Train / Bus Stations, London
The Excess Baggage Co.
If you have checked out of your hotel/hostel but need to leave your rucksack, suitcase or holdall for an afternoon or a day or so while you sight-see then most major London railway stations have an Excess Baggage office somewhere on the station concourse. Rates for this service are currently £5.50 per item (at the time of writing) for 0-24hours (or part thereof) Monday-Sunday 7am-11pm. This goes up to £6 for each additional 24 hours. For obvious security purposes, bags are x-rayed on arrival and monitored constantly by CCTV. The Excess Baggage Co is open 364 days a year – closed Christmas Day.
Just look up for blue and yellow sign.
During WWII - 10,000 mostly Jewish children were sent out of Austria, Germany, Poland and Czechoslovakia by their parents to escape the Nazis and almost certain death. These children came by boat from Holland to London and arrived in Liverpool Street Station to be sent around the country - some to hostels but mostly to foster families.
This monument of a rather forlorn little girl is found just outside the main entrance to Liverpool Street Station. The glass case she is standing next to, usually houses other artefacts and memorabilia from that time but currently it's empty due to renovation.
The centre of London is encircled by number of mainline stations, each of which serves a large number of towns and cities all in the same general direction – e.g. Paddington for the south west of England and south Wales, Kings Cross for the north east of England and eastern Scotland etc. All of these mainline stations are in turn well served by tube lines, usually bearing the same name (but if you’re going to St Pancras mainline station, for instance, you’ll need Kings Cross tube station).
Train services are provided by a number of operators, who have contracts to provide services on certain lines. Prices are high by European standards, though there are bargains to be had. The general rule is that the earlier in advance that you can book your ticket, and the more flexible you can be, the lower the price. Try The Trainline for online booking – I find it easiest to identify the best value here and you can have your ticket sent to you in advance or collect it from the station on the day of travel.
If you‘re staying in Britain for any length of time there may be useful discount cards and passes, depending on your circumstances. For information on these check out National Rail Enquiries.
Our train journey ended at Waterloo Station, on the south bank of the Thames River. This is the largest railway/subway terminus in London and is quite an experience in itself. Originally constructed in 1848 as a railway station, the first subway line was added in 1898 to further improve city transit service. However, due to the deteriorating state of the terminal, the original buildings were torn down and reconstructed between 1900-22. The photo shows part of this 'new' 800-foot long concourse with it's buildings housing many shops and facilities, with the millions of yearly passengers protected from the elements by the overhead roof as they make their required transfers here. Everything is well sign-posted for passengers and it was fun to join the throngs and we headed off, first on our short walk to the London Eye and then back here again to catch a 'tube' beneath the Thames to the Westminster area on the other side.
We stopped for a coffee on our arrival in Paddington Station. A very busy station indeed, but made much busier due to the imminent arrival of some VIP. We watched as the press & lots of people gathered round one of the tube entrances - Who did we see? No one special so it must have been that little Bear returning once again to his favourite station.
You can catch a tube from here to many London underground locations & of course your Heathrow Express return train.
If you are over 55 then Club 55 can offer reduced travel on First trains. This is a great offer where you must register on line and costs are a fixed price.
The offer is not available at all times and the website gives the dates available. Prices are £15 to buy a return ticket in the zone London falls in to and for each additional zone you pay an additional £10. So for example you take a London to Cambridge train and the return fare will be £15. If you want to travel further up to say Kings Lynn the return fare will be £25 (£15 for the first zone with an add on of £10 for the second zone).
Not available on all lines out of London as First trains only operate First Great Western, First Capital Connect and First Hull Trains.
Excellent reductions especially if you travel some distance from London.
Arriving in Waterloo Station you can take connections with the bus or by tube.
Connections by Bus: look at the official bus schedule.
Connections by Tube: look at the official tube schedule.
Connections for the Eurostar: look at the Eurostar page.
Inside the hall there is a huge screen on which you can see arrival and departure times of trains.
Tip: in some stations (train or tube) you need to use your ticket to show or insert in the automatic doors to get out again, so pay attention you don't loose it!
The 20 tonne, 9 meter high statue by Paul Day is the brand new statue that is currently drawing a lot of attention from visitors to the newly re-opened St Pancras International Station. It is absolutely massive and really quite awe-inspiring! Anyone meeting a friend here couldn't fail to find The Meeting Place!
Situated in the north west section of London, Paddington station has regular trains to destinations in the south west which include Bath, Bristol, Windsor, Warwick to name a few. The Heathrow Express departs every 15 minutes in both directions and takes approximately 15 minutes to Terminals 1, 2, 3.
It is this reason alone why I decide to find a hotel and base myself in this area. My plan was to visit Warwick and Oxford on day trips.
The Paddington Tube is located here as well. There are plenty of shops and kiosks selling your usual goods like coffee, water, drinks and quick bites to eat like baguettes and pizzas.
There is also a left luggage area if you need to leave your bags behind.
Just a quick note here. We had prepaid for our tickets on Eurostar from London to Paris and were advised to just check in at the self ticketing machines when we arrived. After trying several self ticketing machines with the credit card I had used to order the tickets with no luck I had to quickly find the main ticket office and after waiting in line for an endless 20 minutes finally got my tickets. We went through security and then boarded the train with only minutes to spare.
Bottom line, arrive 45 minutes to 1 hour ahead of time even though most people say 30 minutes to avoid a situation like we had.
Victoria Coach station is not as bad as it used to be...but if there are a few delays about, then it can become a very crowded and deeply downright unpleasant place to be.
On the other hand if you want cheap travel to other parts of the country then you may well have to use it. Even this "Thrill" may be passed up soon by the new operators such as "Easybus" who intend to pick up from lay-bys to cut costs.
You may enjoy this poem that I found on a e-publishing site (Mudlark) which seems to sum the place up :
In Victoria Coach Station
Exhaust fumes, urine, immemorial cigarettes –
A reek even freezing cold cannot dispel;
Passengers in groups, in queues, in seats
As the Rapide from unsunny Carlisle
Flexes brakes, with faces in a sullen row
The coach for Coventry prepares to go...
By the railings a mouth works up-and-down
At the universe and no one, the man
Attached identikit twentyish, lean.
The radiation he emits is all his own.
Studs like Braille, his jacket reads ‘Exterminator’ –
Fashion advertising a wide berth.
Daubed beneath, as if for bad measure,
Is ‘Chaos Day, March 4, 1996,’
The tatty dictat, ‘Let’s start a war’.
Self-picked anti-hero in a B-movie
He cannot, thank Heaven, control, lack of script
Recasts him as sidewalk nihilist,
Bystander furioso whose mutters
Complement the chains about his wrist
And waist, spiky violet-tinged clusters
That are his hair. Minutes bristle. In a twist
He has not envisaged, a squad-car
Pulls up. “May we look inside your bag, sir?”
Misted breath. “None of your ***ing business...”
This the expected give-away. Snap search.
Routine interrogation. One man’s mess
Others’ law, he’s led away. Also a bystander,
Though seated, here from the 5:10 for Digbeth
I shuffle sight with words, a verbose voyeur:
Have mercy upon policemen, punks and poets,
O Lord. Defend each of us from over-
righteousness; though this bus is no Chariot
Of fire and our Arrows of desire are
Blunted, somewhere amidst the fume-bleared concrete
A dream of Jerusalem, that Countenance, those feet
St Pancras is London's most impressive station and is situated in the north of London in Euston Road. This is London's international terminus and Eurostar trains depart from here for Paris and Brussels. Englands second high speed line, HS2, also leaves from here to stations in Kent. Finally local trains depart here for stations to north to Bedford, south to Gatwick and Brighton.Long distance trains depart to Leicester, Nottingham and Sheffield.
This is a large station and local trains and regional trains depart from high level tracks towards the middle of the station and Eurostar trains are towards the front.
A good range of shops and eating places make this a place to visit even if you do not need to catch a train.
There is also a wonderful statue here of poet Sir John Betjeman - a man who loved trains.
The trains to and from Hogwarts School of Witchcraft and Wizardry can be found at Platform 9 ¾ inside King Cross Station. Please note: it is actually invisible to Muggles. You may glimpse Harry Potter here during breaks in the Hogwarts school calendar. A magic wand is required for inspection before boarding.
The location of this platform does change! I have seen it in 7 locations in the last 2 years alone. Please find photos of 3 of the locations.
The recently re-opened St Pancras Station is the London terminal for Eurostar trains to France. Before embarking on your cross channel, 186mph trip to France, you can stop at the champagne bar for a glass of bubbly! Many of the concourse shops are not yet opened but soon will be.
Eurostar official website
All the information and facts you could possibly need to know about the history and refurbishment of St Pancras Station a Grade 1 listed building can be found on the website below.
If you are travelling to London via Gatwick Airport, you will most likely get a train into London Victoria station, an imposing structure first opened in 1860. The ever dubious Wikipedia notes that it was named after the nearby Victoria Street and not Queen Victoria. Who do they think Victoria Street was named for then?
Anyway, to the nuts and bolts. Victoria, as noted, is the arrivval point for the various Gatwick services, and here is a money saving tip if you are on a budget. Travelling to and from Gatwick do NOT get the Gatwick Express, but get instead the "local" train as it is much cheaper and only a few minutes slower.
Until recently, all trains to and from the ferry port of Dover and intermediate points in Kent departed here although the service has been somewhat overtaken by the new high speed rail link departing from St. Pancras and Stratford. Suburban stations to the South of London and as far as the South coast are also served.
There are all the usual retail outlets you would expect from a major terminal like this and numerous food and beverage operations. Another money saving tip for you if you fancy a drink. The Wetherspoons pub upstairs is much cheaper than the Iron Duke pub on the ground floor. They also do relatively inexpensive food, altrhough it can get crowded.
For onward travel, there are several options. The station is on the District, Circle and Victoria lines on the Underground. If you are going to the Coach station, here is a tip to avoid the weather a bit. Walk to the higher number platforms and go up the escalator. If you then keep walking as far as you can through the shopping area, you will emerge onto Eccleston Bridge. Cross that road and walk on down Buckingham Palace Road a little and the Coach Station is on the right. This saves walking all the way round from the main entrance.
Taxis are available from outside the front entrance but BEWARE! Do not, under any circumstances, accept a taxi from someone who approaches you. Licensed taxi drivers will not do this and these "touts", as they are called, will put you into a car that is unlicensed, probably uninsured with a potentially criminal driver. They will then charge you some ludicrous amount of money. There are so, so many horror stories about this you really need to be careful. Licensed cabs will display a numbered badge on the rear and the driver will show you an oval metal badge on request. This proves they are legitimate.
Should the bus be your preferred option, again they are available outside the main front door.
The left luggage office is between platforms 7 and 8. It is open 0700 to 0000 every day, although some visitors have complained on VT that they find left luggage facilities in London expensive. Check for current rates first.
There are suficient toilet facilities, including fully accessible facilities. Additionally, there are toilets in the Wetherspoons and Iron Duke pubs for customers. You will have to ask at the bar for a code to admit you to these. This is to stop non customers using the facilities.
The station is well patrolled by police and is safe although you may be approached by beggars outiside the main building. Happy travels.