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London is the biggest transport hub in the UK and is easy to reach by train from almost all major European cities. You can catch direct trains from UK cities like Edinburgh, Glasgow, Birmingham and Manchester, as well as continental cities such as Paris and Brussels. Indirect connections from places like Berlin, Barcelona and Milan are also possible, although these journeys are naturally longer in duration. In-depth travel and visitor information can found in our London city guide.
International trains to London are operated by Eurostar and terminate at St Pancras International - just to the north of the city centre. Domestic train services are provided by a range of companies including Virgin Trains, Southern Railways, Virgin Trains East Coast and Great Western Railway.
For people wanting to travel to London by train, it can be worth buying a railcard before setting off. These entitle the holder to one-third off train tickets on National Rail services. For people regularly planning to take the train to London, the Network Railcard is valid for people of any age to travel in the London and Network South East region. Railcards are just one way to ensure you save money, but there are other steps you can follow in order to book cheap train tickets.
Booking trains to London in advance should be done about 2 months before your ideal date of departure.
London has a number of major train stations near the centre of town including Victoria, Waterloo, King's Cross, London Bridge and Liverpool Street. All of these stations are on the underground network and are connected to central destinations via the bus system.
If you're planning to travel with a standard single ticket, be prepared to pay £4.90 within zones 1 - 3. If you have an Oyster Card, the cost of travel is between £2.40 - £3.30 during peak times, and £2.40 - £2.80 during off-peak times.
A London Underground travel card, or Oyster card, can be purchased for £5. When you're done with your Oyster card, you can hand it in at any information desk and get the £5 deposit back. Travellers can now also use contactless payment cards to travel on the tube and bus network and are charged the same as if using an Oyster card. Just tap your contactless card on the yellow circle to use.
There is a daily cap on the London transport system which means that you'll only ever be charged a certain amount per day. If you go over this amount you can still travel as much as you like but you will no longer be charged. The cap for zones 1-2 during off-peak hours is £6.60, the prices steadily go up the further outside the city you travel. For example, if you travel from zone 1 out to zone 6, the daily cap is £12 during off-peak hours.
'Rush hour' is between 07:30 and 09:30, and 17:00 and 19:00. These are periods when it can become extremely busy in the stations, trains and on the platforms. Occassionally, some stations in the centre will close briefly due to overcrowding, but this is not a frequent occurence.
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Eurostar is the premier high-speed railway service which connects the United Kingdom with Europe through the Channel Tunnel with journeys connecting London St Pancras International with Paris, Brussels and Amsterdam among other popular European cities. With its high-speed service reaching speeds up to 186 mph (300 km/h), the Eurostar makes travel between the UK and Europe as smooth and easy as possible. When you book your London train, you can choose between ticket types like Standard, Standard Premier (with spacious seats and light refreshments served), and Business Premier (with flexible travel options, spacious seats, lounge access, hot meals served and priority boarding). As of October 2023 Eurostar also operates former Thalys connections adding new destinations in France, the UK, Belgium, Germany and the Netherlands.
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