London: Public Transport - National Rail

London: Public Transport - National Rail

A National Rail Service
Source: WikiMedia
If you plan on venturing outside London or to the suburbs, you may use National Rail trains. They are not operated by Transport for London like the rest of London’s transport; each route is run by a different Train Operating Company. National Rail services are exceptionally busy during the morning and evening peak as commuters use them.

You can buy a paper ticket, use an Oyster Card or a Contactless payment card to board all National Rail services within London zones 1 to 9 (more on zones in our Underground section), and certain other stations. You can also use Oyster Cards and Contactless on National Rail services to and from Gatwick Airport, including the Gatwick Express.

One of the most impressive National Rail journeys is the Southeastern High Speed service from St. Pancras International to Stratford International (for the Olympic Park). This journey takes just 6 minutes; the comparable Underground and DLR journey takes 27 minutes, and the bus journey takes 1 hour 25 minutes.

Oyster Cards and Contactless payments are not valid on the Heathrow Express, and the Heathrow Connect between Hayes & Harlington and Heathrow. They are also not accepted on East Midlands Trains, Grand Central, Hull Trains, Virgin Trains, or Virgin Trains East Coast services – these trains do not stop within London anyway, they are services to cities and towns outside the UK which start in London. For these journeys paper tickets are required.

Important: From May 2018, the Heathrow Express will accept Oyster Card and Contactless payments. From this date the Heathrow Connect will be replaced by TfL Rail, and Oyster Cards and Contactless payments will also begin to be accepted.

To book National Rail trains, we recommend using Trainline or Raileasy to find the best prices and availability.

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