Arriving in London by rail

Busy Waterloo Station (Photo © Image & Design Ian Halsey MMXIV)
Busy Waterloo Station

Major train stations in London

London is one of the great cities for trains, with 18 major train stations and rail terminals—and dozens of smaller ones—serving the U.K.'s overlapping spaghetti plate of regional rail lines.

(If you count them all up, there are actually 366 passenger rail stations in Greater London.)

No worries. No matter at which rail station you arrive you will find an associated Tube (Underground/subway) station, nearby bus stops, and other transport options

Arriving from the airport

The Heathrow Express airport train arrives to and departs from Paddington Station in the northwest part of London. » more  

The Gatwick Express connects Gatwick Airport's South Terminal with London's Victoria Station» more

The Stansted Express travels between the airport terminal and London's Liverpool Station. » more

Trains to and from Luton leave London from the St. Pancras or Blackfriars stations. » more

Arriving on the Eurostar

Sights near St. Pancras
London's glorious Victorian redbrick castle of St. Pancras is right next-door to King's Cross Station, home to the famous platform 9-3/4 where Harry Potter used to catch the Hogwarts Express—a perfect sightseeing excursion when you have half an hour to kill before your train. Have a full hour to spare? On other side of St. Pancras is the woefully under-visited British Library.
The fast, direct Eurostar trains ( between London and the Continent via the Channel Tunnel pull into St. Pancras International in the north part of central London. 

The travel time between London and Paris (Paris station: Gare du Nord) is actually about 2.5 hours (it varies from 2:16 to 2:37)—though remember that the U.K. is one hour behind central Europe, so once you factor in the time change the trip to London will take about an hour and a half (at least according to the clocks), a trip from London to the Continent will arrive 3.5 hours later on the clock.

London to Brussels-Midi/Zuid is about 2 hours; London to Amsterdam takes about 4.5 hours.

You are required to check in at least 30 minutes before departure (10 min. if you overpaid for Business Class), and they airport-style secutiry lines, so plan on getting to the station well ahead of time—I'd say at least one hour ahead of your scheduled departure, just to be safe.

What if I took the ferry?

Trains coming from Dover (where ferries from the Continent land) arrive at either Victoria Station or Charing Cross Station, both in the center of town (10.5 hours total travel time from Paris via the ferry route).

Arriving from Edinburgh

If you're coming from Edinburgh (or Hogwarts), you arrive at King's Cross Station in the northern part of London.

Trains links

General tips of similar interest