Wondering what’s the best train from London to Edinburgh? Read my review comparing all the main train operators which serve the London to Edinburgh route.

I break down the costs, duration and what it’s like onboard based on my own experience travelling by LNER, Avanti West Coast, Caledonian Sleeper and Lumo.

So, which train should you take from London to Edinburgh? Here’s what I found out.

Why I chose to travel by train 

A cobblestone street in Edinburgh with a church behind.
The LNER Azuma train is a more reliable way to travel to Edinburgh

I visited Edinburgh on a brief weekend city break a few days before Christmas. Time was of the essence so I took a flight thinking it would be cheaper and quicker… Or so I thought. 

I was wrong, of course, and both my flights ended up being delayed and it looked like there was a real danger that I would spend Christmas Day in Edinburgh Airport. I didn’t, luckily!

So, when the opportunity arose to take a second trip to Edinburgh, I was determined to do things differently.

Edinburgh is my favourite city in the UK (after London of course…) but it’s far – not travelling internationally, but still a trek in its own right.

Even so, flying was not an option for me. I couldn’t justify it. Not with the possibility of reliving unapologetic delays and the needless negative impact on the environment. 

Up until very recently, flying has reigned supreme in being the most cost-effective and convenient way to travel from London to Edinburgh.

Historically, trains were expensive and time-consuming, and when you’ve only got a small amount of time to spare on your mini-break, the last thing you want to do is spend most of it travelling to and from the destination. 

Launched in the summer of 2019, the new LNER Azuma trains promised travellers a cheaper, faster and more convenient way to travel to the Scottish capital.

Since I was already planning to go, I thought it would be the perfect opportunity to test it and see if it really was the best train from London to Edinburgh and how it stacked up against other operators.

READ MORE: No-Fly Holidays: 10 of the Most Epic Train Journeys in the World

How much the train tickets cost 

A river winding though the countryside in Scotland on a train from London to Edinburgh.
Who wants to fly when you’ve got views like this on the train?

I bought my ticket directly from the LNER website to keep things simple.

If booked well in advance (a month, say), LNER promises that you can get as much as 52% off and a standard single ticket from London to Edinburgh could cost you about £32.20. 

I didn’t manage to get quite such a bargain, instead, paying £96.85 for a standard return with a railcard included. It was still a reasonably good deal and as a bonus, there were no added booking fees. 

For luxury travellers, an advance upgrade can cost you as little as £68 for a first-class single, and for that, you can get super comfy seats, hot food, drinks, booze and snacks galore. 

Find out more about the LNER Azuma and book your tickets

What it’s like to take the train from London to Edinburgh

View of the Scottish Borders from the train. Houses in the foreground and a river with a bridge.
View of the Scottish Borders from the train from Edinburgh to London

The journey from London King’s Cross to Edinburgh Waverley was a scenic one. The train raced through the country in record time (about 4h 20m) as it headed northeast.

The best views were saved until last as we sped past the historic city of Durham and spotted the cathedral and castle rising above the rooftops.

Next, we snaked through Newcastle and caught a glimpse of the city’s famous Tyne Bridge before getting a close-up of Newcastle Castle on the way out.

Skirting the east coast of England, we made it to the picturesque town of Berwick-Upon-Tweed, the final frontier before our journey up into the Scottish Borders and onwards to Edinburgh.

With less than 5 hours spent travelling, the journey could not have gone better. I sat back and relaxed with a book in hand and a cup of tea in the other as the world sped by my window. 

You could argue that a flight is quicker in the air (about 1 hour) but once you’ve factored in the commute to and from the airports, the time waiting before your flight and the stress of luggage allowances, a fraction of time more if indeed at all just doesn’t seem worth it. 

Infographic of best train from London to Edinburgh.

Virgin Trains have been replaced by Avanti West Coast (more details on that below).

READ MORE: No-Fly Holidays: London to Barcelona by Bus (REVIEW)

Alternative trains and routes from London to Edinburgh

The LNER Azuma was a game-changer for me but it’s not the only choice on the tracks. So, is it the best train from London to Edinburgh? Here are 3 other popular services listed below to compare: 

The Caledonian Sleeper 

Caledonian Sleeper train, a night time way to get from London Euston to Edinburgh.
Train travel has a sense of romance to it

The Caledonian Sleeper hearkens back to the romantic age of slow travel. It’s more of an iconic luxury experience than your average train journey.

The journey from London to Edinburgh is a fair bit longer (about 8 hours) but if you’re taking the Caledonian Sleeper simply to get from A to B then you’re doing it wrong. 

Passing through the night, it’s designed to be a chance for passengers to really relax and indulge. You have a choice of sleeping arrangements from cabins with a double bed and ensuite to reclining seats with a personal locker each. 

The Caledonian Sleeper is slow travel at its core so don’t try to rush. WiFi and charging sockets are available throughout the train and passengers have a choice of menus offering a selection of seasonal Scottish dishes to tuck into.  

Read More: Caledonian Sleeper Review: Is This Train Worth The Hype?

Accommodation and Ticket Prices 

Prices are based on booking a single ticket 1 month in advance and are subject to change: 

Accommodation Type:

Food & Drink:

Ticket Price:

Caledonian Double

Breakfast included

From £335

Club (twin ensuite)

Breakfast included

From £205

Classic Room

Breakfast available for purchase

From £140

Seated Coach

Dedicated food and drink menu

From £35

Find out more and book tickets for the Caledonian Sleeper. 

Avanti West Coast

Virgin Trains was replaced by Avanti West Coast. The operator promised to introduce a range of passenger improvements. I’ve yet to see it. Between you and me, I would avoid them if you can!

An advance single ticket from London to Edinburgh starts from £35 if you book it in advance. 

Empty seats inside an Avanti West Coast train from Edinburgh to London.
The interior of Avanti West Coast

Avanti West Coast is the other popular train service that can take you from London to Edinburgh.

A slower train than the LNER Azuma, it takes about 4h 42m with departures from Euston every 2 hours at normal operating times. Note: the last train is 23:45 on weekdays and 20:56 on weekends.

Comfort is very much how you make it onboard an Avanti train. Passengers can either go fancy in First Class or pick Standard Class with the option of the Quiet Coach if necessary. 

Food and drink services are available throughout the train as well as free WiFi.  

However, I find that Avanti West Coast trains are often delayed, cancelled or overcrowded in my experience. I’m yet to be convinced – sorry, Avanti!

Accommodation and Ticket Prices 

Prices are based on booking a single ticket 1 month in advance and are subject to change: 

Accommodation Type:

Food & Drink

Price:

First Class

Complimentary dining

From £100

Standard Class

Food and drink available to purchase

From £35

Find out more about travelling with Avanti West Coast and book your tickets.

Lumo

A train station platform at London King's Cross. The best train from London to Edinburgh.
Is Lumo the best train from London to Edinburgh now?

Brand new fully electric train service on the scene, Lumo, follows the East Coast mainline but at a fraction of the cost of Avanti West Coast and other rivals.

Launched in October 2021, Lumo started with two services a day and now pushes it up to five. Trains depart London King’s Cross at 5.45, 10.45, 12.18, 14.48 and 20.27 during the week.

Lumo promises to be the low-cost, eco-friendly answer to plane travel.

Trains are 100% electric, the food menu is 50% plant-based and staff uniforms are recyclable. But I think its most important sustainability message is reflected in the price.

Train travel in the UK is, on the whole, more expensive than flying but Lumo wants to change this and make it an affordable choice for everyone.

So where do these swish new trains go? It’s only a handful of stations so far. These are London King’s Cross, Stevenage, Newcastle Upon Tyne, Morpeth and Edinburgh Waverley.

Lumo is definitely one to watch and I can’t wait to see where it goes next.

I’m yet to travel on a Lumo train as they seem to be quite elusive – or sold out. One day!

Accommodation and Ticket Prices

Prices are based on booking a single ticket 1 month in advance and are subject to change. The best way to get the cheapest price is to book a month or two in advance.

If you’re flexible, the best-priced trains are the earliest and latest ones!

Accommodation Type:

Food & Drink:

Price:

Standard Class

Pre order from LumoEats or select from catering trolley

From £19.90

Find out more about Lumo and book your tickets.

Train from London to Edinburgh comparison 

A girl in a red jacket walking down a street in Edinburgh Castle - the Vennel Steps - with Edinburgh Castle behind.
What’s the best train from London to Edinburgh? Compare the chart below

So, now that you’ve seen what each train offers, here’s a quick comparison below to help you decide which the best train from London to Edinburgh is based on speed, comfort and price: 

LNER Azuma

Avanti West Coast

Caledonian Sleeper

Lumo

Speed:

4h 20m

4h 42m

7h 22m

4h 32m

Comfort:

First and Standard Class, Quiet Coach and WiFi

First and Standard Class, Quiet Coach, WiFi 

Beds, WiFi, lockers and reclining seats 

Pre order food, entertainment, luggage courier

Price:

From £32.20

From £35

From £35

From £19.90

As you can see, LNER Azuma stands out as the fastest and one of the most reasonably-priced train services which makes it the best train from London to Edinburgh if comfort isn’t your main priority.

The Caledonian Sleeper is in a league of its own. As one of the top luxury train experiences in the UK, it can’t really compare. Ride the Caledonian Sleeper FOR the journey itself. Plus you have the added benefit of travelling through the night. 

Lumo doesn’t have a First Class as it’s cheap and cheerful. It wins on price and sustainability. It’s competitive on speed too.

READ MORE: Visiting Scotland Without a Car in 2024: the Ultimate Guide

Best ticket providers and how to use them 

Buying your tickets in advance is always the cheapest option – even on the Caledonian Sleeper

You can, of course, book your tickets directly via each website – I recommend it if you choose the Caledonian Sleeper. But, if you want to find competitive rates, there are three main ticket providers I use: 

Trainline: It’s one of the most popular train ticket services that gives you an overview of the best train routes and prices.

You can download your tickets directly onto your phone if you want to go paper-free or get a code to collect your tickets via the machine at the airport. 

Trainline is useful if you want to get train tickets for the UK and mainland Europe but it’s best if you book them well in advance if you want the benefit of saving a few pennies.

Booking fees are also an unavoidable fact of Trainline, charging you £0.75 to £1.50 when you book depending on the price of your train ticket.  

You can download the Trainline app for both iPhone and Android. 

National Rail Enquiries: Much like Trainline, National Rail Enquiries gives you a breakdown of train times and prices, offering the cheapest routes.

Once you’ve chosen your tickets it redirects you to the train service website so you can carry out your purchase there. 

You can go online at National Rail Enquiries or download the app for smartphones. 

TrainPal: It’s a similar service to the first 2 but it’s by far my favourite one to use. You can always find a cheap ticket and there are no extra added booking fees to deal with.

Owned by Ctrip, the parent company of the fan-favourite flight booking platform Skyscanner, TrainPal also has another trick up its sleeve: the ability to calculate and provide split ticketing options.

This means that passengers will be able to save money by booking separate tickets for different sections of their journey, rather than just one ticket, even if they don’t need to change trains. 

You can download the TrainPal app for both iPhone and Android. 

Editor’s Tip: If your train is cancelled or delayed by 15 minutes or more, always claim compensation through the train operator, NOT ticket booking platforms like Trainline. All train operators have a Delay Repay system. Trainline will just charge you an admin fee.

London to Edinburgh by Train: Verdict 

An LNER train on the tracks in England.
Travelling by train is the best way to get from London to Edinburgh

If you’re travelling from London to Edinburgh it’s time to say adios to air travel. It’s no longer the fastest, cheapest or most convenient way to travel now that LNER’s high-speed Azuma trains have entered the ring. 

If I compare both my journeys to Edinburgh, it’s fair to say the train won but it would be wrong to say it was completely perfect.

There were slight delays on the return journey but it was more favourable in comparison to being stuck for 4 hours at Edinburgh Airport the night before Christmas Eve (now THAT’S a fun story for another time). 

The Caledonian Sleeper is a bucket list train journey. You get your travel and your hotel rolled into one and the pleasure of waking up in another part of the country.

I haven’t tried the Lumo train so I can’t comment on its service. Its prices are certainly competitive so you have to book well in advance if you want your chance before it sells out.

But if we’re talking about fast, cheap and convenient then the LNER Azuma is by far the best train from London to Edinburgh. It trumps Avanti West Coast every time.


Looking for more train travel experiences?

Pinterest pin for best train from London to Edinburgh.

This post may contain affiliate / compensated links. As an Amazon Associate, I also earn from qualifying purchases. For full information, please see my disclaimer here.