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Train crosses the famous Ribblehead Viaduct. The Ribblehead Viaduct or Batty Moss Viaduct carries the Settle–Carlisle Railway across Batty Moss in the valley of the River Ribble at Ribblehead.

The 11 most scenic train journeys in the UK

Want to plan a big railway trip for your next staycation? Here’s our pick of the most beautiful train journeys in the UK

John Bills

Whether you’re keen to admire the stunning vistas of the Scottish countryside, or just after a setting to pretend you’re in a music video, staring longingly out at the mesmerising beaches of Cornwall or the mountains of Wales , these train journeys will make you feel like the main character in the window seat. 

You could be a solo traveller craving some luxury transport, or just looking to take the kids on a wholesome family day out – either way, these railway trips will have you covered. Stretching from the very top of the country in Mallaig to the very bottom down in St Ives – and right across to Coleraine in Northern Ireland – here’s where to get your railway fix on your next UK holiday. All aboard!

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Best train journeys in the UK

The Jacobite Steam Train

1.  The Jacobite Steam Train

All aboard the Hogwarts Express! Okay, you don’t have to be a Potterhead to get into the majesty of this stunning route. Scotland’s Jacobite Steam Train traverses the gorgeous landscape between Fort William and Mallaig, offering up a conveyor belt of rugged scenery that belies the comfort and luxury inside the train itself. Booking ahead is an absolute must, but it is 100 percent worth it. Few train journeys on the planet come with the grandeur of the Jacobite Steam Train.

North Norfolk Poppy Line

2.  North Norfolk Poppy Line

We’ve said it before, and we’ll say it again, but North Norfolk might just be the most underrated part of England. The entire coast is an absolute delight, filled with gorgeous seaside villages and a very real sense of charm, and the so-called ‘Poppy Line’ is an adorable way to explore it. The heritage steam train runs the short distance between Sheringham and Holt (with options to go further at either end) and is an exercise in beautiful nostalgia that will practically drag serenity into your day. Yes, that is something of a contradiction, but it fits. 

St Ives Bay Line

3.  St Ives Bay Line

Okay, it might only be a ten-minute journey, but that just means that you can go back and forth on the St Ives Bay Line as many times as you like during the day. Why wouldn’t you? This 4.25-mile stretch of seaside sumptuousness was opened in 1877, the last of the new broad gauge railways to be opened in the UK, although standard gauge has since taken over. Of course, you’re not here for gauge history, you are here for impossibly quaint seaside views and that special delight that only Cornwall can provide. 

Snowdonia Mountain Railway

4.  Snowdonia Mountain Railway

Scratching and clawing your way to the top of Mount Snowdon (Yr Wyddfa in Welsh) is one of the most exhilarating experiences in Wales, but all that scratching and clawing does sound sort of tiring, right? If slugging up the mountain isn’t your idea of fun, the Snowdonia Mountain Railway is here to save the day. Trains leave from the gorgeous village of Llanberis and slowly climb the mountain, stopping at the top for incredible views and a real sense of achievement.

The Flying Scotsman

5.  The Flying Scotsman

A real piece of history here, albeit only really in the name. The original Flying Scotsman still takes short, special journeys in the UK (in the south of England, mostly), and tickets sell out quickly, but why not jump on the spiritual successor of the famous train and make the journey between the capitals of Scotland and England instead? London to Edinburgh is a trip from one powerhouse to the other, a route that takes you through the whole of England – a curious look into the North/South divide.

Settle to Carlisle

6.  Settle to Carlisle

The North really is blessed with some beautiful train routes, isn’t it? The beloved Settle to Carlisle line runs across 73 miles of gorgeous countryside, showcasing Yorkshire Dales and the North Pennines at their most rugged and remote. It is stunning stuff and has been a point of pilgrimage for train enthusiasts since passengers first jumped aboard in 1876. The journey takes 90 minutes (delays notwithstanding, this is the UK, after all), and tickets start at £8.50.

Ffestiniog Railway

7.  Ffestiniog Railway

Fancy taking a short trip on the oldest independent railway company in the world? Of course you do, and you’ll find the little train that could waiting in the heart of Wales. The Ffestiniog Railway runs from the harbour of Porthmadog to the mining town of Blaenau Ffestiniog, passing through Snowdonia National Park as it does, ensuring some incredible views and a palpable sense of history within the carriages. The company offers plenty of journeys, but the three-hour charmer between Porth and Blaenau is the one to go for. 

Londonderry to Coleraine

8.  Londonderry to Coleraine

Northern Ireland’s prettiest rail line? While it’s a beautiful place from east to west, the stretch of tracks between Londonderry and Coleraine is right up there. The railway has plenty of history (more than 170 years of the stuff), but passengers can be forgiven for eschewing that in favour of the views waiting outside the window. You simply won’t get better rolling views of the coast than from the comfortable seat of a 3000 class DMU, trundling between the two towns. Michael Palin called it ‘one of the most beautiful rail journeys in the world’, and he wasn’t wrong. 

North Yorkshire Moors Railway

9.  North Yorkshire Moors Railway

North Yorkshire is a treasure trove for railway lovers. As well as being a beautiful city with few equals, York is also home to the National Railway Museum, an absolute must-visit for anyone with even the most rudimentary interest in trains. The North York Moors National Park is truly sumptuous, and no prizes for guessing where the North Yorkshire Moors Railway runs. Yes, that’s right, smack-bang through the aforementioned sumptuous scenery. The journey from Pickering to Whitby takes almost two hours, and tickets start from £45, although members get big discounts.

Inverness to Kyle of Lochalsh

10.  Inverness to Kyle of Lochalsh

Two hours and 45 minutes (give or take a minute or two) of absolute rural bliss. The northern reaches of Scotland are Britain at its most beautiful, and the views afforded to passengers from the cars of the Inverness to Kyle of Lochalsh line are as good as it gets. Ttickets cost £15.90, an absolute bargain considering the beauty outside the window. 

Bluebell Railway

11.  Bluebell Railway

Even the name is all sorts of adorable. The UK offers a fine line of heritage steam railways, and the darling Bluebell Railway down in Sussex is one of the best. Originally opened in 1882, it actually closed in 1958 – sparking a preservation society into action, in the hopes of restoring as much of the original line as possible. They did a darn good job, and today the Bluebell is a time machine, taking you back to the days of steam engines trundling from Sheffield Park to East Grinstead. The journey takes around 40 minutes, and advance tickets cost £25.

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The 13 best train journeys in the UK

By Monisha Rajesh

The 13 best train journeys in the UK

From the Scottish Highlands to Cornwall ’s sandy beaches — the following 13 trips showcase Britain’s best train journeys, including quick rail rides, overnight sleeper trains and a brand new Edinburgh route that is the most affordable yet.

Just inside the southernmost rim of Snowdonia National Park this route is blessed by nature from the moment the train...

1. Machynlleth to Pwllheli

Just inside the southernmost rim of Snowdonia National Park , this route is blessed by nature from the moment the train departs. Passengers gaze onto scenes of tall grass smattered with waist-high wildflowers and puffy clouds over peaks fringed with forest. Streams wink and flash in the sunlight, and hikers with sticks wave in the distance. Not long after Dovey Junction station, the ride follows the bends of the River Dyfi until it opens wide onto the Cardigan Bay coast, shaped by fingers of creamy sand and dunes melting into the water. Through the window, glimpse rocky beaches thrashed by teal-green water and campers parked on hills, their tents flapping wildly in the wind. A constant mix of sand and shallow waters overseen by cloud-capped mountains, the journey ends with an urban crawl through the market town of Pwllheli.

Short but so very sweet this 10minute ride between the village of St Erth and the seaside town of St Ives gives...

2. St Ives Bay Line

Short but so very sweet, this 10-minute ride between the village of St Erth and the seaside town of St Ives gives passengers fabulous views of the Cornish coast. Take a seat on the right-hand side of the train as it clatters along the Hayle estuary where birds pick their way through the pools, then take a deep breath as it climbs the dunes and curls around the crescent of Porth Kidney Sands, where the water is inked with blue and striped with green. From an open window, passengers will smell the saltiness in the air as the train winds above Carbis Bay, where sunbathers are dotted on its golden sands. On arrival at St Ives, head straight to the café at Porthminster beach for the crab, chilli and garlic linguine washed down with a lemon-and-thyme G&T.

Opened in May 1876 this segment is one of Englands last great Victorian routes which British Rail wanted to close in the...

3. Settle to Carlisle

Opened in May 1876, this segment is one of England ’s last great Victorian routes, which British Rail wanted to close in the 1980s. But pushback from campaigners, residents and train enthusiasts meant that the 72-mile stretch was saved and continues to seduce both visitors and commuters travelling across the Yorkshire Dales and North Pennines. Boarding at Settle station, with its burgundy trimming and bright flower baskets, passengers are already surrounded by slanting fields of sheep, penned in by the region’s distinctive dry-stone walls. Plunging into tunnels, whizzing across bridges and squeezing through rock cuttings that rise around the carriage, the train negotiates a landscape that often appears to tilt and slide. Crossing rivers, hamlets and miles of peaceful farmland, the journey peaks as the train negotiates the 104ft-high Ribblehead Viaduct where hikers wave from below. For the last half hour look right for views over the Vale of Eden, its hedgerows and farmland spotlit by the sun breaking through low-hanging clouds, before the train terminates in the historic city of Carlisle.

In just under three hours passengers can treat themselves to almost every element one could want on a railway journey...

4. Inverness to Kyle of Lochalsh

In just under three hours, passengers can treat themselves to almost every element one could want on a railway journey through Scotland. Flanked by hot-pink heather, the train canters out of Inverness along the southern bank of the Beauly Firth and soon draws circles around freshwater lochs, clusters of white houses hidden between trees and mottled moors with plenty of deer. Peering between blocks of thick Scots pine, you'll glimpse silver bodies of water, perhaps a single boat tethered to a pier. It’s worth a stopover at the pretty village of Plockton with its palm trees, pocket-size houses and islets dotted around the bay – along with several silky seals. Pick up the journey once more and continue to the Kyle of Lochalsh as the Isle of Skye looms up ahead.

Dont be fooled into thinking that a highspeed train between two major cities cant offer a gorgeous view or two. This...

5. Newcastle to Edinburgh

Don’t be fooled into thinking that a high-speed train between two major cities can’t offer a gorgeous view or two. This route follows England’s north-east coastline into southern Scotland , weaving passengers in and out of the patchworked countryside and misty-blue ocean scenes. Although the first few minutes of the ride include the classic sight of low-hanging wires and warehouses, the train soon shakes off the grime and guts of the city and blares its horn alongside meadows of sheep and picket-fenced farms. Given the journey's speed, flashes of canary-yellow rapeseed fields, the shiny black hides of Aberdeen Angus cows and villages vanish as fast as they rise, so sit on the right and face backwards to draw out the views. As you snake through forest and thunder over bridges , you’ll know when the sea is close as the horizon begins to haze and the edge drops away, revealing a blaze of North Sea blue. Plus, as of late 2021,  Lumo  launched new service, offering travellers one-way fares starting from just £14.90. Not only will it make the journey more affordable, the train itself — part of Lumo's brand new, 100 per cent electric-powered fleet — is much more carbon-efficient than most other models. 

Chugging out of Glasgow Queen Street this train tails the River Clyde for some time before tearing away towards raw...

6. Glasgow to Mallaig

Chugging out of Glasgow Queen Street, this train tails the River Clyde for some time before tearing away towards raw Scottish wilderness. Surrounded by glens tinged with the mauve of wild heather, it climbs up and around the bonny banks of Loch Lomond, clinging to hillsides trimmed with birch trees. Not long after Tyndrum, move to the front of the train and look back as it curls around the horseshoe bend at the foot of Beinn Doran before carrying on to Fort William. It’s a jolly summer jaunt – but brave the bite of wind and sleet and a winter journey brings beauty in the form of frozen rivers and daggers of ice dangling from trees. Towards the end of the line, the train runs along the 21 arches of the Glenfinnan Viaduct at the top of Loch Shiel – a sight commonly known to Harry Potter fans as the route of the Hogwarts Express .

One of only two night services left in the UK the Caledonian Sleeper connects London to Edinburgh and Glasgow on the...

7. The Caledonian Sleeper

One of only two night services left in the UK, the Caledonian Sleeper connects London to Edinburgh and Glasgow on the Lowlander route, and Aberdeen, Fort William and Inverness on the Highlander route. A facelift in 2019 means the train now resembles a mobile hotel rather than a mode of transport. With double beds, en-suite bathrooms and dimmable lights, the train provides a fun way to bed down for the night and arrive fresh for the day ahead. Board, stash your bags and hunt down the dining car for smoked salmon followed by a plate of haggis, neeps and tatties served with whisky-cream sauce. Knock back a wee dram, then drift off as London falls away in the dark, raising the blinds at dawn to the morning mist hanging over the moors.

For unsuspecting travellers this 18minute journey might feel like any other urban trip. The rails roll past graffitied...

8. Exeter St Davids to Newton Abbot

For unsuspecting travellers, this 18-minute journey might feel like any other urban trip. The rails roll past graffitied walls, the backs of terraced houses and a strip of factories. But look to the left and watch as the green marshland narrows to a point, the trees drop away and the train seems to hug the majestic, mile-wide river Exe. In warmer months passengers will see a flotilla of sailboats, kayaks and rowers, while in winter the wetlands are teeming with birdlife from curlews, dunlins and teals to bar-tailed godwits and avocets. Around Dawlish Warren the river merges with the English Channel and a perfect sliver of foam rims the edge of the water as walkers stroll along the coastal path, watching gentle waves break and fizz on the sand. Curving down the coast, the train swings inland once more and runs along the river Teign before coming to a stop at Newton Abbot.

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The Belmond Royal Scotsman

9. The Belmond Royal Scotsman

Over seven nights with steward service, four-course suppers – and much whisky – travelling on the Belmond Royal Scotsman is a once-in-a-lifetime chance to soak up Scotland in all its glory. Boarding in Edinburgh , passengers are shown to private compartments in what feels like a long and narrow Edwardian country house decorated with rough tartan cushions, lacquer-polished wood and tufts of fresh heather on the bedside table. As the train sets off for Falkirk, it’s tempting to daydream by the window, but head to the dining car for a lavish afternoon tea of salmon sandwiches and slabs of sticky Dundee cake. Over the next few days, the train passes through Fort William with views of Ben Nevis and the Glenfinnan viaduct, then snakes north towards the Arisaig coastline with day tours to Inverlochy Castle and the Isle of Bute. Expect an excess of everything from windy walks and castles to massages and the heady morning scent of fresh coffee and frying bacon.

The Night Riviera

10. The Night Riviera

The only other sleeper service in the UK, the night train from London’s Paddington to Penzance is a thrill of a ride from the moment you line up to board in the eerily quiet station. Passengers travelling in a sleeper compartment get priority boarding. Most families pull on pyjamas, clean their teeth and slide under the silky-smooth duvets before the train sets off. But if you do, you’re missing out on the hubbub of the dining car where night owls and regular commuters shout and wave one another over to catch up over palm-sized bottles of wine and a tube or two of Pringles. Light sleepers might find the jolts and bumps a disturbance, and it makes sense to pack earplugs to block out the sounds of fellow passengers fumbling up the corridors looking for cabins, their voices drifting in and out of your dreams. A bleary-eyed wake-up is soon forgotten when you open the blind at dawn to find purple mists draped over moors, apricot light streaking the skies – and a knock at the door bringing coffee and a hot bacon roll.

Dartmoor National Park

11. The Dartmoor Line

At the end of 2022, one of the West Country’s most treasured railway lines reopened after 50 years, connecting Exeter with the market town of Okehampton. The line – established 150 years ago – became a victim of the notorious Beeching cuts that saw thousands of stations and branch lines put out of service. However, after two decades of campaigning, the train is now up and running again, much to the delight of hikers, rail enthusiasts and campers who can journey up to the northern edge of Dartmoor National Park. Before the train has even reached its destination, the wildness of the moors makes itself known, wind whipping the windows and branches tickling the sides.

Snowdon Mountain Railway

12. Snowdon Mountain Railway

Since the end of the 19th century, a narrow-gauge railway has puffed its way up Mount Snowdon, taking passengers to the top of Wales’s highest peak. Now a favourite of tourists – and hikers looking for a lift halfway – the train departs from jolly Llanberis station at 30-minute intervals, taking around an hour to climb 1,064m to the summit. Within the first few minutes, you’ll be treated to the sight of the Ceunant Mawr waterfall which crashes down over 100 feet into a gorge, along with old farmhouses, crumbling walls and a feral goat or two. As of April 2022, owing to engineering works, the train is running as far as Clogwyn only, from where walkers are welcome to attempt the one-hour walk to the summit. In 2023 the train will resume its usual route to the top of Hafod Eryri where passengers can hop out, stretch their legs and take in the panoramic views that stretch to Ireland. If you’re in luck you might also spot a peregrine falcon or two.

Coleraine to Londonderry

13. Coleraine to Londonderry

A standard commuter line, this route from Coleraine to Londonderry takes just 40 minutes, giving passengers a taster of some of Northern Ireland’s loveliest views. From the moment of departure, fields surround the carriages on one side while the River Bann runs along the other, its body stretching in the sun. On the approach to the seaside village of Castlerock, the train runs along the edge of a caravan site offering passengers a peek into curtained windows with often a wave or two in return, followed by a smattering of churches and houses that close in then swiftly pull back. Plunging into tunnels, the train reappears alongside a blaze of golden sand until the next twist in the track brings the countryside back to heel. Towards the last 10 minutes of the journey, the River Foyle appears and guides the train to its final destination.

Monisha Rajesh is the author of Around the World in 80 Trains (£9.99, Bloomsbury)

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Great British Railway Journeys with Railtrail Tours

Michael Portillo's hugely popular ' Great British Railway Journeys ' television series has sparked great interest in train holidays, reminding me of just how many of the great rail journeys in the UK that you can enjoy on holiday with Railtrail Tours. Following is a list of some of my favourites...

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Devon's Dawlish Sea Wall line

The Cornish Riviera Express was, in the days of steam, the most famous holiday train in the country. Children from nine to ninety eagerly awaited departing Exeter and clinging to the Exe estuary before the drama of speeding alongside the sea wall through Dawlish knowing that your holiday had really begun. Although no longer with steam, this spectacular journey is a wonderful introduction to our tours:

Steam & Sail in the Elegant English Riviera ,  Classic Cornwall Coast & Country   and Springtime Gardens of Cornwall

West Highland Line - 'Harry Potter' & the Jacobite steam train

What a difference a film makes! Harry Potter has put it at the top of Scotland's 'must do' list! Experience travelling over Glenfinnan Vaduct on our Highland Adventure , Summer Highlander , Grand Tour - Lands End to John O'Groats , Golden Highlander  and

Festive Highlands Tartan & Taster  tours.

Kyle of Lochalsh - The original 'Great Railway Journey of the World'

When I first made this journey over three decades ago, following Michael Palin's original 'Great Railway Journeys of The World' TV series, I fell in love with a railway journey!

Climb high above the tree line onto the great plateau through Achnashellach and Achnasheen, then descend for the coastal journey through Plockton into Kyle of Lochalsh, overlooking the Isle of Skye - simply the most memorable of rail journeys. Viewing the great herds of wild deer on the evening journey back to Inverness was the icing on the cake. You too can experience this most romantic of rail journeys on our short breaks Highland Rail Voyager , Grand Tour - Derry To Kerry  and Romantic Highlander  tours.

Welsh Highland Railway

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The newest of the UK's great rail journeys is the Welsh Highland Railway from Caernarvon through the Aberglaslyn Pass, in the Snowdonia National Park. This narrow gauge line is the longest in Britain and whilst the trains may be small the vistas are immense; enjoy it - and many more lines - on our tour of Wonderful Wales .

UK, Euro & Worldwide 2024

Award Winning rail holidays in the UK, Europe & Worldwide, departing in 2024

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So far, so good!

Haven’t been on the holiday yet but the booking process has been excellent. Everyone I’ve had contact with has been really friendly & helpful. They’ve noted various requirements for our holiday so hopefully everything will be perfect when we go next year!

Date of experience : 27 April 2024

Roses Cadaques and The Catalan Coast

Roses, Cadaques and the Catalan Coast. When I made my Catalan Coast booking I spoke to a lady named Lynne. During our 20 minute conversation she gave me lots of information of which I wasn't previously aware, and made some helpful suggestions regarding future holidays including River Cruises. I cannot fault the manner in which my booking was handled - and Lynne is certainly am asset to Great Rail Journeys. Briane Davies

Date of experience : 21 April 2024

Cannot express enough how great this trip was, well organised, great hotels, great trips out. Tour manager ( (Garrath) was excellent who asked the party for their favourite moment I couldn't name one too hard to choose.

Date of experience : 26 April 2024

Paul was very helpful and kind in all aspects of the booking process.

Was helped by Paul who was very attentive and did all necessary research to answer all my questions. He appeared to be a very nice helpful person. My only complaint was the cost of the Grizzly Bear Extension, which was almost the same cost as the whole trip. Would have liked to do the extension, but was not prepared to pay all the extra, when the bears may not even been seen.

Date of experience : 23 April 2024

Easy Booking

Everyone I spoke to on phone over last week was very helpful especially Lindsay on Friday. Made booking our holiday by phone easy.

Tried booking online but failed at the…

Tried booking online but failed at the payment stage. However I phoned and explained the situation and they were very helpful and did the booking for me over the phone. Trip was then booked very quickly and efficiently.

Website works very well

Website works very well, lots of info provided so we could evaluate and compare tours. Booking confirmation email & its attachment give us all the extra info in one place. Looking forward to the Christmas after next when we can go off to our trip through India.

I would not call booking a holiday an…

I would not call booking a holiday an experience. However the lady I spoke to was very knowledgeable and efficient and supplied all the details needed.

Great trip. Superb Tour Manager. Nice hotel with wonderful food. Terrific programme of visits.

Great holiday

Great holiday with a lovely group of guests and guide. Ruth was so helpful and nothing was too much trouble. Sirmione is a beautiful place and we loved Venice.

Golden Triangle, Shimla, Delhi, Agra

A very enjoyable experience. Janet was a very attentive tour manager: always available when needed, but not too intrusive, and Dilip was equally helpful, entertaining and informative. This was our sixth trip with GRJ / Rail Discoveries, and it won't be our last. The holiday was fairly demanding, with early starts some days, in order to catch trains and meet the timings needed for the various site visits, such as the Taj Mahal, Red Fort etc. The whole trip was an eye-opener, being exposed to a different culture. The hotels were all very good, and the service was (in our experience) always faultless.

Date of experience : 21 March 2024

Great to have a person to help

It was great having an actual person to speak to and help with our booking and confirm what we wanted. Thomas was patient and thorough and made it so easy.

Web pages simple to use for booking and…

Web pages simple to use for booking and give a quick response to know that the booking has been completed

Date of experience : 24 April 2024

Very positive experience making a phone booking.

Very easy to make a phone booking. All our questions about luggage were answered and advice about booking hotels and rail journeys before and after our trip was given - we have booked for June 2025 so it is too early to book rail tickets. We were given a rough idea of when our outgoing train might be leaving St.Pancras International and told we would to be there an hour beforehand.

Date of experience : 14 April 2024

Reply from Great Rail Journeys

Dear Mrs Steel, Thank you for taking the time to share your positive experience with our phone booking service. We're delighted to hear that you found the process easy and that our team was able to provide helpful advice regarding luggage, hotels, and rail journeys. While it may be too early to book rail tickets for your June 2025 trip, we appreciate your enthusiasm and look forward to assisting you further as your travel date approaches. Kindest regards, Sarah

Always brilliant 🤩

Did a big trip with GRJ a few years ago and loved it so now trying the big Australia trip. Always great service when booking and they are always very accommodating in the many questions I have and when we want to change things slightly they always deliver. Very excited about this trip.

Date of experience : 20 April 2024

Cheerful, helpful and knowledgeable staff. Booked a holiday on the strength of this.

Booking process easy

We were happy with the booking process overall, but contacted you to assist us when obtaining travel insurance. We asked what area we were travelling as some companies don't accept India, and need more detail. You were unable to advise us so had to seek a company where India overall was allowed.

Date of experience : 16 April 2024

Good service. Booked the holiday on line which was…

Booked the holiday on line which was straightforward. Confirmation email came through immediately but noticed an error with the departure date on page 2 of the confirmation letter. Spoke to Ollie who didn’t know why there was an error but I did suggest he spoke to someone about getting it changed (it was mainly a standard template so everyone would get the same letter with the same error). I logged onto the My Booking on the website which is great, I could amend my cabin number and enter passport details.

Date of experience : 19 April 2024

Great rail journey: 2025

A very easy booking experience, friendly helpful staff very much looking forward to the tour now thank you.

Very helpful customer service

Very helpful customer service. Couldn’t have been more helpful. Very impressed

UK Travel Planning

Britain by train – top 10 UK rail journeys (+ map & tips)

By: Author Tracy Collins

Posted on Last updated: October 21, 2022

Are you planning to take some rail journeys around Britain in the future? Are you confused about using the UK rail network? Not sure where to start to put together your train trip itinerary? Perhaps you have limited experience of rail travel or are unsure of where to go in Britain via train?

In this article you will find all the help you need to start your planning. Reflecting on a background of 25+ years working (and 50+ years travelling) on the UK rail network we have picked 10 of the top UK rail journeys to take around the country and the journeys which will enable you see the best of Britain by rail .

Tip – If you are considering travelling around the UK by train it may be cost effective to purchase a BritRail Pass to cover your rail travel. There are a variety of different passes available – click here for more information about the BritRail Pass.

1. London Paddington to Penzance Cornwall

2. london euston to glasgow central, 3. london liverpool street to birmingham new street via cambridge & ely, a. london kings cross to edinburgh waverley, b. london st pancras to edinburgh waverley via sheffield, complete guide to uk train travel written by doug and tracy collins.

  • 6. Birmingham New Street to Llandudno via Hereford, Shrewsbury & Chester (+optional return to Shrewsbury via the Blaenau Ffestiniog Independent Narrow Gauge Railway)

7. Sheffield to Manchester Piccadilly (extend to Liverpool Lime Street)

8. glasgow to fort william and mallaig (west highland line), a. edinburgh waverley to inverness via dundee or aberdeen, b edinburgh waverley to inverness via stirling, listen to our introduction to uk train travel podcast, read our guide to travelling on the uk train network, where can i book tickets for these journeys, how can i save money on uk train travel, enjoy your rail journeys in the uk and beyond.

Are you planning a visit to the UK 2

London Paddington > 3 hours > Reading > Taunton > Tiverton > Exeter > Newton Abbot > Totnes > change at Plymouth > 2 hours > lots of small stations including Liskeard St Austell Truro St Erth (change for St Ives) > Penzance 305 miles from London Paddington to Penzance Cornwall (via Plymouth)

This journey takes around 5 hours from London Paddington to Penzance in Cornwall (with a change of train in Plymouth).

The train operating company for this journey is Great Western Railway.

The first part of the journey takes you from the hustle and bustle of London on Brunel’s Great Western route to the West Country . At Plymouth you change trains from the faster modern service to a smaller regional service which features regular stops at smaller quaint stations.

Beautiful scenery typifies this route as it passes through several counties including Somerset, Wiltshire, Oxfordshire, Devon and into Cornwall .

Places of historical interest on this journey include the cathedral city of Exeter.

If you to wish to include a visit to the beautiful city of Bath in your itinerary it is possible to take an alternative route. Catch a CrossCountry train service from London Paddington to Bath then onto Bristol (1 hours 20 mins to Bath and an additional 15 minutes to Bristol)

Trains to Plymouth from Bristol/Bath take approximately 2 hours. At Plymouth connect with the Penzance train.

St Michaels Mount in Cornwall

Good to know – To provide an additional option there is a Cornwall sleeper train service called the Night Riviera . This leaves from London Paddington 6 times a week starting on Sunday evenings with Penzance its final destination. There are around 15 stops in-between.

It departs London Paddington at 23:45. Cabin passengers can board at 22:30 pm. It arrives at Penzance the next morning at around 8 am. Seating options are available as well as sleeper cabins. The Night Riviera is operated by Great Western Railway .

Alternatively travel back to London via train. The Night Riviera leaves Penzance at 21:45 (21:15 Sundays) and arrives into Paddington at around 5:30 am.

Click for ticket prices

Traveling the UK by rail is a wonderful way to see the country. Check out our top 10 train trips and scenic rail journeys to take across the UK. London Paddington to Penzance #UK #travel #trains #rail #railway

London Euston > 4 hours 50 minutes > Glasgow Central 343 miles from London Euston to Glasgow Central

The train journey takes you up the West Coast Mainline . This is a fast service which is perfect if you want to get from London to Glasgow quickly.

This 4 hour 50 minute trip has no changes. There are a limited number of stops which includes principal stations only so as to decrease travel time.

At present this route is operated by Avanti West Coast . There are new trains on order for this route.

View over Windermere in the Lake District

The route incorporates some of the most beautiful countryside in northern England including the Lake District .

This service takes you into the centre of Glasgow perfect to pick up other train services in Scotland.

Good to know – Travel during daylight hours (leave early in the day) to enjoy the scenery en route.

Traveling the UK by rail is a wonderful way to see the country. Check out our top 10 train trips and scenic rail journeys to take across the UK. London Euston to Glasgow Central #UK #travel #trains #rail #railway

London Liverpool Street > 1 hour 15 mins > Cambridge > 15 minutes > Ely > 30 mins > Peterborough > 60 mins > Leicester > 50 mins > Birmingham New Street

Trains leave roughly every 15 minutes (Monday to Friday/less frequently during weekends and public holidays) from London Liverpool Street direct to Cambridge. This takes approximately 1 hour 15 minutes and is currently operated by Greater Anglia .

Stop off in Cambridge as it is worth exploring. The station is about 45 minutes from the main centre though buses are available outside the station (directly outside and to the left)

The train from Cambridge to the historic cathedral city of Ely takes approximately 15 minutes. This is a CrossCountry service and the train’s final destination will typically be Birmingham New Street (total travel time Cambridge to Birmingham New Street is 2 hours 45 minutes)

Cambridge 1

The first calling point after 15 minutes is Ely. Even if you don’t plan to get off keep an eye out for beautiful 12th century Ely Cathedral on the hill on the left hand side of the train as you approach the town. It is a 10 minute walk from the train station into Ely town centre.

After Ely the train calls at Peterborough. This is a stopping point on the East Coast Mainline so you could hop onto that line at this point for travel to York/Durham/Newcastle and Edinburgh.

After Peterborough the train calls in at Leicester then onto Birmingham New Street.

This is not a fast route and you will be using more regional services with a multitude of station stops but it is a great way to see the country.

Good to know – At Ely there is also a lovely train trip to Norwich over the Norfolk countryside.

Traveling the UK by rail is a wonderful way to see the country. Check out our top 10 train trips and scenic rail journeys to take across the UK. London Liverpool Street to Birmingham New Street #UK #travel #trains #rail #railway

4. London to Edinburgh

There are various routes to take from London to Edinburgh depending on your preferences. I am going to talk about 2 possible routes.

London Kings Cross > 2 hours > York > 50 mins > Durham > 15 mins > Newcastle > 1 hour 45 mins > Edinburgh

London Kings Cross to Edinburgh Waverley is along the East Coast Mainline route.

This is the most direct route to Edinburgh from the capital and takes approximately 4 hours and 30 minutes. The route is operated by London North Eastern Railway (LNER)

General stopping points include Peterborough, York , Darlington, Durham and Newcastle. The route is best for speed and new modern trains tend to service this line. This is the route of the famous Flying Scotsman steam train.

The route from Newcastle to Edinburgh is particularly scenic as you hug the Northumberland coastline. Sit on the right for views of Bamburgh Castle and the Holy Island of Lindisfarne .

Good to know – This journey is about the rail experience and getting to Edinburgh quickly from London. It zooms through the cities and countryside so you don’t get time to absorb the countryside as you travel.

Traveling the UK by rail is a wonderful way to see the country. Check out our top 10 train trips and scenic rail journeys to take across the UK. London Kings Cross to Edinburgh Waverley #UK #travel #trains #rail #railway

London St Pancras > 2 hours > Sheffield > 3 hours 50 mins > Edinburgh

An alternative route to that above is from St Pancras (next to Kings Cross) using East Midlands Railway Service .

On this journey from London to Edinburgh you will see different scenery as it takes you on the cross country route via Sheffield and the Derbyshire Dales .

This journey will give you more a sense of the countryside in central England and passes through the cities of Leicester, Derby and Chesterfield (look for the crooked spire as you travel into Chesterfield)

You need to change trains at Sheffield from the East Midlands trains onto an Edinburgh service run by CrossCountry. The slower service from Sheffield to Edinburgh goes via Leeds. A faster route bypasses Leeds but may mean a change of trains in York or Newcastle .

Check which train operator you have a ticket with as they are generally not interchangeable between each other.

(Please note if you have booked your ticket through a retailer such as you will have a valid ticket for the entire journey as you will have selected the relevant tickets and seat reservations)

The cross country route joins the East Coast Mainline at Doncaster (south of York).

Traveling the UK by rail is a wonderful way to see the country. Check out our top 10 train trips and scenic rail journeys to take across the UK. London St Pancras to Edinburgh Waverley #UK #travel #trains #rail #railway

Learn more – 19 beautiful destinations in Scotland for your bucket list

5. Leeds (Settle) to Carlisle Line

Leeds > 2 hours 45 minutes > Carlisle 72 miles

This is a famous route which joins the cross country lines to the West Coast mainline. Cross the Pennines surrounded by rugged countryside and stunning views.

The train passes through a number of beautifully restored train stations. This line came within a whisker of being closed down but only a lobby group prevented its permanent closure.

From Leeds the train passes through Saltaire a model Victorian town and UNESCO World Heritage Site. Two stops further you pass through Keighley (the home of the famous steam railway the Keighley and Worth Valley Railway)

After Settle Junction you head north through stations such as Horton-in-Ribblesdale, Kirkby Stephen, Lazonby & Kirkoswald and Langwathby. The station at Dent is the highest mainline train station in England at 1150 feet.

After Horton-in-Ribblesdale and Ribblehead the train passes over the famous Ribblehead Viaduct . With 24 arches set on a curve (and an incline) the Ribblehead Viaduct is instantly recognisable in iconic steam train images (along with the Glenfinnan Viaduct in Scotland)

There are several tunnels along the line including the Bleamoor Tunnel which is 2629 yards long. The entire line was a massive achievement of Victorian engineering.

Traveling the UK by rail is a wonderful way to see the country. Check out our top 10 train trips and scenic rail journeys to take across the UK. Leeds to Carlisle #UK #travel #trains #rail #railway

6. Birmingham New Street to Llandudno via Hereford, Shrewsbury & Chester ( +optional return to Shrewsbury via the Blaenau Ffestiniog Independent Narrow Gauge Railway )

Birmingham New Street > 1 hour 25 mins > Hereford > 60 minutes >Shrewsbury > 1 hour 5 mins > Chester > 1 hour 10 mins > Llandudno Junction > 10 mins > Llandudno > 10 mins > Llandudno Junction > 1 hour 10 mins > Blaenau Ffestiniog (private railway) > 30 mins > Penrhyndeudraeth > 3 hours > Shrewsbury

This is a potential two to three day trip depending on where you decide to stop off along the way.

The journey from Birmingham New Street to Hereford takes approximately 1 hour 25 mins via West Midlands trains . Train passes through Worcestershire and the picturesque Malvern Hills into Hereford.

The journey from Hereford to Shrewsbury along the Welsh marches line (one of the England’s most scenic railway routes) takes around an hour and passes through many places of historical interest including the famous market town of Ludlow.

In Shrewsbury change trains to Llandudno via Chester. If you decide to head into Shrewsbury you will find half timbered houses in the Tudor centre of town.

Snowdonia 2

The journey time from Shrewsbury to Chester on Transport for Wales services is about 1 hour 5 mins. The train line passes into Wales and then back into England before pulling into the beautiful walled city of Chester.

It is worth planning to spend the day in Chester as there are lots of things to do and see in the city including the cathedral, Roman walls, the Tudor timbered buildings, and the Rows (a medieval two level covered arcade)

From Chester to Llandudno change at Llandudno Junction where it is a further 10 minutes into the Welsh seaside town .

For those of you who would like to explore further we recommend you take the train to Blaenau Ffestiniog where you can catch the narrow gauge private heritage railway which runs for 21 kms and is located within Snowdonia National Park.

Frequency of these services depend on the time of year so do check before traveling to avoid disappointment.

Traveling the UK by rail is a wonderful way to see the country. Check out our top 10 train trips and scenic rail journeys to take across the UK. Birmingham New Street to Llandudno #UK #travel #trains #rail #railway

Sheffield > 1 hour 20 mins > Manchester Piccadilly > 1 hour > Liverpool Lime Street

The Sheffield to Manchester Piccadilly line is operated by multiple train operating companies . This route takes you up and over the Pennines and down across the Hope Valley and Edale in the Peak Distric t. This is beautiful all year round scenery. Temperature and weather changes can be rapid.

On this train journey you will witness the contrast between the industrial heart of the country and the beautiful lush countryside.

I recommend taking the slowest possible train journey with stops at all of these fabulous stations Dore & Totley, Grindleford, Hathersage, Hope, Edale and Chinley to name but a few.

Change at Manchester Piccadilly for services to Liverpool Lime Street.

Traveling the UK by rail is a wonderful way to see the country. Check out our top 10 train trips and scenic rail journeys to take across the UK. Sheffield to Manchester Piccadilly #UK #travel #trains #rail #railway

Glasgow Queen Street > 1 hour 45 mins > Crianlarich > 1 hour 45 mins > Fort William > 1 hour > Mallaig

There are a few trains a day that run this route. From Glasgow Queen Street to Fort William it takes 3 hours 45 minutes. For services to Oban and ferry services to the Inner Hebrides Islands of Mull, Tiree, Barra, and Coll etc change at Crianlarich.

For the best views as you leave Glasgow sit on the left hand side of the train.

This is a ScotRail service. Take this trip in the daylight as the scenery is stunning. North of Crianlarich the train crossed over the bleak wilderness of Rannoch Moor. Look out for Ben Nevis (the UK’s highest mountain) as you approach Fort William.

Change trains at Fort William for Mallaig. This journey takes about 1 hour and takes you over the famous 21 arch Glenfinnan curving viaduct (as seen in Harry Potter) with views of Loch Shiel and the Jacobite Monument.

The Jacobite crosses the Glenfinnan Viaduct in Scotland

Further along this route you reach the coast at Arisaig – the western most train station in Britain. As the train turns north enjoy views of the Sound of Sleat and the islands of Aigg, Rum and Muck .

It is vitally important to plan your travel in advance so you don’t get stranded. There are very limited trains from Glasgow to Oban, Fort William and Mallaig.

The Jacobite is another train service from Fort William to Mallaig. This is a private service that only runs in the summer months and is extremely popular (and pricy). Many photographs you will see of the Glenfinnan Viaduct feature the Jacobite steam train service puffing its way across the arches.

Good to know – If you are starting your journey in Edinburgh you will find a multitude of trains every half hour. It takes roughly 50 mins between the two cities.

Traveling the UK by rail is a wonderful way to see the country. Check out our top 10 train trips and scenic rail journeys to take across the UK. Glasgow to Port William and Mallaig #UK #travel #trains #rail #railway

9. Edinburgh to Inverness (via Dundee or via Stirling)

Edinburgh > 1 hours 10 mins > Dundee > 2 hours 20 mins > Aberdeen > 2 hours 15 mins > Inverness

This is a ScotRail service. It takes 1 hour 10 minutes to Dundee from Edinburgh Waverley train station where you can change trains for Inverness or you could stay on the train and change at Aberdeen.

This route will take you over the Forth Rail Bridge. (Also as you leave Edinburgh look upwards for a view of Edinburgh Castle)

I would only recommend taking this route in daylight or during the summer months. This is the slower route to Inverness but it takes you along the coast and through rural Scotland.

Traveling the UK by rail is a wonderful way to see the country. Check out our top 10 train trips and scenic rail journeys to take across the UK. Edinburgh to Inverness (via Dundee and Aberdeen) #UK #travel #trains #rail #railway

Edinburgh > 40 mins > Stirling > 3 hours > Inverness

The fastest routes from Edinburgh to Inverness are via Stirling and Perth. These take 3 hours 35 mins. If you want to go via Stirling you will need to change trains there for a service to Inverness via Perth.

Around 25 minutes into the journey to Inverness via Stirling look out of the right hand side of the train and you may catch a glimpse of the Kelpies at Falkirk. You will also see Stirling Castle on your approach into the city.

From Stirling the route takes you through Perth, Pitlochry, Kingussie, Aviemore and the Cairngorms National Park. This route is typified by beautiful scenery all year round.

Good to know – For a surprising contrast in terrain and scenery take the train up to Thurso and Wick from Inverness.

Traveling the UK by rail is a wonderful way to see the country. Check out our top 10 train trips and scenic rail journeys to take across the UK. Edinburgh to Inverness via Stirling #UK #travel #trains #rail #railway

10. Inverness to Kyle of Lochalsh

Inverness > 2 hours 30 mins > Kyle of Lochalsh It is 82 miles from Inverness to the Kyle of Lochalsh

This is a beautiful train journey with scenic and dramatic views over the Highlands of Scotland .

There are many highlights along this route. Look out for the mountain of Ben Wyvis between the Muir of Ord and Dingwall. You may also be lucky to spot deer between Loch Luichart and Garve.

The train passes through Plockton where Hamish Macbeth (the TV series) was filmed in the 1990s.

View of the Kyle of Lochalsh in Scotland

As you head into the Kyle of Lochalsh enjoy spectacular views of the Isle of Skye .

Good to know – there is an Isle of Skye bus tour which operates every day at 11.45 am. The tour returns in time to catch the last train to Inverness. Alternatively take a day tour from Inverness to Skye (but you would miss this lovely train journey)

Do check for train times and frequency in advance as there are a limited number of daily services.

Traveling the UK by rail is a wonderful way to see the country. Check out our top 10 train trips and scenic rail journeys to take across the UK. Inverness to the Kyle of Lochalsh #UK #travel #trains #rail #railway

Plan your UK train travels

If you are unfamiliar with the UK rail network you will find our in-depth guide invaluable. You may also find our guide to getting around London useful too as it details all methods of public transport.

Written by Doug Collins (the co-founder of UK Travel Planning ) who has over 25 years experience working and traveling on the UK train network) the article answers all the questions you may have to help you plan your train journeys in the UK.

It is important to follow any advice around train travel in the UK from train operating companies as well as legal requirements in the light of Covid-19.

Note that it is the law that you  must wear a face covering when travelling in England  on a

  • train or tram
  • bus or coach
  • ferry or hovercraft or other vessel

Reservations should also be made in advance where possible via contactless payment.

If you are planning train travel in the UK and you are not a UK permanent resident I would recommend checking out BritRail Passes .

There are 7 different passes available and you can choose depending on where you plan to visit. For example there are 3 different passes for Scotland – a Spirit of Scotland pass, a Scottish Highland Pass or a Central Scotland Pass.

Alternatively you can purchase the BritRail Pass which covers the entire UK.

Click the button below for more information.

As you can probably tell we love train travel and it is always our chosen method of transport.

Where possible we include at least one train trip into our holiday plans so you will find lots of train related tips, inspiration and resources for UK train travel on both this website and its sister site

  • Discover 12 great day trips by train from London.
  • Our best of Britain by rail 14 day itinerary – see 3 countries and 7 top destinations following our detailed itinerary

Ellie Kinsella | 05 July 2022

Britain's 7 most scenic rail journeys.

Charming coastal views, jaw-dropping viaducts and National Park peaks – there's adventure around every corner on these unforgettable UK train journeys...

1. West Highland line, Scotland

The Jacobite, crossing Glenfinnan viaduct (Dreamstime)

The Jacobite, crossing Glenfinnan viaduct (Dreamstime)

Departing a short distance away from Ben Nevis, the Jacobite  encounters some of the UK's most dramatic scenery. As the steam locomotive chugs along the 67km track, mountainous hillsides pierce the skyline and lakes glimmer in the distance. The route’s extension to Mallaig was constructed over a century ago, with the intention to make the remote area more accessible, and it has successfully continued its service to the Scottish Atlantic coast since.

Perhaps the most recognisable part of the journey is the Glenfinnan viaduct, which featured in the  Harry Potter  film series. Beyond this, the train stops at Britain's westernmost mainland railway station and passes the shortest river in the UK, before arriving at Loch Nevis – the deepest seawater loch in Europe.

Starts and ends: Fort William to Mallaig, Scotland

Duration: 1 hour 25 minutes

Best known for: Featured in the Harry Potter movies

Read next World's most scenic rail journeys

2. settle to carlisle, yorkshire dales national park.

The train crossing Ribblehead viaduct (Dreamstime)

The train crossing Ribblehead viaduct (Dreamstime)

Over a third of the Settle to Carlisle route weaves through the Yorkshire Dales National Park , so expect to see rolling hills, lush green valleys, and stone-built barns dotted around the edges of the moorland.

Standing 31 metres high and 400 metres long, Ribblehead viaduct is the track's most dramatic feature – comprising of 24 soaring arches. Its backdrop of Pen-y-ghent mountain, one of the Three Yorkshire Peaks, is pretty spectacular too. Even when it's raining, this train ride still promises incredible scenery – and the rain only adds to the drama, with water flowing off the hills and forming waterfalls.

While connections in Leeds and Lancaster make accessing this trip easy, there is also an option to travel by steam train for a more classic journey.

Starts and ends: Settle to Carlisle, England

Duration: 1 hour 45 minutes

Best known for:  Magnificent scenery

3. Caledonian Sleeper, London to Scotland

Caledonian Sleeper train (Iain McLean)

Caledonian Sleeper train (Iain McLean)

The Caledonian Sleeper train offers a convenient service from the UK capital to several of Scotland ’s most iconic locations. The service departs from London Euston station six nights each week (Sunday to Friday), taking passengers on a journey through the night, only to wake to the sunrise over some of Scotland’s finest scenery.

While the service has always had its charms - on which other train in the world can you make new friends over a whiskey or two in the bar, or bump into kilted men in the corridors at 5am - carriages were upgraded in 2019 to swanky cabins with double beds and ensuite facilities. 

For those seeking a cycling thrill in the mountains, be sure to book online in advance for a free spot to park your two-wheel ride (subject to availability). Pet-lovers are also in for a treat; if you have a cabin this service permits furry friends on board at the cost of a reasonable additional charge.

Whether you arrive in the Scottish capital to magnificent hillside views of Edinburgh Castle, or venture to the land of lochs and the mighty peaks on an adventure to Fort William, a ride on the Caledonian guarantees to be a night to remember. 

Start and finish: London Euston to Aberdeen/ Edinburgh/ Fort William/ Glasgow/ Inverness

Duration: 10 hours 5 minutes (Aberdeen), 8 hours 10 minutes (Edinburgh), 12 hours (Fort William), 7 hours 30 minutes (Glasgow), 11 hours 5 minutes (Inverness)

Best known for: Sleeper commute from London to various locations in Scotland

4. Snowdonia, North Wales

The train up to Mount Snowdon (Dreamstime)

The train up to Mount Snowdon (Dreamstime)

If the idea of trekking to the top of Wales’s highest mountain doesn’t appeal to you, let the train take the strain. 

Departing from Llanberis station, an 1896 locomotive hauls passengers at a steady pace to the summit, where a 30-minute stopover allows time to appreciate the view. On a clear day, the landscape of mountains and lakes stretches out before you, from 1,085 metres above sea level. 

If you’re worried about the weather turning (this is Wales, after all) fear not, as the café at the top provides shelter and coffee – really, there’s a café atop one of the UK’s national three peaks!

Starts and ends: Base to peak of Mount Snowdon, Wales

Duration: 1 hour

Best known for: Spectacular views from Wales’s tallest mountain

Read next The best walks in Snowdonia National Park

5. cornwall sleeper, london paddington to penzance.

Formerly known as the Penzance Sleeper, this London to Cornwall train route relaunched with the revitalised name of Night Riviera in 1983. Newly revamped, the train runs a six-night service per week, departing from London Paddington at 23:45 on weekdays and 23:50 on Sundays. Stops en route include Reading, Taunton and Exeter, before continuing on to Cornwall, where it calls at various locations, including Plymouth, Newquay, and Falmouth, before terminating in Penzance.

You can choose an airline style seat, or pay extra for a cabin by yourself or shared, for which you'll get use of shower rooms, a complimentary continental breakfast and access to the on-board lounge. Places on board this service are often fully booked, so be sure to book your spot well in advance.

Start and finish: London Paddington to Penzance

Duration: 8 hours 15 minutes

Best known for: Sleeper commute from London to Cornwall

6. Flying Scotsman, London to Edinburgh

The Flying Scotsman locomotive (Dreamstime)

The Flying Scotsman locomotive (Dreamstime)

Starting its service in central London, the Flying Scotsman passes many notable landmarks along its 630km route to the Scottish capital. Though surprisingly quick (4 hours, 20 minutes), the journey is relaxing and interesting – crossing through country fields, characterful cities and the charming Northumberland coastline.

It’s difficult to miss The Angel of the North near Newcastle, with its wing-span of 54 metres. You may find it harder to spot the white sign that marks the world record steam train speed of 125.88mph, recorded on 3 July 1938, as you whizz past.

Starts and ends: London King’s Cross to Edinburgh Waverley

Duration: 4 hours 20 minutes

Best known for: Quick commute between capitals

7. Dawlish, South Devon

Dawlish coastline, South Devon (Dreamstime)

Dawlish coastline, South Devon (Dreamstime)

In 2014, this scenic train route was destroyed by a coastal storm – but it has since reopened and is back on track to showcase the stunning sea views of the South-West. The journey from the bustling city of Exeter to the quaint seaside town of Dawlish takes as little as 11 minutes, running parallel to the mouth of the River Exe and stopping at the very edge of the English Channel.

Not only is the Exe Estuary popular with families on holiday, but the clear waters provide a vital habitat for wildlife. Watch the sandbanks and upper estuary for swimming otters, breeding egrets and the occasional grey seal. 

Starts and ends: Exeter to Dawlish, Devon

Duration:  From 11 to 30 minutes

Best known for: Outstanding sea views

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Train strikes in May 2024: Full list of dates and lines affected

Rail lines are set for disruption in the week following the first May bank holiday as train drivers at 16 rail companies strike on different days.

Thursday 25 April 2024 10:29, UK

great rail journeys uk

Train drivers will stage a fresh wave of strikes and overtime bans in May, causing disruption to the rail network.

The strikes are part of a long-running dispute over pay.

Members of Aslef union at 16 rail companies will walk out on different days from 7 to 9 May.

Additionally, all members will refuse to work any overtime from 6 May to 11 May.

Here is a full list of the services affected by strikes and when.

Rail strike dates

Tuesday 7 May

Strikes will affect c2c, Greater Anglia, GTR Great Northern Thameslink, Southeastern, Southern, Gatwick Express and South Western Railway.

Wednesday 8 May

Strikes will affect Avanti West Coast, Chiltern Railways, CrossCountry, East Midlands Railway, Great Western Railway and West Midlands Trains.

Thursday 9 May

Strikes will affect LNER, Northern Trains and TransPennine Express.

Overtime ban dates

From Monday 6 May to Saturday 11 May union members will not work overtime.

Overtime bans, an action short of a strike, means some services may not be running or may be reduced as drivers refuse to work their rest days.

People are advised to check before they travel, as some areas may have no service.

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How do strikes and overtime bans affect services?

Strikes tend to mean services on lines where members are participating are extremely affected or cancelled entirely, whereas overtime bans often lead to reduced services.

An underground train pulls into Leicester Square station in central London February 11, 2014. A planned 48-hour strike this week by staff on London&#39;s underground rail network which threatened to bring travel misery for millions has been suspended to allow further talks, unions said on Tuesday. REUTERS/Neil Hall (BRITAIN - Tags: POLITICS TRANSPORT BUSINESS EMPLOYMENT)

Are there strikes on the Tube too?

There have been regular strikes on London Underground too recently, and while there aren't any planned walkouts for drivers, customer service managers are set to walk out on Friday 26 April in a dispute over terms and conditions.

There will also be an overtime ban for the customer service managers on the following days:

Monday 29 April

Tuesday 30 April

Wednesday 1 May

Tuesday 2 May

Wednesday 3 May

Thursday 4 May

Friday 5 May

The Transport Salaried Staffs' Association (TSSA) says the action by its members is likely to cause Tube stations to close at the last minute, including on the Saturday following the strike (27 April), while TfL has said on its website "some stations may need to close at short notice".

Despite the warning, a TfL spokesperson has said they aren't expecting significant disruption.

This action follows strike action taken by the same workers on 10 April, which the TSSA said had a "real impact" with "many stations shut at short notice".

They say they are "extremely concerned" about TfL's 'Stations Changes' proposals.

"We have made it clear that our union will not accept the continued threats to our members' roles, locations, terms, and conditions to stand unchallenged," a TSSA spokesperson said.

"We will continue to take sustained action until London Underground is prepared to negotiate with us in good faith."

Commenting on the impending strikes, a TfL spokesperson said: "We are disappointed that TSSA is continuing with this strike action following a consultation process.

"While we don't expect this action will cause significant disruption, we urge TSSA to continue to work with us to help find a resolution.

"There are no planned job losses as part of these vital changes which will improve the service we provide to customers at our stations."

How can I stay in the loop?

You can use the National Rail's journey planner to see when trains are running.

Be sure to check it close to when you plan to travel, as it will be updated regularly.

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great rail journeys uk

Why are the strikes still happening?

Aslef rejected a two-year offer of 4% in 2022 and another 4% this year, saying it is way below inflation, and is linked to changes in terms and conditions.

Aslef said train drivers have not had an increase in salary for five years, since their last pay deals expired in 2019.

The union said after its members voted overwhelmingly in February to continue taking industrial action, it asked the train operating companies to hold talks.

General secretary Mick Whelan said the year-old pay offer of 4% and another 4% was "dead in the water".

Related Topics

  • London Underground
  • Rail strikes

great rail journeys uk

Labour’s plans for Great British Railways all but set up by Tory government

Renationalisation announced by shadow transport secretary, Louise Haigh, comes as most network contracts near expiry

This is one renationalisation that even an ultra-cautious Labour had to embrace: voters like it, there is no upfront outlay, and the Conservative government has already done most of the work to get there.

The rail plans announced by shadow transport secretary, Louise Haigh, will confirm the longstanding Labour policy of taking national rail operations back into public ownership as contracts expire. Now, though, that appears to be an imminent reality, as all contracts are expected to lapse within four years of the coming election.

The industry is largely already in public hands; Network Rail has been on the state’s books since 2014 , and four major English networks are being run by the Department for Transport’s own operator of last resort.

The success of the likes of LNER – run by the same management as the collapsed Virgin East Coast, but on behalf of the taxpayer – suggests there will be little for passengers to fear.

Ownership aside, Labour’s plans for a separate arm’s-length body to run the railway are very much on the track laid out by the Conservatives – underlined by the endorsement of Keith Williams, who drew up essentially the same scheme for Boris Johnson and Grant Shapps.

Notably, it is the first time Labour has publicly embraced their Great British Railways by the same name. The echoes of British Rail appeared to make the Tories alarmed at their own plans, and subsequent ministerial refettling to ensure a prime role for private operators ran, Labour argues, against its logic.

The problems identified by Williams included the fragmentation, waste and bureaucracy that beset privatised rail. Teams from track and train and government vied over roles, and legions of lawyers tried to establish which part of the railway bore responsibility for delays and compensation.

The shadow transport secretary, Louise Haigh

The Tories claimed GBR would save £1.5bn annually, and removing the additional “friction costs” of private sector involvement could cut another £700m, Haigh claims.

Full renationalisation might arguably include the rolling stock companies , or roscos, to ensure that Britain owns the trains rather than simply leases them – especially given the dividends that have exceeded the “profits leaking out to private operators” cited by Labour.

But that comes with expenditure that the party could not countenance in an election campaign. Instead, Labour have made clear that the roscos are onside.

It will also allow private “open access” train services, such as Lumo or Hull Trains, to continue, illustrating again that this renationalisation remains more pragmatic than dogmatic.

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Beyond addressing rail’s ownership and structure, Labour’s plan contains one or two eye-catching proposals that give substance to the rhetorical flourish beloved of industry leaders and politicians of every stripe, to “put the passenger first”.

Guaranteeing a best-priced fare looks a solid principle to hasten the end of the confusing, multiple ticketing options that still trip passengers up. And a new Passenger Standards Authority, combining and streamlining the functions of the Office of Rail and Road and the Transport Focus watchdog, should have more teeth with which to hold the industry to account.

Labour will still have to deal with rail’s immediate crises, of falling commuter revenues and toxic industrial relations. If Aslef’s enthusiasm can translate into a deal to end strikes that the government admits have cost billions, it could give Labour a flying start.

For most who work on or use the trains, six years since reform was announced, arriving at a Great British Railways of any hue can’t come soon enough.

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Train drivers across rail companies to stage fresh strikes in May, Aslef announces

The uk has seen almost two years of industrial action on its railways, with hundreds of millions of journeys cancelled, article bookmarked.

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Fresh travel disruption will impact rail passengers in May as train drivers at rail companies across England will stage a new series of strikes in a bitter, long-running dispute.

Members of the Aslef union will walk out on 7–9 May over pay, and ban overtime for six days from 6 May – the early May bank holiday Monday.

Drivers at c2c, Greater Anglia, Great Northern, Thameslink, Southeastern, Southern, Gatwick Express and South Western Railway will strike on 7 May.

On 8 May there will be strikes affecting Avanti West Coast, Chiltern Railways, CrossCountry, East Midlands Railway, Great Western Railway and West Midlands Trains.

Most operators will not run any trains on strike days.

Although the strikes affect train companies in England, cross-border services to Wales and Scotland are likely to see some knock-on effects.

The union said that after its members voted overwhelmingly in February to continue taking industrial action, it asked the train operating companies to hold talks. Aslef said train drivers have not had an increase in salary for five years, since their last pay deals expired in 2019.

General secretary Mick Whelan said: “It is now a year since we sat in a room with the train companies and a year since we rejected the risible offer they made and which they admitted, privately, was designed to be rejected.

“We first balloted for industrial action in June 2022, after three years without a pay rise. It took eight one-day strikes to persuade the train operating companies [Tocs] to come to the table and talk. Our negotiating team met the Rail Delivery Group [RDG] on eight occasions – the last being on Wednesday April 26 last year.

“That was followed by the Tocs’ ‘land grab’ for all our terms and conditions on Thursday April 27 – which was immediately rejected. Since then train drivers have voted, again and again, to take action to get a pay rise.

“That’s why Mark Harper, the transport secretary, is being disingenuous when he says that offer should have been put to members. Drivers would not vote to strike if they thought an offer was acceptable.”

Mr Whelan said the year-old offer of a 4 per cent pay rise followed by a second 4 per cent increase was “dead in the water”.

The Independent has contacted the Department for Transport for comment.

A spokesperson for the RDG, which represents the train operators, said: “This wholly unnecessary strike action called by the Aself leadership will sadly disrupt customers and businesses once again, while further damaging the railway at a time when taxpayers are continuing to contribute an extra £54m a week just to keep services running.

“We continue to seek a fair agreement with the Aslef leadership which both rewards our people, gives our customers more reliable services and makes sure the railway isn’t taking more than its fair share from taxpayers.”

The latest industrial action comes after thousands of trains were halted during a string of rolling strikes in early April .

Before that, an overtime ban and rolling regional walk-outs hit for nine days from 29 January to 6 February .

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