The Relocation Bureau

Public Transport

Here we explain the major public transport options in the UK, including international, national and regional rail and bus services, with special sections on the London tube network, and on getting around London.

An Overview of UK Public Transport

Greater use of public transport to reduce road congestion is a major policy issue of the present UK Government, but major improvements to public transport, including cost and reliability, are a pre-requisite for this transport policy to succeed.

Most of the state owned transport companies were privatised by a previous Conservative government during the late 1980s and early 1990s. Rail and Bus networks are now operated by private companies. London Underground is one of the few remaining state owned companies.

The choices now available to us for travelling around the UK are many and diverse, some good and some which demand stamina and patience. Long distance buses compete with the rail network, and even the airlines, and are often more economical.

Most cities, towns and counties are served by one or more bus operator on routes, sometimes circuitous, which link the local towns and villages. The frequency of the services, which usually operate between 06.00 and 24.00, is very much dependent on the level of population in the area. Busy towns have a more frequent service than country villages.

Public transport in major cities is highly visible but has to compete with motorists for space on our congested roads. 'Bus only' lanes have been introduced as a means of improving the service and encouraging motorists to use public transport. Fares, however, are quite high, especially in comparison to other European countries.

UK Rail Network

The state owned British Rail was privatised by a previous Conservative government in 1994. British Rail operated the whole of the mainline rail network and was also responsible for the track, signalling and stations.

The rail network in the UK is now operated by a variety of train operators. The rail infrastructure, i.e. track, signalling and stations, is owned and managed by Network Rail (previously Railtrack).
www.networkrail.co.uk

Whether passengers have benefitted from all these changes is very much open to question. Competition and private investment by the new train operators may, in time, lead to the significant improvements expected and demanded by a critical public.

Due to years of under investment and recent inappropriate cost cutting, essential upgrading of the rail infrastructure has not been delivered. This has led to delays and, more importantly, significant safety issues have been raised following some recent major accidents.

Regional Rail Services

The UK has an extensive rail network which is operated by nearly thirty Train Operating Companies (TOCs), many in competition with each other.

To cover each Train Operator and route network in detail would create information overload, therefore we have provided a quick guide to the services available in each of the UK regions with links to the website of each TOC.

The rail.co.uk website maintains a list of current TOCs.
www.rail.co.uk/our-partners/rail-operators

Regions and Train Operating Companies
UK Region Train Operating Company
Nationally

Virgin Trains - wide UK network
www.virgintrains.co.uk

London & Suburbs Please refer to the section below entitled 'In and Around London'
South & South East of England

South & South East of London

Southern Railway - covers rail services in the South London Metro area, London to Brighton and south coast services between Bournemouth, Brighton, Hastings and Ashford.
www.southernrailway.com

Southeastern Trains - train services in south-east London, Kent, Sussex and parts of Surrey.
www.southeasternrailway.co.uk

South West Trains - services in Southern England towards South West England.
www.southwesttrains.co.uk

West & North West of London

Chiltern Railways - serves the Chilterns area of Buckinghamshire, Oxfordshire and Warwickshire from London through to Birmingham.
www.chilternrailways.co.uk

Great Western Railway - provides frequent services on the important rail artery along the Thames Valley, combining the busy commuter routes between Oxford, Newbury, Reading and London Paddington.
www.gwr.com

East & North East of London

Thameslink - provides services to Hertfordshire and Essex through to parts of East Anglia, as well as services across London to Brighton.
www.thameslinkrailway.com

Abellio Greater Anglia - serves Norfolk, Suffolk, Essex and East London.
www.abelliogreateranglia.co.uk

c2c - operates the Essex Thameside route from London Fenchurch St. to Tilbury & Southend.
www.c2c-online.co.uk

South West England & Wales

Greast Western Railway - provides services between South and West Wales and Birmingham, London Paddington and the West Country.
www.gwr.com

Arriva Trains Wales - has an extensive urban network in south and central Wales. The majority of journeys made on the Valley Lines network are to/from Cardiff.
www.arrivatrainswales.co.uk

East Anglia (Norfolk, Suffolk, Eassex & Cambridgeshire)

Abellio Greater Anglia - the principal train operator in East Anglia, offering fast, frequent and comfortable journeys between Norwich, Ipswich, Colchester and London as well as local services connecting many of the region's smaller towns and villages.
www.abelliogreateranglia.co.uk

The Midlands

London Midland - an extensive service in Central England and Mid Wales with connections to London.
www.londonmidland.com

East Midlands Trains - a large network of express and regional services covering the east side of the midlands from London.
www.eastmidlandstrains.co.uk

Northern England

Northern - extensive network throughout the North of England (Lancashire, Manchester, West Yorkshire, Lake District) and North Wales.
www.arrivarailnorth.org

TransPennine Express - services throughout Yorkshire, Lancashire, Humberside, Northumberland and Durham.
www.tpexpress.co.uk

Merseyrail - serving the Liverpool suburban area - the Wirral line, extending under the river Mersey, links Liverpool with West Kirby, Ellesmere Port, New Brighton and Chester. The Northern Line links Liverpool with Ormskirk, Kirby, Southport and Hunts Cross.
www.merseyrail.org

Scotland

ScotRail - operates many daily services on its main suburban routes around Glasgow and Edinburgh, inter-urban routes linking Glasgow, Edinburgh, Aberdeen and Inverness and on its rural routes covering the North and West Highlands as well as the South West of Scotland.
www.scotrail.co.uk

In And Around London

London is well served with public transport and it is often the quickest and most convenient method of travelling around the city.

The Transport for London maps are an excellent facility to help you navigate your way around London by all types of public transport i.e. tube, bus, Docklands Light Railway (see below), London Overground, river and tram.
tfl.gov.uk/maps

Fares

The most cost effective way to travel in London is by using an Oyster Card. In order to get an oyster card you will be required to pay a refundable deposit of £5. They work on a pre-payment basis and can be obtained and topped-up online, at tube or participating train station ticket offices and at oyster ticket stops throughout London. They are accepted tubes, buses, the DLR and trams as well as on London Overground and some National Rail services.
oyster.tfl.gov.uk/oyster

Travel Cards are also an economic and versatile method of travelling on the tube. These travel cards are available for either 1 day, a weekend, or for a family. They are valid for travel on the London Underground, London Buses, and other mainline commuter services such as Chiltern Railways, Great Western Railway etc.

Season Tickets / Travel Cards are ideal for regular commuters and are available for a range of periods; weekly, monthly, 3 monthly, 6 monthly and annually.

Single journey fares are also available.

The London Underground

Please refer to the section below entitled 'London Underground' for further detailed information.

London Buses

The London Transport buses seem to be everywhere in London. You can't miss them, they are all coloured red. Their route network is as diverse as it is comprehensive and is far too extensive to cover here. The Transport for London maps described above are the easiest way of exploring the available routes.

The Docklands Light Railway (DLR)

The Docklands Light Railway serves the Docklands area of East London from Tower Gateway and Bank stations. Canary Wharf, an important financial centre of London, City Airport and Greenwich are all on the network. The Docklands Light Railway has connections with the London Underground, Mainline Stations and the London Bus network.
tfl.gov.uk/modes/dlr

Thameslink

Thameslink operate trains on both the Thameslink and Great Northern rail franchises. This includes services between London, Brighton, Bedford, Peterborough, Cambridge and King's Lynn.

Crossrail / Elizabeth Line

A new east-west rail link from Reading and Heathrow to Shenfield and Abbey Wood through Central London scheduled to open from 2018

The London Underground (The Tube)

The London Underground serves Central London and the London suburbs. There are 11 lines and hundreds of stations with interchanges at many stations throughout London, including all mainline terminus stations which serve the rest of the UK and Europe.

The Piccadilly Line operates through London to Heathrow Airport, with stations for Terminals 2 & 3, Terminal 4, and Terminal 5. There is no Tube service to Gatwick Airport, Luton Airport or Stansted Airport, however there are train services operating to each of these from the mainline terminus stations. Please refer to the section entitled 'Transport to UK Airports' below for further detailed information.

Tube maps are posted at all stations as well as being freely available in printed form. They are easy to understand and essential for finding your way around. The 11 lines have different names and are colour coded.

The Tube is organised into different zones for fare calculation. Zone 1 is Central London and Zone 6 the outer London suburbs.

Fares

The most cost effective way to travel on the underground is by using an Oyster Card and in order to get an oyster card you will be required to pay a refundable deposit of £5. They work on a pre-payment basis and can be obtained and topped-up online or at any tube station ticket office.

Travel Cards are also an economic and versatile method of travelling on the tube. These travel cards are available for either 1 day, a weekend, or for a family and also allows you to use the London buses and other commuter line services such as Chiltern Railways and Great Western Railway.

Season Tickets / Travel Cards are ideal for regular commuters and are available for a range of periods; weekly, monthly, 3 monthly, 6 monthly and annually.

Single journey fares are also available.

Transport to UK Airports

Coach Services

National Express, Flightlink, Jetlink, Railair and Airbus are the main brands that operate airport bus and coach services.

National Express also offers a national network of services. Some of their routes go via the main airports, and they also offer airport to airport links between Heathrow, Luton, Stansted and Gatwick.
www.nationalexpress.com/airports.aspx

Heathrow Airport

Heathrow Express from Paddington to Heathrow in under 30 minutes.
www.heathrowexpress.com

London Underground's Piccadilly Line serves all Heathrow's Terminals.

Frequent local and national bus and coach services.
www.heathrow.com/transport-and-directions/buses-and-coaches

The Rail-air services provide a Heathrow link to and from rail services on the local and national rail network from Reading, Woking and Watford Junction.
www.heathrow.com/transport-and-directions/buses-and-coaches/rail_air-bus-links

By taxi - At Heathrow a computer system controls the flow of black cabs to the terminal forecourts to ensure the supply of cabs meets the customer demands. Approximate cost from Heathrow to Central London is £40.00-£45.00, with an average journey time of one hour.
www.heathrow.com/transport-and-directions/taxis-and-minicabs

Gatwick Airport

Gatwick Express from Victoria Station takes just 30 minutes to reach the airport.
www.gatwickexpress.com

Thameslink runs a 'turn-up-and-go' service - with up to four trains an hour to Gatwick during the day. Convenient for the City, all trains stop at King's Cross Thameslink, Farringdon, City Thameslink and Blackfriars, most trains call at London Bridge.

Great Western Railway operate trains from the Thames Valley areas in and around Oxford, Newbury, and Reading, and the Surrey areas around Farnborough and Guildford to the airport.

The Gatwick Airport website has further detailed information on all transport facilities for Gatwick Airport.
www.gatwickairport.com/to-and-from

Stansted Airport

The Stansted Express train runs every 15 minutes from 0800 to 1700 weekdays and every 30 minutes early morning, evening weekdays and weekends. The journey time is 41 minutes to or from London's Liverpool Street station.
www.stanstedexpress.com

The Stansted Airport website has further detailed information on all transport facilities for Stansted Airport.
www.stanstedairport.com/to-and-from-the-airport

Luton Airport

Thameslink operate a regular service between Bedford and Brighton which calls at the airport's railway station.

East Midland Trains also operate services into London St. Pancras from the airport.

Manchester Airport

First TransPennine Express and Northern both operate a large network of services from the airport station to destinations throughout northern England.

The Manchester Airport website has further detailed information on all transport facilities for Manchester Airport.
www.manchesterairport.co.uk/to-and-from-the-airport

East Midlands Airport

East Midlands Airport is in the centre of the country, surrounded by the cities of Nottingham, Derby and Leicester and within easy reach of Sheffield, Stoke on Trent and Tamworth. The Airport is easily accessible from all parts of the UK, either by road or by public transport.

The East Midlands Airport website has further detailed information on all transport facilities for East Midlands Airport.
www.eastmidlandsairport.com/to-and-from-the-airport

Newcastle Airport

The Newcastle Airport website has further detailed information on all transport facilities for Newcastle Airport.
www.newcastleairport.com/getting-here

National, Regional & Local Bus Networks

As its name implies, National Express operates nationally in a similar way that Greyhound Buses operate in the United States. It has an extensive network throughout the UK.
www.nationalexpress.com

The SHOWBUS directory of bus & coach services provides information on the local services, and timetables, available throughout the UK. It is an excellent site that has links with each of the bus and coach operators, including those operated by the local councils and London Transport.
www.showbus.com/timetables/busindex.htm

Taxi Services

London Taxis (Black Cabs)

London taxis offer a convenient service to anywhere in and around London within a 6 mile (10km) radius. They are not legally required to take you outside the district in which they are licensed but many will.

Fares are metered and will be about £6-9 per mile (1.6km). Tipping is not obligatory but 10% is normal.

Taxi drivers have to learn 'The Knowledge'. This is a course of study of 2 years or more to learn every street and place in London and know immediately the quickest way to any destination from anywhere. All London taxi drivers are licensed, and the vehicles undergo regular inspection.

Within London and its suburbs you can hail a taxi from the street. If they are not on their way to pick up a pre-booked passenger they will usually stop for you.

You can pre-book a London taxi in advance for most occasions and venues.

Pre-booking can be done on the Internet. Some useful sites are:

www.computercab.co.uk
london-taxi.co.uk
www.londontaxicabs.net
www.radiotaxis.co.uk

Many major cities in the UK operate similar "black cab" taxi services to the same high standard as London.

Minicabs (Taxi or Private Hire Vehicles)

It is important that you realise the difference between minicabs and the traditional London black cab. Minicabs are normal family vehicles that are also being used for business. All Minicabs are required to be fully licensed and insured, but unfortunately many are not and these should be avoided. Ask friends for a recommendation, or ask your relocation counsellor at The Relocation Bureau for their advice.

In general minicabs are not metered, you will need to agree a fare in advance when booking and confirm it before starting the journey.

Minicabs should not be hailed in the street or at cab ranks, they must be pre-booked or hired from their office in a town centre or station. They are frequently used in suburban areas for airport and shopping trips or after a late night revelry.

Don't accept a quietly-spoken offer of "Taxi, Sir?" by the exit door in the Arrivals Hall - it is usually a minicab driver illegally "touting" for business!!

The Yellow Pages website will have listings for many taxi companies in your area.
www.yell.com

UK & Europe By Rail From London

The major rail gateways from London to the rest of the UK are located at convenient Mainline stations bordering Central London. These mainline stations, which all have connections to the London Underground, serve different regions of the UK.

The table below is a summary of of the train operators who operate from London to each of the UK Regions and Europe.

Further information can be obtained from the website of each Train Operator listed below.

London's Mainline Station Region Served Train Operator to the Region

Europe

St. Pancras International France and Belgium via Ashford, Kent and the Channel Tunnel Eurostar
www.eurostar.com

Chilterns through to Birmingham

Marylebone Chilterns (Buckinghamshire, Oxfordshire, Warwickshire) through to Birmingham Chiltern Railways
www.chilternrailways.co.uk
Euston The London Midland Metro services runs between London and Birmingham, stopping at county towns such as Milton Keynes, Northampton, Hemel Hempstead and Watford. London Midland
www.londonmidland.com
Paddington Extensive network serving historic, country and river areas of Warwickshire, The Cotswolds, The Chilterns, Thames Valley, and Surrey Great Western Railway
www.gwr.com

South, East & South East England

Liverpool Street East Anglia and Essex Abellio Greater Anglia
www.abelliogreateranglia.co.uk
Victoria / London Bridge South London, Sussex, Gatwick Airport and parts of Surrey & Kent Southern Railway
www.southernrailway.com
Charing Cross / Victoria South East London, Kent & parts of Sussex Southeastern Trains
www.southeasternrailway.co.uk
Cannon Street South East London & Kent

West & South West England and South Wales

Paddington South Wales and the West of England (Wiltshire, The Cotswolds, the West Country counties of Somerset, Devon, Cornwall) Great Western Railway
www.gwr.com
The Thames Valley, combining the busy commuter routes between Oxford, Newbury, Reading and London Paddington, and West of England and South Wales
Waterloo South and South West England and the local rail network within this region. South West Trains
www.southwesttrains.co.uk

The Midlands, North West England, North Wales & North East England

Euston Manchester, Liverpool and the North West including North Wales London Midland
www.londonmidland.com
West Midlands, the North West, North Wales and Ireland, Cumbria, Glasgow and South West Scotland. Virgin Trains
www.virgintrains.co.uk
St. Pancras Services from Yorkshire and the East Midlands to London St. Pancras East Midland Trains
www.eastmidlandstrains.co.uk
Kings Cross North, North East and Scotland. To Scotland (Glasgow, Edinburgh, Aberdeen and Inverness) via Lincolnshire, Yorkshire and Northumberland. Virgin Trains East Coast
www.virgintrainseastcoast.com
Direct services to Hull and Yorkshire from London Hull Trains
www.hulltrains.co.uk
Direct services to Bradford, Sunderland and North Yorkshire from London Grand Central
www.grandcentralrail.com

Scotland

Kings Cross North, North East and Scotland. To Scotland (Glasgow, Edinburgh, Aberdeen and Inverness) via Lincolnshire, Yorkshire and Northumberland. Virgin Trains East Coast
www.virgintrainseastcoast.com
Euston West Midlands, the North West, North Wales and Ireland, Cumbria, Glasgow and South West Scotland. Virgin Trains
www.virgintrains.co.uk
Anglo-Scottish overnight Caledonian Sleepers linking Fort William, Aberdeen, Inverness, Glasgow and Edinburgh with the heart of London. Caledonian Sleeper
www.sleeper.scot