. However, if you are on a train like I was from London to Edinburgh, the lights were out of order. In this case, if you don’t have an assigned seat, you just sit somewhere and hope no one kicks you out. Thankfully, the light system was working on the return trip.
If you are unable to obtain an assigned seat, LNER does have an online service that shows how busy each train typically gets. I checked both out and back routes on this site. Unfortunately, it did not seem to match up with what I experienced onboard.
The Experience: LNER Train London to Edinburgh
The experience on the LNER train London to Edinburgh was quite relaxing. I had few complaints about the actual train ride. Unfortunately, the reservation process was quite confusing, which I why I chose to outline it in detail above. My hope is that it will eliminate any confusion for you when you take this journey.
The journey between these two cities went by quickly. The seats were comfy and the gorgeous views of the English countryside outside my window helped to pass the time. There is WIFI offered on LNER. It was definitely spotty at certain points. I tried to play a video and it kept pausing on and off. The WIFI worked much better for things such as scrolling on social media. There are outlets aboard to charge your devices as well.
There is also a food and beverage service on board. Sandwiches, snacks, soft drinks, and alcoholic beverages can be purchased in the café car. You are also able to purchase food and drink on the LNER website and have it brought to your seat. There are pull-down trays available (or table seats in some instances) so you can eat and drink comfortably
The bathroom situation is about what you’d expect on a train. There is adequate space for luggage as long as you aren’t carrying anything too excessive. Lastly, finding the train schedule and proper platform at both Kings Cross Station and Edinburgh’s Waverly station was fairly straightforward. However, I would recommend arriving at least fifteen minutes early to leave room for error.
And in conclusion...
I hope you found this guide to the LNER train helpful. It is, in my opinion, the best way to get from London to Edinburgh, and vice versa. Plane travel can be time consuming when calculating the travel time to the airport, the check-in and security process, as well as baggage retrieval. Driving between the cities would take seven hours or more depending on traffic, and the bus can take almost ten hours. I do believe the train is the most efficient way to travel in this instance. But tell me, what do you think? Have you taken this journey before? What was the experience like for you? Comment below and let me know!