General Information about Rail in the UK
Trains have provided a practical and dynamic way to travel in the United Kingdom for a long time. Predating the invention of cars and buses, the railway network in Great Britain is considered to be the oldest in the world with some regional lines dating as far back as the 1840s. Today, numerous train companies offer train routes throughout the United Kingdom. Train travel in the UK is an excellent way to experience Britain’s natural beauty. From popular destinations and train routes to information about train companies and how to buy cheap train tickets, this page provides an overview of everything you need to know about trains in the UK.
While the history of trains in the United Kingdom is as extensive as it is arcane, the UK’s train track infrastructure is now owned by Network Rail, while a number of private train companies including First Great Western, Virgin Trains, South West Trains, Thameslink and Great Northern and First ScotRail offer passenger train services. Many of the main train companies offer both high-speed trains between major cities as well as local regional trains. Express trains are also available in between select major cities, while overnight trains are available for long distance routes such as the Caledonian Sleeper train from London to Scotland.
|Abellio Greater Anglia: Abellio Greater Anglia is Eastern England's main train company. Abellio trains run to Essex, Suffolk, Norfolk, Hertfordshire, and Cambridgeshire.|
|Arriva Trains Wales: Arriva Trains operate along 5 routes in Wales: between Northern Wales and the Midlands, between Northern Wales/Manchester and South Wales, the South Wales Coast Line to Swansea and Cardiff, and the North Wales Coast Line to Manchester and Crewe.|
|C2C: c2c is mainly a commuter train company servicing areas outside of London. c2c trains run on the London, Tilbury and Southend Rail line from Fenchurch Street through Essex into East London around 8 times each hour during off-peak times.|
|East Coast: Virgin Trains East Coast operates passenger trains on the UK's East Coast Mainline. East Coast runs trains between Scotland, the North East of the UK, Yorkshire, and London. East Coast's high-speed trains have been running since March 1st 2015.|
|East Midlands Trains: East Midlands Trains operates both long-distance and regional trains. East Midlands regional trains service cities in the East Midlands and Yorkshire. Long-distance East Midlands trains run between London St Pancras station and Leeds, Sheffield, Corby, Nottingham, Derby and York.|
|Great Western Railway: Great Western Railway is the primary train company for South West England and South Wales. Great Western trains service Devon, Cornwall, Somerset, Bristol, Berkshire, Wiltshire and Gloucestershire.|
|First Hull Trains: First Hull Trains have just one route from London's King's Cross station to Hull. First Hull Trains run 6 times per day during the week and 5 times per day on the weekend.|
|First TransPennine Express: First TransPennine Express run 3 main routes through Northern England: North TransPennine from Liverpool and Manchester to Hull, York, Scarborough, Middlesbrough, and Newcastle; South TransPennine from Cleethorpes to Manchester; and TransPennine North West from Manchester to Edinburgh.|
|Merseyrail: Merseyrail runs trains through Merseyside and Liverpool along two routes: the Northern Line between Southport and Liverpool; and the Wirral Line which links Liverpool with the Wirral Peninsula via the Mersey Railway Tunnel.|
|Northern Rail: Northern Rail operates most trains between major cities in Northern England including Leeds, Liverpool, Manchester, Newcastle and Sheffield. Northern Rail is the main train company for Cumbria, Cheshire, Lancashire, Northumberland and Yorkshire.|
|ScotRail: ScotRail runs trains throughout Scotland and Northern England connecting Newcastle and Carlisle with London. Most ScotRail trains run between major Scottish cities like Edinburgh, Oban, Sterling, Glasgow, Inverness, Aberdeen, Dundee and Wick.|
|Southern: Southern trains primarily operate between London, East and West Sussex, Surrey, Kent, and Hampshire. Southern trains travel to major cities including Hastings, Southampton, and Lewes. Southern also operates the Gatwick Express between London Victoria train station and Gatwick International Airport.|
|South West Trains: South West Trains operates trains from London's Waterloo train station to destinations in South West England including Surrey, Hampshire, Dorset, Devon, Somerset, Berkshire and Wiltshire. South West also runs trains to the Isle of Wight under the name Island Line Trains.|
|Virgin Trains: Virgin Trains operates long-distance trains on the West Coast Main Line between London, the West Midlands, North Western England, Northern Wales and major cities in Scotland. Virgin Trains connects major cities in the UK including London, Birmingham, Manchester, Liverpool, Edinburgh and Glasgow.|
|Eurostar: Trains from continental Europe to the United Kingdom are operated by Eurostar and travel via the "Chunnel" beneath the English Channel. Eurostar trains depart from Paris, Lille, Lyon and Brussels and arrive at London St Pancras station.|
Many companies operate modern fleets with comfortable, reclining seats, wifi and air-conditioning. Compare the services available.
Further facilities and services may vary according to the transport company and country of operation. For more detailed information about providers, please refer to our comprehensive list of luggage restrictions.
Reaching destinations from the peak of Snowden Mountain to magical wizarding schools in the imaginations of readers around the world - trains in the UK are an important part of British culture and society. Trains easily connect the far reaches of the UK to London and even continental Europe by providing a comfortable and efficient alternative to travelling by bus or airplane.